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View Poll Results: Is it ever OK to loan an e-book to a friend?
Yes. If it's OK with paper books, it's OK with e-books. 27 51.92%
It's only OK under specific circumstances (please specify). 20 38.46%
No, it's not OK. Loans only work with paper books. 5 9.62%
Voters: 52. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-28-2023, 10:14 PM   #1
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Loaning E-Books

I'm curious what fellow MR users think about the morality of e-book loans. When you buy a paper book, most people seem to agree that it's OK loan it to a friend or family member. Since an e-book doesn't involve a physical object, is it ever OK to send a copy to a friend on the conditions that a) he will delete it when he's done reading it, and b) you won't read it until he's finished?

In theory, this preserves the spirit behind buying one copy of the book and having only one person read it at a time, so there ought not to be any ethical problems with it, as long as both of you obey the rules of the loan. Of course, if you suspect this friend might not have the integrity to delete the book after reading it, then you probably shouldn't "loan" him a copy.

Do you ever share e-books in the same way you would share paper books? Are there any conditions under which you think it's OK or not OK to share them? Is the ability to share a book with a friend one of the perks of paper books that you just have to give up in order to embrace e-books? Feel free to chime in.
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Old 05-28-2023, 10:47 PM   #2
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I would certainly share ebooks with my closest family members and friends, and I would not care if they deleted them after reading or not. I would not "loan" ebooks to casual acquaintances. As to the morality of this... frankly, don't care. The people I'd share my ebooks with are more important to me than moral scruples.

I say "would" because no one I know actually reads ebooks at all, so this will always be speculation only.
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Old 05-28-2023, 11:58 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Sirtel View Post
As to the morality of this... frankly, don't care. The people I'd share my ebooks with are more important to me than moral scruples.
Hmm... Would it perhaps be more accurate to say that your moral code gives priority to your relationship with your family members, and part of that relationship includes sharing experiences, such as books, with them? I doubt that you actually "don't care" about morality; rather, I'd intuit that sharing books fits within your moral framework, and therefore you see nothing wrong with it.
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Old 05-29-2023, 01:34 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post
Hmm... Would it perhaps be more accurate to say that your moral code gives priority to your relationship with your family members, and part of that relationship includes sharing experiences, such as books, with them? I doubt that you actually "don't care" about morality; rather, I'd intuit that sharing books fits within your moral framework, and therefore you see nothing wrong with it.
Perhaps you're right. My moral code is emotional rather than rational; and as such, it can be fluid and depends on a specific situation. I avoid hurting others unless I'm very angry, and I tend not to break laws just for the fun of it, or at least not the spirit of the law (have never much cared about the letter). But some things in life are more important to me than laws. I guess I'm hardly alone in that.
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Old 05-29-2023, 02:54 AM   #5
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I would have no qualms about sending a copy to a friend. These days I can afford books but I probably wouldn't have read almost anything in my teens and 20s without book sharing.
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Old 05-29-2023, 04:07 AM   #6
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Meh, I voted "It's only OK under specific circumstances (please specify)" just to see what the results were. Really, I don't see how loaning ebooks to a friend would work anyway, outside of the old Kindle 'share a book' thing I never used.

If you take a DRM-free ebook from Calibre, mail it to a friend who also uses Calibre and they import it to their library, isn't that just the same as piracy?

OTOH: I think the chances of this happening are so miniscule, it doesn't really matter anyway. The vast majority of ebook readers don't strip DRM or sideload. The chances of two people who are already acquainted both doing this, while not zero, are very, very slim.

On the third hand, I did recently mail my 75-year old mom an old Nook Glowlight 3. My mom and I have very little overlap, but I did leave some books on there. Gone With the Wind, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, some PD and the like, plus books I purchased, but for her (David Baldacci?).

My mom has never figured out how to do more with her cell phone than make a call and send broken, half complete texts. Creating a B&N account and showing her how to purchase books would give me an ulcer. What's on that Nook will be the only things ever on that Nook.
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Old 05-29-2023, 05:08 AM   #7
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It's OK to loan an eBook when you know that the person you are lending to won't be giving it to anyone else.
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Old 05-29-2023, 06:15 AM   #8
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Loan the ereader?
Any other sort of "loan" is a copy outside of your control, no matter how much you trust the person.

No issue with giving a copy of a PD book, but a "free" copyright book should be downloaded by each individual, not copied or "loaned".

I can't see how you can truly loan a digital file on it's own unless you are a real library, otherwise you can only loan the hardware it's installed on.

A fourth category is where you own the copyright. Again, I'd only loan the hardware or a paper copy and give a copy with injunction that it's only for personal use.

A fifth category is the concept of some sellers of a "family" licence, though they expect to enforce this via DRM. Again, you can't loan except you loan the hardware. A copy is a copy.

Last edited by Quoth; 05-29-2023 at 06:18 AM.
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Old 05-29-2023, 06:20 AM   #9
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I share ebooks with my partner; we maintain separate Calibre instances but both are located in the Shared section of the Mac. We have Kindle file-sharing on too. As I am the one with the LibraryThing account, I need access to all to maintain the master catalogue.

In practice, I would say that only around 50% of the household library has been read by both of us; his tastes run to hard SF, my library includes a lot stuff he won’t read (he complains about Kindle sharing being all or nothing which means he has to sidle past the Regency romances).
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Old 05-29-2023, 07:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
It's OK to loan an eBook when you know that the person you are lending to won't be giving it to anyone else.
Why would you expect them to be more moral than you've already shown yourself to be?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quoth View Post
Loan the ereader?
Any other sort of "loan" is a copy outside of your control, no matter how much you trust the person.

[...]

Again, you can't loan except you loan the hardware. A copy is a copy.
Yep.

I don't care what people do and I figure most of us have engaged in some dodgy digital practice, but it's hard to think of a legitimate justification. No one needs digital books.
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Old 05-29-2023, 07:01 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by maddz View Post
(he complains about Kindle sharing being all or nothing which means he has to sidle past the Regency romances).
One of the things Kobo does better than Kindle is the archive option, where you still own the book but you don't "see" it.
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Old 05-29-2023, 07:27 AM   #12
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One of the things Kobo does better than Kindle is the archive option, where you still own the book but you don't "see" it.
Yes, but unlike Kindle, there's no family sharing.
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Old 05-29-2023, 08:21 AM   #13
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It is my opinion that the amount of moral ebook loaning** going on in the real world does not come close to justifying the number of threads created on MR for the express purpose of helping people feel a little better about their casual piracy.

If you find yourself "loaning" more ebooks than you ever did physical books, ask yourself why.

** translated as anything not flat-out piracy between anonymous participants
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Old 05-29-2023, 08:31 AM   #14
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I would loan a Kindle device itself. Most of the folks I would loan to would have no idea how to deal with the book file itself even if I did give it to them. I've not loaned out a Kindle in some time.
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Old 05-29-2023, 10:07 AM   #15
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I would loan a file. I would ask the person to delete it when they were done.

To me, it is the same as taking a pbook off my bookcase and loaning it to someone.
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