View Full Version : Re: Renting Ebooks


Nate the great
08-20-2007, 11:09 PM
Do you know how Rlauzon says that you don't own a DRMed ebook, you just rent it? Well, that may be the literal truth the DRMed PDFs.

I copied the important posts here because registration is required.
http://bar.baen.com/WB/default.asp?action=9&read=113201&fid=76


First Message:

Simon Horvat
Do a Google on
Adobe "This document cannot be opened on this machine"

It makes for interesting reading

Every once in a while I buy a text, or Fiction, in encrypted PDF, PRC or LIT, 'cause that was the only way an e-Book version was available. ie Hallowed Hunt by McMaster Bujold, Donald Moffitt, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Windows Texts, etc

I won't be making that mistake in future

I have 33 books that I used to be able to open in Acrobat Reader 6 & 7. On my new machine Acrobat 8 won't allow me to open them. I gather because they were downloaded on different machines and there is no way to register the new machine at Adobe with the old UserID/Password. You could register up to 6 Acro 6 or 7 machines but that feature isn't available in Acro 8.

Adobe's solution, re-download them from the vendor. Ha !
-Adobe shut their own shop, so I can't download from them

- Amazon only guarantees the e-Books for a limited period (I think it was a month) but in practice it seems good for one year. I contacted Amazon & they were sorry but they couldn't help me if the download period had expired, I would need to repurchase the encrypted PDFs, except for those that Amazon don't sell anymore/don't sell to Australia anymore

- Fictionwise seem to have similar time issues, encrypted PDFs I bought there two years ago can't be re-downloaded

Luckily I have hundreds of non-encrypted e-Books, it was a rare book that was only available in encrypted format

I won't be buying any more encrypted PDF's, or other formats which can't be decrypted.

There is a product, ConvertLit, to convert encrypted MS Reader files

Simon


Next Message:

Sometime 'round Feb to April this year I had lost a few encrypted PDF e-books from Amazon.

When I went to re-download them
1) I redownloaded them but was unable to activate them on my machine
2) I could not find any encrypted e-books in my Amazon Digital library that I had bought more than 1 year ago

I redownloaded & attempted to activate a Secure PDF from Fictionwise but could not activate it ("The Hallowed Hunt...Last download: 2007-04-10 10:20:20.397")

After a week or so of continued failure, I contacted Amazon about the PDFs I bought from them. Their support staff informed me that e-books were only guaranteed for a month & I would need to purchase any that had dropped off my Library. They were sorry but they unable to help me. I have not found that written anywhere on their site.

In practice encrypted e-Books drop out of my Digital Library after about 1 year. One book was no longer able to be bought because of my geographical location (which is Australia). Later that book was again available.

I also have non encrypted e-books at Amazon. They do not have this 1 year limit.

I did not contact Fictionwise about this because I still had working copies of my e-Books from them.

After reading the above responses I find
1) still no encrypted books older than 1 year in my Amazon Digital Library
2) I AM now able to activate Secure PDFs from Fictionwise from approx 2 years ago (The Hallowed Hunt) in Acro 6

Now that I can activate secure PDFs I will reinstall Acro 8 ADE & re-download a secure PDF from Fictionwise that was failing last night in Acro 8 to see what happens.

I am sticking to .LIT as much as possible as ConvertLit is out there for decrypting them.

thank you to all who advised me on this issue
Simon


Final Message:

Continuing the saga.

This afternoon at Fictionwise I could download & open the secure PDF "Hallowed Hunt" on my old machine with Acro 6 (I bought this book over 1 to 2 years ago). Tonight the required page can't be found when I click "Download Ebook". I've tried on my new machine with Acro 8 & have the same problem. Opening the book from within Acro 8 switches to IE & then nothing happens, I still can't open it.

I have 2 recent secure PDF purchases from Fictionwise, both of which currently DO download from IE into Acro 6 successfully on my old machine. On the new machine they also download from IE to ADE v1.0.467 (Acrobat 8's Digital Edition software) & successfully open.

None of my encrypted PDFs from Amazon are available in my Amazon Digital Library anymore as I bought them more than a year ago. None of them open in ADE. They still open in Acro 6 & 7 on machines which I have registered on the Acro 6 & 7 DRM activation website.

So, there you have it. If you can't re-download/re-activate the encrypted PDFs you can't open them in ADE. I have no interest in re-purchasing my Amazon ebooks, especially as those copies will also expire, so I'll be keeping copies of Acro 6 & 7 alive for now. If I buy encrypted ebooks they'll be MS LIT which I know can be decrypted

Simon

Liviu_5
08-21-2007, 01:19 AM
Do you know how Rlauzon says that you don't own a DRMed ebook, you just rent it? Well, that may be the literal truth the DRMed PDFs.



The technical term is licensing. That is true for all e-content, drm-ed or not by law. The difference is that for non-drm books if you are careful to back up in an open format and migrate, you license them in perpetuity. You still cannot resell them but that's ok with me.

For drm'ed books you just license them for a while. I also have 2 or 3 drm'ed pdf's from the time I did not know what an ebook or drm are, and while I could redownload them when I changed pc's, it's possible I cannot open them anymore with Adobe 8 and I think redownload is not an option anymore.

Similarly I have an embiid book that I migrated when I changed pc's but next time I change pc is very likely I won't be able to.

However I extracted the content at some expense of time and effort (not breaking the drm incidentally, just snag and ocr) and I could not care less...

For the 3 Sony books I got with my credit, I expect that they will be available for a while but when I have the time I will extract their content too, so I will not be at the mercy of Sony...Connect may close tomorrow after all if Sony decides it's more trouble than worth.

Nate the great
08-21-2007, 08:57 AM
I did not post this to get start a discussion. The person I am quoting was under the impression that he had purchased an ebook, not a license. I was under that impression as well because I not aware of the time limitation on PDFs. This thread was a PSA for other forum members who might not know.

NatCh
08-21-2007, 01:56 PM
Do you know how Rlauzon says that you don't own a DRMed ebook, you just rent it?He might have mentioned it, yeah. :laugh4:

Nate the great
08-21-2007, 04:36 PM
I changed my mind. I do want a discussion.

The technical term is licensing. That is true for all e-content, drm-ed or not by law. The difference is that for non-drm books if you are careful to back up in an open format and migrate, you license them in perpetuity. You still cannot resell them but that's ok with me.

For drm'ed books you just license them for a while. I also have 2 or 3 drm'ed pdf's from the time I did not know what an ebook or drm are, and while I could redownload them when I changed pc's, it's possible I cannot open them anymore with Adobe 8 and I think redownload is not an option anymore.

Similarly I have an embiid book that I migrated when I changed pc's but next time I change pc is very likely I won't be able to.

However I extracted the content at some expense of time and effort (not breaking the drm incidentally, just snag and ocr) and I could not care less...

For the 3 Sony books I got with my credit, I expect that they will be available for a while but when I have the time I will extract their content too, so I will not be at the mercy of Sony...Connect may close tomorrow after all if Sony decides it's more trouble than worth.

You are slightly wrong on the issue of license.

In this discussion, let's set aside copyright, and focus only on the topic of licensing. A software license is an agreement between the seller and the buyer. I'm sure everyone here is familiar with EULAs, correct? Well, what you may not know is that EULAs are not enforcible in most states in the USA because they fall into the category of "contract of adhesion". This is a type of contract without any negotiation that one party is forced to accept; that's why they are not enforcible.

The technical term is licensing. That is true for all e-content, drm-ed or not by law.

I believe this is incorrect. I have checked VA state code, and I cannot find a part that says when I buy e-content, I am buying a license to use the e-content, not the e-content itself. If I am wrong, please cite the applicable law.

HarryT
08-22-2007, 04:05 AM
It's certainly true that, when you buy a paper book, you are simply buying the "medium" - the paper, ink, glue, etc. You are not buying any rights to the content. You can re-sell the physical book, but you cannot re-publish the content yourself.

TadW
08-22-2007, 05:49 AM
It's certainly true that, when you buy a paper book, you are simply buying the "medium" - the paper, ink, glue, etc. You are not buying any rights to the content. You can re-sell the physical book, but you cannot re-publish the content yourself.

Harry, you should become a lawyer, serious! :shy:

I am sure from a legal standpoint, you are absolutely correct. But let's forget the legal aspects for a moment and let's consider the consumer and his needs and wants. When I purchase a p-book, I purchase the right to read what's inside the book - at any time I wish - and I purchase the right to sell the book again.

Following what's been said about e-books here, you must agree that what you get as the prospective consumer of e-books is considerably less. Amazon has chosen (obviously at random) to have your e-books expire one year after purchase in your Amazon Digital Library. Again, while this may be legally OK under the given licensing terms, it certainly can not be in the interest of the consumer. If vendors want e-books to succeed, they must create incentives. P-books have been around for centuries, and people feel comfortable with purchasing them (because they know exactly what they get - there ain't no legal smallprint). E-books are so new that most people are overwhelmed with the different formats and with the different hardware technologies. As if this was not enough, e-book vendors now come up with their own licensing terms putting them all under the umbrella of DRM - which, if taken all together, hardly sounds like a great selling point over traditional p-books.

