For a complete accounting and timeline of Dorchester Publishing’s malfeasance, as well as links to other sources, click here.
After I reported earlier this week that Dorchester had closed its office and were still selling works to which they did not own the rights, Dorchester stated via their Facebook page that they were merely moving to a new office on Park Avenue. This turned out to be just another falsehood.
As reported by Locus and Publisher’s Marketplace, John Backe (founder of The Backe Group and owner of Dorchester) filed a notice of foreclosure on the company after failing to collect on an outstanding $3.4 million loan. His intent was to sell the company (including the Dorchester Media magazine division, the Dorchester Publishing book division, registered trademarks, related internet domain names, domestic and foreign copyrights, ISBN numbers, computer equipment, intellectual property, etc) as a single unit at public auction — including the hundreds of works for which copyright and Dorchester’s ownership is disputed. Since Backe is the owner and is also personally foreclosing against the company, all auction proceeds would go to him, rather than to authors and other creditors.
The auction took place at 2pm today. It was conducted by Burton Weston of the Garfunkel, Wild, Travis law firm located in Great Neck, NY. However, Dorchester’s plan to sell the company as a single unit was apparently unsuccessful. When I spoke with Burton Weston earlier this afternoon, he confirmed for me that only the Dorchester Media division was auctioned today. The Dorchester Publishing division was not, although he does expect it to be at a later date.
Let me bullet-point that for you: Dorchester still plans to auction the rights to books they do not legally own the rights to.
What follows is my opinion on what each and every author who have disputed their rights should now do. I am not a legal expert, nor do I play one on TV. This commentary is mine alone.
* If you are a creditor or freelancer who disputed rights ownership as part of Dorchester’s media or magazine division, you should probably find out who bought those rights at auction today. I’ve heard reports it was FAA Investors LLC or FAA Investments Inc, but I’ve been unable to verify that. I would suggest you contact the Garfunkel, Wild law firm, be very polite (because none of this is their fault and they have presumably acted in good faith), explain your situation, and ask for the contact information for the winning bidder. Garfunkel, Wild’s contact info is as follows:
Garfunkel, Wild, Travis
111 Great Neck Road
Great Neck, NY 11021
* If you are a novelist or author who disputed rights ownership as part of Dorchester’s Publishing division, follow these steps:
1. If Dorchester reverted your rights but are still publishing your books, or if they ignored your rights reversion request but violated your contract (non-payment, late-payment, sold editions they did not have the rights to produce or sell, etc.) the first thing you should do is make the law firm in charge of the auction — see above — aware of that dispute. You should do this in writing. You should list the title, ISBN, etc. of each work you own the copyright to. You should also include copies (not originals) of any verifying documentation (emails, phone logs, reversion letters, etc.) Let me stress again, the Garfunkel, Wild, Travis law firm aren’t the bad guys in this situation. They are acting on good faith on behalf of their client. If Dorchester hasn’t revealed these disputed rights to them, then it is your responsibility to do so.
2. You should immediately notify Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, and any other online bookseller who is selling digital editions of your work, that they are selling unauthorized digital editions of your work for which you own the copyright to. Each of these retailers has different methods for disputing copyright or filing a DMCA, so read those methods carefully before filing your claim. Then file it. Demand that those digital editions be removed from the website and the files suppressed. It should be noted that there is very little that can be done about already existing paperback or trade paperback editions. So don’t walk into a B&N and flip out on the employees for selling copies of your books. They’ll be liquidated soon enough, but digital is forever. Act now and get them removed.
3. Author Scott Nicholson offers a suggestion for those who have the time and inclination to self-publish their work digitally via Kindle, Nook, etc. He suggests that you self-publish a competing digital edition of your work and undercut Dorchester’s price. I would personally suggest you follow through with #2 before doing this, however.
4. Remember former CEO John Prebich, current CEO Robert Anthony, owner John Backe, and all the other special little swine-headed snowflakes involved in this mess. Sooner or later, they will begin new ventures or land at new companies. You might consider not supporting those new ventures or businesses, and voicing your reasons why.
In the words of the immortal Hunter S. Thompson, “Selah…”
(NOTE: Check back for updates to this post as for information becomes available).