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2nd Round Conflicts b/t On and Off Lines

Posted May. 07, 2001 08:57,   


Would the old industry win the 2nd round of the conflicts between the on-line and the off-line business?

The off-line industries now file a lawsuit against e-book industries concerning copyrights after, at a first-instance trial, they defeated Napster which has operated a site for free music exchange through internet.

Random House, the biggest publishing company in the world, filed a lawsuit against Rosettabooks (www.rosettabooks.com), which is an online bookstore, for its alleged violation of copyright law on Feb. 27. The Federal Court in New York will inquire into this case on May 8. Random House claimed that it hold the copyright of 8 e-books published by Rosettabooks.

Rosettabooks has sold books in computer files through internet since its establishment at January last year. The controversial point of this case is whether the company which holds copyright for the printed material is taken for granted to hold the copyright for e-books in files as well.

Random House asserted, When an author makes a contract with publishers, he or she alienates the copyright of his or her work to the publisher for any kind of publications. And therefore the publisher rightfully holds copyright for e-publication as well.

Because the contract was made when no one possibly can expect the emergence of e-publication, even the article concerning e-publication is not described in a contract document, it is reasonable to assume that the publisher holds copyright for e-publication.

Random House released a plan previously this year that it will establish AtRandom, the online magazine of Random House, and will publish 20 volumes of fictions and non fictions in a way of e-publication.

On the contrary, Rosettabooks declared that it made contracts with the authors of the books for e-publication. So, it had never violate the copyrights for the printed publication which is held by Random House. Rosettabooks argue that the copyright for e-publication belongs to the authors because e-publications is different from the traditional way of publication.

The court will inquire about whether e-book is to be considered as a variant of book or it has to be considered as a different kind of publication. Recently to avoid this kind of lawsuit, more contractors are inclined to clarify the copyright for e-publication.

Shin Chi-Young higgledy@donga.com