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Old 02-16-2010, 03:48 PM   #1
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EFF Checklist for Digital Books

Perhaps of some interest. The EFF just posted a white paper on digital books that I think merits passing along to the fora.

Digital Books and Your Rights: A Checklist for Readers

I think the questions themselves are rather informative (e.g., got me wondering about how Overdrive keeps/restricts access to lending records ...).
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Old 02-16-2010, 04:12 PM   #2
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Perhaps of some interest. The EFF just posted a white paper on digital books that I think merits passing along to the fora.

Digital Books and Your Rights: A Checklist for Readers

I think the questions themselves are rather informative (e.g., got me wondering about how Overdrive keeps/restricts access to lending records ...).
A really interesting post, thanks for pointing it out. It allows one to consider the argument for DRM, which is sometimes rehearsed on this forum, in a different light.
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Old 02-16-2010, 05:13 PM   #3
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A really interesting post, thanks for pointing it out. It allows one to consider the argument for DRM, which is sometimes rehearsed on this forum, in a different light.
There's an argument for DRM?
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Old 02-16-2010, 05:20 PM   #4
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There's an argument for DRM?
I was just being polite.
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Old 02-16-2010, 05:33 PM   #5
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A very good read, I'm glad we have the EFF sticking up for our electronic rights! On their "over-arching question": are digital books as good or better than physical books at protecting you and your rights as a reader?

It's obvious they are not at this stage. If publishers had their way they would never offer the same rights on e-books which paper books currently offer. However the marketplace will force them into it (I hope)!
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Old 02-16-2010, 05:44 PM   #6
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A really interesting post, thanks for pointing it out. It allows one to consider the argument for DRM, which is sometimes rehearsed on this forum, in a different light.
I think DRM in some form is necessary in the digital age. Companies just go about it the wrong way.

But they have to protect their property. If I buy a paper book, I can personally give it away to one person (who may then give it away etc.), but only one person has that copy at a time.

With an e-book, without DRM that person can keep their copy and give it to multiple people, put it on torrent sites where it gets to hundreds or thousands of people, some of home will put it on their own torrents and further distribute it. All without the effort of stripping DRM etc.

That said, current DRM is flawed as it has too many negative impacts for legitimate users, and doesn't do much of anything to thwart piracy since those losers putting stuff on torrents know how to strip DRM etc.

Thus publishers need to find better ways to protect their content while minimizing hassles for legitimate users. Have some form of DRM that works differently. Let people lend a book temporarily (like the Nook), or have a system in place that lets them transfer the book with DRM to another user--with the process automatically deleting that drm book from their machine and not allow it to be transferred back to that machine/account unless it's transferred back (and removed) from the other persons machine.

That type of stuff at least offers some protection of their property, while giving users some flexibility in how to use it with being able to lend it, sell it or give it to someone else permanently etc. Which are things people should be able to do with digital content they bought.

But of course the problem is any type of digital protection will always be broken by pirates. The only way to deal with that is for theft of digital content to be treated as a crime and not a civil matter.

Start locking up people putting books, mp3s etc. up to be illegally downloaded, vs. having absurdly huge lawsuit settlements that will never be collected on and maybe you'll make more people think twice before throwing the latest best seller up on a torrent. I really see it as no different than stealing a hundred copies of a physical book and selling them or giving them away. Either way you're taking sales away from the publisher and author.

Last edited by dmaul1114; 02-16-2010 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 02-16-2010, 06:08 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Shaggy View Post
There's an argument for DRM?
Actually, there is an argument for DRM. But only for the time limited DRM. It's so libraries can loan eBooks. I've read a lot of eBooks free that way.
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Old 02-16-2010, 06:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmaul1114 View Post

Start locking up people putting books, mp3s etc. up to be illegally downloaded, vs. having absurdly huge lawsuit settlements that will never be collected on and maybe you'll make more people think twice before throwing the latest best seller up on a torrent. I really see it as no different than stealing a hundred copies of a physical book and selling them or giving them away. Either way you're taking sales away from the publisher and author.
Of course. You can also threaten to cut off their dominant hands, or hang them on a repeat offense. You could even start stoning women again for adultery.
All of this is quite possible, and the Lord knows draconian laws work well (see the War on Drugs, Prohibition). The only problem is that the US claims to be different from countries like Saudi Arabia where corporal and excessive punishment for minor infractions is still the norm.

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Old 02-16-2010, 06:35 PM   #9
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Of course. You can also threaten to cut off their dominant hands, or hang them on a repeat offense. You could even start stoning women again for adultery.
All of this is quite possible. The only problem is that the US claims to be different from countries like Saudi Arabia where corporal and excessive punishment for minor infractions is still the norm.

Sure, but no need to go to that extreme, and I was exaggerating a bit by saying lock them up.

