Taking a book off the e-shelf

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Taking a book off the e-shelf

Fri Jan 16, 2009 @ 12:56PM PST

By Eriq Gardner


Popular literature has been around at least since the Greek ages, and printed books since Johannes Gutenberg figured out the mechanical printing press, but that doesn't mean the book industry is immune to some of the same problems that film and music companies are facing in the digital age.

Proof? Hachette Book Group USA, one of the industry's largest publishers, has suddenly pulled all its best-selling e-titles from U.S. distributors. French-based Hachette Livre, the parent company, is said to be uncomfortable with the way that U.S. distributors have implemented systems to limit sales to assigned territories.

If that sounds familiar, it should. Geographical concerns are one of the more underrated motivations behind record labels' and film studios' aggressive stance towards piracy and its insistence on the onerous DRM software that consumers love to hate. In Hachette's case, it is worried that potential e-book sales by U.S. distributors to foreign consumers could cut against the grain of contracts made with European resellers and their authors. Seems like a good reminder that even if some in the entertainment industry are considering a step back and soft approach towards eradicating piracy, there are still other good, contractual reasons why nobody should expect them to go too far, too quickly.

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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