Friday, 16 July 2010

How to read a publishing contract (17)

Now we have a clause you can't really argue with, at least not without looking like a tyrant. It's a bit out of date, though...

17. Recording in Braille

The Publisher shall be entitled to authorise free of charge the recording of the Work in Braille or as a Talking Book for the use of the blind and/or the microfilming of the Work for the use of handicapped persons, such permissions to be given only for the use of the material on a non-commercial basis.

You wouldn't want to argue with this, would you? And I suspect they know that even if you *would* want to, you'd probably be too embarrassed to do so. It's not going to lose you any sales and it helps more people enjoy your book.

Talking books were originally cassette tape. I imagine they are now MP3s? I don't know - I would hope, though, that a blind person could put the book on their iPod and not have to wrestle with the past.

Microfilm?? Good Lord. I used to use microfilms of manuscripts and old newspapers occasionally when I was doing my PhD thesis. I would hope by now that no-one is making microfilms of my books. I can't really see how grappling with a microfilm reader would help someone with a handicap of any kind, and I hope by now they will be making accessible pdfs that are scalable and have full text-to-speech capability. But maybe the handicap they are thinking of is 'aversion to the modern world'.

So there you go - no stropping opportunities with this clause. Unless you want to use it to point out that your publisher should have their standard contract redrafted for this millennium. Updating once per millennium is not too much to ask, surely. Or that providing the blind and handicapped with such shoddy options is tantamount to discrimination, ghettoising them in the mid-20th century? I haven't done it, but it might be interesting to suggest they change this clause to produce usable versions for disadvantaged readers. Setting them off on a mission to find a microfilm reader or cassette player is surely cruel and inhuman treatment?

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