Is An Ebook 'In Book Form'? Question Means Everything For Authors Trying To Get New Ebook Publishers
from the not-so-easy dept
We’ve been discussing some of the problems book publishers have had in coming to terms with the new age of ebooks — such as by trying to delay the release of ebooks with a “windowing” system. However, there’s another issue that’s coming up as quite important for back catalog authors. Many of them are looking to sign their own ebook deals with other publishers than those who published their physical books, and they note that the old contracts make no mention of electronic or ebook rights — mainly because such things didn’t exist at the time. But the publishers are pushing back and telling authors who seek to sign separate ebook publishing deals that those deals violate their existing agreements while also seeking to amend older agreements to add in ebook rights and royalties.
Unfortunately for the publishers, they may not have much of a legal leg to stand on. As the article notes, there have already been lawsuits on this topic, and Random House repeatedly lost in its attempt to sue ebook publisher Rosetta Books a while ago. The court didn’t find Random House’s argument that the phrase “in book form” in its contracts covered ebooks as well. While that case was eventually settled, that only happened after Random House came out on the losing side in the earlier battles. Random House is among the publishers still claiming that “in book form” means ebooks as well, but it must be relying on the likelihood that some authors won’t bother to look up those earlier rulings (or hire lawyers who are aware of them).