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Old 09-08-2009, 08:39 PM   #1
Neil
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Question Vis-a-Vis anti-DRM legalities

I think-I-know (ITIK) that the DMCA laws in the United States make it illegal to program such things as Python scripts which remove DRM. They also make it (ITIK) illegal to offer such scripts to others via links or downloads. And, I know (or ITIK) they make it illegal to actually instruct people in their use.

However, I have read in various venues that these laws do not make it actually illegal to USE such programs to remove DRM from files that you have paid for in order to back them up.

If, hypothetically, I should mention that I buy books from Fictionwise and strip the DRM to use on my Kindle, would I thus be (hypothetically) admitting to breaking a law?

Does anyone know?
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Old 09-09-2009, 03:12 AM   #2
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Most likley you're breaking the law. But then, no harm no foul. And you're not hurting anyone if you un-drm your book for your own use.
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Old 09-09-2009, 04:50 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil View Post
If, hypothetically, I should mention that I buy books from Fictionwise and strip the DRM to use on my Kindle, would I thus be (hypothetically) admitting to breaking a law?

Does anyone know?
No-one knows. In the US, legal experts disagree about it. Unless or until someone gets prosecuted for doing it, and the case makes it to the US Supreme Court, no-one will know.

Legality in other countries is usually equally uncertain.
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Old 09-09-2009, 05:32 AM   #4
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I think that most of us would agree that, if you've bought a book, then removing the DRM for your own personal use is not wrong, regardless of whether or not it's illegal, and that if you don't tell anyone, you're pretty safe.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil View Post
If, hypothetically, I should mention that I buy books from Fictionwise and strip the DRM to use on my Kindle, would I thus be (hypothetically) admitting to breaking a law?

Does anyone know?
As I think Harry says nobody knows even whether it is actually illegal to remove DRM on books one has bought as long as one does not resell or otherwise break copyright - there are laws and acts of parliament, but they've never been tested in court so far as I know.

I think myself that any prosecutions for removing DRM from ebooks one has bought and keeps for oneself would fail because no one could prove harm to the original vendor - or indeed to anyone else.

For what it is worth I have indicated or hinted several times that I have removed DRM, and so far haven't come to any harm.

Regards, Alex
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:58 AM   #6
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There's also the fact that the prosecution could (and likely would) be laughed out of court for trying to prosecute someone for removing drm from their books. I think it would go something like this:

Prosecution: Your honor, my client seeks to prove that Mr. Smith has harmed his business by removing DRM from ebook files that he purchased.

Judge Judy: Did Mr. Smith sell or distribute these files after removing the DRM from them?

Prosecution: No your honor, he did it for his own use.

Judge Judy:... Get the flock out of my courtroom!
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Old 09-10-2009, 01:27 AM   #7
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Yeah, I certainly agree that it is not WRONG to remove DRM from books for which you have paid. I guess I wrote the original message because I had been on a different Forum and someone was asking about if they could buy a book on Barnes and Noble and use it on the Kindle. Hypothetically speaking I could have done that myself using various Python scripts. Indeed when Amazon's store did not have Pynchon's INHERENT VICE but Fictionwise did have it, well, the hypothetical scripting could maybe have been going strong. Anyway, I realized that there was not really a way to send a helpful answer. The best one might do would be to say "Well, yeah, I know how to do it but if I tell you I have to kill both of us or hire a lawyer." There is just something so WRONG going on here with the DCMA that it boggles belief it could happen in a country like ours which really does value individual freedoms so highly. Oh well. Thanks for all the responses. I guess we just have to wait for the EFF or some other organization to fund a winnable consumer action-suiit.
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Old 09-11-2009, 02:38 PM   #8
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An "Interesting" Aside

IMHO, I find this whole topic of drm and dedrm fascinating, especially the legality of such.

In the old days when one bought a book - whether in hardcover, paperback or whatever, the copyright laws were very specific - you could read the book, but do not try to quote or paraphrase it without the author's (publisher's[?]) consent.

