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Old 08-04-2009, 06:40 PM   #1
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DRM for Public Domain works at B&N

Couldn't see this news posted anywhere, so I'll link it in here (please delete as appropriate).

From TheConsumerist.com

Quote:
The ebook "war" is a race to the bottom, apparently, with Barnes & Noble trying to out-do Amazon on DRM stupidity. A reader emailed B&N customer service to point out that their "free books" offer consists of 5 public domain titles that are no longer protected under copyright, yet are still locked down with digital rights management (DRM). Their response? "For copyright protection purposes, these files are encrypted and cannot be converted or printed."
http://consumerist.com/5325921/bn-wr...opyrights-what
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Old 08-04-2009, 06:48 PM   #2
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Not sure why you expected anything different -- especially since they almost certainly want to prevent users from, for example, downloading e-books scanned as part of the Google Book project and loading them on a Sony or Kindle e-book device.

Besides, public domain doesn't mean the title has to be sold for $0.00 or go without DRM. It means that "anyone can publish it." So if I want to put together all the Shakespeare plays in one e-book, add a table of contents, slap some DRM on it and charge $5, that's perfectly legit.
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Old 08-04-2009, 06:53 PM   #3
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Very true Kali Yuga. It seems that way too many people don't understand what actually is and isn't allowed when something is in the public domain.
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Old 08-04-2009, 06:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
Not sure why you expected anything different -- especially since they almost certainly want to prevent users from, for example, downloading e-books scanned as part of the Google Book project and loading them on a Sony or Kindle e-book device.

Besides, public domain doesn't mean the title has to be sold for $0.00 or go without DRM. It means that "anyone can publish it." So if I want to put together all the Shakespeare plays in one e-book, add a table of contents, slap some DRM on it and charge $5, that's perfectly legit.
I expect different because I won't live in a world where I just shrug at every abuse of power or flagrant money-grubbing attempt to sell the dead. These are public domain works meant to be freely shared to enrich our culture, all culture, not to be locked up and gated by some company so they can make a quick buck (or as part of some feeble promotional deal). These books are available from several places in several different formats all without DRM and keeping to the promise of the public domain. These companies are testing the waters, seeing how gullible their 'market' can be and how much they can get away with.


You may gladly accept the bad behaviour of rampant capitalism. You may defend the right to stripmine our culture and turn the words of the dead into another money-making scheme that is encumbered by ridiculous anti-knowledge DRM.

I do not and I will not.
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Old 08-04-2009, 07:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe View Post
I expect different because I won't live in a world where I just shrug at every abuse of power or flagrant money-grubbing attempt to sell the dead. These are public domain works meant to be freely shared to enrich our culture, all culture, not to be locked up and gated by some company so they can make a quick buck (or as part of some feeble promotional deal). These books are available from several places in several different formats all without DRM and keeping to the promise of the public domain. These companies are testing the waters, seeing how gullible their 'market' can be and how much they can get away with.


You may gladly accept the bad behaviour of rampant capitalism. You may defend the right to stripmine our culture and turn the words of the dead into another money-making scheme that is encumbered by ridiculous anti-knowledge DRM.

I do not and I will not.
Something like (educated guessing here) 55% of the books listed in the Kindle store are different publications of Constance Garnett's translations of Dostoevsky's works, all sold for prices ranging from 99c to 6-9$..
Most without even mentioning her name (admittedly, Wordsworth Classics is just as bad).
Now, while I can't really say I like her translations, I do think that the practice - of not mentioning translators of PD works, instead claiming the copyright to belong to "Digireads.com" (2006) (Especially when they've "added" no more 'new' content than a ToC consisting of
  • The Double 7
  • The Gambler 77
) - is a bad one. ;-)
Still, those kinds of PD entries in the store are a dime a dozen, so I wouldn't call B&N's behavior extraordinary.

Last edited by zerospinboson; 08-04-2009 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe View Post
I expect different because I won't live in a world where I just shrug at every abuse of power or flagrant money-grubbing attempt to sell the dead.
Wow, get melodramatic much?

This is no more a "flagrant money-grubbing" move than B&N publishing paper versions of public domain books.

I might add that you're using their bandwidth to retrieve the books, so I don't have a problem with paying a nominal fee for a PD-published book. Heck, I'll even purposely pay for a PD e-book if it has an advantage over freely available versions -- e.g. a well-done TOC, quality formatting, collecting all the works of an author and so forth.


Quote:
Originally Posted by moejoe
These are public domain works meant to be freely shared to enrich our culture, all culture, not to be locked up and gated by some company so they can make a quick buck...
So, go to Gutenberg or Manybooks.

There is absolutely no requirement for anyone publishing any public domain book to do so in a non-DRM manner. None, nada, zip zero zilch.

It's not like B&N putting DRM on a public domain book in any way, shape or form stops people from getting PD books from any other source. So, I really fail to see the problem here.
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:08 PM   #7
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I look at it this way: as long as the text that is in the public domain is freely available, I don't mind if someone tries to make money by selling repackaged versions. It's no different than the cheap versions of PD classics that most major book chains sell.

