TAA Action Issues
Last Updated July 21, 2011
TAA seeks data on international textbook sales
TAA Executive Director Richard Hull is calling on TAA member textbook authors to share data on their concerns about international sales of textbooks. Textbook authors should email Hull with accounts of their concerns, evidence of shady or fast practices, and the identity of their publisher. The results will be compiled and shared with all TAA members. All information shared will be kept confidential. Send your comments to Richard.Hull@taaonline.net. Read Hull's letter to TAA members below. (Download PDF of this letter)
Dear TAA Members:
A concerted effort by Amy Brown, a member in Hawaii, to draw the attention of both TAA's Council and TAA's textbook author members to a set of problems authors have with publisher's international sales, resulted in two extraordinary events at the recent annual conference in Albuquerque.
First, TAA's Council devoted a portion of its annual business meeting to a discussion of the problems identified by various textbook authors on TAA's textbook listerv.
Second, capitalizing on an opening in the program created by an unanticipated illness of the presenter, a group of TAA attorneys, royalty auditors, and text authors had an intensive discussion of the various complaints text authors have about international sales.
The results of these two events was to commission TAA staff to seek among TAA textbook authors and the wider number of nonmember textbook authors a survey of the range, scope, and foci of these problems.
Steve Gillen, an intellectual property attorney, articulated the range of problems frequently complained about (without necessarily reaching any conclusion about whether there may be merit to the complaints) this way:
- There is the issue sometimes referred to as "quartering" - the practice of some publishers of applying a reduced royalty rate (typically half the domestic rate) to the reduced proceeds from sales to a distributor (typically discounted by half) for resale in foreign markets.
- There is the issue involving "transfer pricing" - the practice of affiliated companies transferring inventory at an artificially low price, with the domestic company paying the author royalties on that artificially low transfer price rather than on the price at source (i.e., at the end purchaser point of sale).
- There is the issue of grey market goods ("channel stuffing" in the Cengage/Harcourt suit) - international editions or domestic editions sold for overseas distribution at deep discounts but finding their way back to the US market to displace domestic sales.
- There is also just plain old piracy, most of which is distributed from points overseas and out of the reach of US jurisdiction.
One, and perhaps two, additional practices emerged from these discussions:
- One publisher's online catalog websites lists the international student edition with the stipulation that it cannot be shipped or sold to a US site, but then gives the shipping costs back to the US.
- Another member reported many years of even sales of the first edition of the text, with a steady international sales percentage of about 10%, but that the second edition's international sales jumped to almost 67% of all sales, resulting in an average per copy royalty rate dropping from $18 to $2.
TAA takes seriously the implications of these allegations. The organization has decided first to seek additional input from member and nonmember textbook authors about their concerns about their publishers' accounting for international sales. It is important for this collected data to contain the identities of the publishers, if only to help segregate those publishers whose practices are questionable from those whose practices are not.
So this is a call for data on concerns about international sales of textbooks. Please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org with your accounts of your concerns, evidence of shady or fast practices, and the identity of your publisher. We will maintain a careful and close record of those communications so as to protect the identities of respondents, but will compile the results in a database that can be evaluated by TAA's legal advisers. Any information you choose to share with us will be held in confidence for evaluation and discussion only among TAA staff, Council, and advisors. TAA will not identify you or make any outside disclosure of information that could be identified with you without first obtaining your express consent.
Richard T. Hull, Ph.D.
Text and Academic Authors Association, Inc. (TAA)
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TAA members asked to support anti-piracy bill
Leahy to introduce updated rogue site bill
At a Feb. 16, 2011 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Chairman Patrick Leahy said he will introduce an updated version of the rogue site bill, which faced opposition from Oregon Senator Wyden last year. The Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act (S3804), or "rogue site" bill, would empower the U.S. Attorney General to initiate a proceeding in U.S. District Court to disable the domain name of an Internet website that offers downloads of pirated books. It would also bar domestic ISPs and ad service providers from processing transactions from piracy websites registered overseas. TAA members are asked to support the bill.
