Rights Committee Charter (2023)

How we provide value to the industry

Current State

Drawn from survey work and the committee’s direct perspective, the current state of rights management in book publishing continues to be characterized as follows:

  • The importance of rights transactions is growing, as international demand for content and licensing increases, as new publishing models have emerged, and as publishers invest to fulfill their “duty of care” responsibilities to content creators. 
  • A significant opportunity exists to develop the infrastructure required to obtain revenue from existing contracted deals. Clarifying “who owns what” would reduce instances in which rights transactions are considered too difficult to monetize. Investing in systems to track agreements and monetize rights investments can build and keep up with transaction volume.
  • Improving what we know about rights holders and related rights can deliver meaningful rights revenue, as organizations identify and take advantage of opportunities to increase revenues through new rights licensing initiatives.
  • Work-from-home requirements have accelerated overall use of digital workflows, highlighting how far behind the rights segment of the supply chain is compared with other segments. Rights holders and rights buyers would benefit from workflow improvements, including the use of an industry-wide taxonomy for rights, implementation of rights metadata standards, digitization of information stored in physical media, automated workflows that track deals, agreements and payment statuses. The value of these improvements and more have been confirmed by BISG research in 2017 and 2020.

Objectives

The rights committee identifies the most important rights-related problems facing the publishing industry, identifies areas of consensus where standards or best practices would be valuable, and leads online and in-person events to inform the broader rights community. To support these efforts, the committee will continue to meet on an every-other-month basis in 2023, dedicating alternate months to working-group consideration of pending deliverables.

Stakeholder Impact/Benefits

There are multiple audiences for the work done by the rights committee:

  • Rights-related professionals who need core skills and an understanding of the relevant technology
  • Those making rights-related investment decisions who need to understand the opportunities available through improved rights management, including its impact on M&A value
  • Publishing professionals whose work touches upon rights, and who may not fully understand rights management and its implications for their roles

Accurately communicating rights information between parties can grow revenue, reduce transaction costs, and avoid costly errors. Making rights information more accessible for both internal and external audiences also improves publishers’ ability to financially benefit from their intellectual property.

Deliverables

In 2023 the Rights Committee will:

  • Expand participation in the full committee and its working group, recruiting rights professionals from the agent, publisher, and industry partner segments. Outreach efforts to engage more international representatives will be discussed.
  • Plan and deliver rights-related programming that includes: Recommendations for Royalty Statement Standards (webinar scheduled for August 15); An in-person Rights Committee Program (scheduled for September 28) focused on trends in rights; and other sessions using prior content accompanied by a live Q&A.
  • Continue to build a centralized rights resource on BISG website, including: the Rights FAQ, to be maintained as needed;  the Directory of Imprint owners, to be posted and updated as more information is gathered; Recommended standards for Royalty Statements; and Links to previously held webinars.
  • Seek out and monitor new technology related to rights management and transactions (smart contracts, rights hub, blockchain).

Blockers

Different parts of the rights community see problems in different ways, and they pursue solutions with different methods and, at times, conflicting objectives. Those working outside of rights do not see effective rights management as a fundamental source of significant revenue and enterprise value. As a result, reaching a diverse set of target stakeholders may be a challenge, and willingness to invest in rights management may be difficult to foster.

The committee has chosen to meet bi-monthly, instead of monthly, with working group meetings in the months when the full committee does not meet. The committee expects that deliverables will more readily emerge from working groups, but less frequent meetings might delay the full committee from responding to issues and challenges that develop over the course of the coming year.