HarryT
08-22-2007, 06:38 AM
I completely agree with you, Tad.

I've never bought an eBook from Amazon - is there no way to register the book to a different device after a year's gone by since you've bought it? If that's the case, that's a very serious matter - I often don't get around to reading books for several years after I've bought them, and I'd be very unhappy if I found that I couldn't do so simply because I'd got a new computer in the time since I bought it.

Nate the great
08-22-2007, 07:49 AM
So far as I can tell from their website, both Baen and Fictionwise believe they are selling you ownership of an ebook, not a license to read the ebook.


It's certainly true that, when you buy a paper book, you are simply buying the "medium" - the paper, ink, glue, etc. You are not buying any rights to the content. You can re-sell the physical book, but you cannot re-publish the content yourself.

HarryT, what you say here is about copyright. Please don't bring it up again because your post distracts from the issue of ownership vs. license.

HarryT
08-22-2007, 08:00 AM
Please don't tell me "what not to bring up", Nate. This is an open board and I'll bring up anything which I think contributes to the discussion.

Copyright law is highly relevent to a discussion of what one can or cannot do with an eBook, and applies equally to electronic media as to "physical" ones. One is certainly not buying the "content" of an eBook in the sense of buying any "rights" to it. Given the definition of the word "licence" as "formal permission from a governmental or other constituted authority to do something", then it is copyright law which forms the basis of the rights that the author or publisher is licensing you when you purchase an eBook. You cannot talk about "licensing" without talking about copyright law.

DRM determines whether or not one can re-sell an eBook, and that is determined by whether or not the publisher makes provision for the DRM to be transferred to a new owner. I don't believe that there is any legal requirement for them to do so, and it could well be argued that it's not in either a publisher or an author's interest to do so.

However, given that DRM-ed eBooks have no resale value as a result, from the viewpoint of the customer one could argue to a publisher than this lowers their value, so the price should be correspondingly lower as a result.

Liviu_5
08-22-2007, 10:30 AM
I will find you the references but a lot depends on your definitions which the net blurred. Before it was simple, you own something you can do some things with it of which the most important were:

1: you can use the thing you own pretty much however you want given applicable limits (to drive a car you gotta use the roads, have insurance, with designer shirts you can wear them but not replicate them, with books you can read but not ...)
2: you can sell the thing you own if you so choose

With e-content though, #2 goes away unless there is a (very rare situation) provision for license transfer, and note that if your e-content is not drm-ed there cannot be such, so non-drm content is definitely no resalable (ask the Baen people how would they feel if you would like to resell the e-books bought through them); that is one advantage of drm content, but of course the content industry hating secondary markets in their products are not going to use it
With drm-ed content #1 is watered down considerably since outside the customary restrictions there is a new one, "where can I use it", and that opens the can of worms of more restrictions

HarryT
08-22-2007, 10:39 AM
Are you saying that you believe that non-DRM-protected eBooks cannot legally be re-sold, Liviu? I would have thought that it would be a similar position to, say, re-selling computer software, which is generally permitted provided that you provide all media and electronic copies to the buyer, and delete them from your own systems.

I suppose the problem with eBooks is that, unlike computer software, you don't generally get an End User Licence Agreement (EULA) which lays out what you can and can't do - it's all rather vague.

Xenophon
08-22-2007, 10:53 AM
With e-content though, #2 goes away unless there is a (very rare situation) provision for license transfer, and note that if your e-content is not drm-ed there cannot be such, so non-drm content is definitely no resalable (ask the Baen people how would they feel if you would like to resell the e-books bought through them); that is one advantage of drm content, but of course the content industry hating secondary markets in their products are not going to use it
With drm-ed content #1 is watered down considerably since outside the customary restrictions there is a new one, "where can I use it", and that opens the can of worms of more restrictions

Actually, in practice the Baen people are OK with you reselling the e-books you bought through them... as long as you don't keep a copy yourself. They're quite OK with the 'first-sale' doctrine. And in a few special circumstances, they've even given permission to have one purchased copy turn into two. A couple of divorces, and some kids-leaving-the-house come to mind, for example. Those are things where you certainly don't have the right through first-sale or any other legal theory; they were asked how to do it and granted permission to make the copies when they could equally well have said no. Nice folks at Baen.

rlauzon
08-22-2007, 01:17 PM
Actually, in practice the Baen people are OK with you reselling the e-books you bought through them... as long as you don't keep a copy yourself. They're quite OK with the 'first-sale' doctrine. And in a few special circumstances, they've even given permission to have one purchased copy turn into two. A couple of divorces, and some kids-leaving-the-house come to mind, for example. Those are things where you certainly don't have the right through first-sale or any other legal theory; they were asked how to do it and granted permission to make the copies when they could equally well have said no. Nice folks at Baen.

Based on what Eric Flint said in the latest Baen's Universe, they mostly look at these types of transfers as "opportunities to get our work in front of someone else's eyes". Baen may not make any money off that one, but gets someone else to try the author out.

"Try before you buy" is a tried-and-true sales technique - especially when it comes to items that are very much based on personal tastes.

At Penguicon a few years ago, John Ringo was there talking about Baen. What they were doing at the time was releasing volume 1 of a series for free as an eBook. That generated interest in the rest of the volumes - which they sold. Authors who thought that their books were done were (happily) surprised to get sizable royalty checks.

NatCh
08-22-2007, 01:19 PM
Baen really does have a great perspective on these matters. I'm particularly glad that their offerings and my tastes overlap so much. :yes:

rlauzon
08-22-2007, 01:23 PM
There was a Microsoft case a number of years ago that relates to this talk about licenses.

The gist of the case was:
1. Person buys a computer with Windows installed on it.
2. Person doesn't want Windows but can't buy the computer without it.
3. Person removes Windows from the computer and installs <whatever>.
4. Person then puts the copy of Windows up for sale on eBay.

Microsoft had the sale removed from eBay saying that they person licensed the software and that they couldn't transfer the license without Microsoft's permission. Microsoft insisted the the license was tied to the computer itself.

The person argued that Windows was just a component of the computer sale (no different then the hard drive or video card) and that it could be resold just like any other component.

The person won. That's why when you buy a new computer, your Windows proof of license is on that non-removable sticker that's physically attached to the computer case.

I don't remember all the details of the case. It would take me a while to find them. But it does seem to indicate that you can transfer a license without permission from the owner of the eProperty.

HarryT
08-22-2007, 01:24 PM
Baen are definitely the "good guys" of the eBook publishing world. They deserve all our support.

NatCh
08-22-2007, 01:25 PM
... your Windows proof of license is on that non-removable sticker that's physically attached to the computer case.Heh, a good saber saw will take that off for you. :grin2:

Liviu_5
08-22-2007, 05:20 PM
Are you saying that you believe that non-DRM-protected eBooks cannot legally be re-sold, Liviu? I would have thought that it would be a similar position to, say, re-selling computer software, which is generally permitted provided that you provide all media and electronic copies to the buyer, and delete them from your own systems.

I suppose the problem with eBooks is that, unlike computer software, you don't generally get an End User Licence Agreement (EULA) which lays out what you can and can't do - it's all rather vague.

These (license vs ownership and what it means) are very interesting questions and I have no idea about what the strict letter of the law is. I suppose technically you could resell ebooks as above, but it's not customary and there is no secondary market in econtent and I strongly believe that such a market is not going to exist. In the drm case there is no incentive for the content creator to allow transfer, in the non-drm case I just do not see it legal; sure in an individual case it may be, but I just do not see a market forming and not being shut down by courts.

Napster technically was such a market where people traded drm free music and we know what happened.

Regarding Baen, I am a big fan and active in discussions on their forums, but let us not forget that they allow the contents of their cd's to be posted for free online since ebooks are still a publicity venue first and foremost for them, and just secondary a revenue generator. I am very curious how their e-only initiatives (Universe, Grantville Gazette - though in both cases they are issuing print copies of selected content too, and misc non Baen authors like Niven & Pournelle, Lee & Miller, and various others) will come out...

igorsk
08-30-2007, 08:27 PM
Similarly I have an embiid book that I migrated when I changed pc's but next time I change pc is very likely I won't be able to.

Actually, Embiid books are tied to the personalized reader program .exe, not the machine. So as long as you keep the reader, you'll be able to read your books.
Alternatively, you can try my tool (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showpost.php?p=79076&postcount=10) and then do what you want with the HTML (i.e. convert to LRF for reading on Reader).

JSWolf
08-30-2007, 08:47 PM
Based on what Eric Flint said in the latest Baen's Universe, they mostly look at these types of transfers as "opportunities to get our work in front of someone else's eyes". Baen may not make any money off that one, but gets someone else to try the author out.

"Try before you buy" is a tried-and-true sales technique - especially when it comes to items that are very much based on personal tastes.

