With the Google Book Settlement all but dead, another sign that the market is moving on: This morning, the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) confirmed that Michael Healy, the former executive director (designate) for the Google Settlement’s proposed Book Rights Registry, is joining CCC and will start in October in the newly created post of executive director, Author and Publisher Relations. Since 2009, Healy, former executive director at the Book Industry Study Group, had served as a consultant to the Google Book Settlement classes, in anticipation of heading up the rights registry that would have been created under the proposed settlement. The settlement, however, was rejected in March of this year, after a flurry of opposition.
Tracey Armstrong, Copyright Clearance Center CEO, told PW she was “absolutely thrilled” that CCC had landed Healy, and that Healy would help CCC with a range of new products and solutions. “Michael will not only help us expand our market presence,” Armstrong said, “but also our business models to accommodate things like backlist rights, the lack of clarity in e-book rights, and multiple rightsholder and derivative rights problems. These are really challenging issues.”
Healy told PW his work with the Google Settlement parties had essentially been an open-ended consultancy with no explicit end date. But after recent developments effectively killed the chances of a revised settlement broad enough to sustain the kind of registry initially envisioned, Healy said he was delighted to join CCC. “During our initial conversations I was impressed by the range of innovative services CCC has planned for the immediate future,” Healy noted. “Being part of an organization so focused on innovation was really attractive.” Healy said he would begin his CCC duties around October 10, and that he would join the CCC team at the Frankfurt Book Fair. He will be based in New York.
It sounds like Healy will be a busy man in his first days on the job at Frankfurt. Armstrong said CCC would be discussing the development of a number of new initiatives while in Frankfurt, including an “in-app” mobile licensing product; a “re-publication” license; and a “permissions acquisition service." Founded in 1978, CCC is a non-proft organization providing rights and licensing expertise to organizations around the world.
Healy certainly seems a good fit for CCC as it works to design solutions for “buyers and sellers” of rights in an increasingly complex digital environment. A veteran of the book business, both in the U.S. and in Europe, Healy, a former librarian, spent seven years at Nielsen Book Data, the U.K. bibliographic data provider, where he worked on supply chain and standards issues, before becoming executive director in 2006 of the Book Industry Study Group. In 2009, he was tapped by the AAP and Authors Guild to take on the enormous task of creating and managing the Google Settlement’s Book Rights Registry. While the Google Settlement failed to win approval, the debate it sparked succeeded in raising the profile of a host of complicated rights-related issues—including the fate of out-of-print and orphan works.
“I think the turmoil in the marketplace over the past several years is an indication of just how serious some of these issues are and the lengths to which people are willing to go to solve the issues,” Armstrong said, referring to the Google litigation, and the visionary, if overreaching settlement. “Rights work is time consuming, labor intensive, in-the trenches activity. Short of a broader solution—and today it looks like that would have to be a legislative solution—the market needs to move on and demonstrate that it can solve some of its own problems.”