The Authors Guild called a new proposal made by John Wiley Tuesday afternoon to resolve the dispute between Wiley and the Guild over the fairest royalty rates for Bloomberg authors progress, but said it wasn’t enough to settle the issue. On Tuesday Wiley said that it will call each of the 117 authors “to make sure they understand the changes we have proposed.” Wiley added that if any author is uncomfortable with the proposed changes, they can retain their original Bloomberg contracts.
The company noted that a proposal by the Guild to wait until the completion of the next royalty cycle to compare payments under the Wiley and Bloomberg contracts would drag out a resolution to the issue. A Wiley spokesperson said the company expected to be able to contact all the authors over the next week, while it would be several months before the next royalty period was up. She reiterated it was never Wiley’s intention to mislead authors in its letter, noting that the language chosen was meant to clarify what is often confusing language that involves royalties.
The Guild responded by issuing an alert that said while they are relieved Wiley agreed to disregard any signed contract amendments, it added, “we still don't know whether those authors will be given the clear information they need regarding how the changes will affect their royalties and other material terms of their book contracts.”
The Guild’s newest proposal has three parts found below:
1. After the conclusion of a standard Wiley royalty period, Wiley would allow an independent royalty auditor to review a reasonable sample of actual Wiley/Bloomberg royalty statements under the Wiley system and prepare a report on how the Wiley amendment affected authors' royalties. The auditor would compute royalties under the Wiley amendment and under the original Bloomberg terms, to arrive at a clear, side-by-side comparison of the two. Wiley would disseminate that auditor's report to its Bloomberg authors. This report would end the argument between Wiley and the Authors Guild: real data would replace rhetoric.
2. Wiley would then give its Bloomberg authors the chance to decide whether they wanted their original Bloomberg terms or the amended Wiley terms. Armed with the auditor's report, truly informed consent would be possible.
3. Wiley would voluntarily agree to industry-standard reversion of rights sales thresholds for its Bloomberg authors. Bloomberg had no print-on-demand program, as we've previously noted and as Wiley freely admits. Bloomberg authors would have reasonably expected, therefore, that if their books didn't sell enough to justify replenishing stock with a traditional print run, then the rights in the books would be revertible (otherwise, the definition of "out of stock" in the Bloomberg contract is gibberish). Fortunately, the industry has a well-accepted solution for applying print-on-demand technology to an author's contract termination rights: minimum sales thresholds. Bloomberg authors are entitled to this routine contract term.
“We regret Wiley didn't take us up on our offer,” the Guild said. “This dispute, and the Bloomberg authors, need clear, objective information. In our view, a royalty audit was just the ticket.” The Guild concluded by saying it will offer a free service that will provide a side-by-side comparison of the original Bloomberg contract and Wiley's proposed amendments.