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Old 11-09-2009, 06:13 PM   #1
pwarren
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ebook licenses a ripoff!

BoingBoing has some colourful commentary on a guardian article about the kindle license agreements, and how they're designed to override and overarch copyright law.

Are there any eBook publishers that actually sell a book, as opposed to licensing intellectual property?

http://www.boingboing.net/2009/11/08...se-agreem.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology...licence-orwell
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Old 11-09-2009, 06:31 PM   #2
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Forget any ebooks with DRM then.

To be honest, I really can't think of any offhand. Maybe some of the indie ebook publishers, but most are more or less licenses.
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Old 11-09-2009, 06:45 PM   #3
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No mention of any "licenses", only "purchase". No any agreements when downloading books either, just simple HTTP link.
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Old 11-09-2009, 06:48 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by pwarren View Post
Are there any eBook publishers that actually sell a book, as opposed to licensing intellectual property?
Baen? They seem fairly aware that when people buy books, they share them with family, and sometimes give them away.

Technically, all the ones that don't expire, sell ebooks rather than licensing them, regardless of what the fine print says when you buy. They can no more require you not to loan out, give away or resell your ebook than an auto parts store can insist you not resell the tires you bought from them. The technical difficulties of transferring ownership (the problem of digital "copies" vs "originals") doesn't change your legal rights to the property you buy.
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Old 11-09-2009, 09:16 PM   #5
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Yeah, yeah. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. It's just FUD, much of which has already been beaten thoroughly to death.

If you bought Lotus 1-2-3 or spent a few days on a Hypercard stack, there was no guarantee that software would work -- or that you could open those files -- on every computer ever made at any time in the future into perpetuity.

The same pitfalls face many means of transmitting content. E.g. you can't play vinyl records in a CD player, VHS tapes in a Blu-Ray player, 5 1/4" floppies in a smart card reader, use a Motorola Star-Tac with a 3G network, or use Atari 2600 cartridges in a Wii.

Books do tend to last a long time, and don't require an intermediary device. But you also can't back up your paper library to a CD in 30 seconds, and store it somewhere else in case of some type of unfortunate disaster striking your home; you can't carry hundreds of paper books in your backpack, and so forth.

Oh, and let's not forget that the allegedly evil DRM-ridden Amazon does sell DRM-free music. Hmmmm.

It's good to let people know how ebooks are different from paper, and like every other technological innovation it's not a 100% positive change. That doesn't validate this kind of fear-mongering.

Last edited by Kali Yuga; 11-09-2009 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:32 PM   #6
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Sorry I'm not up with the times Mr Yuga, if you say there's nothing to worry about, I won't worry then
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
The same pitfalls face many means of transmitting content. E.g. you can't play vinyl records in a CD player, VHS tapes in a Blu-Ray player, 5 1/4" floppies in a smart card reader, use a Motorola Star-Tac with a 3G network, or use Atari 2600 cartridges in a Wii.
I can, however, loan/sell/give/trade my cartridges with anyone else who has an Atari 2600, etc. DRM, whether ebooks, music, videos, or software, is different-that's not really intended to lock you in to a specific device (although it does it as well as anything, but it's really a side-effect). It's really intended to prevent anyone except you, the original purchaser, from getting any benefit from the purchase. That's much more restrictive than copyright law.

I'm not too worried about being sued for breaking the license though-I'm more worried about the publishers getting together with the RIAA & movie industry to gut the copyright law & strengthen the DMCA. Currently I feel safe stripping the DRM from books I buy-that might violate their license but it doesn't break the law.
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Old 11-10-2009, 09:54 AM   #8
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Sorry I'm not up with the times Mr Yuga, if you say there's nothing to worry about, I won't worry then
Heh... I wouldn't quite go that far. I'm more specifically objecting to the one-sided tone of the articles, and find that some of the characterizations by the authors of those two articles are slightly absurd and ignorant.


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I can, however, loan/sell/give/trade my cartridges with anyone else who has an Atari 2600, etc.
True. Hopefully that aspect will improve if a more viable loaning situation for individuals becomes more common.

