[permaculture] Copyright

Toby Hemenway hemenway at jeffnet.org
Sun Mar 31 12:13:28 EST 2002

on 3/29/02 1:40 PM, Thilo Pfennig at tp at alternativ.net wrote:

> Well, if you take a deeper look it is not the creative producers who
> earn most of the money. Look at the music business or publishing
> companies. [snip] How much percent of the volume of
> sales do you get from your book from your publishing company? Don't they
> just get money for doing the copying job?

The music business is criminal; artists get almost nothing. But in
publishing, except for some dishonest publishers, authors get 10-15% of the
cover price. I'm pretty happy with that. My publisher had a team of 4 people
working part-time for a year on my book, editing, doing the artwork,
designing a very attractive layout, formatting, checking the work,
typesetting, proofreading, making an index, contacting hundreds of media
outlets and thousands of booksellers, mailing out lots of review copies for
free, and a hundred other things that I would hate to have to do.  For this
they get 35% of the cover price, and the retailer gets 50%. They also let me
buy copies for a large discount to re-sell, so I earn more money on those.
To me, paying a publisher for to use their large, already-in-place resources
(ahh, capitalism!) is far better than self-publishing. I feel I received
money in proportion to my share of the work (well, maybe the retailer's
share is a little large!).

(pardon me for all that detail; I hope that was of interest to at least

But overall, I agree that ownership of works (and ownership of things in
general) needs a lot of rethinking. It would be useful to be able to place
works or property in the common domain and not have them be claimed or
ruined by someone else. Right now about the only way to do that is to retain
ownership but offer to give up some of the rights. Like a copyright
disclaimer that says anyone can copy or distribute but must give credit and
indicate changes; or like selling land but retaining the mining, water, and
timber rights. It's tragic that unwatched resources tend to be abused.


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