(See updates at end)
It’s been just over two years since Ellora’s Cave sued Dear Author and Jane Litte/Jen Frederick, over “The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave.”
For those not in the know, that piece was based mostly (I’d say, 90 to 95%), on public records–from liens placed on the company by Ohio/Akron, to published pieces on traditional media, to the CEO’s own communications with authors, editors, and other employees, and with Jane Litte/Jen Frederick herself.
Still, Jaid Black/Tina Engler didn’t much like what the piece said about her, and so, a lawsuit for defamation was filed in late September 2014.
Which pissed off a bunch of people–such as, say, those authors whose royalties weren’t paid correctly, or on time, or at all. Or those editors who weren’t paid for work already done (on the excuse that it wasn’t finished/done correctly/you name it). Or those employees who were fired summarily with little to no warning.
Those people were pissed off because they wanted some resolution, and a settlement between the parties meant that there would be no discovery from the DA/JL side. Ergo, those people who had good reason to believe EC had stiffed them to one degree or another, would learn nothing useful to their own fight with the publisher.
Since the settlement, there have been occasional outbursts of venom and absurdity from Jaid Black/Tina Engler’s camp, such as the now deleted/under construction “No More Cyber Abuse” website, but mostly there was just deafening silence.
As a bystander–a reader, and not really ever an Ellora’s Cave customer–I am not privy to the communication in question. I would dearly love to read it, though, because I wonder how much of it is plain business, and how much is blame shifting.
But I’m mean like that.
On a more serious note, I see some speculation on #notchilled that authors can just wait EC out, and not sign anything that would waive their right to monies owed. Apparently EC is closing on December 31, 2016, regardless of anything else, and some authors postulate that their rights will revert automatically when the publisher closes its doors (virtual/physical/both?).
If I were them, I would be a lot less sanguine about it, and would seek some professional advice from an actual IP lawyer on the matter.
Beware: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one anywhere, so what follows is NOT legal advice. With that said, read on.
I would not put it beyond Jaid Black/Tina Engler et al, to play a fast one on any/all authors who don’t sign the form. After all, there’s nothing (beyond massive ego) stopping them from declaring bankruptcy. In which case, if I understand correctly, any rights not reverted to the authors beforehand, become assets to be acquired by whomever buys EC’s debt. Which in turn may mean that, if no one does, those rights remain in limbo.
Or they could could pull a Christina “just kidding” Brashear, and come back sometime after the deadline given in the email, and declare that said email was just ‘an informal exploration of options,’ sort of a ‘musing out loud’ thing, and that they are not closing shop after all.
As I said above, I’m not a lawyer, and I may be completely wrong about this, but, if this were about my intellectual property, it would behoove me to find out what my actual rights are on the matter.
Since lawyers are expensive, it would probably be a lot more cost effective for a group of authors with similar issues/contracts, to band together and pool their resources, in order to get the best advice possible under the circumstances.
But, again, that’s just me.
Update: Apparently these are screenshots of the email, courtesy of Machine Bellum (1, 2, 3) As you see, there’s some blaming going on. Amazon is the devil, and the market is mean, and miracles don’t happen on command. Ah well, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
2nd Update: Please keep in mind, not all lawyers are created equal. Just as I would not ask an estate lawyer about the finer points of immigration law, I would not consult just any lawyer friend/relative, about intellectual property issues. Your mileage may vary, obviously.
Update the third: I’m leaving the links up, but the tweets are gone. (This will remind me to take screenshots.) Perhaps the author got cold feet, or received pseud0-legal threats from JB/TE’s camp, which would be true to form. If and when I have the text again, I’ll post images.