The place: publishing.
About fifteen to twenty years ago, publishers began specifying the acquisition of electronic rights in their contracts. While I don't think anyone necessarily foresaw the impact e-books would have on the market and the speed with which they'd come to comprise a substantial percentage of sales, I do believe publishers were forward-thinking and wanted to keep as many avenues of revenue open as possible.
Before this switch, most contracts simply granted the publisher the right to publish "in all formats" (though this was not always true, e.g. in cases where audio rights were withheld and sold elsewhere). Ambiguous language like this is at the heart of the e-rights debacle currently consuming the industry, the most notable example being the battle between Random House and the Wylie Agency.
Wylie's questionable deal with Amazon aside, the argument looks something like this.
Wylie's Point of View
The Wylie Agency's contracts show no specific record of electronic rights sales for a number of backlist titles by Very Famous Authors. Since more recent contracts specifically mention the acquisition of electronic rights, Wylie concludes that those rights (legally speaking) were not included under the "all formats" umbrella of earlier contracts (believed only to cover formats that existed at the time the contracts were signed). The Wylie Agency, being very smart, recognizes that these rights are valuable, and so they sell them to make boatloads of extra cash for themselves and their Very Famous Authors (or rather, their Very Famous Authors' estates).
Random House's Point of View
Some of Wylie's Very Famous Authors have written bestselling books that Random House has published. Random House bought the rights to publish some of these books "in all formats," so Random House concludes that they (again, legally speaking) have the right to publish these books in an electronic (wait for it!) format.
More importantly, however: Random House's Tireless and Very Talented Editors worked on the manuscripts for these books, sometimes altering/improving them dramatically. Since Random House had substantial creative input on these manuscripts, they don't think it's fair for the Wylie Agency to turn around and sell them in e-format to Amazon. (They also don't like the exclusive deal with Amazon, but that's another post for another day.)
This is a bit of an oversimplification, but I think you get the gist of it. What do you think, mes auteurs?