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Rightscenter.com Inks Deals; Gears Up for Fairs
Calvin Reid -- 2/28/00

With the London Book Fair and BookExpo America drawing near, rightscenter.com, an online platform for buying, selling and managing rights to books, film projects and other content, announced a flurry of deals and alliances aimed at introducing online rights management to the industry.

Rightscenter.com announced an agreement with the London Book Fair that will allow publishers, literary agents and scouts exhibiting at the fair free and unlimited access to the site for all titles submitted and activated on rightscenter.com before July. The usual cost for posting active content is $250 per title. Rightscenter.com has a similar agreement for BEA exhibitors.

The site also announced an agreement with Bradbury Phillips International, a U.K. software firm that has developed a rights management software application used by several large publishing houses. The deal will allow publishers using the Bradbury Phillips rights software to move seamlessly between their in-house rights tracking systems and rightscenter.com's online rights management platform.

The firm also announced that Matthew Specktor, a former film development executive who has worked for Fox 2000 and Tribeca Productions, has been named to head the rightscenter.com Los Angeles office and tout the site to the film industry.

Jim McHugh, rightscenter.com 's executive v-p of sales and marketing, described Rightscenter. com as an effort to "automate and facilitate the work of editors, agents and subagents, providing whatever level of privacy or openness they need. It will save time and money." The system allows a prospective seller to set up a virtual office by listing company information on three online directories (Global Literary Marketplace and the BEA and LBF directories). Sellers can set up a virtual Rolodex of personal contacts and quickly send and receive e-mail submission letters and notifications. Using rightscenter.com , members can access the site and send, receive or forward submission information and content access to anyone from anywhere in the world if they have access to a computer and the Internet.

Rightscenter.com members can post proposals, manuscripts, full text of books, graphics, title information, reviews, author profiles and other content, along with the rights available for that content. The site's technology allows the seller to decide what can be accessed. "Agents don't have to post everything; you can adjust the level of access according to the viewer and make sure that the information gets into key hands," said McHugh. Submitters are not charged until a title or entry is activated for viewing. rightscenter.com members can easily upload text files or PDF files, and after a sale the buyer can download text and graphics.

The seller decides which rights to make visible to whom. The site also keeps a record of each title's transactions, including e-mail replies and who has accessed the property. Publishers, said McHugh, "get an organized view of submissions, what has been bought and what's been rejected. It's a cheaper way to circulate properties." Subagents, said McHugh, can easily forward access to content information; scouts can send summaries and recommendations and adjust the levels of access. Editors, said McHugh, can leave manuscripts at the office and access submissions and proposals online, from wherever they happen to be.

McHugh emphasized to PW that rightscenter.com is "designed to fit into the book publishing industry's ecosystem. Rightscenter.com will augment face to face dealings." He expects to produce significant revenues from title activation fees, and rightscenter.com will not take a percentage of sales made through the site. "We're not going to get in the way by charging a percentage of the deals," said McHugh. "That's private; it's none of our business what publishers and agents transact on the site. We know that publishers have a gold mine of content that they need to make available."
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