Ghanaian authors sue MacMillan

By Ebo Quansah, Editor

Annette Thomas, CEO of MacMillan

Authors of Ghanaian text books in both the Sciences and Humanities have sued Macmillan, the disgraced British Publishing conglomerate, at the Commercial Division of an Accra High Court, for breach of contract.

The writ, filed by Kwabena Nyamekye, Louisa Koranteng, E. Sakah and S. Sedoh, on behalf of themselves and all authors of Ghanaian textbooks, is seeking to place a perpetual injunction on the defendants, from selling publishing rights to their books to any third party.

The plaintiffs are claiming general damages for breach of contract under the agreement, termination of the agreement as a result of material breaches by the defendants, and costs.  Unimax Macmillan Ghana Limited, local agents of the British Publishing firm, is joined in the suit.

According to the writ filed by Lexkudos, solicitors for the authors, “plaintiffs are authors of the Ghana text books in both Humanities and Sciences published by the defendants. The second defendant is the local agent of the first defendant.”

By an agreement dated May 10, 2010, and executed between the plaintiffs and the defendants, “executive rights and license to the plaintiffs’ books was granted to the defendants to reproduce, publish, distribute, communicate, and make them available to the general public, in return for royalties, as stipulated in the agreement.”

The plaintiffs maintain that by the agreement, they had the right to terminate same if the work became unavailable or out of print, and plaintiff gives six months notice to defendants to remedy same, and yet the default persisted.

According to the plaintiffs, “there is an obligation and or right to edit, revise if necessary every subsequent edition of the work when requested in writing by the defendants, in accordance with the timescale agreed with defendants.”

The plaintiffs are further to furnish defendants from time to time with any new material that may be necessary to keep the work up to date, and such, revision or change shall be considered as being part of the ‘works’, and shall be paid for by the royalties agreed for the original ‘works.’

The plaintiffs claim that their textbooks have not been made available on the market for the past two years, leading to loss of royalties to plaintiffs. Further, in spite of the fact that most syllables have been revised, and plaintiffs have been ready, available and willing to perform their obligation under the agreement to revise the works, the defendants have failed and, or refused, to contact plaintiffs for the necessary revision of the books, in accordance with the terms of the agreement.

The plaintiffs state that it has come to their notice that the defendants have been banned from participating in any World Bank funded procurement for a period of five years, and as a result the said ban shall have adverse effects on the plaintiffs’ works and income, since the Ghanaian textbook market is donor-driven.

The plaintiffs are further averting that the defendants are in the process of selling the Ghanaian list to third party, without any reference to plaintiffs, which is unacceptable to plaintiffs.

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