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Summary:

Open Road Media responded today to the lawsuit that HarperCollins filed against it in December over the digital rights to Jean Craighead Geo…

Julie Of The Wolves
photo: Open Road Integrated Media

Open Road Media responded today to the lawsuit that HarperCollins filed against it in December over the digital rights to Jean Craighead George’s Julie of the Wolves, saying HarperCollins’ claim “is nothing but an attempt to seize rights that were never granted to it and to change the existing law with respect to e-book rights.”

George herself says she is “with Open Road all the way.”

In the complaint it filed in December, HarperCollins said its contract with George, signed in 1971, gives it the right to publish Julie of the Wolves in any format. “The rights that HarperCollins acquired from George plainly encompass such electronic means of distribution, which is but a technology-enabled variant for how consumers can read the Work,” the company said.

Open Road published the Julie of the Wolves e-book in October. In its response to the complaint, Open Road admits that HarperCollins’ contract with George “grants HarperCollins the right to publish Ms. George’s children’s work Julie of the Wolves ‘in book form,’ but denies that such grant includes the right to publish the work as an e-book.”

In its complaint, HarperCollins accused Open Road of “unlawful exploitation” of the e-book rights, calling the company “understandably content to allow HarperCollins to have made its considerable investments in the work, only now to reap where Open Road has not sown by seeking to divert sales of the Work from HarperCollins in the rapidly expanding e-books market.”

Open Road denies this, and said “it is denied HarperCollins made a significant investment in the print publication of Julie of the Wolves, and it is denied HarperCollins made any investment at all in the e-book publication of that work.”

It also “denied that in 2011 (or at any time since the mid-1970’s) HarperCollins spent any money promoting, or in any way promoted, Julie of the Wolves.”

And Open Road “denied that HarperCollins ever intended to publish Julie of the Wolves as an e-book.”

In a statement, George said, “I have asked to intervene in this action to protect my rights under copyright and under my original contract with HarperCollins. When I signed that contract in 1971, e-books did not exist so I could not have granted those rights. I am with Open Road all the way.”

Here’s Open Road’s full response to the complaint:

Open Road Response to HarperCollins complaint
var docstoc_docid=”113545334″;var docstoc_title=”Open Road Response to HarperCollins complaint”;var docstoc_urltitle=”Open Road Response to HarperCollins complaint”;

  1. P*ssing match between Jane and her old employer?

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  2. I am actually surpised that there are not more of these types of lawsuits given the way that publishing contracts were worded even as recently as a few years ago where explict electronic rights may not have been even mentioned, let alone deriviative products like apps.

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  3. At least according to the complaint, the original contract did in fact mention electronic means of publication, including means yet to be invented, so I don’t know how the author will get past that, though these claims are denied in the response.  I’d have to see the original contract to know what rights were really granted in that regard.

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    1. I don’t think she will be able to, because of the “…yet to be invented” wording.  That clearly includes ebooks.

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  4. Robotech_Master Monday, February 20, 2012

    What’s with the fifth paragraph, that ends after the third word and a quotation mark?

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    1. Laura Hazard Owen Monday, February 20, 2012

      Sorry about that, just a silly mistake — fixed.

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