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Posts Tagged ‘C.E. Petit’

Dan Brown Wins Copyright Infringement Case

The resolution was a lot more quiet than the original lawsuit and trial, but the AP reports that Dan Brown won his copyright infringement case Wednesday, after Britain’s Court of Appeal rejected efforts from two authors who claimed he stole their ideas for his blockbuster novel, THE DA VINCI CODE. Lawyers for Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who wrote THE HOLY BLOOD AND THE HOLY GRAIL, now face legal bills of about $6 million after losing their appeal against publisher Random House Inc. This follows Justice Peter Smith‘s April ruling that Random House had not breached the copyright. Smith said the claim was based on a “selective number of facts and ideas artificially taken out of (the book) for the purpose of the litigation.”

“It’s a legal win for Dan Brown, but neither he nor his lawyers come off looking particularly good,” said C.E. Petit of Scrivener’s Error in an email to us this morning. “The main opinion also has a lot of trouble with the trial judge’s structure for his opinion; this appears almost exactly opposed to US practice, in that in US practice the appellate court would probably give more deference to the trial judge’s ability to judge the demeanor of witnesses.”

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Making Money from Government Commission Reports

Fortune’s Eugenia Levenson analyzes why freely available and lengthy government reports, such as the 9/11 Commission and Iraq Study Group Reports, are selling like gangbusters. The latter book, published by Random House imprint Vintage, has spent six weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and has already sold over 125,000 copies, according to Nielsen Bookscan, which captures 70 percent of total book sales. That’s despite the fact that the text is freely available online and was downloaded 1.4 million times from a sponsoring Web site in the first week alone.

But it all started with the release of the 9/11 Commission Report, which certainly caught publishing by surprise with 1.5 million copies sold to date. “Everyone was surprised by the retail performance of the 9/11 report,” says Jonathan Burnham, a senior vice president and publisher at HarperCollins. “It seemed to sell to a much broader audience than ever before for that kind of material.” But the real reason for success? The cost, or lack thereof. There are no acquisition costs, since the documents are in the public domain, and are fairly cheap to produce. And because anyone can publish the materials – though the ones who get their first reap the most lucrative rewards – multiple players can be rewarded. “One company shouldn’t have the monopoly on something that’s in the public domain,” says Josh Linsk, CEO of Filiquarian who has sold over 600 copies of the paperback edition. “I just thought there should be more options.”

UPDATE: C.E. Petit points out that the government commission craze began much earlier, with the 1987 Tower Commission Report (released in the aftermath of the Iran-Contra Affair) issued in a mass market paperback edition by Bantam and earlier, in hardcover by Random House.

Today in AMS: PGW publisher options, legal issues

As Advanced Marketing Services‘s Chapter 11 adventures continue (with the top 20 creditors slated to meet on January 12 to discuss what to do next) attention still rightfully swirls around the future of once-profitable Publishers Group West and the 150-odd independent publishers who are its clients. Last Friday, more than 70 publishers discussed their options in a conference call and expressed support for taking collective action to promote PGW publishers’ interests. As a result, there’s a movement afoot to create an Ad Hoc Committee of PGW Publishers which will petition the bankruptcy court to appoint a separate creditors committee composed of PGW publishers to represent their interests.

The must do so because, as Shelf Awareness reports, some of their worst fears were confirmed on Friday after legal consultations: Their books in PGW’s possession are considered on consignment and are the property of PGW. Reclamation rights are limited. In the same vein, it will be very difficult for publishers to get out of the contracts with PGW, which means that the last three months of earnings will remain in limbo for an indefinite period of time, with limited (if any) access to the funds.

No wonder a rogue blog called Radio PGW has popped up to provide some dark humor in dark times, signing off today’s flurry of posts with “from the killing fields of America’s publishing industry–good day and good luck.”

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