Monash University

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Joshua Yuvaraj and Rebecca Giblin, 'Are Contracts Enough? An Empirical Study of Author Rights in Australian Publishing Agreements' (2021) 44(1) Melbourne University Law Review 380

journal contribution
posted on 2021-07-01, 21:17 authored by Joshua YuvarajJoshua Yuvaraj, Rebecca GiblinRebecca Giblin
A majority of the world’s nations grant authors statutory reversion rights: entitlements to reclaim their copyrights in certain circumstances, such as their works becoming unavailable for purchase. In Australia (as in the United Kingdom) we have no such universal protections, leaving creator rights to be governed entirely by their contracts with investors. But is this enough? We investigate that question in the book industry context via an exploratory study of publishing contracts sourced from the archive of the Australian Society of Authors. We identify serious deficiencies in the agreements generally as well as the specific provisions for returning rights to authors. Many contracts were inconsistent or otherwise poorly draed, key terms were commonly missing altogether, and we demonstrate that critical terms evolved very slowly in response to changed industry realities. In response to this new evidence we propose that consideration be given to introducing baseline minimum protections with the aim of improving author incomes, investment opportunities for publishers and access for the public.

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Reclaiming copyright's lost cultural value for authors and the public

Australian Research Council

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