At Penguicon a few years ago, John Ringo was there talking about Baen. What they were doing at the time was releasing volume 1 of a series for free as an eBook. That generated interest in the rest of the volumes - which they sold. Authors who thought that their books were done were (happily) surprised to get sizable royalty checks.
When a book series is no longer generating all that much interest, that is a very good way to generate intertest. Because if the series is by a known author and book 1 is free, you'll get people to read book 1 and then if they like it, they'll purchase the rest thus generating revinue where there was none or not much.

JSWolf
08-30-2007, 09:00 PM
Take MobiPocket or BBeB books for example... They are tied to some sort of PID that's tied to your computer and/or your reading device(s). Now if you break the DRM and find it's legal to do so via the exceptions in the DMCA (in the USA), you have a legally DRM free book. Can this DRM free ebook then be sold to someone else?

One of the issues with ebooks is ebay. I've seen a lot of ebooks illegally being sold. I do read Star Trek books and I've seen ebooks for sale that included some ebooks that officially have never been released electronically.

Another question I have .. is it legal to take books from PG, convert them to some other format and sell them? I've just found an auction on ebay for the Dr. Thorndyke books in Acrobat format. In fact, this idiot seems to be selling a LOT of PG books.

http://stores.ebay.com/NicheTouche_W0QQcolZ4QQdirZQ2d1QQfsubZQ2d999QQftid Z2QQtZkm

Liviu_5
08-31-2007, 12:07 AM
Actually, Embiid books are tied to the personalized reader program .exe, not the machine. So as long as you keep the reader, you'll be able to read your books.
Alternatively, you can try my tool (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showpost.php?p=79076&postcount=10) and then do what you want with the HTML (i.e. convert to LRF for reading on Reader).

I have only one embiid book (I was so upset with the limitations that I got the other 2 books in that series as used books for ~8$ each rather than the 5$ for the ebook, and everyone involved - me, author, publisher - lost, and the one I had, I snagged and ocr'ed), but I am going to try that script soon.

DMcCunney
08-31-2007, 01:58 AM
Based on what Eric Flint said in the latest Baen's Universe, they mostly look at these types of transfers as "opportunities to get our work in front of someone else's eyes". Baen may not make any money off that one, but gets someone else to try the author out.That was the whole point of the Baen Free Library, which you were encouraged to copy and share.

An old friend of mine is a musician and band leader, with a couple of major label albums and a slew of indie releases. He'd like you to buy the CDs, but if you dupe them and pass them to your friends, he's cool with that, too. The band has a following and makes its living playing gigs. The more folks who hear their music, the more people come to see them when they play.
______
Dennis

DMcCunney
08-31-2007, 02:07 AM
Another question I have .. is it legal to take books from PG, convert them to some other format and sell them? I've just found an auction on ebay for the Dr. Thorndyke books in Acrobat format. In fact, this idiot seems to be selling a LOT of PG booksAFAIK, yes. They are on PG because the content is in the public domain. You can do anything you want with it, including sell it.

PG insists you remove their boilerplate if you do something like that, but there's nothing to stop you from doing it.

I know a chap who takes PG etext, typesets them and adds covers, and sells them as actual printed books via print-on-demand technology. He's doing very well from it. (And expressed bemused wonder a while back when he got his statements and discovered just how well, like "Holy crap! I'm rich!".

It's obvious the folk who buy the eBay seller's offerings aren't aware of Munseys or Manybooks...
_______
Dennis

HarryT
09-01-2007, 10:52 AM
Another question I have .. is it legal to take books from PG, convert them to some other format and sell them?

Provided that you remove all mention of PG from them then yes, it's entirely legal. You can do anything you want with material that's in the public domain, including re-selling it.

HarryT
09-01-2007, 10:55 AM
Take MobiPocket or BBeB books for example... They are tied to some sort of PID that's tied to your computer and/or your reading device(s). Now if you break the DRM and find it's legal to do so via the exceptions in the DMCA (in the USA), you have a legally DRM free book. Can this DRM free ebook then be sold to someone else?

IMHO, no. Legally, by removing the DRM or converting the format you are creating a "derived work" (ie one derived from the original, but different to it), and to do that requires the permission of the copyright holder.

Nate the great
09-01-2007, 03:42 PM
IMHO, no. Legally, by removing the DRM or converting the format you are creating a "derived work" (ie one derived from the original, but different to it), and to do that requires the permission of the copyright holder.

That could be argued both ways. If I have a paper book, do I need the permission of the copyright holder to make one partial set of photocopies of the book? Do I need the permission of the copyright holder to take a thick book, divide it into two or more parts and carry only part of the book with me?

The answer to both of these questions is no.

Now, if I can do that with a paper book I purchased, why can't I do it with an ebook I purchased? What is the difference between the paper copy and the electronic copy?

The only difference I can tell is the so called "license". I really want to know if the license concept is actual law, or something that the general public was conned into accepting.

HarryT
09-01-2007, 03:55 PM
That could be argued both ways. If I have a paper book, do I need the permission of the copyright holder to make one partial set of photocopies of the book? Do I need the permission of the copyright holder to take a thick book, divide it into two or more parts and carry only part of the book with me?

The answer to both of these questions is no.

Now, if I can do that with a paper book I purchased, why can't I do it with an ebook I purchased? What is the difference between the paper copy and the electronic copy?

The difference is that, with the paper book, by cutting it up, you are not creating a new book; you are doing things to the old one. When you photocopy a portion of the book, you are creating something new, but that's specifically covered by the "fair use" clause of the copyright laws.

When you convert the format of an eBook, however, you're creating another copy of the book - a "derived work" (you end up with both the original file and the new one). It would be like buying a paper book, and translating it into French, say. That's fine if it's for your personal use, but you couldn't then sell someone your translation without the author's permission. Similarly, you couldn't sell someone your format-converted e-book.

The only difference I can tell is the so called "license". I really want to know if the license concept is actual law, or something that the general public was conned into accepting.

The licence is very real - it is the set of rights granted to you by the copyright laws of your country.

Nate the great
09-01-2007, 04:09 PM
The licence is very real - it is the set of rights granted to you by the copyright laws of your country.

I think you have it backwards. I am granted my rights to my property from common law, not copyright law. Copyright law restricts certain rights over my property to the copyright holder. It doesn't grant me rights, it takes them away.

The difference is that, with the paper book, by cutting it up, you are not creating a new book; you are doing things to the old one. When you photocopy a portion of the book, you are creating something new, but that's specifically covered by the "fair use" clause of the copyright laws.

Okay, if I can make a complete copy of a paper book (with the print enlarged in order to be read easier), then why can't I convert an ebook from a format I can't use to one I can? Why is one covered under fair use, but not the other?

Nate the great
09-01-2007, 04:31 PM
One more thing:

The licence is very real - it is the set of rights granted to you by the copyright laws of your country.

Thank you for suggesting this; I had not thought of it. I will go dig through US copyright law and see if you are coreect.

DMcCunney
09-01-2007, 06:54 PM
I think you have it backwards. I am granted my rights to my property from common law, not copyright law. Copyright law restricts certain rights over my property to the copyright holder. It doesn't grant me rights, it takes them away.No, he doesn't.

Okay, if I can make a complete copy of a paper book (with the print enlarged in order to be read easier), then why can't I convert an ebook from a format I can't use to one I can? Why is one covered under fair use, but not the other?Because what you own in the case of a paper book is the physical media it is printed on. You do not own the content. That is owned by the copyright holder, who has specifically granted certain rights to others. In the case of a paper book, she has granted rights to a publisher to reproduce, distribute, and sell it, in an exchange for a fee.

You can copy and share small parts of the book (like quotations or part of a review). This is what is covered by "Fair Use". You can make a complete large print copy of the book for your own use (though technically, you probably can't then pass along the original book to another. Not that anyone will care in that instance.)

You cannot scan the complete book to electronic form and distribute the electronic copy. The author (or the publisher, depending upon the contract) retains the reproduction rights. The physical book is yours to fold, spindle, mutilate, or pass along, as you chose. The content in the book is not.

As an extension, you can't convert an ebook from one format to another, because you have been granted the right to purchase and read it in a specific format. (This is applicable basically to DRM protected books.)

Now, all this is theory. I practice, I doubt anyone will care if you convert an ebook from one format to another for your own reading convenience. But if you convert a book from one format (say, DRM protected), into another (unprotected), and then merrily start copying and sharing with your friends, various folks are likely to care a lot.

Copyright isn't taking rights away from you, because the rights covered weren't yours in the first place.
______
Dennis

rlauzon
09-01-2007, 07:53 PM
Referencing copyright law in the case of DRMed eBooks is sort of just muddying the water.

First of all, Nate is correct: Copyright law doesn't grant non-author rights - it takes them away. The purpose of copyright was to give authors a way to let their work be enjoyed by the public without unscrupulous people stealing the work. It does that by limiting the rights of the "owner" of the paper book.

Dennis is partially correct when he says:
"Copyright isn't taking rights away from you, because the rights covered weren't yours in the first place."

