Rightscenter.com, generally acknowledged as the leader among online startups offering the electronic exchange of rights information, is readjusting its strategy following the removal of support by a major backer, and has already closed its London office.

Nick Webb, former U.K. chief of Simon & Schuster, who had spearheaded the company's expansion into Europe, said that the withdrawal of support by Reed, a major strategic investor (and parent company of PW), meant that the company had to cut overhead, and, as a result, his office was closing. He added, however, that Rightscenter is still servicing customers. "We still believe we have a brilliant application and that sooner or later it will prevail," he told PW. The exact status of the company should be defined in the next week or so, Webb said.

Repeated efforts to reach chief executive Kip Parent and other company executives were unsuccessful. At one point Parent announced he would have a statement early last week, but nothing was available at press time.

Another company offering similar services, subrights.com, closed its doors last year. Rightsworld.com is still in business, and the Frankfurt Book Fair is developing a similar online negotiation service this summer (see story below).