Opposition to 'rogue site' bill may put decision on hold
On November 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved S.3804 by a 19-0 vote and it is now awaiting the vote of the full Senate. Senator Wyden from Oregon opposes the bill, however, and may put a hold on it thus keeping it from a vote in this session.
It is now even more critical that authors write their representatives supporting this bill. You can now respond to this bill on the POPVOX.com website: Click here
TAA is calling on its members and other authors to support a new bill that would fight online piracy of intellectual property, including textbooks, by contacting their Senators and Representatives and urging them to support the bill.
The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (S. 3804), or “rogue site” bill, would empower the U.S. Attorney General to initiate a proceeding in U.S. District Court to disable the domain name of an Internet website that offers downloads of pirated books. It would also bar domestic ISPs and ad service providers from processing transactions from piracy websites registered overseas.
“Online piracy of copyrighted works is a violation of the interests of textbook and academic authors,” said Richard Hull, TAA’s executive director. “It undermines the economic value of intellectual property, discourages creativity and innovation, costs jobs, and damages the U.S. export of intellectual property created by its citizens.”
The existing notice and takedown regimen is ineffectual and leaves the owners of intellectual property defenseless, he said.
Senate cosponsors of the bill: Patrick Leahy, VT; Lamar Alexander, TN; Ben Cardin , MD; Richard Durbin, IL; Kirsten Gillibrand, NY; Chuck Grassley, IA; Amy Klobuchar, MN; Charles Schumer, NY; Tom Coburn, OK; Dianne Feinstein, CA; Lindsey Graham, SC; Orrin Hatch, UT; Herb Kohl, WI; Sheldon Whitehouse, RI; George Voinovich, OH; Evan Bayh, IN; Arlen Specter, PA.
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TAA members asked to make opinions on government-published “free” textbooks known
TAA Members Respond:
"It would be far easier to jump on board this proposal if government had a better track record in its incursions into the relationship among publisher, author, and teacher. But it is governments—state boards of education, typically—that have pressured textbook publishers to water down their work so as to not offend. Creationism and its more recent incarnation, intelligent design, have been pushed on professional educators over and over, and principled teachers have had to go to court to win their right to adopt more appropriate learning materials.
To be sure, the federal government has frequently been a powerful check on dangerous interventions at the state and local level. But we should not cast aside all skepticism just because this is federal legislation under consideration. Who among us would embrace the idea of Congress being able to dictate to schools and colleges nationwide what books they should use? Yet in an age of scarce resources, forcing publishers and authors to compete against zero-cost classroom materials will make it very difficult indeed for individual school boards and teachers to argue for what they see as superior materials but which are not offered free of charge."
Professor of Communication,
University of Hartford
TAA Executive Director Richard Hull asks members to help the Association of American Publishers with their efforts to amend a bill (HR 3221) that would allow the government to produce online course materials. The AAP argues that quality online materials are already readily available, and the government would be hurting authors, publishers, and the hundreds of companies involved in developing and distributing online materials -- and students -- by competing with them.
Dear TAA Members:
The Association of American Publishers has asked us to help them with their efforts to amend a bill that would allow the government to produce free online course materials. The AAP argues that quality online materials are already readily available, and the government would be hurting authors, publishers, and the hundreds of companies involved in developing and distributing online materials — and students — by competing with them.
HR 3221 is still sitting in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP). The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has been meeting with the staff of the Senators who serve on the HELP Committee and their staff to encourage them to amend the bill.
The bill has the solid backing of the White House and staff at the Department of Education. Their principal arguments are that quality online materials are not available and, even if they are, the government can produce better materials, and that online course and course materials should be free to everyone, in the U.S. and abroad.
The AAP has pointed out that online courses are, in fact readily available and that those produced in the U.S. are the best in the world and noted that spending government money to compete with that existing structure will hurt authors, publishers and the hundreds of companies involved in developing and distributing online materials and, ultimately, the very students they want to help.