He's incorrect about the "Copyright isn't taking rights away from you" part. But he's correct about the "the rights covered weren't yours in the first place."

It isn't copyright that's the issue here. Its the fact that when you pay money for a DRMed eBook, you are not "buying" it - you are, in effect, renting it through a license agreement.

Copyright doesn't any bearing on this.

That's why DRM is so important to these publishers. It (very poorly) attempts to enforce the license agreement. The problem is that the people who paid money were led to believe that they purchased an eBook - just like they would have purchased a pBook - with all the purchaser rights thereof.

Going back to my good example: Spook Country. $26 at Fictionwise as a DRMed eBook. $16 at Amazon.com as a pBook.

Now, as an informed buyer, which has better value? The pBook, that costs less and can be resold when you are done reading it? Or the eBook, that costs more, and cannot be resold?

Taking that one step further. Which is a better value? Renting that eBook from Fictionwise for $26, or renting it from your local library for free?

Nate the great
09-01-2007, 08:06 PM
No, he doesn't.
...
Copyright isn't taking rights away from you, because the rights covered weren't yours in the first place.

Yes, they were. Let's go back before copyright, say 1000 years ago. If I owned a copy of a book, I could take that copy to a scribe and pay him to make another copy. I would have that right because the book was my property.

Then, the printing press was invented. Suddenly, it was easy to make multiple copies of a book. Publishers would buy a book from a competitor and run off some copies to sell. This was legal before copyright.

After copyright was invented, this was no longer possible. You couldn't buy a book and turn out copies. Thus, one of your rights over your property was taken away.

If I am wrong, then please explain what rights copyright law gives me that I did not already have.


...
As an extension, you can't convert an ebook from one format to another, because you have been granted the right to purchase and read it in a specific format. (This is applicable basically to DRM protected books.)
...
______
Dennis

A seller cannot grant rights. I think you mean they are granting permission (tomato, tomah-to). That is indeed a possibility if both the seller and the buyer agree that the transaction is over a license instead of ownership. However, I don't make those kind transactions. I buy ownership, not a license. Furthermore, I have checked Fictionwise and Webscriptions and both seem to be under the impression that they are selling ebooks, not licenses to read the ebook.

Ponder this: When a copyright is issued, it protects the content. We agree on this. This one copyright covers the content when it is on paper and when it is in an ebook. It's the same copyright. If, under fair use, I can take the content in one form(paper) and make a copy (to enlarge the text), then why can't I take the content in one form(ebook format) and make a copy (change to another ebook format)?

HarryT
09-02-2007, 03:25 AM
what you own in the case of a paper book is the physical media it is printed on. You do not own the content. That is owned by the copyright holder, who has specifically granted certain rights to others. In the case of a paper book, she has granted rights to a publisher to reproduce, distribute, and sell it, in an exchange for a fee.

You can copy and share small parts of the book (like quotations or part of a review). This is what is covered by "Fair Use". You can make a complete large print copy of the book for your own use (though technically, you probably can't then pass along the original book to another. Not that anyone will care in that instance.)

You cannot scan the complete book to electronic form and distribute the electronic copy. The author (or the publisher, depending upon the contract) retains the reproduction rights. The physical book is yours to fold, spindle, mutilate, or pass along, as you chose. The content in the book is not.


Amen. This is precisely what I've been telling people for months, Dennis. Some seem reluctant to accept that it is the truth - ie that you don't "own" the contents of a book, but just the physical paper, ink, glue, etc.

HarryT
09-02-2007, 03:28 AM
Ponder this: When a copyright is issued, it protects the content. We agree on this. This one copyright covers the content when it is on paper and when it is in an ebook. It's the same copyright. If, under fair use, I can take the content in one form(paper) and make a copy (to enlarge the text), then why can't I take the content in one form(ebook format) and make a copy (change to another ebook format)?

You can do - at least there's nothing in the copyright law that says you can't. There may, however, be technical issues such as DRM which prevent it. In some countries there may be additional laws which specifically prohibit removal of DRM, such as the DMCA in the US.

The original question asked, though, was whether or not you can re-sell your converted book. The answer is clearly "no", just as you can't re-sell your enlarged photocopy. It's OK only for your personal use.

HarryT
09-02-2007, 04:16 AM
Nate,

You keep coming back to the issue of a "licences" and I'm not at all sure what you mean by the word. When I look in the dictionary, the most appropriate definition I find is:

formal permission from a governmental or other constituted authority to do something

Using this definition of the word, copyright law is what licenses you certain, rather restricted, rights as far as what you can legally do with either a paper book or an eBook.

What do you mean by the word "license"? We can't meaningfully talk about it unless we know that we are both talking about the same thing!

rlauzon
09-02-2007, 06:51 AM
What do you mean by the word "license"? We can't meaningfully talk about it unless we know that we are both talking about the same thing!

According to Dictionary.com (abbreviated, look up the whole thing for yourself):
1. Authority or liberty given to do or forbear any act; especially, a formal permission from the proper authorities to perform certain acts or to carry on a certain business, which without such permission would be illegal; a grant of permission; as, a license to preach, to practice medicine, to sell gunpowder or intoxicating liquors.

The wording is all based on giving permission to do something. Copyright is NOT a license because it is not giving me permission. It's restricting me from making a copy.

When I pay for a pBook, I am restricted by copyright from doing certain things (mainly making a copy and selling it). There is NO list of what I am permitted do to with that book.
When I pay for a DRMed eBook, the license lists what I am permitted to do with that DRMed eBook.

Nate the great
09-02-2007, 09:35 AM
Here you used license to mean "rights under the law".

The licence is very real - it is the set of rights granted to you by the copyright laws of your country.


What do you mean by the word "license"? We can't meaningfully talk about it unless we know that we are both talking about the same thing!

See what Rlauzon said above; that's how I was thinking. I see a license (in this discussion) as an agreement between the seller and buyer where the seller gives the buyer permission to do certain things with the seller's property.

I started this discussion in order to ask some questions; when you buy an ebook, are you paying for ownership or a license? Why do so many people assume that it is a license? What legal basis exists to support the assumption?

Some people here automatically assume that you buy a license, not ownership. I disagree.

When I buy a pbook, I own the pbook. Similarly, when I buy an ebook, I expect to own the ebook. If I don't own it, then I don't buy it.

I really want to learn what the law says. I suspect that there is no law to support the assumption that the buyer is purchasing a license, not ownership.

HarryT
09-02-2007, 09:43 AM
Here you used license to mean "rights under the law".


That is correct. That is what I mean by the word. I get the impression, though, that you mean something a little different?

See what Rlauzon said above; that's how I was thinking. I see a license (in this discussion) as an agreement between the seller and buyer where the seller gives the buyer permission to do certain things with the seller's property.

I started this discussion in order to ask some questions; when you buy an ebook, are you paying for ownership or a license? Why do so many people assume that it is a license? What legal basis exists to support the assumption?

Some people here automatically assume that you buy a license, not ownership. I disagree.

When I buy a pbook, I own the pbook. Similarly, when I buy an ebook, I expect to own the ebook. If I don't own it, then I don't buy it.

As has been said numerous times, Nate, when you buy a paper book, you own the physical media - the paper, ink, glue, covers, etc. You do not own the book's contents; the ownership of those remains with the copyright holder.

I really want to learn what the law says. I suspect that there is no law to support the assumption that the buyer is purchasing a license, not ownership.

The law specifies some restrictions on your rights (which is what I mean by a licence); eg the law says that you can't resell the contents of the book, whether it's a paper book or an e-Book. When you buy an e-Book, the seller can impose some additional restrictions on you, if it's a DRM'd book. Eg, if you buy a DRM-protected MobiPocket book, you can't print it (you can if it doesn't have DRM). These are nothing to do with the law - if you wish to call that a "licence", it's fine by me. If you go to a site like "Fictionwise", you'll find that the site specifies what restrictions are imposed by what formats.

Nate the great
09-02-2007, 10:06 AM
Let me give you a few examples of how the word "license" could be used.

A patent holder can license a patent. Ownership is not transferred; permission to use is granted.

You can buy a software license from Microsoft that grants you permission to install Windows on up to X number of computers (say 5, 10, or 20, etc.).

The above examples are explicit agreements. I want to know why there is the assumption that there is an implicit license on an ebook.

If an ebook is licensed, then you don't actually own it. Any restrictions placed on the file is perfectly legal.

If the ebook is owned, not licensed, then DRM and the DMCA both violate my rights over my property.

HarryT
09-02-2007, 10:23 AM
I'm sorry Nate, I don't understand what the issue is. If you go to Fictionwise and buy a book with MobiPocket DRM, say, then the site clearly tells you before you buy it that you will only be able to read the book on certain specified devices, and that you won't be able to print it. Those are restrictions imposed by the DRM mechanism, and you are buying the eBook with the full knowledge of what those restrictions are.