There just needs to be some real punishment for people who illegally distribute copyright material and those who obtain it. Make it a real punishment, and not some symbolic million dollar law suit that will never be collected--and would be a much more cruel and unusual punishment than say probation if it was to be collected in full, forced to work off etc.

I see no reason to treat it much differently that someone who steals physical property and sells it to pawn shops etc. Property is property, whether tangible or digital.

Thus if it's low value property, make it a misdemeanor like shoplifting stuff not worth very much. If it involves distributing thousands of copies of books, movies, albums etc. and costing the owners tons of money, then maybe it gets into felony territory.

But they key is to get a system in place so people don't feel compelled to pirate things. Make sure prices for digital versions are the same or less than the physical version. Don't use DRM schemes that don't allow people to use their digital product the same way they would a physical product in terms of resale, giving away, loaning out etc.
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Old 02-16-2010, 06:58 PM   #10
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There's an argument for DRM?
Certainly, and uses for it.

However.

Very few of those uses have anything to do with the end-user, and are related in the majority to business-business interactions.


dmaul1114 - Yea, keep pushing that view. It's that view which is likely to create a very powerful anti-IP lobby in the EU within a very few years. They already have 2 MEP's...

Making everyone a criminal is very much an American tactic, and is rightly going down very poorly in the EU. If a sensible compromise can't be reached*, then IP itself is going to be under attack in ways I don't agree with, but will be effectively unable to speak up against because of the actions of IP's "defenders".

(*Which involves selling people what they want, not legal action against them. As long as you are pushing the lawsuits, you are going to have a growing darknet community as a direct response to that, regardless of legal availability... you can't make the darknet go away, but you can shrink it!)

It's absolutely ridiculous that the EU countries who most strongly believe in the social contract have the highest unauthorised copying rates, and it's entirely down to a witch-finder mentality on the side of certain companies - treating the customer as the enemy.
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:28 AM   #11
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I think DRM in some form is necessary in the digital age.
If a content distribution company's business strategy relies on every unique consumer being a unique sale, they will quickly end up standing in line at the Corporate Welfare office right behind the bankers and the auto-makers, because the real world just doesn't work like that.
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:31 AM   #12
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There's an argument for DRM?
Of course there is. Can you suggest a viable mechanism for libraries to lend out eBooks which doesn't involve the use of DRM?
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:48 AM   #13
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There just needs to be some real punishment for people who illegally distribute copyright material and those who obtain it. Make it a real punishment, and not some symbolic million dollar law suit that will never be collected--and would be a much more cruel and unusual punishment than say probation if it was to be collected in full, forced to work off etc.

I see no reason to treat it much differently that someone who steals physical property and sells it to pawn shops etc. Property is property, whether tangible or digital.
For decades, it was the norm to copy albums onto cassette to swap music amongst friends. People who did this were not imprisoned, and the prevailing consensus was that this was a very different thing to shoplifting. You may see no reason to treat it much differently, but I think that you're out of step with the majority view.
Quote:
But they key is to get a system in place so people don't feel compelled to pirate things. Make sure prices for digital versions are the same or less than the physical version. Don't use DRM schemes that don't allow people to use their digital product the same way they would a physical product in terms of resale, giving away, loaning out etc.
Exactly so - making it convenient to purchase high quality content for a fair price is the answer.

What is so frustrating is that this will also make the publishers the most money, but they can't see beyond entrenched habits developed in a different pre-digital world.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:00 AM   #14
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.
Property is property, whether tangible or digital.
Property, on one definition, is the exclusive right of possessing, enjoying and disposing of a thing. If I buy an a packet of cornflakes, a lear jet or an ebook, part of what it means for me to enter into a contract to purchase is that, on completion of that contract the item becomes my property. Now, in the arena of digital goods there seems to be a conflict between my right as a purchaser and the holder of the intellectual property rights. At the moment I don't seem to have any property when I buy an ebook - all the rights of possessing, enjoying and disposing of seem to remain with the copyright owner. This balance needs to be redressed.

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.
But they key is to get a system in place so people don't feel compelled to pirate things. Make sure prices for digital versions are the same or less than the physical version. Don't use DRM schemes that don't allow people to use their digital product the same way they would a physical product in terms of resale, giving away, loaning out etc.
And when a system something like you describe is in place it may be worthy of respect. As it stands it isn't - either in place or worthy of respect.

.
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Old 02-17-2010, 11:31 AM   #15
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This balance needs to be redressed.
Actually, it's simpler than that. The value of the IP "protected" is simply percieved as lower by consumers. Hence, less people are willing to pay for content with a lower value.

Removing DRM raises the value of the content to the end user, and thus raises sales. Every time there are attacks on the value of their own content (via assaults on consumer rights) by big music, etc., they lose customers.

It is, and always has been, issues of value and convenience for the vast majority of people.
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