The government wants to start from scratch. Why wait when, as Tom Allen notes in his attached letter to the editor of Politico; all the course materials they want are already only “a mouse click away.” The AAP said they are getting some traction with the Democrats. The Republicans on the Committee are strongly supportive of our position but, as the minority, have limited input to the process.
I encourage you to contact HELP Committee members and express your opinions on the bill. Clicking on the link beside each name will take you to the member’s web page; look for “Contact me” and then search for the email address or the telephone number for legislative issues.
Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions
Here is a collection of background articles to look at to make your expressed opinion more credible:
Robert E. Andrews (NJ-01) http://www.house.gov/andrews/
David Wu (OR-01) http://www.house.gov/wu/
Phil Hare (IL-17) http://www.house.gov/hare/
John F. Tierney (MA-06) http://www.house.gov/tierney/
Dennis J. Kucinich (OH-10) http://www.house.gov/kucinich/
Marcia Fudge (OH-11) http://www.house.gov/fudge/
Dale E. Kildee (MI-05) http://www.house.gov/kildee/
Carolyn McCarthy (NY-04) http://www.house.gov/mccarthy/
Rush D. Holt (NJ-12) http://www.house.gov/holt/
Joe Sestak (PA-07) http://www.house.gov/sestak/
Dave Loebsack (IA-02) http://www.house.gov/loebsack/
Yvette Clark (NY-11) http://www.house.gov/clark/
Tom Price (GA-06) http://www.house.gov/price/
John Kline (MN-02) http://www.house.gov/kline/
Howard “Buck” McKeon (CA-25) http://www.house.gov/mckeon/
Joe Wilson (SC-02) http://www.house.gov/wilson/
Brett Guthrie (KY-2) http://www.house.gov/guthrie/
Tom McClintock (CA-4) http://www.house.gov/mcclintock/
Duncan D. Hunter (CA-52) http://www.house.gov/hunter/
Phil Roe (TN-1) http://www.house.gov/roe/
Tom Allen, President and CEO, Association of American Publishers
Column supporting HR 3221 by Sec. of Ed Arne Duncan
Column opposing HR 3221 by Rep. Kline (R-MN)
Open Courses: Free, but Oh So Costly
Around the World, Varied Approaches to Open Online Learning
The Misguided 'Online Skills Laboratory
The Liberation of Textbooks
Both textbook and academic authors will have interests affected by a government-run free, open access textbook program in competition with standard publishers. You may wish to express your views so that this sub committee understands the opinions of us all.
Richard Hull, PhD
Executive Director of TAA
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TAA releases article that debunks the top 7 myths regarding textbook costs
by Kim Pawlak
Students' purchase of used textbooks, and more recently, the theft of new textbooks via downloads at file sharing websites, is based on misinformation about how textbook publishing works, how professors choose textbooks, the business practices of book resellers, and the motivations of authors who write textbooks, said Richard Hull, executive director of the Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA).
TAA recently interviewed publishers, professors and authors as a way to set straight the top myths regarding textbook costs.
Download PDF of this article
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Stomp the Comp!
TAA's fight against the sale of complimentary copies
Since its inception in 1987, TAA members have held the problems of complimentary copies and used textbooks to be among the most worrisome and aggravating ones of the profession.
More info on Stomp the Comp efforts
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'Textbook Affordability Bill' includes language regarding comp
Due in part
to the efforts of TAA and its members, Florida's HB603 "Textbook
Affordability Bill" has been amended by Representative Anitere
Flores to include language regarding the sale of complimentary
was amended to include the following: "These materials may
not be sold for any type of compensation if they are specifically
marked as free samples not for resale."
means that comp copies that are not specifically marked as 'free
samples not for resale' can still be sold, on the whole, our effort
to modify Florida's comp copy law was a reasonable success," said
TAA Executive Director Richard Hull. "Now it is up to publishers
to make sure comp copies are appropriately marked."
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