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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Copyright Clearance Center: Lack of Rights Management Systems in the U.S. Publishing Industry

I've been running around like a chicken with it's head cut off! Time is again short this morning...but, I felt I had to get this out today.

This intriguing info from Charlotte Abbott writing in Publishing Perspectives:

Publishing’s Paper Problem and How to Future-Proof the Industry

There’s an urgent need for publishers to update legacy rights management and content creation systems, according to speakers at BISG’s (Book Industry Study Group) “Making Information Pay” conference.

Though the idea of publishing as a data-driven industry may still be anathema to its old guard, the Book Industry Study Group’s 8th annual Making Information Pay conference hammered home once again that gathering and managing the right data is critical to “future-proofing” the industry. The key is using data to improve content and product development, book discovery and rights management, as well as customer loyalty and profitable growth, said Book Industry Study Group chair Scott Lubeck in his introduction to the ten presentations packed into last Thursday morning’s meeting at the McGraw-Hill auditorium in New York.

Rights Management Systems Are Out-of-Date

The big jaw-dropper was BISG’s joint survey with the Copyright Clearance Center on the fundamental lack of rights management systems throughout the industry in the U.S. — described as “a vast problem.” The conference, which tends to focus on improving supply chain, operational and technical infrastructure, also went further than in the past in outlining how the adoption of new data-driven mechanisms will affect marketing and even editorial functions within publishers.

The crux of the industry’s rights management problem, as articulated by Heather Reid of the Copyright Clearance Center, is that while digital publishing in the new global marketplace offers new licensing opportunities not just for books, but also for fragments of books, publishers are not equipped to respond promptly to rights requests. The nine publishers and six vendors in the survey said the problem is rooted legacy rights management systems created in the 1960s. Largely made up of paper records and in some cases PDFs of legal contracts, these old systems fall far short of the well-structured data storage necessary for fast access and to build the automated processes needed to exploit new markets.

The paper problem is endemic, said Reid. One vendor reported that 50% of the publishers it deals with, including big ones, have rights contracts filed in paper. Publishers themselves said that their inbound rights records were inaccessible and outbound rights transactions take so long to process that rights querents often give up and move on to other content providers. The sole publisher in the survey who had transitioned to a structured rights data system reported “a 100% increase in licensing revenue when we started responding faster to rights requests,” according to Reid. However, this publisher also admitted that moving to the new data system was “arduous.” To turn the industry around, Reid called for standardized terms to optimize business processes, and the alignment of rights management systems within and between publishers and vendors. To that end, BISG is crafting a taxonomy it hopes will become the foundation of data modeling for the next generation of industry rights tools.

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