Monday, 12 March 2012

Nightmare at Dorchester

Dorchester, parent company of horror press Leisure Books, has faced scandal after scandal. Things have been getting bloody for a while. Well the nightmare continues for their authors and some quarter of a million magazine subscribers who have, apparently, been left out of pocket.

Brian Keene has a timeline of the slowly unfolding disaster here.

The latest news is that Dorchester's owner is allegedly flogging the rights to books he doesn't even own the rights to. That means authors might continue to be robbed of their copyright while publishers profit from their work. It's not a secret now that authors haven't been paid royalties and that ebooks have been produced of titles the publisher no longer owns the rights to. In some cases, the royalties owed add up to tens of thousands of dollars. (This is, of course, only alleged at this time. But the number of reputable authors and organisations with beef is on the rise. SFWA have disqualified the publishing company and Keene claims at least two authors are mounting a legal challenge against Dorchester.)

If it's true, it's absolutely grotesque. It's gruesome. It's utterly unfair.

In the latest news, above, Keene offers some advice to the affected writers, including requesting ebooks be withdrawn from retailers such as Amazon for breach of copyright. Some authors have suggested offering cheaper, self-published ebook editions to undercut the Dorchester titles. I think this would strengthen any case you might have with retailers and distributors that you own the rights to the ebook editions. Also: check the reversion clauses in your contracts. There should be something that mentions who gets the rights when the publishers go bust (it should be the author or the author's estate).

To all those affected at this time: good luck, and fight the good fight. I'm praying for a swift and satisfying resolution in this ongoing saga.

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