Proliferation of Digital Publishing

Digital Publishing proliferation

Name: Jim Huang

Student Number: 301144358

Instructor: Juan Pablo Alperin

Proliferation of Digital Publishing


One of the greatest challenge facing communication and media industry in the digital age is copyright challenge. The concern arises from continued infringement of authors’ right of publication as well as selecting and assigning their work to their heirs. The copyright law has been promoting the rights of the authors in the public domain by preventing copying or selling an author’s original work to encourage useful and creative writing (Menand, Toobin, & MacFarquhar, 2014). Besides, the copyright laws act as moral rights to give authors total control regarding the integrity and reproducibility of their creations. On the other hand, the improvement in technologies has exposed the artistic works, and the authors are at risk of losing their rights because of conflict between public and private interests. The new technologies have made it easier to disseminate files within seconds via the internet (Menand, Toobin, & MacFarquhar, 2014). In the midst of the current disconnect, this paper seeks to discuss new approaches that have been adopted to safeguard plight of artists. The introduction of the digital rights management has allowed authors to combat piracy. The technique allows copyright owners to control the access of their files by users on digital platforms (Morgan, 2011). The shift from traditional publishing models allows authors to restrict the platforms where the users can access their files, thus, preventing piracy. The anti-circumvention law protects the digital rights management.


Evolution of Digital Publishing

The creative artistic works are mainly marketed via the internet to increase the proceeds and benefit the copyright owners. The internet disseminates large files within seconds, thus, exposing to the risk of piracy and duplication without permission (O’Leary, 2013). The most realistic solution for the authors has for long being the creative commons license (Morgan, 2011). The creative commons license protects the works of an individual in a manner that he can reach large audience in a faster way than the use of such conventional methods as ‘all rights reserved’. The license allows the works of a person to be raised and shared under flexible and legally sound terms (Menand, Toobin, & MacFarquhar, 2014).

The advancement of technology has made authors to get many avenues to make a living even without direct sales of their contents. The creative commons license can allow the authors to make a living even without selling their contents directly. For instance, the authors promote the aspect of attribution where the author can let other people use and distribute his works. The law requires people to distribute but also share personal work too not for profit. The work of an author can be used but not altered (O’Leary, 2013). Therefore, people approach the author with ideas that go beyond the license. People can approach the author with a movie idea based on his work; thus, the author can make a living even without selling the content directly.

The creative commons license helps the authors to make decision on their ideas and works whether to keep them or get distributed for their benefits. A successful author who sells must be widely known by creating a global presence. Giving the e-book versions on the internet under a creative commons license increases the global presence of an author, thus, reaching potential customers easily (O’Leary, 2013). A creative commons license promotes collaboration, therefore, expanding the fan base and spreading the authors’ work much farther than an individual could. The license ensures that the author gets the credit they deserve for their works. The author is not prevented from selling for making profit using personal works unless the contract signed with the publisher indicates otherwise (Thatcher, 2015).

The digital printing via the internet provides a platform for interaction with the customers. There is an end-to-end connectivity across the World Wide Web. The book-based communities that are created in the digital realms provide access to the digital versions of the book content, and the author makes a living by customer subscriptions. The publishers are involved in creating and sustaining community ties using digital printing (O’Leary, 2013). The subscriptions to access the books are sold to individuals and institution under the creative commons license. The subscriptions enable the buyers to access the databases. Therefore, they are beneficial for the authors as they are offered under the creative commons license with a great degree of flexibility (Thatcher, 2015).

The use of published research by a third party can be granted by the author under contractual agreements. Once authors publish their work under the creative commons license, they cannot prevent the use under the specified terms until the expiry of the copyright (Kim, 2007). The author can make the copyright available under different terms and conditions or waive the existing conditions to grant additional permissions (Thatcher, 2015). For instance, a work assigned under a creative commons license with a non-commercial clause can be altered through contact with a publisher to include a chapter in an edited collection. The edited collections earn the author profit (Kim, 2007). Besides, a license negotiated directly with publishers under the normal copyright conditions makes the author access some fee through it. Therefore, the creative commons license allows the authors as the creators of the content to be precise on how others may use their work. The copyright ownership moves from the publisher to the author (Kim, 2007).

