License to Publish a Book does not include E-Book
In Ofra Damiel v Shlomo Aluf the Tel Aviv District Court discussed whether the publisher who acquired printing rights for a book is entitled to publish an e-book as well.
The court rejected the argument that “a book is a book is a book”, and stated that a contract should be interpreted using purposive interpretation, according to the circumstances and the subjective intention of the parties’ at the time of signing.
The court stated that an interpretation which will bind litigants to contractual provisions that came into the world under different circumstances from those existing during the execution of the contract, should not be adopted.
In this case the publisher bought the right to print the book in exchange for a one-time payment, nondependent on the number of copies to be printed. The Court held that there is a substantial difference between a printed book in all its forms, and an e-book, and that a one-time payment upon signing the contract, years before the e-book format was invented, certainly does not take into account digital means of publishing the book in later generation.
The court ruled that the “book” mentioned in the contract does not include an e-book, therefore the publisher is not entitled to publish an e-book under the contract.
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