address, e-mail address, and phone number, with a signature and date area. The
agreement maintains administrative ease.
This HathiTrust approach works where the author is, in fact, the copyright
holder. Most authors transfer rights to publishers as discussed above; however,
their contracts typically include provisions that allow the author to reclaim his
or her rights if the book goes out of print. These rights reversion clauses
typically look like this:
If after __ years following the date of publication, the Publisher
shall advise the Author in writing that they find it necessary to
discontinue publication, or if the Publisher fails to keep the work
in print and neglect to reprint it within six months of the Author’s
written request that they do so, then the Author shall have the
right to terminate this agreement by written notice.
Clauses like this usually allow the publisher to elect to put the work back in
print or alternatively revert the rights to the author. The author usually has the
opportunity to purchase printing plates if they exist at
around 25% of cost and to purchase any remaining copies
of the work at or below cost. However this kind of clause is
somewhat outdated: consider language regarding “plates”
as part of the printing process. As a practical matter, as
publishers are able to work with authors to develop publishing models for
digital materials, this kind of provision may become obsolete as no work need
ever go out of print.
The essential framework for rights reversion to the author is fairly simple
though not often exercised.2
The Copyright Office at the University of Michigan
Library helps authors understand the provisions of their publishing contracts
and discusses these provisions with authors who are interested in exploring
their options for their work deposited in HathiTrust. Broadly, HathiTrust is
looking for ways to make content widely available. Authors want citations, a
sense of participating in an academic legacy, and renewed relevance. Some of the
most enthusiastic voices come from retired faculty who want to leave a legacy
through their written work that is independent of any expectation of payment.
Together, the libraries in the HathiTrust are thinking about how to consider
Opening Up Content in HathiTrust
C O N T I N U E D
APRIL 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
…the cycle starts with and returns to
authors, who can be newly empowered
to exercise rights they do have….