Originally Posted by ApK
No they are not. No one is deceived, everyone seems to get it just fine, as they do with every other distinction of between tangible and intangible goods and services they encounter everyday.
The only times people seem more than slightly uncertain about it, because of the genuine novelty of new media and legitimate new issues, is when they argue about it here.
I disagree. We get regular questions from newbies about "I want to give my ebook to my cousin now;" they obviously thought that they bought a book, which they could give away when they were done with it.
Many of them seem accepting when they're told (or sometimes almost yelled at) that they bought a license, not a book--but that doesn't mean they weren't deceived in the first place. Amazon and most other ebook stores go out of their way to imply that an epub purchase is the same kind of purchase as an MMPB. They put them in the same listings, use the same phrasing to describe them, and the actual terms-of-license aren't anywhere near the purchase pages.
*NONE* of them state, clearly and directly, "This is not the purchase of a book; it's the purchase of a license to read the contents of a book. This content is licensed to one person--you. It cannot legally be shared or given away."
They bury those concepts in 3000-word TOS statements. If it's so obvious that it's a license, why isn't a statement like that on the front page of most ebook stores? "We don't sell books; we sell licenses to read." That'd nicely clear up the confused people who think they're buying something they can share or give away, and it'd make the pirate sites more obvious. If the legit sites all said, "YOU CANNOT BUY THESE EBOOKS; YOU CAN ONLY LICENSE THEM," the pirate sites offering to sell them would stand out.
Somehow, though, the legit sites don't seem to want to distinguish themselves as "the places where you can't actually buy ebooks."