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Old 08-28-2011, 06:49 PM   #1
pdurrant
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DRM, Rentals, DRM-stripping and Morality

I'd be interested to hear other people's views on the question of rented ebooks and DRM stripping. My views (at the moment) are as follows:
  1. DRM-stripping an ebook that you have bought is fine.
  2. DRM-stripping a library ebook is fine, so long as you don't keep the ebook longer than your check out limit.
  3. DRM-stripping and then keeping a library ebook is not OK, but probably doesn't actually cause the publisher/author any harm.
  4. DRM-stripping and then keeping a rented ebook is not OK, and probably does cause the publisher/author harm.

I make a distinction in the last two instances because I feel that someone renting an ebook is actually quite likely to buy the ebook instead, if it wasn't possible to keep the ebook permanently, or at least to rent it for longer than the minimum period. While I feel that someone borrowing from a library is unlikely to buy the book that they've been able to borrow.

Is there a genuine distinction between getting a library book and renting a book? Is one relatively neutral, while the other is harmful?

Thoughts, please.
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Old 08-28-2011, 07:06 PM   #2
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I think one difference between the rental and the library book is that the library book is already paid for in full whereas a rented one is one that you the renter have to keep paying on. I have to wonder how long it will be before either a law is passed or teeth are given to any present laws regarding DRM stripping. And who they will go after if/when that happens. I mean they may not like that people do it, but are they going to treat both the person who does it simply for themselves and the person who does it then spreads it (via torrent file) across the web the same? Not that they will appreciate either one I'm sure but the one costs them 1 copy while the other way costs them a good deal more (at least in theory). And would it be cost effective to check every person's ereader to make sure their books were all legal copies? It's easier to go after one or two people than it is to go after millions. As far as stripping the DRM from books that a person does own I don't see the harm either as long as they are kept for an offline archive just for that person. It's when they strip them and reload them into torrent files that I'd say they've crossed a line.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:25 PM   #3
Ron.
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I think DRM removal of a book you own is ok, DRM removal of a rented or borrowed book not ok...
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:29 PM   #4
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In the age of torrents, someone intent on ripping off a book can do better than renting it. This is also the age of the education industry ripping off students (i.e. there's no way to justify the prices charged for undergraduate textbooks except that you have a captive market at your mercy). When the price of rental looks like what you'd expect the price of purchase to be, then breaking DRM on rentals doesn't look so evil to the purchasers. Maybe this is a way for both sides to continue doing business without losing face.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:47 PM   #5
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I don't see any problem (morally) with stripping DRM from a rental in order to move it onto a device that wouldn't usually support it. However I do feel you should delete the book when the rental period is up. Keeping it is wrong both legally and morally imho.

With something like Amazon where you pay to rent the book, I think there's no question that you should delete it when the period is up, whether you've nearly finished it or not. You paid for that time limit only.

With a library book, I'd be a little more lenient, if you're on the last few pages and need it for just one or two days more yet someone else has it reserved, I'd say finish the book then delete it. If your another week or two away, then perhaps you should delete it and re-rent it later. You certainly shouldn't check out any more books until you've deleted it though. That way, you're simulating not returning the physical book, just there's no late fee to pay, but you don't get another one until you have returned it

Publishers want digital library books to "decay" with usage just like physical books, it's only fair that digital books can be returned late too

Last edited by JoeD; 08-28-2011 at 08:49 PM.
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:43 PM   #6
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I didn't even know Amazon rented books! I just went there to see about buying one that I saw mentioned in the "What are you reading?" thread -- a book that's been out since 2008 and it's $12.00!!! Now I'm going back to see if they'll rent it to me instead...yay.

Any other rental places?
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:49 PM   #7
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Oh, phooey lol. It looks like they only rent textbooks. Doh.
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Old 08-28-2011, 10:01 PM   #8
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What is the time length of the rental? Obviously you need the book for the length of your class, no more and no less. But some classes last longer than others. I don't see such a big deal in stripping the DRM from rental textbooks, because you really aren't going to look at them again after your class is done. (how many textbooks did you look at after your class was done?) On the other hand, I personally think that students are big pirates. I can easily see "sharing" the DRM-stripped book with your friends in class. Back to the first hand, I guess that is a problem with any ebook, not just rentals.

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Old 08-28-2011, 10:19 PM   #9
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I personally don't see stripping DRM from a book any different than simply downloading a copy of the book.

If you own it, then it's morally acceptable. If you don't, it's not.

