APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2005-06 > 1119132069
From: Elisabeth Thorsell <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Professional compensation
Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2005 00:01:09 +0200
>This message is long, but your advice is needed. What is your reaction to
>the following premise?
>"When a commercial firm sells the copyrighted work of a professional
>genealogist -- work in which the professional has invested heavily and must
>continue to invest -- the professional has a right to expect some
>compensation from that commercial firm."
>Our problem is this . . .
>Professional genealogists invest heavily in professional education. Those
>who are called upon to lecture at the national conferences also invest
>heavily in the research and development of quality presentations (which is
>why they are invited back again and again to prepare and deliver more
>lectures). They do so, even though they know that the token honorarium
>sponsors can afford to pay will in no way reimburse them for the weeks of
>professional time they may invest in each lecture and the thousands of
>dollars they will regularly expend for slides, projectors and peripherals to
>deliver quality lectures. They do so because they are committed to this
>Professional genealogical lecturers, as a whole, enthusiastically support
>the concept of taping genealogical lectures for sale by commercial firms,
>because they know that advanced education in genealogy is rarely available
>in the conventional academic system.
>However, the commercial sale of educational materials is governed by certain
>basic rules that are necessary for the survival of the industry. Commercial
>publishers (book, audio, video, or digital) have to make a profit to stay in
>business. Likewise, the authors of that material have to have compensation
>for their time and expenses or they cannot continue to produce. Thus, the
>world of commercial publishing long ago settled into the concept that
>publishers, who make their living by selling the work of authors, will pay
>royalties to the authors for the right to sell their work.
>In 1990, as genealogical conferences became an established venue in our
>representatives of all the major genealogical organizations met in Salt Lake
>for an annual meeting of the inter-agency Genealogical Coordinating
>Committee. There, they considered and passed a resolution to ensure the
>future viability of taping genealogical conferences and making those taped
>presentations available to the public at large. The participating
>organizations (NGS, FGS, NEHGS, BCG, ASG, and FHL) agreed that their
>conferences would be taped only by taping firms willing to pay speakers a
>fair royalty on the sale of their material.
>Since that time, contracts for most genealogical conferences have gone to
>Repeat Performance of Hobart, Indiana www.audiotapes.com -- a small firm
>whose owners were considered our friends and our colleagues -- and RP
>generally met its commitment through the 1990s. However, over the past five
>years, speakers became increasingly aware that (a) many were not receiving
>royalties for their tapes sold at the current conferences -- even major
>speakers whose tapes sold well; and (b) royalties were no longer being paid
>to speakers for prior conferences whose tapes Repeat Performance markets in
>its online catalog of 7,213 genealogical tapes.
>Sadly, over those five years, attempts by the Genealogical Speakers Guild to
>resolve the issue with the owners of Repeat Performance accomplished
>Last September, at the FGS conference, representatives of all the major
>organizations met again to debate a course of action--and those
>representatives voted to uphold the principles of the 1990 resolution. Both
>NGS and FGS had 2005 conference contracts pending.
>In the 9 months since then, both organizations have attempted to resolve the
>issue with Repeat Performance. The results might be summarized as follows:
>1. Repeat Performance contends that it "cannot afford" to pay royalties on
>tapes sold via online or mail orders -- only for the sales of tapes sold at
>conferences itself, for lectures actually presented at that conference.
>2. Genealogical speakers (individually and through the Guild) counter with a
>basic business premise: every firm's business model must price its product
>to cover its expenses. For publishers, those basic expenses include payment
>to the authors for material that they are selling -- otherwise, publishers
>have no product to sell.
>3. Because RP contends that paying royalties on web and mail sales is a
>"bookkeeping nightmare" it cannot afford, Willow Bend Books offered last
>fall to serve as an intermediary. By that proposal, Willow Bend would
>purchase tapes wholesale from RP -- buying a minimum of 10 copies of each
>tape ordered and carrying the stock at its own risk. Willow Bend would then
>keep track of sales-per-author and semi-annually pay taped authors at the
>same rate that WB pays its book authors.
>Negotiations have failed. Amid those negotiations, RP agreed to take down
>its Internet catalog of back tapes and to not otherwise sell the past tapes
>for which it was paying no compensation to authors. In the wake of the
>recent NGS conference at Nashville, Repeat Performance has put its catalog
>of 7,213 back tapes online again -- including outdated versions of lectures
>that speakers did at Nashville but did not authorize him to tape at
>As we deliberate what course to take from here, three other factors are
>1. Many (if not most) of the 7,213 genealogical tapes Repeat Performance now
>sells are woefully outdated. Indeed, they go back 25 years! An unsuspecting
>public, new to genealogy, will not know the consequences of that; but they
>*will* form judgments about our professional speakers on the basis of those
>outdated presentations. Thus, reputations as well as economics are at stake.
>Moreover, RP's enhanced website now adds speaker photos (snagged from other
>online sites without speaker authorization), bios, and audio samples of
>those past tapes for which royalties are not being paid.
>2. When Repeat Performance began taping our conferences in 1991, the agreed
>upon royalty was $1.50 per tape. Since that time, RP has twice increased its
>own sale price but never increased the royalty. Instead, RP further enhanced
>its own bottom line by unilaterally adopting a policy of paying royalties
>only for the current year's tapes.
>3. According to its website, Repeat Performance's genealogical tape catalog
>accounts for 7,213 of the 10,000 tapes in its online catalog, covering 20
>educational fields. In short, our back tapes appear to be its primary source
>APG-L represents a wide swath of the genealogical community. Most of you are
>professionals, but many are researchers who pursue genealogy as a hobby. All
>of us are serious genealogists who value the education we receive from the
>taped presentations of our colleagues -- especially since our own
>presentations, our work at conference booths, and our other volunteer
>services and obligations onsite at conferences mean that we rarely have time
>to attend presentations other than our own. APG-Listers, probably more than
>any other constituency, are genealogists who care about the future of our
>field, its quality, and the economics of continuing to produce quality
>So: What are your feelings about the current situation?
>Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
>*Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian*
>*Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers,
> Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians*
>==== APG Mailing List ====
>The Association of Professional Genealogists
When checking the Repeat Performance catalog I find 4 tapes listed of
lectures I gave, 2 in Burlington, VT in 1995, and 2 in Milwaukee in
2002, but I have never recieved a copy of my lectures and never even 1
cent in royalties. I know I e-mailed the company, probably in 2003, and
asked about sales of my tapes, but never got an answer.
By now the Burlington lectures are 10 years old, and I have no idea of
how out-dated they are, but certainly hope that if someone is interested
in Swedish genealogy, they will buy the newer ones.
It seems that they (Repeat Performance) are doing us all a disservice,
and some other solution should be found, and it also seems that Craig
Scott's Coop might be a very good idea.
Just my 25 öre to the discussion!
Swedish genealogist & writer
Editor "Swedish American Genealogist", see www.etgenealogy.se/sag.htm
Personal web site: www.etgenealogy.se
Utgivare av "Vi Släktforskare", se www.etgenealogy.se/vislf.htm
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