We seem to be talking semantics - you can call those restrictions a "licence" if you wish. Whatever you want to call them, the restrictions on your use of that file are certainly legal; you are being told about them before you make the purchase, and are agreeing to the terms of the sale by buying that eBook with those restrictions.

DMcCunney
09-02-2007, 03:05 PM
Dennis is partially correct when he says:
"Copyright isn't taking rights away from you, because the rights covered weren't yours in the first place."

He's incorrect about the "Copyright isn't taking rights away from you" part. But he's correct about the "the rights covered weren't yours in the first place."You can't have it both ways. If the rights weren't mine to begin with, they can't be "taken away from me" because I never had them.

It isn't copyright that's the issue here. Its the fact that when you pay money for a DRMed eBook, you are not "buying" it - you are, in effect, renting it through a license agreement.

Copyright doesn't any bearing on this.Er, DRM is a (misguided) effect to enforce copyright. If we didn't have copyright laws, we wouldn't have DRM, as there wouldn't be a perceived need for it.
______
Dennis

DMcCunney
09-02-2007, 03:23 PM
Yes, they were. Let's go back before copyright, say 1000 years ago. If I owned a copy of a book, I could take that copy to a scribe and pay him to make another copy. I would have that right because the book was my property.

Then, the printing press was invented. Suddenly, it was easy to make multiple copies of a book. Publishers would buy a book from a competitor and run off some copies to sell. This was legal before copyright.

After copyright was invented, this was no longer possible. You couldn't buy a book and turn out copies. Thus, one of your rights over your property was taken away.

If I am wrong, then please explain what rights copyright law gives me that I did not already have.Let me see if I understand you: your thesis seems to be that copyright law removed the right you once had to make copies of books. So it did. It reserved rights to the creator, who could then choose to grant certain rights to others.

Essentially, copyright acknowledges that the creator owns the content, and has the right to control how the content is distributed. Copyrights are time-limited, and expire. How long copyrights last varies depending upon local law.

Since we have had copyright since long before either of us was born, you have never had the right to copy the content, unless the copyright holder explicitly permitted it, by something like the Creative Commons license.

It's nonsense to talk about rights being taken away that you never had in the first place.

Ponder this: When a copyright is issued, it protects the content. We agree on this. This one copyright covers the content when it is on paper and when it is in an ebook. It's the same copyright.Maybe, maybe not. Consider the case of "compilation copyright".
______
Dennis

DMcCunney
09-02-2007, 03:25 PM
I'm sorry Nate, I don't understand what the issue is. If you go to Fictionwise and buy a book with MobiPocket DRM, say, then the site clearly tells you before you buy it that you will only be able to read the book on certain specified devices, and that you won't be able to print it. Those are restrictions imposed by the DRM mechanism, and you are buying the eBook with the full knowledge of what those restrictions are.I think he's complaining about the same thing people have complained about in software EULAs. You are covered by a license agreement you never explicitly agreed to.

His complaint seems far more about what are essentially licensing issues (IE: can he legally convert from one eformat to another) than with copyright per se.
______
Dennis

rlauzon
09-02-2007, 05:33 PM
The above examples are explicit agreements. I want to know why there is the assumption that there is an implicit license on an ebook.

This may be the issue you are having.

There is no implicit license. It's explicit when you pay money for the eBook, you are told what the license is.

The problem is that most people just click through the license, making assumptions about what it says. Even if they were to read it, their eyes would probably glaze over with the legal-ese.

Most people assume, though, that when they pay money for an eBook, they are getting the same rights and restrictions that they get when they pay for a pBook.

IHMO, when a company offers a DRMed eBook, they need to make it very clear what the customer is paying for. Not many eBook companies do that.

Nate the great
09-02-2007, 07:39 PM
I'm sorry Nate, I don't understand what the issue is. If you go to Fictionwise and buy a book with MobiPocket DRM, say, then the site clearly tells you before you buy it that you will only be able to read the book on certain specified devices, and that you won't be able to print it. Those are restrictions imposed by the DRM mechanism, and you are buying the eBook with the full knowledge of what those restrictions are.

The point is that I was trying to bring up ownership versus license. I wanted to learn the actual legal details.

Please go back and read the first post on this thread. The guy I quoted was not told that his PDFs would be nonfunctional after a year. The first response I got on this thread said to the effect,"Well, yeah. The license he purchased expired". He was not told that he purchased a license. He thought he purchased an ebook.

If you own an ebook, it can't suddenly stop working. If you license it, it can. Remember, he thought he owned the PDF.


We seem to be talking semantics - you can call those restrictions a "licence" if you wish. Whatever you want to call them, the restrictions on your use of that file are certainly legal; you are being told about them before you make the purchase, and are agreeing to the terms of the sale by buying that eBook with those restrictions.

But he wasn't! That is the whole point.

FYI: HarryT, I checked with a lawyer. The definition you apply to the word "license" is not correct in the USA.

I think he's complaining about the same thing people have complained about in software EULAs. You are covered by a license agreement you never explicitly agreed to.

His complaint seems far more about what are essentially licensing issues (IE: can he legally convert from one eformat to another) than with copyright per se.
______
Dennis

I was not complaining. I regret that it came out that way.

Conclusion: I started this thread because I wanted to learn about the legal details of ownership versus copyright. I did not learn anything here. I'm going to go analyze the user agreements from the various ebook content providers. I will then post summaries here of exactly what you agree to, such as which one sells you a license and which one sells you ownership.

JSWolf
09-02-2007, 08:04 PM
So if I take the books I've downloaded via PG and clean them up and remove all the PG notices, I can then sell them say as MobiPocket, HTML, RTF, BBeB, etc without any legal hassles at all?

Nate the great
09-02-2007, 08:11 PM
So if I take the books I've downloaded via PG and clean them up and remove all the PG notices, I can then sell them say as MobiPocket, HTML, RTF, BBeB, etc without any legal hassles at all?

Yes. That would be completely legal because the books are not protected by copyright.

rlauzon
09-02-2007, 08:11 PM
Conclusion: I started this thread because I wanted to learn about the legal details of ownership versus copyright. I did not learn anything here. I'm going to go analyze the user agreements from the various ebook content providers. I will then post summaries here of exactly what you agree to, such as which one sells you a license and which one sells you ownership.

You got me thinking. So I decided to head over to eReader.com and pretend that I am an eBook newbie.

All the wording that I see is the same as Amazon.com. I see terms like "Price", "Sale price", "Add to cart", "Go to checkout", etc.
Clicking on a book that seem interesting, I proceed to the checkout. I stop just short of actually confirming the purchase. But I see no license agreement anywhere.

Everything that I see says that my eBook purchase is no different from a pBook purchase on Amazon.com.

So I step back and see what I can find on what I can/cannot do with my eBooks. The only topic that I can see that's applicable is "Help." Going through the help, I see little about restrictions.

Buried in the Help is this:
"Without eReader, you will not be able to read eReader eBooks, and other eBook Readers will not work with eReader.com eBooks. eReader.com eBooks are encrypted to protect the authors' work."

Later on, they explain that you need their permission to access your eBooks when you change your credit card.

They do cover printing though: "No, eBooks on eReader.com are not printable."

However, they do say this:
"For the first time, it's now possible to build up your own library of your favorite books that won't ever age or deteriorate!"
Which seems to be contradictory with the other statements in the Help.

But the main problem is this: Nowhere does it say that you cannot re-sell the eBook you "purchase". I cannot find any license anywhere. Everything I see says that I "purchased" an eBook. Yet, with DRM, I have no first sale rights. I obviously have no rights beyond being able to download and read the eBook on approved devices.

I'm not a lawyer, but this reeks of "fraud" to me.

DMcCunney
09-02-2007, 09:07 PM
So if I take the books I've downloaded via PG and clean them up and remove all the PG notices, I can then sell them say as MobiPocket, HTML, RTF, BBeB, etc without any legal hassles at all?Yes. There are people who do exactly that.

The original text PG works from is in the public domain. It is not owned by anyone, and anyone may take it and do as they please with it. I know a chap in California who takes PG etexts, typesets them, adds covers, produces them through print-on-demand, and sells the actual paper books. He's making a very good living doing it. It's perfectly legal. Like I said, the original text is public domain.

Project Gutenberg requires you to remove their boilerplate and notes, because you don't have the rights to the material they added. Beyond that, they don't care. Their mission is to preserve literature that would otherwise disappear, by getting it into electronic format where it may be archived and converted. If you put it in a different format and offer it, fine by them. You are helping keep the texts alive.

What you are talking about is exactly what Munseys (http://www.munseys.com) and Manybooks.net (http://www.manybooks.net) do, though they don't charge for the works they make available.
______
Dennis

DMcCunney
09-02-2007, 09:19 PM
But the main problem is this: Nowhere does it say that you cannot re-sell the eBook you "purchase". I cannot find any license anywhere. Everything I see says that I "purchased" an eBook. Yet, with DRM, I have no first sale rights. I obviously have no rights beyond being able to download and read the eBook on approved devices.

