Material and Intellectual Rights of Oral History Works-1

The publication "Sureh Mehr" focuses on respecting the equal rights of the parties

Compiled by: Maryam Asadi Jafari
Compiled by: Fazel Shirzad


The genre of oral history has been among the most popular works in Iran in the last two decades, and when a book based on oral history is written and published, it will most likely be on the publisher's bestseller list. There have been cases where the author and the publisher, after a book has appeared in the publishing market, have been challenged over the material and intellectual rights of the book. The oral history website seeks to find the answer to the question that the material and intellectual rights of the author, narrator and publisher of oral history works will be respected in the best possible way. After raising the issue of the right of material ownership and intellectual property of oral history works and heritage notes without a legal system, at the beginning of this path, we chose Surah Mehr Publishing House, one of the pioneers in the publication of oral history works, and we inquired about the policy of this publisher:


The importance of the author's position in the eyes of the publisher

Hamidreza Pashanjati, the financial and administrative director of Surah Mehr Publications, stated in the context of this publisher's approach in the field of intellectual and material rights of oral history books: "Previously, when a work in the field of oral history was published in Surah Mehr, the editor or author of the book, at the beginning of the work, received research fee or writing fee. This happened like a contract or memorandum of understanding to buy the ownership of the work from the author. That is, the author did not receive a fee for the subsequent reprints, and mostly the second party (narrator) had a financial benefit, but for about a decade, Surah Mehr has changed its approach and this fee is divided equally between the narrator and the author. It is possible, except in exceptional cases where the author or the narrator waives their share and leaves it to the other party. In the new approach of Surah Mehr, as far as possible, the rights of the parties are respected equally.

He explained the reason for the change in Surah Mehr's approach as follows: "This change in approach was caused by the non-respect of the rights of the parties in past contracts and the dissatisfaction of some writers, which we resolved." By reviewing the contracts of several public and private publishers with whom we cooperated, we reached a common understanding in concluding a contract with the authors of the works, which led to the satisfaction of the parties. Sometimes a publisher, in order to attract famous authors, arranges contracts that are more pleasant for the author on the surface, but the big challenge starts here. There were friends of writers who, for this reason, took their book from this publisher and handed it over to another publisher, but since their book was not seen, they again submitted a request for publication in Surah Mehr.

Pashanjati went on to emphasize the importance of book promotion support by the publisher and author: "If this is not done, the book will be lost in the flood of daily news and after a period, it will be out of the market cycle. So just writing and publishing a book and saying that we have done our duty is not enough. In today's world, after the production of the product, the product should be released, and the second part of the book operation will take place after the printing and in the promotion and introduction of the product. This important thing should be done with the cooperation of the publisher and the author. More activity should be done in this field."

The financial and administrative director of Surah Mehr Publishing called the arrangement of a fair contract as one of the ways to reduce dissatisfaction between the narrator, the author and the publisher and said: "Between the years 2015-2016, contracts for nearly 2,000 book titles in the field of oral history that were published in recent decades It was counted so that if we decided to reprint them, the consent of the parties would be obtained and these challenges would not arise. The material aspect of the contract is a very important point, and just for a publisher to give a higher percentage to the author, maybe it will make the author happy in the first place, but it will have negative effects on the produced work, because the publisher is forced to raise the price of the back cover of the book. And for this reason, the work is gradually removed from the cycle of production and publication. According to all these points, Surah Mehr has observed this importance and aims to determine a fair percentage between the author and the publisher.

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