Discussion Forums - Science Fiction

Topic: Quick Question about British Editions

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Quick Question about British Editions
Date Posted: 1/24/2010 8:12 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

So, I have been reading Iain M. Banks' Inversions for my SF Challenge, which I have in the UK edition from Orbit publishers. I was randomly flipping pages and noticed this on the page with all the legal stuff in fine print:

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

Now that just seemed odd. . . so I was wondering if that statement has some legal weight in the UK that I am unaware of, and thus in every book published there, or if it is just some random (or not so random) joke?

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 1/24/2010 8:39 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
Back To Top

Interesting.  I checked a couple, and it says the same thing in my Harry Potter books.  I also have a British edition of Gerald's Game by Stephen King (from 1992) which does not.  It says "The right of Stephen King to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him"

Date Posted: 1/24/2010 8:47 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

Now, the line in the Stephen King novel makes sense. . . I guess the "moral right" being asserted is the same, and a legal right; it's just not spelled out in the later editions (Inversions is from 1998). What a funny people those Brits are! ;)

Date Posted: 1/24/2010 9:11 PM ET
Member Since: 10/31/2009
Posts: 84
Back To Top

Moral rights are a seperate legal concept from copyright and ownership.  In essence, as I understand it, even if an author licenses or outright sells economic rights to a work to another party, moral rights says that they retain the right to claim authorship of the work and object to any modifications made to the work that is judged to be damaging to that author's reputation.

Date Posted: 1/24/2010 9:46 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

Does the author's objection have any real weight?

So, for instance, and I may have some of the details of this wrong, but take it as an example: Ursula LeGuin sold the movie rights to the Earthsea cycle to the SciFi Channel (no, I will NOT call it the SyFy Channel), then was displeased by the fact that they were casting all white actors for roles that she had explictly made dark-skinned in the books, but she had no power to stop the production of the movie. Would this have been different in the UK? Or at least, would it have gone to court to decide if the change was damaging to her reputation, even if she wouldn't have won the case?

Date Posted: 1/25/2010 2:23 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,425
Back To Top

Aren't moral rights the integrity rights?   Such as edits and changes have to be approved by the author?  The publisher would not have the right to change the ending?

I know that libel is very different in the UK.  Sounds like the statement is needed to have the full copyright in the UK. 

What appears on Canadian versions?

ETA  Moral rights are the integrity rights.  They are included in Canada, UK, and most EU copyrights.  The US includes them under defamation law rather than under copyright law.



Last Edited on: 1/25/10 2:28 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/25/2010 2:26 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

This may seem silly but. . . aren't the books we print in the U.S. the same ones that get sold in Canada? Isn't that why they have a U.S. dollars price and a Canadian dollars price?

Date Posted: 1/25/2010 2:31 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,425
Back To Top

No.  Not all books have the same version.  US and Canada can even have a different release date and ISBN number.   It is part of the publisher's contract to include Canada with the US or not.

Date Posted: 1/25/2010 3:27 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

Huh. Then I've never seen a book that was released exclusively in Canada. Anybody else able to answer what appears in Canadian versions?

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 1/25/2010 1:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
Back To Top

That seems odd.  I am pretty sure DAW does not have separate U.S. and Canadian editions...I know they publish a number of Canadian authors, including Tanya Huff.  I've read her LJ page about her releases and I've never noticed a discrepency. 

Date Posted: 1/25/2010 3:14 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,425
Back To Top

Sometimes Canada is included with the UK contract.  Sometimes with the US.  Never seen a book where it wasn't attached to one version or the other.  Maybe a small local press? 

Date Posted: 1/25/2010 4:37 PM ET
Member Since: 10/31/2009
Posts: 84
Back To Top

Penguin Canada has been known to publish Canada exclusives, though I wouldn't call them small.  A set of examples are R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing Trilogy.

First Penguin published each volume in Canada exclusively with only a Canadian price, then Overlook published the US edition marked only with a price in US dollars.  Some time after they came out in North America, Orbit published their versions in the UK.

Subject: moral rights
Date Posted: 1/25/2010 7:45 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
Back To Top

I checked a few of my British paperbacks, and it appears that different publishers use slightly different versions of the statement -

Orbit - The moral right of the author has been asserted.

Voyager - Jack McDevitt asserts the moral right to identified as the author of this work.

Gollancz - The right of Robert Silverberg to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

I also checked some of my German-language Heyne paperbacks, and there is no equivalent statement

There is a detailed explanation in wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_law_of_the_United_Kingdom.

Paul H. (PaulH) - ,
Date Posted: 1/25/2010 11:41 PM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2008
Posts: 146
Back To Top

Jeeze... Wikipedia has a page for everything...   ;)

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 1/26/2010 5:03 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
Back To Top

 

I abbreviated it in my earlier post, but Gerald's Game has the same notation as the Gollancz one Tom quoted above...though the publisher is Hodder and Stoughton.