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Old 09-01-2007, 03:31 PM   #31
Nate the great
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One more thing:

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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
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.
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Old 09-01-2007, 05:54 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
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.

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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.
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Old 09-01-2007, 06:53 PM   #33
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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?
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Old 09-01-2007, 07:06 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
...
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.)
...
______
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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)?
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Old 09-02-2007, 02:25 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
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.
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Old 09-02-2007, 02:28 AM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
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.
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Old 09-02-2007, 03:16 AM   #37
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What do you mean by "licence"?

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:

Quote:
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!
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Old 09-02-2007, 05:51 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
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.
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Old 09-02-2007, 08:35 AM   #39
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early for me, so not my best work

Here you used license to mean "rights under the law".

Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
The licence is very real - it is the set of rights granted to you by the copyright laws of your country.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
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.
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Old 09-02-2007, 08:43 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
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?

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.
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Old 09-02-2007, 09:06 AM   #41
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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.
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Old 09-02-2007, 09:23 AM   #42
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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.
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Old 09-02-2007, 02:05 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlauzon View Post
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.

Quote:
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.
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Old 09-02-2007, 02:23 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
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.

Quote:
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".
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Old 09-02-2007, 02:25 PM   #45
DMcCunney
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
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.
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Dennis
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