SEOUL, Aug. 29 (Korea Bizwire) — From now on, book publishers will need explicit permissions from the authors for all creative works including children’s storybooks when they use the contents for secondary purposes. The Fair Trade Commission said on August 28 that it has ordered Korea’s top-20 publishing houses to improve their terms and conditions with authors including the “outright purchase” clauses that have allowed them to take all the profits generated from secondary and tertiary use of the content.
The commission explained that the unfair practice to content creators has posed as an important obstacle to providing incentive to talented authors and story creators. Outright purchase is a practice by publishers to take all follow-on proceeds after book publishing once they make an upfront payment to authors with no additional income to the authors.
According to the fair competition regulator, this decades-long practice is what may kill the healthy one-source multi-use environment in which anyone can become a content creator and realize high income. The best case illustrating this point is Baek Hee-na, the author who is famous for writing “Cloud Bread,” one of the all-time best-selling children’s books.
The publisher of the book raked in 440 billion won from the proceeds from the TV cartoon, musical, and character goods, in addition to the book. But Ms. Baek earned only 18.5 million won (0.0042%) as she signed an outright purchase contract when she was an unproven author.
In contrast, the Harry Potter series has generated more than $300 billion in income from the movies, video games, and musical, with the author J.K. Rowling becoming an overnight billionaire from the royalties for the books, movies, and merchandise.
In the new terms and conditions contract, the Fair Trade Commission made sure the author be given an option whether to hand over the entire copyright to the publisher. In addition, the provisions will allow authors to freely transfer their copyrights for secondary use without notifying the publisher with which they signed the primary contract.
A Fair Trade Commission official commented, “We are certain the latest revision will strengthen the rights of content creators by respecting the author’s explicit intention on the content. It will remedy the current unfair situation where authors don’t get any financial gain even when their content is reused in secondary and tertiary venues.”
By Sean Chung (firstname.lastname@example.org)