Random House has lost its bid to have electronic publishing rights implicitly included in traditional contracts, though the ruling is likely to have limited impact on publishers:
Denying a request from Random House for a preliminary injunction, a federal judge ruled today that an online publisher could sell electronic versions of books by authors who had signed book contracts with Random House.
The judge concluded that Random House did not own the rights to publish the eight works in question as electronic books.
The ruling in a federal district court in Manhattan was based on principles of contract law. It dealt only with four contracts signed long before electronic books became technologically possible. But it was a setback for conventional publishers because it further established that they must separately negotiate electronic publishing rights. . . Still, it was a limited victory [for authors] because most publishers\’ contracts now deal with electronic rights.
[More from the New York Times.]