Then there are the annotated editions of PD works that really are worth paying extra for. I don't like DRM, but that's a separate issue from charging for repackaging PD works.
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:14 PM   #8
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If B&N or any other company wants to sell public domain books more power to them. It is not up to them to educate the public that these books can be gotten free elsewhere. Their job is to make money. Also the public domain books I have looked at on B&N have new introductions and notes. Would I buy these books from B&N, probably not but I am pretty good at using the tools that are out there to make my own books. There are others I am sure that do not have the time or inclination to build their own books. What B&N is doing is opening up these books for more exposure not less.
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
Wow, get melodramatic much?

This is no more a "flagrant money-grubbing" move than B&N publishing paper versions of public domain books.

I might add that you're using their bandwidth to retrieve the books, so I don't have a problem with paying a nominal fee for a PD-published book. Heck, I'll even purposely pay for a PD e-book if it has an advantage over freely available versions -- e.g. a well-done TOC, quality formatting, collecting all the works of an author and so forth.



So, go to Gutenberg or Manybooks.

There is absolutely no requirement for anyone publishing any public domain book to do so in a non-DRM manner. None, nada, zip zero zilch.

It's not like B&N putting DRM on a public domain book in any way, shape or form stops people from getting PD books from any other source. So, I really fail to see the problem here.
I do. I go to Feedbooks for most of my PD books. The article and my 'melodrama' is about DRM and the intrusive nature of a technology that doesn't work, and in this case, is being placed upon public domain articles of culture, therefore disallowing the sharing of said culture. It goes against everything the Public Domain stands for, what it is designed for and what it is needed for. How can you not see something wrong in this?

I suppose you see nothing wrong with Disney's everlasting copyright on Mickey Mouse? Or the sneaky trademarking of authors names and characters to stop said authors' works going into the PD?

And yes, you're right, there's no 'requirement' under law, but there is a cultural conscience that even the lowest of the low companies might want follow. Placing a lock on something that has been freed is a terrible and shameful act.
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Madam Broshkina View Post
If B&N or any other company wants to sell public domain books more power to them. It is not up to them to educate the public that these books can be gotten free elsewhere. Their job is to make money. Also the public domain books I have looked at on B&N have new introductions and notes. Would I buy these books from B&N, probably not but I am pretty good at using the tools that are out there to make my own books. There are others I am sure that do not have the time or inclination to build their own books. What B&N is doing is opening up these books for more exposure not less.

Are we losing sight of what the article is about? Nobody is saying they can't sell these books, its the inclusion of DRM to protect the copyright of dead authors (their excuse) that irks me and so many others.
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:21 PM   #11
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And if those books have new introductions (which are copyrighted) or notes, are they not allowed to put DRM on those if they so choose? Or how about new translations? Lemurion and Madam Broshkina hit the nail on the head.
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abecedary View Post
And if those books have new introductions (which are copyrighted) or notes, are they not allowed to put DRM on those if they so choose? Or how about new translations? Lemurion and Madam Broshkina hit the nail on the head.

Well they're 'allowed' to do whatever they like. They can sell each word for a dollar if they so choose. You know, because now we're in the realm of the hypothetical, they could change every other word to banana and charge you ten dollars for those words to be rectified. But seeing as what they've actually done is place DRM on otherwise untouched Public Domain works, we'll just have to deal with that, won't we?

DRM is a curse on normally copyrighted works (and one I will gladly fight tooth and nail against). It does not work, it never has worked, and does nothing to either help the author, publisher or reader. But lets put that aside for a moment and deal with works in the Public Domain. Works that enrich our culture as a whole. Works that are there so that we as a culture may be influenced and create new works from their ideas and leads. Placing a lock upon this culture is tantamount to denying access to this culture.

And If I hear one more time that tired old 'excuse' of "They're a business, they're in this to make money" I might vomit. Being in business doesn't mean you lose all social and cultural responsibility. Making money isn't a synonym for not caring.
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:52 PM   #13
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Let's all back away from the drama hole....


If you don't want DRM on your books, get 'em somewhere else. The book uploads on MR are well-formatted and 100% DRM free.
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe View Post
How can you not see something wrong in this?
Because nothing about what B&N (or Amazon or Sony) is doing prevents anyone from getting non-DRM'ed versions.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe
I suppose you see nothing wrong with Disney's everlasting copyright on Mickey Mouse? Or the sneaky trademarking of authors names and characters to stop said authors' works going into the PD?
Yeah, I don't really have a problem with Mickey Mouse staying out of the public domain. I'd prefer that exceptions had been made for certain characters rather than everything getting a 20-year copyright extension over the previous laws, but I'm not going to pull my hair out over it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe
And yes, you're right, there's no 'requirement' under law, but there is a cultural conscience that even the lowest of the low companies might want follow. Placing a lock on something that has been freed is a terrible and shameful act.
Are we talking about e-books or wolves?

There is no "cultural conscience," just your dislike for DRM. Since adding DRM to a single version has zero effect on other versions, I fail to see any problem at all here.
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:16 PM   #15
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I am getting kind of tired of all the DRM is evil talk on this site. I bet if you searched for the phrase "DRM killed my puppies" you would get at least one hit.
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