Clare Painter Associates

Copyright audits, digital rights, publishing contracts & permissions

4 Questions to Kickstart your Digital Licensing

With our biggest trade fair of the year just around the corner, it’s time to check whether you’re picking up sales from all the most important e-vendors for your particular publishing field.

Although publishers have been licensing content for a good while now, the ‘rules of the road’ are far from fixed, and much can be up for negotiation. The following are a few of the most important signposts you need to take notice of along the way.

  1. What do you own?  – Carry out an audit of the rights you hold. This can begin from a simple spreadsheet, but knowing what you own is the first step towards making the most of digital channels in all their variety.
  2. Who should you license to?  – Naturally you’ll sell through the big name retailers, but what about specialist markets? Exactly what those are will depend on your subject fields. Look for a route that helps and supports you as you expand your licensing business, while keeping you in control.
  3. What can you negotiate?  – Quite a lot! To start with, keep licences non-exclusive unless there’s a seriously compelling reason. And make sure you really understand where and how your content will be used. The detail really matters here. You’ll negotiate differently if your material is going to be the Big Star in a paid-for product, or if it’s just a ‘nice to have’ and might be handed out free of charge.
  4. Can you avoid contract pitfalls?  – Certainly, but licence contracts usually come from the licensee, and that means they can vary enormously. Define the licence tightly and avoid limiting your options in future wherever you can. Take care that you have enough protection in the contract too, as it will have been conceived initially from the licensee’s point of view, rather than yours.

Commission-Based Licensing Agency

I’ve recently taken over the running of the Digital Licensing Agency, originally founded by David Attwooll in 2002 as part of Attwooll Associates. I worked with the agency from the start, and over that time we’ve helped dozens of publishers to license thousands of titles across professional, academic, educational and consumer markets.

I currently have a few slots available for businesses to join our agency. Could that be you? If you’re new to licensing, we can advise on the process and recommend e-vendors for your specific list. If you already have a handful of licences in place, that’s generally fine and we can work around it.

The agency business is entirely commission based, so there is no up-front cost to you.

Major trade fairs in March and October are key times for the agency business, and I’ll have meetings set up there with many of the key e-vendors. If you might be interested, the run-up to one of those dates would be a really good time for us to talk.

This post was first published in Clare’s e-newsletter 7 September 2017