Nothing, however prevented me from reading the book, passing it to my friends, then giving it to a book swap store to sell or barter or selling it at a flea market (after tearing off the front cover, of course). Many times one of the books I purchased was passed around many, many times - and this with but one sale to the author.

Now, just because we go into the digital mode and those in the "Digital Law Powers-that-be" mode) are antsy about not allowing anyone to give any one book to another - or sending it to their readers, we have DRM. If you'll remember the furor over VHS/BetaMax controversy, you can understand the paranoia which ensued. Well that is where we are today. Back then, the movies remained extant and today the ePublishers will remain extant and will get stronger.

There is a glimmer of hope, however. It didn't take the music industry too long to finally sell MP3s without strings attached - hopefully the eBook vendors/publishers will see the handwriting on the wall. The sale of eBooks is growing, and the more people who buy and get stung by these practices, the greater the outcry.

Much ado about nothing, methinks. I feel sorry for those who really want to dedrm their books - especially when they found out their reader is now going a different DRM route (BeBook). There should be some place other than these forums that will steer the novice computer user to learn step by step how to do the deed. I believe it is everyone's right to dedrm their ebooks -- but, then, I'm 77 years old. By the time they catch up to me, I'll be gone.

BTW try this, "How to dedrm ebooks" in google.

Good luck to all you dedrmers!
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Old 09-13-2009, 06:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lotusblossom View Post
In the old days when one bought a book - whether in hardcover, paperback or whatever, the copyright laws were very specific - you could read the book, but do not try to quote or paraphrase it without the author's (publisher's[?]) consent.

Nothing, however prevented me from reading the book, passing it to my friends, then giving it to a book swap store to sell or barter or selling it at a flea market (after tearing off the front cover, of course). Many times one of the books I purchased was passed around many, many times - and this with but one sale to the author.
Tearing off the front cover? Why did you do that?

The fundamental difference between a physical and a digital book is that none of the activities you describe above involve making a copy of the book, and that is what copyright law concerns itself with. You're passing the one, original, copy around from person to person, and that is entirely outside the scope of copyright. With a digital book, if you give a copy to another person, it is rather difficult to do so without copying being involved somewhere in the process, and hence copyright does matter.
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Old 09-13-2009, 10:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhcalva View Post
There's also the fact that the prosecution could (and likely would) be laughed out of court for trying to prosecute someone for removing drm from their books. I think it would go something like this:

Prosecution: Your honor, my client seeks to prove that Mr. Smith has harmed his business by removing DRM from ebook files that he purchased.

Judge Judy: Did Mr. Smith sell or distribute these files after removing the DRM from them?

Prosecution: No your honor, he did it for his own use.

Judge Judy:... Get the flock out of my courtroom!

That's all i have to say.
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Old 09-13-2009, 10:37 AM   #11
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Tearing off the front cover? Why did you do that?
Sounds like a confusion about stripped books.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stripped_book
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Old 09-16-2009, 09:29 AM   #12
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Actually, before the First Sale Doctrine was established, many book printers put various clauses in their books limiting resale/lending/whatnot. Sort of like the EULAs we have now.
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Old 09-16-2009, 11:38 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lotusblossom View Post
In the old days when one bought a book - whether in hardcover, paperback or whatever, the copyright laws were very specific - you could read the book, but do not try to quote or paraphrase it without the author's (publisher's[?]) consent.
You can quote or paraphrase from books, as long as you don't copy whole chapters and you are required to cite your source.


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The secret is how to die.
Since the beginning of time, the secret had always been how to die.

(from The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown)
This is perfectly legal. It's a way to make a point or, in case of novels, to get people's attention.

And I don't get the ripping of covers either... I do know they rip off the covers if a paperback isn't sellable and returned to the publisher.
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:11 PM   #14
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Why is this thread in the Mobipocket format forum,? It really doesn't belong here.
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