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Old 01-18-2011, 08:30 AM   #31
Fastolfe
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Thanks for your work Alf.

I understand your decision and I probably would do the same. But I find it rather scary that the author of a perfectly legal piece of software feels the need to distance himself from it, "just in case".

It's rather telling of how well the entertainment industry's lobbying and scare tactics are working: If you were a knifesmith, you probably wouldn't feel the need to stop forging knives just in case someone might sue you because one of your knives could be used to kill someone. You know the case would be thrown out immediately. Yet as a software engineer working on a harmless piece of software, you feel more threatened than the knifesmith. That's how biased toward corporate interests our legal system has become, and it's really sad.
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Old 01-18-2011, 08:54 AM   #32
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Thank you Alf for everything you've done to help us! You will be missed xoxoxo
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:12 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Fastolfe View Post
Thanks for your work Alf.

I understand your decision and I probably would do the same. But I find it rather scary that the author of a perfectly legal piece of software feels the need to distance himself from it, "just in case".

It's rather telling of how well the entertainment industry's lobbying and scare tactics are working: If you were a knifesmith, you probably wouldn't feel the need to stop forging knives just in case someone might sue you because one of your knives could be used to kill someone. You know the case would be thrown out immediately. Yet as a software engineer working on a harmless piece of software, you feel more threatened than the knifesmith. That's how biased toward corporate interests our legal system has become, and it's really sad.
It's more about the way they are advertised. If you said "my knives are great for stabbing people, you can slice people's heads off with them and they are very easy to hide" you would probably be looking for trouble.

One of the commercial usenet providers (can't remember which) advertised themselves as being great for downloading free music, movies, games, etc and got themselves a big fine as a result. None of the other usenet providers were affected by that.

But this is more of a "Dave's Classics" type of situation, where too much good publicity in a short period of time has been its (voluntary) undoing.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:04 AM   #34
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Thanks for all your work, Alf. It's been a great help to me this past year.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:06 AM   #35
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Thank you for everything you have done Alf.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:09 AM   #36
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Do whatever feels right for you, Alf.
A sincere thanks for all you've done.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:16 AM   #37
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Thanks, Alf, for helping to make my ereading experience better.

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Old 01-18-2011, 10:49 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr ploppy View Post
It's more about the way they are advertised. If you said "my knives are great for stabbing people, you can slice people's heads off with them and they are very easy to hide" you would probably be looking for trouble.
Well that's the thing isn't it: Alf never advertised his software as something to pirate books with as far as I know. He presented it as a tool to free your legally-purchased books from the artificial shackles of DRM, ensuring you'll never lose them when Barnazon & Borders goes under, and allowing you to read them on any device you chose, as it is your right.

He never said "here, use this to make clear copies of DRMed books to distribute far and wide for free." Of course, everybody knows you can use it for that and everybody knows many do, but then everybody knows you can stab someone with a pocket knife and that's never stopped anybody from manufacturing pocket knives.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:03 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fastolfe View Post
He presented it as a tool to free your legally-purchased books from the artificial shackles of DRM, ensuring you'll never lose them when Barnazon & Borders goes under, and allowing you to read them on any device you chose, as it is your right.
That in itself is illegal in some countries, and is definitely against the terms of purchase on Amazon and probably other sites too. Distributing tools to circumvent copy protection would also fall foul of the DMCA in America and the DEA in England.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:12 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr ploppy
That in itself is illegal in some countries, and is definitely against the terms of purchase on Amazon and probably other sites too. Distributing tools to circumvent copy protection would also fall foul of the DMCA in America and the DEA in England.
Allow me to translate the above into more thread specific (and appropriate) language.

"Thanks Alf... you will be missed. But you've probably made a wise decision. Good luck in your future endeavors.