I'm not a lawyer, but this reeks of "fraud" to me.I wouldn't go so far as to call it fraud.

But meanwhile, drop them a note and ask them.

The question comes up all the time with software: "Can I re-sell a piece of software I've purchased?" The answer depends on the license agreement, but the best case boils down to "Yes, if you turn over everything you got when you bought it, and you don't keep a copy yourself."

Transfers of license also require the approval of the vendor of the software. You are the registered user, and assuming they approve, their records must be updated to reflect the new owner.

It's the "not keeping a copy for yourself" that is the sticky part. You licensed the right to read it on your own devices. You did not license the right to reproduce and distribute it, and if you sold a copy while keeping one for yourself, you would be doing so.
______
Dennis

nekokami
09-02-2007, 10:17 PM
The fine print on a typical pbook: This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, by mimeograph or any other means, without permission. Here's another: All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form. Third example: All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

These were just taken from the first three books I picked up from the stack in my room. I don't know if you want to call this a "license," or some other restriction, but it's pretty clear that while you own the physical book, you don't own the right to reproduce the book.

That being said, was the original question whether you could sell your one and only copy of an ebook, with or without its DRM? Legally, it's an interesting question. If I buy an ebook and read it, then I want to sell my copy to someone else but DRM prevents my doing so, I might actually be allowed by law to sell my copy (my license, in effect), and if the original seller doesn't provide some other way to transfer ownership, it might be argued that it's permissible for the new purchaser to break the DRM. This assumes that I do not retain a copy of the work, of course -- I am not "reproducing" or "copying" the work, but transferring it. From an electronic point of view, this distinction is meaningless, but from a legal point of view it might not be.

Nate, is that what you were really asking?

Nate the great
09-02-2007, 11:24 PM
The fine print on a typical pbook: This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, by mimeograph or any other means, without permission. Here's another: All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form. Third example: All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

These were just taken from the first three books I picked up from the stack in my room. I don't know if you want to call this a "license," or some other restriction, but it's pretty clear that while you own the physical book, you don't own the right to reproduce the book.

That is not a license statement so much as it is a strong wording of the copyright. It is understood that you can still reproduce the book in certain ways under fair use.

But most license statements remove any possibility of fair use exceptions as well as some of your rights over your property. Here is a critical part of the "Terms of Use" license agreement from Fictionwise:

All eBooks at Fictionwise.com are the exclusive property of the publisher or its licensors and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. The download of these product(s) is intended for the Fictionwise Member's personal and noncommercial use. Any other use of eBooks downloaded from Fictionwise.com is strictly prohibited. Users may not modify, transmit, publish, participate in the transfer or sale of, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, display, or in any way exploit, any of the content of these product(s), in whole or in part. By downloading Fictionwise eBooks, the User hereby acknowledges and agrees to these terms.

I'm too tired right now to parse this out. It should be clear what rights this agreement takes away.

After reading the license, the question that comes to my mind is:

How the f*** do they expect to enforce it?!?

nekokami
09-03-2007, 12:29 AM
Users may not modify, transmit, publish, participate in the transfer or sale of, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, display, or in any way exploit, any of the content of these product(s), in whole or in part.
The bolded part would appear to be the relevant bit for the purposes of this discussion. To my mind, the explicit ban on resale or transfer seriously devalues the purchase (or license or whatever you want to call it). When I buy books, I expect to be able to share my copy (where "share" indicates non-simultaneous use).

I wonder if this would be subject to the same challenges as EULAs are now being subject to, regarding the limits of "contracts of adhesion"? Specifically, the words "sale" and "purchase" are used, and the word "license" is not, so it may not be legal in some sense to restrict the user in this way.

This still isn't as nasty as the expiring PDF problem that started this thread. If the users weren't notified up front that access to the PDF would expire, there may be grounds for claiming a breach of contract. (I am not a lawyer, however, and can't say how strong these grounds might be.)

HarryT
09-03-2007, 02:30 AM
So if I take the books I've downloaded via PG and clean them up and remove all the PG notices, I can then sell them say as MobiPocket, HTML, RTF, BBeB, etc without any legal hassles at all?

With the exception of those few PG books which are still in copyright - yes, you can do exactly that.

HarryT
09-03-2007, 04:13 AM
All eBooks at Fictionwise.com are the exclusive property of the publisher or its licensors and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. The download of these product(s) is intended for the Fictionwise Member's personal and noncommercial use. Any other use of eBooks downloaded from Fictionwise.com is strictly prohibited. Users may not modify, transmit, publish, participate in the transfer or sale of, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, display, or in any way exploit, any of the content of these product(s), in whole or in part. By downloading Fictionwise eBooks, the User hereby acknowledges and agrees to these terms.

I'm too tired right now to parse this out. It should be clear what rights this agreement takes away.

After reading the license, the question that comes to my mind is:

How the f*** do they expect to enforce it?!?

Why should they have to enforce it? The information about what you can and cannot do with the book is available to you before you buy - a request not to "share" books is in almost every "sidebar" of the site. If you feel that you are unable to comply with these conditions, then you shouldn't be buying books from that site.

The majority of books at Fictionwise are not DRM protected, and are reasonably priced - typically $5-7. That's much cheaper than the price of a typical paperback here in the UK, and at that price point, I think personally that Fictionwise are selling at a fair price and that one should honour the terms under which you're buying the book. I feel the same with other publishers who are selling at "sensible" prices, such as Baen.

Pretty much the only thing I can spot in the above terms and conditions which is not simply a restatement of copyright law is the prohibition on transfer and resale. All the rest is covered by copyright.

rlauzon
09-03-2007, 06:54 AM
Transfers of license also require the approval of the vendor of the software. You are the registered user, and assuming they approve, their records must be updated to reflect the new owner.

It's the "not keeping a copy for yourself" that is the sticky part. You licensed the right to read it on your own devices. You did not license the right to reproduce and distribute it, and if you sold a copy while keeping one for yourself, you would be doing so.

You missed the point.

They never explicitly said any of this.

All the wording on their site said that I purchased an eBook, no differently than if I had purchased a pBook on Amazon.com. The expectation that I would have as a purchaser would be that I could do anything with that eBook that I could do with a pBook.

There was no license anywhere that I could find. At the very least, to claim that I was bound by a license, there should be something that I agree to when I check out and a license that I could read. There was none.

Nate the great
09-07-2007, 02:28 PM
I don't know how I missed this before. I thought I read it the agreement carefully.

You acknowledge that you do not acquire any ownership rights by downloading copyrighted material.

from: http://www.fictionwise.com/terms_of_use.htm (from part 2-B, second to last sentence)

That pretty much ends this discussion.

Nate the great
09-07-2007, 02:54 PM
You missed the point.

They never explicitly said any of this.

All the wording on their site said that I purchased an eBook, no differently than if I had purchased a pBook on Amazon.com. The expectation that I would have as a purchaser would be that I could do anything with that eBook that I could do with a pBook.

There was no license anywhere that I could find. At the very least, to claim that I was bound by a license, there should be something that I agree to when I check out and a license that I could read. There was none.

I have to back him up on this. I looked carefully and there is no agreement anywhere on ereader.com.

slayda
09-07-2007, 04:33 PM
The physical book is yours to fold, spindle, mutilate, or pass along, as you chose. The content in the book is not.


Could you explain how I can "pass along" a physical book without also passing along the content? And if I am legally passing along the content then don't I also own that content? Otherwise how could it be legal?:tired:

nekokami
09-07-2007, 05:11 PM
For a review of US law in this area, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine. Apparently there is some confusion about whether this doctrine can legally be limited by an End User License Agreement (i.e. EULA).

My sense of it is that you "own" one copy, which you can sell (or do certain other things to), but there are some limits on what you can do, especially as regards making additional copies. With a paper book, the copy is physical. With an ebook, the copy is electronic. This is somewhat problematic as computers make "copies" of all electronic content, just in the process of using the content (e.g. copying data from a hard drive to RAM). Also, digital content is somewhat more fragile than analog (e.g. paper) content, so backup copies are considered normal. The critical factor seems to be whether you distribute copies.

slayda
09-07-2007, 05:16 PM
I'm sorry Nate, I don't understand what the issue is. If you go to Fictionwise and buy a book with MobiPocket DRM, say, then the site clearly tells you before you buy it that you will only be able to read the book on certain specified devices, and that you won't be able to print it. Those are restrictions imposed by the DRM mechanism, and you are buying the eBook with the full knowledge of what those restrictions are.


But HarryT when I buy a car I am also told of certain restrictions, e.g. it runs on regular gas, there is a maximum speed it can attain, etc. However, since I own it, I can make modifications so that it runs on biodiesel and can go faster.

Yes I may still have restrictions such as speed limits but given that I own enough land that I can build my own race track, that doesn't apply. Just because it was built by Ford does not give Ford the privilege to restrict my changes for my own use.