Business Models for Publishing

The print media has been explored endlessly. Thus, the traditional business models have been broken, and the new digital printing will solve problems of both the authors and publishers. Advertising of the works has fragmented to include social networks, aggregators, and blogs to increase the customer base for the authors (Calder & Yngve, 2012). Although the content has been expensive, they are paid for it online. Publishers have been able to reach wider audiences in the newly emerging digital platforms, thus, increasing competition. The publishers can reach wider audiences freely than ever before in the digital printing (Blanke, Pierazzo, & Stokes, 2014).

Scholarly publishing in every media requires substantial resources above the ones required to create contents. Upon the arrival of digital publishing, there was a misconception that the role of the publishers would disappear and start distributing materials for the readers. The publishers play a very crucial role in the production and distribution of materials. They make the readers connected to the authors (Blanke, Pierazzo, & Stokes, 2014). The traditional publishers focused more on library subscriptions as their model of increasing revenues. The models of moving away from the books to monetizing of services have been crucial in making the authors earn a living even without directly selling their books to the customers.

The models of subscription and access have been the alternative to purchase, and consumers have widely accepted them. They operate under offer-on-demand convenience-book subscription models. Publishers use the mass market e-subscriptions to reach the audience. The subscription model in the digital era offers the authors products on a continuous basis for a recurring charge (Thatcher, 2015). However, the copyright of the products is retained by the authors preventing third party alterations. They are the common pricing options for the books and other artistic works utilized by online services and media companies. The model has been effective for the authors to get paid for their work without even meeting the customers through automatic cash flow payments. An automatic source of recurring revenue is availed to the authors (Thatcher, 2015).

The most common subscriptions have been for the magazines and articles on different topics. The customers pay an annual fee to continue receiving the content through their devices either on the monthly, weekly or daily basis. The advantage of the subscription business model in the digital publishing proliferation is that the publishers and the authors are guaranteed a recurring cash flow even in the cases of customers that are not regular users of the services (Herman & Gylling, 2015). There is the significant amount of subscribers who continue to pay without using the services for the benefit of the authors. The authors benefit more under the creative commons license as the sole owners of the copyright. However, the subscription business model of publishing faces such challenges as lack of automatic renewal by some of the audience. Some customers tend to resist automatic renewals for their e-book subscriptions preferring the physical products (Herman & Gylling, 2015). The subscription publishing models are beneficial in that they offer medium revenue potential that can go to high levels.

The evolving and the digital technological proliferation in the communication and media industry aim at eliminating inconvenience in accessing the artistic works and the books. The subscription and access model using the creative commons license ensures that the author’s materials are distributed but not altered (Gantz, 2013). The sharing of ideas promotes creativity as the authors get different ideas to use their content from the subscribers. Besides, the subscription models improve the relationship between the authors and the audiences through interaction. Subscription and access are viable models for the readers, the publishers, and the authors. Apart from improving the authors’ creativity, the model increases competition in the sector that is crucial to the expansion of the industry (Herman & Gylling, 2015).

The competition is improved by an increase in the audience reach; thus, the authors must improve their content to be successful in the model. The subscription model offers cost-saving advantages to the end users who are the readers. The subscription is discounted for the readers rather than the normal physical buys of the books and journals. Besides, the publishers access many audiences contrary to the physical interaction. The online subscription of different artistic works gives the publishers a lucrative opportunity for marketing (Gantz, 2013). The subscription business model requires the prompt solving of customer problems to promote confidence and their loyalty (Herman & Gylling, 2015). The value propositions for the readers are high as materials are availed to them at a reasonable price compared to other models such as pay as you read.

