NLW Digitisation Proposals
Letters from the Periodicals
16 October 2007
Helle Michelsen, editor.
New Welsh Review (letter to the National Library of Wales)
27 November 2007
Dear Andrew Green,
Thank you for your formal approach to New Welsh Review for permission to digitise Dock Leaves, The Anglo-Welsh Review and New Welsh Review and to hold a fully and freely accessible digital archive on the National Library of Wales website. Following extended discussions with my Editorial Board, I am now in a position to respond.
We have considered the matter over several Editorial Board meetings, and have consulted with writers and other interested bodies, and we have come to the conclusion that it is impossible for us to sign up to the project until a fuller public debate has been held on the matter.
In essence, we are in favour of complete digitisation: we recognise the need for a secure electronic home for all three magazines, also the expense that this would involve were we to attempt to undertake the work ourselves. We are grateful to the Library for considering the magazine worthy of the scheme, and are hopeful that we may be able to sign up to the project in the future.
For the moment, however, the opt-out, ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach does not come close to satisfying us as partial copyright holders of the material that we publish. We would welcome a more commercially astute approach to the project, which would involve the purchasing by NLW of licences at different rates for each of the three magazines under consideration, and the purchasing of several different licences to cover digitisation of New Welsh Review in blocks, e.g. 1988-2002, 2002-2008, and in three-year blocks thereafter. This would enable us to charge fees at different rates for each of the magazines. If we were able to come to a financial agreement along these lines, New Welsh Review would be in a position to offer copyright payment to the authors in question – and, where relevant, subsequent publishers – on your behalf (although the administrative burden for this would of course need to be carried by NLW). We would not seek to retain any of the fee for our own purposes.
As for future use, we would be willing to discuss a three-year licence for the material published between 2008-2011 in the first instance, and we would want to agree terms as soon as possible in order for us to combine this payment to authors with their usual commission fee, so that they are paid upfront for digitisation upon publication. We strongly believe that authors should be offered an increased commission fee if that commission is to include signing over the digital copyright to NLW for worldwide access. If NLW is agreeable to pursuing negotiation of separate licences, we could also discuss the possibility of signing over the material for limited periods only for a lower fee, rather than signing it all over in perpetuity in one block.
My main concern is that this project has been approached with academic and scholarly goals in view, and that the writer as the original creator of the work has been summarily dismissed from the debate. As a literary editor whose priority is the writers whose work I admire and foster, I feel unhappy about signing up to NLW’s digitisation project on the terms currently on offer. I must reiterate, though, that we are hopeful that we can sign up to digitisation once a fuller debate has been held, and I look forward to discussing the matter further with you.