Therefore, except for some self serving law, "bought & paid for" by authors & publishers, there is no logical reason that I can not remove DRM from a book I own in order to make it more to my own desires & requirements.

slayda
09-07-2007, 05:29 PM
Users may not modify, transmit, publish, participate in the transfer or sale of, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, display, or in any way exploit, any of the content of these product(s), in whole or in part.

Might I infer from this that "non-users" may modify, transmit, publish, ..." since there is no explicit restriction to "non-users?

nekokami
09-07-2007, 05:35 PM
I think "legality" and "fairness" can sometimes differ, though it's the job of a society to try to make them as close as possible. I suspect DRM will eventually come under legal challenge vs. the doctrine of first sale. But someone with fairly deep pockets will have to make the challenge, because the media industry is going to make it expensive to fight.

Liviu_5
09-07-2007, 05:37 PM
Until now the market has spoken very clearly; people do not want drm or high e-book prices, while for reading devices probably 50-100$ is the price where they get to break out.

I do not see this changing and until we get there, commercial e-books will still be a niche product, under 1% of the market, whatever our wishes...

Nate the great
09-07-2007, 08:22 PM
Therefore, except for some self serving law, "bought & paid for" by authors & publishers, there is no logical reason that I can not remove DRM from a book I own in order to make it more to my own desires & requirements.

Let me clarify my previous post.

If you bought an ebook at Fictionwise, you do not own it. They do. You merely licensed it from them.

I don't know about you, but this really pisses me off. Unfortunately, it is what I agreed to. I am waiting on emails from a lawyer I know. Unless he can tell me why the user agreement is not vaild or is not enforcible, we re stuck with it.

HarryT
09-08-2007, 03:24 AM
What do you want to do with your eBook that the Fictionwise terms and conditions will not permit you to do, Nate?

Nate the great
09-08-2007, 07:58 AM
What do you want to do with your eBook that the Fictionwise terms and conditions will not permit you to do, Nate?

How about own it? Would you be surprised that I would want to own something I purchased?

HarryT
09-08-2007, 08:20 AM
How about own it? Would you be surprised that I would want to own something I purchased?

Well, yes, if you want the honest truth. You never "own" intellectual property (unless it's your own, of course) - all you ever own are the media that it's supplied on. When you buy a book, you "own" the paper, not the "story". When you buy a CD, you "own" the physical CD, not the music it contains. When you buy computer software, you own the media it's supplied on, not the program itself. When you download something, there is nothing "physical" to own so you own nothing.

Do you expect that, when you buy a book from Fictionwise, they are going to hand over all the rights to that book to you, and let you do whatever you want with it? Give copies of it to all your friends? Auction 100 copies of it on eBay? Print it and sell paper copies of it? You could do all those things if you "owned" it. Naturally there are restrictions imposed upon you when you are dealing with someone else's IP.

Nate the great
09-08-2007, 09:06 AM
Well, yes, if you want the honest truth. You never "own" intellectual property (unless it's your own, of course) - all you ever own are the media that it's supplied on. When you buy a book, you "own" the paper, not the "story". When you buy a CD, you "own" the physical CD, not the music it contains. When you buy computer software, you own the media it's supplied on, not the program itself. When you download something, there is nothing "physical" to own so you own nothing.

Do you expect that, when you buy a book from Fictionwise, they are going to hand over all the rights to that book to you, and let you do whatever you want with it? Give copies of it to all your friends? Auction 100 copies of it on eBay? Print it and sell paper copies of it? You could do all those things if you "owned" it. Naturally there are restrictions imposed upon you when you are dealing with someone else's IP.

I did not say I wanted to own the intellectual property; I want to own the file. I want the exact same rights over this ebook file that I have over my pbooks. I did not say I want to distribute the ebook. Please do not accuse me of illegal activities.

And HarryT, yes, I can own a file. If it was not possible for me to own it, then there would be no need for the license agreement to specifically say that ownership rights are not transferred in the purchase of the ebook.

In all honesty, this is not an established area of law. I have asked a couple lawyers. If you don't believe me, then cite the law or court decision that proves me wrong. That is, unless you are now going to claim to be a lawyer as well as a software developer.

JSWolf
09-08-2007, 09:15 AM
Let's say I have an extensive library of Sony books purchased via the Connect Store. Let's say my Reader was damaged and I did not feel like replacing it with another Sony but wanted to replace it with a v9 instead since it will handle PDF much better. Now I have all these electronic books that all I can do is read them on my computer using Connect. That's not a very nice way for me to read them. So, I want to sell them to someone with a Reader who would be able to get some enjoyment out of these books. I suppose in this case, I could see m account along with the books so the reader could be authorized via that account and those books downloaded and read. But really what I want is just to sell the books and have them usable on someone else's reader. DRM prevents me from selling. Now if I was to take all the MS Reader and MobiPocket books I have purchased and wanted to sell them, I can as the DRM can be broken.

Given the law in the USA, the exception says that the LIT format books can be stripped of their DRM because the reader feature of MS Reader is disabled. So I go ahead, break the DRM, and sell the LIT books. That's legal.

The MobiPocket books may or may not be allowed to break the DRM and then sell them. MobiPocket Reader does not have a read aloud feature so the exception does not apply. But, if the person I sell my MobiPocket books to has a program to strip the DRM and all that person needs is my PID, then legally there is nothing to stop me from giving the buyer my PID to be able to strip the DRM. Heck, for MS Reader files, all I have to do is give my key file away for use with CLIT to use to break the DRM.

So the answer is buy only books in a format where you can legally break the DRM and then you have the right to sell the books as long as you no longer have kept any copies of the electronic versions.

I have seen a lot of auctions on ebay for illegally downloaded books. But if I was to sell my legally purchased LIT files sans DRM (on ebay) it would be my legal right to do so.

HarryT
09-08-2007, 10:22 AM
I did not say I wanted to own the intellectual property; I want to own the file. I want the exact same rights over this ebook file that I have over my pbooks. I did not say I want to distribute the ebook. Please do not accuse me of illegal activities.

I'm certainly not accusing you of illegal activities. I'm simply saying that if you "owned" the eBook then those activities which I listed would be legal for you to do, because it would be your property to do with as you wished. It isn't your property, hence it is not legal for you to do those things.

And HarryT, yes, I can own a file. If it was not possible for me to own it, then there would be no need for the license agreement to specifically say that ownership rights are not transferred in the purchase of the ebook.

Ownership rights to the book are not transferred. The file is yours - you can do whatever you want to it. Copy it, etc. But you have no rights to the "contents" of the file. This is exactly the same as with a printed book.

In all honesty, this is not an established area of law. I have asked a couple lawyers. If you don't believe me, then cite the law or court decision that proves me wrong. That is, unless you are now going to claim to be a lawyer as well as a software developer.

There's no need to be rude. I don't have to prove you wrong because I completely agree with you - you don't own a downloaded book. Where we differ is your expectation that you should own it. I disagree with you because you can never own someone else's intellectual properly.

HarryT
09-08-2007, 10:30 AM
But really what I want is just to sell the books and have them usable on someone else's reader. DRM prevents me from selling. Now if I was to take all the MS Reader and MobiPocket books I have purchased and wanted to sell them, I can as the DRM can be broken.


No, you can't. You are bound by the license agreement under which you purchased those books, and I'm pretty sure you'll find that that agreement prohibits resale or transfer. You agreed to those conditions when you purchased the book. Eg, for Connect see:

http://ebooks.connect.com/termsofservice.html

nekokami
09-08-2007, 10:33 AM
In all honesty, this is not an established area of law. I have asked a couple lawyers.
Are you thinking of challenging the law? The EFF might help. I'd love to see this go to court. It would help if you could get some additional plaintiffs. Perhaps someone who lost access to ebooks due to a death of a parent or spouse, and someone with degenerative visual impairments who can no longer use content previously purchased. The first case wouldn't have been an issue with a p-book, and the second SHOULDN'T be an issue with ebooks. And both are likely to get the attention of a jury.

At least one co-plaintiff who lost content in the collapse of one of the earlier DRM schemes would be good, too.

It's harder to come up with an emotionally compelling case regarding resale of books. You'd need someone who had spent an awful lot on DRM locked content and then had huge medical bills and needed to sell all their property or something.

HarryT
09-08-2007, 10:43 AM
Are you thinking of challenging the law? The EFF might help. I'd love to see this go to court.

When you download an eBook, you buy it from a site which specifies the terms and conditions that it is selling it under. If you are made aware of those conditions before purchase, that's the end of the matter - if you buy the book, you are agreeing to those T&Cs. It's a contract, like any other.

The only basis on which this could be challenged would be to argue that it was an unreasonable contract (eg, in the UK the relevant law would be the "Unfair Contract Terms Act"). Are the licensing terms of sites like Connect, MobiPocket, or Fictionwise really "unreasonable" in a legal sense? I don't believe they are.

At the end of the day, if you can't accept the T&Cs then you shouldn't buy books from that site.

