The right of Conde Nast to sell

posted by Jason Kottke Oct 17, 2005

The right of Conde Nast to sell The Complete New Yorker (which is completely awesome from a content standpoint, BTW) without paying authors for republish rights is a gray area legally. National Geographic has stopped selling a similar collection because of the unsure legal terrain.

Reader comments

Adam RakunasOct 17, 2005 at 12:48PM

Hm. The Tasini standard sounds like serious legal weaseling. "We're only reproducing our magazine the way it looked in paper, therefore we own the copyright on this presentation."

On the other hand, what reproduction rights did the original authors sign over to TNY? My parents had a giant book of New Yorker cartoons that ran from the magazine's start to the mid-60's; what standard did TNY use then?

Martin S.Oct 17, 2005 at 12:57PM

I think the current situation is a fairly good balance between serving the interests of the public (it's good to have the NYer available on DVD-ROM) and the interests of the writers who deserve compensation for their work. The Tasini decision and the NG decision somehow have led to a place where it's profitable for the NYer to release the product -- that's a good thing. Sometimes differing rulings arrive at a fair middle ground.

Actually, the iffy legal ground is exactly the reason I bought mine fast -- maybe in six months they'll be recalled -- and I'll still have mine.

RobOct 17, 2005 at 1:30PM

Jason, if this was your ploy to get us to buy the collection quickly before it was pulled from the virtual racks and get your little cut from the sale, then you have succeeded. Kudos! I've been saving my issues since 1999 and once I get the DVDs, I'll probably tear off the covers and throw out the magazines.

John UpdikeOct 17, 2005 at 2:24PM

Wait: If I buy this set by clicking the link up top, Jason Kottke will get a bigger slice of the purchase price than me, John Updike, famed New Yorker contributor? I write great but I don't know crap about monetizing clickstream, too bad for me.

anonOct 17, 2005 at 4:51PM

It doesn't surprise me that they would try to get away with this. Conde Nast(y) has just about the worst reputation right now in the business. They are notoriously cheap and pay terrible day rates unless you're a celebrity writer or photographer, while at the same time demanding wholesale rights to the copyrights of their writers and photographers. Photographers in particular are advised to steer clear of them.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.