The customer relationships are based on self and automated services to keep the costs down. The target of the model is mainly the mass market for creating a significant customer base. Most customers have appreciated the proliferation of subscription offers by sustaining their access. Once the books are published in the open access under the Creative Commons license, the doubt of copyright concerns is eliminated. The integrity of direct subscriptions is directed to the customers who are the readers. Most of the subscribers benefit from privacy by the publishers as their details are hidden (Gantz, 2013). The subscription model drives innovation by engaging the customers. Besides, the model creates more incentives to innovate. The subscription publishing model has been embraced by many publishers, authors, and readers, and it is in the process of evolution to continue benefitting the stakeholders.


Blanke, T., Pierazzo, E., & Stokes, P. (2014). Digital Publishing Seen from the Digital Humanities. Logos, 25(2), 16-27.

Calder, P., & Yngve, A. (2012). Open Access, the Creative Commons Attribution License, and the Nutrition Society journals. British Journal of Nutrition, 108(11), 1913-1914.

Gantz, P. (2013). Journal print subscription price increases no longer reflect actual costs. Learned Publishing, 26(3), 206-210.

Herman, I., & Gylling, M. (2015). Bridging the Web and Digital Publishing. The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 18(1).

Kim, M. (2007). The Creative Commons and Copyright Protection in the Digital Era: Uses of Creative Commons Licenses. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), 187-209.

Menand, L., Toobin, J., & MacFarquhar, L. (2014). Copywrong – The New Yorker. The New Yorker. Retrieved 5 November 2015, from

Morgan, C. (2011). Understanding the Creative Commons license. Learned Publishing, 24(1), 51-53.

O’Leary, B. (2013). Why Do We Ignore Context Publishing?. Magellan Media Partners. Retrieved 5 November 2015, from

Thatcher, S. (2015). Open-Access Monograph Publishing and the Origins of the Office of Digital Scholarly Publishing at Penn State University. Journal of Scholarly Publishing, 46(3), 203-223.


  1. The evolution of digital publishing has definitely shifted copyright owner away from publishers and to authors. While it is true that publishers can play a crucial role in the publishing process, I think digitization reduces their role drastically. With the internet, readers can directly reach authors without the publisher, who are more of a middle man. The publishing industry has been changed under digitization and the significance of customer/ reader relationships are central in the digital world.

    Copyright and creative commons license are important as they are put into place as a way to ensure that creators are compensated for their work. It is more difficult now, with online piracy and ease of duplicating files. I agree that the internet brings together a community that allows for authors to connect with their audience but I don’t think it necessarily means that their audience is paying for their content. You mention that authors must improve their content in order to be successful, but if all authors improve their content, wouldn’t the competition just remain the same?

    The subscription model is indeed a large part of the future of publishing as the rise of subscription-based services for other industries has taken off, such as Netflix for TV shows and movies and Spotify for music. There different subscription-based models, each benefitting certain stakeholders to varying degrees. However, the open-ness of the internet seems to benefit the readers or audience far more than creators and publishers. Access to free content, legally or not, is a common practice now and it is seen across industries, including publishing, music, and the entertainment business. In order for the subscription-based model to be successful, there would need to be some sort of incentive for users to pay for their content instead of just pirating it.

    Overall this paper gives a broad overview of the subscription-based model of publishing, but within subscriptions, there are sub categories that could be further explored. Also, while copyright and creative commons licensing is prevalent in publishing, it can no longer be controlled by the publisher, or even the creator. Digital publishing has moved the power away from the publisher, and has placed it somewhere between authors and their audiences. Thus, the role of the publisher has been reduced as a whole. Nonetheless, the subscription-model does appear to be beneficial to publishers as they are still able to play a role in the production and distributors of content. While the future of publishing is unclear as digital publishing becomes the norm, the subscription-based model should be present when the dust settles.

  2. This essay seems to argue two potentially contradictory things: in favour of CC licenses, and in the value of subscriptions. They are potentially contradictory because, it seems to me, that if authors are putting their content online under CC licenses, then there is little incentive for readers to pay for subscriptions. The relationship between the two is at best unclear, and at worst left unexplained.

    Overall, the essay offers many good thoughts, but unfortunately puts them all together, sometimes in the same paragraph, without threading them together.

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