If somebody were to succeed in getting a court to rule that you did indeed "own" an eBook and could do whatever you wanted with it - give copies away to anyone you wanted, etc - the result would inevitably be that publishers would immediately stop selling eBooks. Does anybody really want that to happen?

nekokami
09-08-2007, 10:53 AM
Is this anything to do with the law?
Yes, because the "Doctrine of First Sale" in US law says you're allowed to resell copyrighted content (not extra copies, obviously, but your own copy). There has been considerable speculation that even the software EULA agreements may not be legal, and they can involve patents as well as copyrights.

There are cases where it's not legal for someone to give up rights as part of a contract. As a condition of employment in the US, sometimes employers will try to force a "non-competitive" clause on employees. Generally these don't hold up in court. The right to seek employment isn't one that can be signed away as part of a contract.

We can argue the ethics as a matter of opinion, and I know your opinion on this and mine are not in agreement. But the law is determined by the courts, and this is a case that hasn't yet been tested fully. Neither of us knows the answer (and the answer would quite possibly differ in our respective countries, as well.)

HarryT
09-08-2007, 11:04 AM
Yes, because the "Doctrine of First Sale" in US law says you're allowed to resell copyrighted content (not extra copies, obviously, but your own copy).

But does that still apply if book downloads are licensed rather than sold? In that case you would never have "owned" the book and hence couldn't re-sell it, could you?

There are cases where it's not legal for someone to give up rights as part of a contract. As a condition of employment in the US, sometimes employers will try to force a "non-competitive" clause on employees. Generally these don't hold up in court. The right to seek employment isn't one that can be signed away as part of a contract.

Sure - I completely accept that. It's the same in this country; hence the "Unfair Contract Terms Act" I mentioned previously.

We can argue the ethics as a matter of opinion, and I know your opinion on this and mine are not in agreement. But the law is determined by the courts, and this is a case that hasn't yet been tested fully. Neither of us knows the answer (and the answer would quite possibly differ in our respective countries, as well.)

I respect that you hold a different view, and I know that you respect my point of view. My concern is that someone could end up destroying the entire eBook industry by getting an ignorant jury to agree to something that they don't really understand.

nekokami
09-08-2007, 11:22 AM
I respect that you hold a different view, and I know that you respect my point of view. My concern is that someone could end up destroying the entire eBook industry by getting an ignorant jury to agree to something that they don't really understand.
It's a fair concern. I'm not sure I agree that it would destroy the eBook industry to have DRM brought down, though. Baen is doing pretty well without it, as are several publishers in the romance genre, apparently. I know the publishers want DRM, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's in their best interests to have it. It's expensive and it may be blocking sales they would realize if they dropped it.

I confess I don't feel I know the answer to this one, though.

Regarding the law around licensing, the question is whether the license restriction is legal. I don't know. I'm well out of my depth in terms of the law in this case. I've read that there is some question on this matter, but I don't know how accurate that is.

HarryT
09-08-2007, 11:27 AM
It's a fair concern. I'm not sure I agree that it would destroy the eBook industry to have DRM brought down, though.

No, I wasn't talking about DRM, but about whether or not the license restrictions imposed by companies like "Fictionwise" are "legal" or not - ie the conditions that (for example) you can't resell copies of the book.

Someone said recently that the owner of Fictionwise said that he sells 10x as many DRM-free books as DRM-ed ones. What's going to happen if it suddenly becomes legal to give away copies of DRM-free books? The most likely outcome, I suspect, is that publishers would stop producing them.

nekokami
09-08-2007, 06:02 PM
Whoops, I wasn't trying to say I thought it should be legal to give away copies -- only to sell or give away your only copy.

JSWolf
09-09-2007, 04:42 PM
If I was to break the DRM on a LIT file because of the exceptions to the DMCA that allows me to, is it legal then for me to sell this LIT format book as long as I don't keep a copy?

Nate the great
09-09-2007, 05:13 PM
If I was to break the DRM on a LIT file because of the exceptions to the DMCA that allows me to, is it legal then for me to sell this LIT format book as long as I don't keep a copy?

It's possible. Where did you buy it?

If you bought it from fictionwise, then no.

JSWolf
09-09-2007, 06:28 PM
It's possible. Where did you buy it?

If you bought it from fictionwise, then no.
Does it matter where I bought the LIT format file from? DMCA exceptions says I can break the DRM since the DRM prevents the read aloud feature from working.

Nate the great
09-09-2007, 06:36 PM
Does it matter where I bought the LIT format file from? DMCA exceptions says I can break the DRM since the DRM prevents the read aloud feature from working.

If you bought it from Fictionwise then you agreed that you cannot sell it.

I think that really sucks. But until a lawyer explains to me why the agreement is not enforcible, I will not break it in a way they might notice.

rlauzon
09-09-2007, 06:44 PM
I think that really sucks. But until a lawyer explains to me why the agreement is not enforcible, I will not break it in a way they might notice.

Groklaw (http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070907195435565) has an interesting take on this issue today.

Basically, according to a recent case, DRM/copyright cannot trump fair use and that fair use is a right.

PJ really doesn't come to a conclusion, but she does raise some very interesting questions.

IHMO (IANAL), it would seem to be that DRM/copyright cannot trump first sale rights too. So I would expect to see more sites that "sell" eBooks to have large notices along the lines of "You are not buying this eBooks. You are licensing it under these terms (link to terms) for a limited time yadda, yadda, yadda..."

nekokami
09-09-2007, 09:35 PM
I think it's an untested area, at least in US law. It's also quite difficult to be sure you have eliminated all copies (do you back up your hard drive?) even if you intend to. A private sale, e.g. to someone you know, probably wouldn't attract any more attention than breaking the DRM for private use would. I wouldn't advertise on eBay or any other public forum. Your risk tolerance may vary.

Nate the great
09-10-2007, 12:55 AM
I just spent an hour going through the "Terms of Usage/Terms of Sale" for Itunes. Admittedly, they do not sell ebooks, but what they do sell is very similar in concept. Caveat: I have not actually bought anything from them so I do not know what else is agreed to when the "Buy" button is clicked.

According to Itunes (section 13, paragrapgh e):

e. Album Cover Art.
...
You may only access album cover art (to the extent available) for music for which you are the lawful owner of a legal copy...

Apple seems to think you can indeed purchase and own a music file. If that is so, then why can't you own an ebook?

I do not claim to have any more rights over an ebook than I would over a pbook. I simply know that when you purchase something, unless otherwise stated, you own it. This applies to pbooks. Apple apparently believes it applies to the music they sell you. I would argue that it also applies to ebooks.

Fictionwise is the only one of the 4 websites I have checked (so far) that specifically says it is not selling you ownership. In fact, this license statement is in all of the scifi emagazines I got from there:


NOTICE: This eBook is licensed to the original purchaser
only. Duplication or distribution to any person via email,
floppy disk, network, print out, or any other means is a
violation of International copyright law and subjects the
violator to severe fines and/or imprisonment. This notice
overrides the Adobe Reader permissions which are
erroneous. This eBook cannot be legally lent or given to
others.

Obviously, I do not own that copy of the magazine. But that is only because the Fictionwise website terms of use specifically said that ownership was not transferred. Otherwise, I would expect it to be transferred like it would if you bought a pbook.





That being said, it is almost midnight for me and I am going to go to bed. What I wrote here may be slightly loony; I cannot tell at the moment. If there is an error in my post, please be kind enough to send me a PM so I can fix the post.

HarryT
09-10-2007, 03:58 AM
Does it matter where I bought the LIT format file from? DMCA exceptions says I can break the DRM since the DRM prevents the read aloud feature from working.

What matters are the sales conditions of the site where you originally bought the book. If those sales conditions say "you can't resell it" then you can't resell it.

Liviu_5
09-10-2007, 10:14 AM
What matters are the sales conditions of the site where you originally bought the book. If those sales conditions say "you can't resell it" then you can't resell it.

I do not think that's quite correct. Personally I do no think that any e-book (or e-music whether from iTunes or not) can be resold in a public transaction.

That is the nature of the medium and until a commercial secondary market in e-books or e-music appears that's how it is. If I have a paper book or cd, I can list it for sale on Amazon, Ebay or whenever without worrying about anything. With anything e, whatever you believe, you cannot list it anywhere publicly to sell. Sure there are dodgy sites and Ebay sometimes accepts dodgy listings, but try and make a business out of this and see what happens, while lots of people make a living by selling used books, cd's and the like on Amazon, Ebay, Abe and similar places...

The rest is just quibbling of "how many angels on the head of the pin" type. When there will be a public market I can go with my already bought e-content and resell it I would reconsider.

This being said, I do not understand why this is such a big deal. Most used books unless collectibles have negligible value in the market anyway, and there cannot be such a thing as a used e-book by definition. What you would do to make it used, extract a bunch of electrons from the 50'th line?

Personally I could not care less that I cannot resell my ebooks, and about sharing I have no qualms to do it with family and no reason to do it with strangers or publicly; what I care about is the ability to read that ebook whenever I wanted and on whatever device I want, and that I can be sure that with minimal care from my part this will be true indefinitely in the future.