The big debate: Who owns the digital rights-author or publisher

The big debate around who owns the digital rights to the books published in pre-digital age has further intensified. Few months back a district court actually ruled in favor of the authors. But this is not going to end the debate

Major publishing houses like Random house have claimed that they own digital rights to most of their books:

“On Friday, Markus Dohle, chief executive of Random House, sent a letter to dozens of literary agents, writing that the company’s older agreements gave it “the exclusive right to publish in electronic book publishing formats.””

Most of the new contract that these publishing houses are doing now covers digital rights for next 15 years.

This conflict has led to rise of several business ideas/ventures that are using innovative ways to deliver the authors maximum value and trying to launch e-books for these pre-digital books. One of such company is Open Road. One of the last time someone tried doing this, resulted in a lawsuit:

“In 2002, Random House sued RosettaBooks, an e-book publisher, for copyright infringement when Rosetta signed contracts with authors — including Mr. Styron — to release digital versions of previously published novels”. The case never went to trial but Random house gave Rossetta rights to 51 of its titles.

Complete coverage on NY Times


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