Then again, I can't "loan" my Atari 2600 cartridge simultaneously to 1 million of my closest Intarnet pals; i.e. it may not be ideal, but it does make sense that a DRM system will be more restrictive. And some DRM schemes do allow for better forms of sharing and fair use (e.g. Fairplay).
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:37 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
Heh... I wouldn't quite go that far. I'm more specifically objecting to the one-sided tone of the articles, and find that some of the characterizations by the authors of those two articles are slightly absurd and ignorant.



True. Hopefully that aspect will improve if a more viable loaning situation for individuals becomes more common.

Then again, I can't "loan" my Atari 2600 cartridge simultaneously to 1 million of my closest Intarnet pals; i.e. it may not be ideal, but it does make sense that a DRM system will be more restrictive. And some DRM schemes do allow for better forms of sharing and fair use (e.g. Fairplay).
And you can de-register your device for a DRM file and register another person's device. You can actually have 4-6 (depending on the system) legal copies of an ebook in use at the same time. Try that with your cartridge. The DRM system is a drag, but it is not as bad as it is sometimes made out to be.
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:48 AM   #10
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Technically, all the ones that don't expire, sell ebooks rather than licensing them, regardless of what the fine print says when you buy.
Exactly. They can put anything they like in the fine print, but in this case it's unenforceable. US Courts have already ruled on situations like this. It is a sale, not a license.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:05 PM   #11
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Exactly. They can put anything they like in the fine print, but in this case it's unenforceable. US Courts have already ruled on situations like this. It is a sale, not a license.
True, but they're lobbying Congress to change that. I'm not too sure the direct route (getting it enforced as a license) will work, but at times I'm very afraid that the indirect route (prohibiting DeDRM'ing) will.

It's a little bit of a philosophical problem-although you have the (legal) right to sell/trade/give your eBook, you do not have the right to alter it (except for personal use, i.e. you can't sell/trade/give the altered version). It's perfectly legal to ignore an 'illegal' law (the practical difficulty is how you determine it's illegal until you're taken to court?), but does that mean software that prevents you from exercising your rights is illegal? If not, then is it legal to crack that software?

These are philosophical problems that will eventually be worked out-what I'm afraid of is that they'll 'work out' to the detriment of consumers.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:18 PM   #12
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Exactly. They can put anything they like in the fine print, but in this case it's unenforceable. US Courts have already ruled on situations like this. It is a sale, not a license.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but is it not the case that only one court - the 9th circuit court - has made this ruling, and that this particular court has a reputation for making "oddball" decisions which are subsequently overturned by higher courts?
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Old 11-10-2009, 01:01 PM   #13
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Please correct me if I'm wrong, but is it not the case that only one court - the 9th circuit court - has made this ruling, and that this particular court has a reputation for making "oddball" decisions which are subsequently overturned by higher courts?
Only one court has specifically ruled on reselling software. However, other "licenses" for sold property were the foundation of that decision; there were cases of movie producers selling old film "for scrap" and being upset when the footage was resold to be watched, instead of processed into pillow-stuffing or whatever is normally done with old plastic. In those cases, the courts ruled that a sale is a sale--if the original owner didn't contract to have it returned at some point, they couldn't maintain control over the purchaser's use of it.
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Old 11-10-2009, 01:24 PM   #14
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Please correct me if I'm wrong, but is it not the case that only one court - the 9th circuit court - has made this ruling, and that this particular court has a reputation for making "oddball" decisions which are subsequently overturned by higher courts?
"oddball"? From an European viewpoint the decisions seems to be perfectly sensible and other courts decisions are odd...
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Old 11-10-2009, 01:27 PM   #15
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Please correct me if I'm wrong, but is it not the case that only one court - the 9th circuit court - has made this ruling, and that this particular court has a reputation for making "oddball" decisions which are subsequently overturned by higher courts?
While it is true that the courts are still sorting this stuff out, there was always the case of a publisher attempting to place additional restrictions in the fine print of his book (effectively adding a license) in Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus (a U.S. Supreme Court decision).

There is also the doctrine of first sale.

The argument that makes software and electronic media so tricky is the concern that the original owner retains a copy and thus violates copyright. In effect, the publishers are arguing that it is so easy to make a copy (or, conversely, so difficult to completely remove all copies) that the original ruling should be modified.
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