This issue of e-book rights to previously published books and who owns them has been a hot topic on blogs, and a really informative post was written by Kassia Krozser on the Booksquare blog. She points out that the flap over the move by William Styron’s heirs to license the digital rights of his books to Open Road Integrated Media, a new digital publishing company headed by Jane Friedman, who previously worked at Harper Collins is all about money.
Random House, where some of the work was originally published, saw an opportunity to cash in on works that have already earned a tidy profit and attempted to block that effort. Thank goodness the courts ruled in favor of the heirs.
As J.W. Coffey (Redheaded Celt) so aptly put it in her comment on this blog yesterday, everyone, except the ruling judges, forgot about the original contracts for those books that had no mention of electronic rights. Which is another point that Kassia makes. People can have all kinds of opinions about this issue, but legally, the “work” belongs to the author.
If you have the time and inclination, check out the Booksquare blog and the insightful comments left there.