Then again, I also happen to consider libraries more or less crooked. They're like a double robbery (first, taxes, secondly, authors are having their books read by 1000s without any sort of compensation, beyond selling one book).

Books shouldn't be any different from movies or other media. Borrowing a book and stripping DRM from it and keeping it is like copying a DVD from Netflix. Is it like shoplifting a DVD? No, but you gaining a benefit from someone else's work (the people that made the movie) and not giving them anything in return.

Which is not only immoral, it's also hurting yourself in the long run. If the stuff you like isn't making money, then they will make stuff that does sell or is cheap to make, and in either case is almost usually crap. That's why TV is full of nothing but reality TV - it's cheap.
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Old 08-28-2011, 10:19 PM   #10
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Ok my views
1. DRM stripping an ebook that you own for your own use - either to back up or read on a different ereader - is OK.
2. DRM stripping a library or rented book so that you can read it on your choice of ereader is probably morally OK - probably not legal. But it must be deleted when the borrowing/renting period finishes.
3. DRM stripping and not deleting at the appropriate time is not OK if you just want to keep the book. But I can see a grey area if you are a slow reader and haven't finished yet. I'm a fast reader and have never had this problem but I could understand why someone would want to keep a book for a day or two longer to finish the last chapter rather than return and go to the back of a month long waitlist. If they were reading as fast as they can then to me it is the same as having an overdue book. Deleting as soon as they finish - sort of OK maybe? This is hard for me because they aren't really hurting anyone by taking longer to read the book but it's still not right. If they didn't read the book because they borrowed too many (I've done that!) or because they didnt' get around to it then bad luck - borrow it again when you have time to read it.
4. To me a rental book is the same as a library book. If you want to keep it then buy it.

Last edited by HarleyB; 08-28-2011 at 10:22 PM.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarleyB View Post
Ok my views
1. DRM stripping an ebook that you own for your own use - either to back up or read on a different ereader - is OK.
2. DRM stripping a library or rented book so that you can read it on your choice of ereader is probably morally OK - probably not legal. But it must be deleted when the borrowing/renting period finishes.
3. DRM stripping and not deleting at the appropriate time is not OK if you just want to keep the book. But I can see a grey area if you are a slow reader and haven't finished yet. I'm a fast reader and have never had this problem but I could understand why someone would want to keep a book for a day or two longer to finish the last chapter rather than return and go to the back of a month long waitlist. If they were reading as fast as they can then to me it is the same as having an overdue book. Deleting as soon as they finish - sort of OK maybe? This is hard for me because they aren't really hurting anyone by taking longer to read the book but it's still not right. If they didn't read the book because they borrowed too many (I've done that!) or because they didnt' get around to it then bad luck - borrow it again when you have time to read it.
4. To me a rental book is the same as a library book. If you want to keep it then buy it.
I feel the same way.

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Old 08-29-2011, 12:02 AM   #12
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Personally, I am ok with DRM stripping of rental and library books, as long as you still respect the terms of the rental/loan agreement otherwise. That meaning, when the term limit is up, you delete the book.

Reason for DRM stripping could be for format shifting to devices unsupported, as someone else mentioned. Most rentals you see are for textbooks, and quite often the DRM used prevents it from being used on something other than a PC. I know with quite a few of the text books for my school, only Windows and OSX are supported for the apps to read the books' DRM. Some are Windows only. Being that I use Linux, have an ereader, and two Android devices, I do not think it is unreasonable to use it on one of my devices if I paid the publisher for the ability to use it, and they do not support anything I own. I am not asking to keep the book forever, or give it to all my friends. It is especially funny I think, that I am a Computer Science major, with an emphasis on Linux systems, and the books needed for my classes cannot be read on systems that the material covers.
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Old 08-29-2011, 12:42 AM   #13
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I only approve of stripping of DRM from books I actually own.
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:18 AM   #14
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I guess I am another who only strips DRM on books I own.

I also tend to give them custom covers, and if the writer is verbose it may help to reformat for breaks between paragraphs.
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:39 AM   #15
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I should make note that if the DRM is usable on one of my devices, then I do not strip. I've just been burned where after I bought something I found out that it had proprietary DRM that would not run on anything I had. My options at the time was to not use the book (and suffer the consequences in class), strip the DRM and use it, or go out and find a paper copy and pay for that.

What really upset me about it was that it wasn't clear it was a rental until after the fact. Appeared as if it was a purchase, and then if you looked in the details of the DRM on the downloaded file, it listed various restrictions (such as cannot print, etc) that it expired after 6 months.
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