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Rights Standards: The Road to Profits

Publishers today face a seldom-discussed digital dilemma that directly impacts their profitability: the lack of standards for communicating rights information about content. What rights are available? What rights have I sold? What am I owed for my licensed content? Am I collecting it all?

The industry has long relied on human hands to manage rights. However, with the increasing digitization of books and book products, we see new possibilities for profiting from your content, and system-to-system communications of transactions will lead directly to new revenue streams and decreased costs.

This issue came to the fore in June 2009 after the proposed Google book settlement that called for the creation of a Book Rights Registry. It became clear that in the brave new world of digitized books and content, the lack of digital standards for transmitting rights agreements leads directly to lost opportunities. The ad hoc system of human data entry and non-standard terminology means that even when rights are sold, publishers do not always collect the fees due to them and are not always in compliance. The result has been a mess of missed opportunities as the demand for quality content increases.

The connection between standardized reporting and profitability is clear. Standardization cuts transaction costs and facilitates the sharing of content between organizations. It improves discoverability of available rights while reducing the risk of improper licensing. If publishers make licensed content available and easy to acquire, the market will respond appropriately. In the digital age, whomever is best equipped to navigate standards for communicating and transmitting data about rights and their associated royalties will be on the industry’s winning side.

Is Standardization Possible? 

The Book Industry Study Group knew it had to respond to this challenge. BISG is a leading trade association for the American publishing industry, and it sets the stage for policy, standards and research. BISG’s Rights Committee, which is co-chaired by MetaComet Systems President David Marlin (and his colleagues Judith Appelbaum and Emily Williams), proposed a pilot program in 2011 that would test the transmission of appropriate royalties from rights that have been sold.

The efficiency-driven program, called the Domestic Rights and Royalties Reporting Pilot, will facilitate standardized, automated, system-to-system reporting of royalty transactions on licensed content. The result: data that a publisher can more easily use to create efficiencies, increase revenues and drive down costs.

The Domestic Rights and Royalties Reporting Pilot has two goals:

  • Identify the full set of possible rights transactions through a Controlled Rights Vocabulary.
  • Create technical specifications for electronically communicating rights transactions and the corresponding royalty payments to facilitate cross-system integration.

MetaComet is an Early Adopter of the New Standards  

MetaComet Systems and the Copyright Clearance Center are partners in this pilot effort. (Additional pilot opportunities exist- if you are interested, please contact David directly at dmarlin@metacomet.com.)

At this time, we are proud to announce that MetaComet’s Royalty Tracker® platform will be in compliance with these new industry standards.





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MetaComet Systems, Inc., Computer Software Publishers & Developers, South Hadley, MA