What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

More on the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization controversy

I have a follow-up piece posted today at NRO’s The Corner. Inside Higher Ed ran an article on the story yesterday. It seems to me that there are serious questions to be raised about Wiley-Blackwell’s official statements on this matter, questions which are not being asked by others who have commented on this story so far (including the Inside Higher Ed piece). I raise them in my article.

Comments (8)

The most significant detail seems to me to be whether Kurian's contract provided for review by a board of editors, because if so, it would seem the editorial board's objections (merited or not) would validate the admittedly odd decision to scrap the publication due to breach of contract. We could talk all day about the inadequacies of the editorial board's objections, but if they were given that authority, then it is up to them.

Hopefully, Kurian is correct in believing there is no such clause in the contract.

That would be easy enough to check. The clause is either there or it isn't. Kurian says it isn't, and they haven't brought up any documentation that shows that it is. Sounds like _at most_ it was a verbal agreement, if that.

The thing that worries me on Kurian's behalf is that it seems like he may have no written record of the nature of the objections. It sounds like the original plan to pulp the print run was communicated to him verbally, which would not be admissible in court (I believe). It would be regarded, as far as I know, as hearsay. If the nature of the objections as well was told to him on the phone or face to face rather than in e-mail or letter, he will not be able to confirm it in a way that will have any legal weight.

It's possible that the whole thing is verbal in nature, but I suppose in that case they may back down and not pulp the run, may even sell it, because they can't prove breach of contract and because any concrete objections they bring up and put in writing from here on out will be told to the world at large and serve as possible grounds for later suit.

The bottom line is that Wiley-Blackwell printed the thing. That they are now complaining that objections were raised to Kurian's introduction prior to publication only makes things worse for them, it seems to me, because Kurian can say: "Right, before publication, so I must have met the objections to your satisfaction at the time, because you went ahead and printed the thing." Hence it seems to me he has a strong breach-of-contract case, notwithstanding either the editorial board's powers of review or the possibly verbal nature of some aspects of the agreement.

I think you have a good point there.

What I would like to ask Kurian is in what form he received the demands for PC corrections--e-mail, phone conversations, or what.

The bottom line is that Wiley-Blackwell printed the thing.

It gets tricky because of the legal definition of publication. Merely printing it, even in final form, does not constitute legal 'publication'. It has to be made available for interested parties to distribute and/or purchase.

Kurian states in his original note it was launched and AAL and SBL but there's a big gray area there because a book can be shown at conferences and the ilk long before it's published (even if it's indeed in the state in which it will be released). His idea of launched my differ greatly from what the publisher considers a launch. Advanced copies can be distributed to reviewers prior to a work being officially published as well.

I'm not saying either party is right or wrong, but these types of questions will come up if this goes to legal mediation or trial. Chances are, even though the volume was completed a year ahead of time, there will likely be language in the contract binding the publication house only to the dates specified either in the contract or specifying that the dates will be honored in the company's pub plan, but that's pure speculation.

I assumed that "launched" meant "sold at a table or stall." But I could be wrong about that. Would that make a legal difference?

Likely, yes. Not knowing what those conferences are like, I couldn't say. Most publishing conferences I've been party to have no sales involved, just a lot of show-and-tell and tons of freebies and business cards exchanged.

Oh, at an academic (e.g. Philosophy) conference there are usually bookstalls where you can buy books, with special deals, sometimes. But I don't know for sure if that is what Kurian meant.

Post a comment

Bold Italic Underline Quote

Note: In order to limit duplicate comments, please submit a comment only once. A comment may take a few minutes to appear beneath the article.

Although this site does not actively hold comments for moderation, some comments are automatically held by the blog system. For best results, limit the number of links (including links in your signature line to your own website) to under 3 per comment as all comments with a large number of links will be automatically held. If your comment is held for any reason, please be patient and an author or administrator will approve it. Do not resubmit the same comment as subsequent submissions of the same comment will be held as well.