Publishers Weekly Makes a Key Correction to a Story about Ebook Rights

Open Road Media lost this ebook rights case, but are not in jeopardy for damages anywhere near what PW had at first suggested. Although I don’t have a screenshot of Publisher Weekly‘s first version of their story, they had stated that penalties for willful infringement could run up to $150,000 for each copy sold of the infringed work, reporting that the damages could potentially run in to hundreds of millions of dollars. Later, they revised that to say the penalty could be “per work infringed.” As they put it now at the bottom of the story they ran this morning,

Correction: An early version of this story mistakenly put the damages as applying per infringement, rather than per work infringed. In fact, there is a single infringement involved here, not multiple infringements. Thus, damages could not run into the millions. We regret the error.

In a penultimate paragraph that also was not part of PW‘s first Web version of this story, they point out that in its filing Open Road Media had asserted that the author whose ebook rights were at issue, Jean Craighead George, author of Julie of the Wolves, would have preferred to publish an ebook of the book with HarperCollins, given her long print history with them, but she objected to the 25% net royalty on offer by them. Open Road offers 50%, and so George went with them, or so Open Road implies. The entire issue of ebook royalties–and the 25% difference between the sum offered by Big 6/Big 5 publishers and other publishers, such as Open Road–has been a flash point of disagreement for several years among agents and authors on one side, and the Big 6/Big 5 houses on the other.

For the record, this is a link to the full Publishers Weekly story, as it ended up late on Tuesday, March 18, including the penultimate paragraph and the correction.

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