Brian O'Leary is Executive Director of BISG. Maya Fakundiny serves as Operations Manager of BISG.
BISG maintains five standing committees: metadata, rights, subject codes, supply chain, and workflow. They meet monthly, working to solve problems that affect two or more parts of the industry. While some of the problems they address are immediate and pressing, many are "horizon" issues that block industry growth or limit opportunities to try new approaches.
The work underway in BISG's Rights Committee is a bit of both. Surveys and anecdotal information have consistently told us that rights functions need both better technology and a path forward to handle a growing demand for both inbound and outbound rights and permissions. Reporting is also a burden for many rightsholders.
To address these challenges, a working group within the committee has developed a taxonomy for the exchange of rights information. This taxonomy defines a minimum viable dataset for the communication of rights requests and rights transaction data. The taxonomy helps streamline and potentially automate two potential parts of the rights supply chain:
- Publisher to Publisher data exchange, such as between a US-based publisher and a foreign (UK-based) publisher
- Literary Agent to Publisher, such as between an Author's agent and a Publisher, or from Publisher to Author's agent
The proposed taxonomy was described at a very successful BISG event that took place last week in New York. An audience of publishers, literary agents, rights managers, and technology providers heard how the new taxonomy could streamline work and make reporting both transparent and easier to manage.
Over the past three decades, BISG has made other attempts to improve rights management. These efforts included development of the first "standard" form for reporting rights and royalties, an influential attempt that gained some acceptance in the 1990s. Earlier this decade, the rights committee developed a new taxonomy that struggled to gain adoption in the broader marketplace.
Two aspects of this most recent effort offer promise for the industry. The working group focused on developing standards that would help "machines talk to other machines," creating definitions that could be mapped across systems. It also started with the assumption that the prevailing metadata standard, ONIX for Books, could be used or enhanced to provide the supply chain with a single way to convey the critical information required in the taxonomy.
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