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Photos Raise Copyright Issues When Going From Print To eBook

Publishers and authors looking to turn their print books into eBooks don’t just have to worry about the digital formatting, they also have to keep rights management in mind.

Just because you have the print rights to use an image doesn’t mean that you have the digital book rights. Your contract must stipulate that you have digital rights to use the image, or you have to go back to the copyright owner and extend the contract. “The first place to look is the contract between publisher and the photographer,” said Christopher Kenneally, Director of Business Development at Copyright Clearance.

Once you are clear that you have the right to use an image in a digital form, you may need to add in an extra stipulation if you want to enhance that image for an enhanced eBook. “If you are confused you are beginning to understand the problem,” said Christopher Kenneally, Director of Business Development at Copyright Clearance. “It is a confusing area.”

Publishers and authors signing contracts these days should keep digital rights in mind. While you may not have plans for an eBook version of a print title, eBooks are growing in popularity and it is best to get the digital rights ahead of time, so that you don’t have to go digging or trying to recreate images.

“Dealing with images opens up a can of worms,” said Kenneally. “I may be able to reshoot all of the images for a travel guide if I want to put out an eBook edition, because the sites are very common and everyone has taken a photo of them. But if I wanted to try to reshoot a special photographer’s style, then I might be infringing.”

For more information on copyright and publishing, the Copyright Clearance Center gives workshops on specific issues. Follow this link to find out more.

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