Much respect,

Mr. Ploppy"
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:15 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fastolfe View Post
Well that's the thing isn't it: Alf never advertised his software as something to pirate books with as far as I know. He presented it as a tool to free your legally-purchased books from the artificial shackles of DRM, ensuring you'll never lose them when Barnazon & Borders goes under, and allowing you to read them on any device you chose, as it is your right.

He never said "here, use this to make clear copies of DRMed books to distribute far and wide for free." Of course, everybody knows you can use it for that and everybody knows many do, but then everybody knows you can stab someone with a pocket knife and that's never stopped anybody from manufacturing pocket knives.
Unfortunately, that's not the point. Although removing DRM for personal use MAY be legal in the US, the development and distribution of DRM removal tools is unquestionably NOT legal.

It's a stupid law, but it is the law, and Alf is very sensible to be wary of it. I would be, too, in his position.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:25 AM   #42
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Old 01-18-2011, 12:01 PM   #43
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It's a stupid law, but it is the law, and Alf is very sensible to be wary of it. I would be, too, in his position.
I've finally decided to actually go and look it up in the UK laws. Of course, this is only my interpretation of the legislation. IANAL, and I might have got things wrong, so don't rely on this, but:

Removing DRM from ebooks for personal use is apparently illegal in the UK, but a civil offence, not a criminal one, just like ripping a CD. "The following persons have the same rights against B [the person circumventing DRM] as a copyright owner has in respect of an infringement of copyright"

Getting hold of DRM removal software for your own use, however, seems to be legal (see clause b below), but (somewhat to my surprise — I had thought only commercial distribution was a criminal offence), it might be an offence to distribute DRM circumention software, even non-commercially (clause d):

"(1) A person commits an offence if he— [...] (b) imports otherwise than for his private and domestic use, or [...] (d) distributes otherwise than in the course of a business to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the copyright owner,
any device, product or component which is primarily designed, produced, or adapted for the purpose of enabling or facilitating the circumvention of effective technological measures.
"

I think it would be possible to argue that ebook DRM removal software doesn't affect prejudicially the copyright holder. Certainly in my case I've bought far more* ebooks than I would have if I'd not been able to remove DRM from them. And perhaps the experience of publishers who've never used DRM, or have moved to not using DRM would also be good evidence for that.

On the other hand, conviction leads to imprisonment for up to two years... so I don't think I'll be doing any mass distribution.

It is a remarkably strange law. In the UK, mass distribution of the software might be a criminal offence, but downloading the software isn't against the law at all. Using the software is illegal, but only in the same way that copying a CD into iTunes is illegal.

Hmm... I suppose a round-robin or even small tree distribution of the software might, therefore, be legal in the UK. A gives it to B and C. B gives it to D and E and C gives it to F and G. And so on....**

Downloading the software isn't illegal. The "such an extent" in clause (d) would be unnecessary if any amount of distribution was illegal. And any one person has only given it to two people.

It would be a lot simpler if publishers would just wise up and drop DRM completely.


* I didn't buy any DRMed ebooks from (IIRC) 2005 until early 2008, when the scripts first started to appear.
** I'm irresistibly reminded of a certain Tom Lehrer song, but I'm not sure it's suitable for this forum!
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Old 01-18-2011, 12:25 PM   #44
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I think it would be possible to argue that ebook DRM removal software doesn't affect prejudicially the copyright holder. Certainly in my case I've bought far more* ebooks than I would have if I'd not been able to remove DRM from them.
So have I, but the purpose of DRM is to lock people into one device using one digital content supplier, so it is obvious that people with a vested interest will not want it to be easily removed.

It would have been the film industry that lobbied/paid for the laws about circumvention of copy protection, but now that they are here other content producers will want to take advantage of them.

While it is only a tiny minority of people buying content from the wrong sites I don't think any of them would really care, but if it became much more mainstream (eg through popular sites bringing it to people's attention), it would seriously affect profits.
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Old 01-18-2011, 12:44 PM   #45
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Another thanks for your work! I totally understand your concern for your own freedom.
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