E-Book Victory

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In a ruling that could be significant for the infant electronic book industry, a federal judge has sided with an electronic publisher.

Judge Sidney Stein rejected Random House's request for an injunction against e-book versions of eight of its titles.

U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein ruled Wednesday that the right to print, publish and sell the works in book form in the contracts at issue does not include the right to publish the works in the electronic format.

On-line publisher RosettaBooks is trying to sell electronic versions of works that include "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut and "Sophie's Choice" by William Styron.

The publisher argued that electronic rights were implicit in its contracts.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Random House said it was "disappointed" by the decision and concerned that it would "hinder rather than help the development of this new technology, to the detriment of publishers, authors, and the reading public."

RosettaBooks calls the ruling a victory for authors.

If it prevails, the e-rights to thousands of previously published books could be up for grabs.

So far, Rosetta has sold fewer than a thousand books.

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