Online only, so far

Moral rights violation by dint of passing time?

WE'RE USED to the usual ways in which a publisher can violate our moral rights - derogatory treatment, or "forgetting" to credit us. But I came across a totally new way the other day. Let time pass, then republish your book with no changes at all - not even to say when it was originally published. For many books this wouldn't matter at all, but for non-fiction in a fast-moving subject, or a book that uses very current anecdotes, text labelled 2020 but written ten years ago looks horribly out of date.

The book was written for a flat fee and I don't own the copyright - a fairly common rights grab in certain areas of non-fiction publishing. The publisher doesn't have to ask before re-using the material, and can reproduce it as much as they like as long as they don't subject it to derogatory treatment. Can doing nothing count as derogatory treatment? It's an interesting question. It's certainly damaging to my reputation if readers think I'm not aware of any changes that have taken place in the last ten years.

Presumably, the same can happen when translation rights are sold in a book many years after it is first published. I don't think we can hold publishers to account for allowing time's winged chariot to keep moving. But perhaps we could ask that if they want to reissue or translate a book more than a specified number of years after it was written, they give us the chance to update it (for a suitable fee) to avoid violation of moral rights.