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An online publisher once sued by Random House Inc. for copyright infringement will be issuing electronic versions of books by Margaret Atwood, John Updike and other popular Random House writers. RosettaBooks, which in 2001 angered Random House by putting out digital versions of William Styron’s “Sophie’s Choice” and other titles without the publisher’s consent, announced Wednesday it had agreed with Random House on the release of 51 e-books. “We’re bringing some terrific books and terrific authors into the electronic format,” said Arthur Klebanoff, CEO of RosettaBooks. “We’re rooting for Rosetta’s success, because its success can only help the electronic format overall,” said Random House Inc. spokesman Stuart Applebaum. In releasing “Sophie’s Choice” and other older Random House works, Rosetta had claimed that e-rights were subject only to the author’s permission, noting that the contracts made no specific reference to the digital format. Random House argued that the publisher’s rights to e-books were implicit, and sued soon after Rosetta made the works available. The lawsuit divided the industry, with publishers supporting Random House and the Authors Guild backing Rosetta. Under an out-of-court settlement reached last December, Rosetta was allowed to keep publishing “Sophie’s Choice” and the other books and collaborate with Random House on additional releases. The key issue — who controls e-rights when the contract doesn’t specify — was left unresolved. The electronic market remains small, and few claim, as they did a couple of years ago, that e-books will make paper texts obsolete. But Random House and Rosetta are among many publishers who say that sales have steadily increased. Random House has released about 1,200 of its own books in the electronic format and industry insiders had speculated over the quality of material Random House would license to Rosetta. The list announced Wednesday doesn’t include titles by John Grisham, Anne Rice and several other top-selling Random House Inc. authors. Klebanoff cited reluctance by Random House to make them available and the cost of acquiring such books. But there are a number of acclaimed and popular works, from recent releases to Katherine Graham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, “Personal History,” and Atwood’s “Alias Grace” to older books such as John Updike’s “Rabbit Is Rich” and Chaim Potok’s “My Name Is Asher Lev.” “We see our relationship with Rosetta as mutually advantageous,” Applebaum said. “Random House is concentrating on print and audio books, while Rosetta gives its primary attention to e-books.” Rosetta has continued to acquire titles by negotiating solely with authors or their representatives, obtaining electronic rights to Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club” and such older works as Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway.” Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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