Category Archives: eBook Rights

Daily Links: Free Kindle e-book and audiobook pair

From The Ebook Reader, this month’s free kindle e-book and audiobook bundle for users of the Amazon Kindle App.

From Make Use Of, an interesting infographic on breaking the cycle of e-book theft.

Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news.

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Filed under eBook Rights, eBooks, Free, Kitchen sink

Day Against DRM 2014

May 6, 2014 is International Day Against DRM.

One of the most frustrating things about purchasing e-books is paying top dollar for books that we have virtually no rights to use. This year’s image is very expressive and makes the point. :)

Da7 against DRM 2014

For more info: https://www.defectivebydesign.org/dayagainstdrm

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The future of the library and the great content divide

As someone who tweets a great deal about public libraries, this article from TheDigitalShift, Ebook Strategy and Public Libraries: Slow Just Won’t Work Anymore,  speaks volumes.

The article addresses many of the important issues at the heart of the library ebook problem such as Overdrive’s monopoly and publisher’s refusals to sell ebooks because of fears of the library model. But it is the following paragraph which presents a truly terrifying scenario:

The perfect storm formula of a monopolistic environment and the actions (or more accurately, the deliberate inaction) of publishers have resulted in the creation of a significant shift in public policy in this country. After more than 100 years of public libraries circulating materials to users, we are no longer able to provide access to critical content that now exists in digital form. As a result, two very distinct scenarios are emerging in the communities we serve. Affluent users in prosperous neighborhoods have universal broadband access, numerous ebook hosting devices, and a credit card with the disposable income to acquire whatever content they want. Low-income residents in poorer neighborhoods do not have this sequence of resources and run the risk of not being able to access digital content that will allow them to fairly participate, compete and contribute to the digital economy/world. This content divide goes against the very principles that attracted so many of us to this profession –supporting democracy by providing access to information in the broadest possible context.

The issues so succinctly raised in this article are ones that all of us, as a society, should be very, very concerned about.There is much more in the full article, including suggestions about how to work towards a solution. If you care about public libraries, this is a must read article!

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Filed under Borrowing and Lending eBooks, eBook Rights, Kitchen sink, Library

Just the facts…

I just listened to an interesting podcast of the Kojo Nnadami Show on E-Books: Chosing a reading device and a bookseller.

While there were some interesting points to the broadcast, as an ebook aficionado, I found it a little disturbing that people considered experts in the field could be totally unaware of certain facts about the ebook industry.

Among the misstated facts:

  • Amazon deleted 1984 off customers’ Kindles last year. In fact, it was 2009.
  • It is unusual for someone to own more than one ereader.
  • Typos and scanning errors are no longer a problem with ebooks.
  • It seems that there is also some confusion about the program Calibre and its capabilities. Calibre can convert one ebook format to another; it does not strip DRM from ebooks. There are third-party plug-ins for the program, however, which are rumored to do that.

The broadcast does make some valid points about the ownership issues surrounding ebooks.

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Filed under DRM, eBook formats, eBook Rights, eBooks

May 4, 2012 is International Day Against DRM

 May 4th is International Day Against DRM. The day is intended to protest crippling Digital Rights Management solutions which prohibit people from freely accessing and sharing files that they have legally purchased.

While most music files are now available DRM free, it is still a huge problem in the ebook world. Publishers, are, however, beginning to take notice. Tor Books recently announced that their titles are going to be offered DRM free.

There are a number of small presses that offer their titles DRM free. Please leave a comment with the name and website of small presses that offer freely accessible files.

Learn more at http://www.defectivebydesign.org/dayagainstdrm.

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Penguin pulls Kindle Books from libraries

I wanted to sit down and write my impressions of the Kindle Fire now that I have had a few days to play with it. Instead, I was shocked to find that Penguin has pulled its Kindle books from the OverDrive system.

According to OverDrive:

Last week Penguin sent notice to OverDrive that it is reviewing terms for library lending of their eBooks.   In the interim, OverDrive was instructed to suspend availability of new Penguin eBook titles from our library catalog and disable “Get for Kindle”  functionality for all Penguin eBooks.   We apologize for this abrupt change in terms from this supplier.  We are actively working with Penguin on this issue and are hopeful Penguin will agree to restore access to their new titles and Kindle availability as soon as possible.

The Digital Shift is reporting that Penguin is saying the new policy is not specific to Kindles, but governs all versions of their ebook titles across the board.

Libraries and patrons are telling a different story, however. In an Amazon forum on the subject, some patrons are pointing out that only Kindle versions are disappearing. Some libraries have had as many books vanish from their digital shelves. It is important to note that those are books purchased with library funds (generally taxpayer funded).

I don’t think that it is coincidental that this is happening when Amazon is trying to start a Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. There has been a lot of tension about ebook lending since Big Six publisher Harper Collins limited libraries to only 26 check-outs of their titles.  Many people (myself included) are still boycotting Harper Collins  until that limitation is resolved.

Penguin has already been facing criticsm over its Book Country “service,” which many authors believe does nothing but take more money from authors.

But to single out the popular Kindle smacks not only of fear and greed, but a form of censorship as well. And that’s not something that sets well with me. Sure, I could read books on one of my other devices: I’ve got an iPod, a Nook. I could read any format on one of the apps on my android tablets. But I will not be told which device I have to read their ebooks on. I already boycott MacMillian and Harper Collins because of their practices. I already boycott books priced over $9.99. I will be happy to add Penguin to the list as well.

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Filed under Borrowing and Lending eBooks, eBook Rights, eBooks, Kindle, Publisher Boycotts, The Book Industry, The eReader of the Future?, Traditional Publishing

iFlow is closing down

iFlow Reader has issued an announcement that they are ceasing operations May 31, 2011. The company states that its demise is due to Apple’s new 30% in-app pricing policies, saying:

We absolutely do not want to do this, but Apple has made it completely impossible for anyone but Apple to make a profit selling contemporary eBooks on any iOS device. We cannot survive selling books at a loss and so we are forced to go out of business. We bet everything on Apple and iOS and then Apple killed us by changing the rules in the middle of the game. This is a very sad day for innovation on iOS in this important application category. We are a small company that thought we could build a better product. We think that we did but we are powerless against Apple’s absolute control of the iOS platform.

The announcement also gives instructions for protecting access to previously purchased books, encouraging customers to back up books to their own computers.

iFlow ended the announcement with an invitation for customers to get involved:

If you think that this move by Apple is contrary to your interests as an iOS user then we urge you to email a complaint to Apple by clicking on the link below:

Email to: Steve Jobs, Philip Schiller, and Developer Programs at Apple

Those with questions can contact the company at:  support@iflowreader.com.

(And check out the graphic on the announcement that depicts an Apple logo throwing the eReaders into the trash !)

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Filed under Apps & Active Content, eBook Rights, eReaders

May 4, 2011 is Day Against DRM

May 4th has been designated as the International Day Against DRM for 2011. DRM or Digital Rights Management, is the software that prevents copying of ebooks. It also prevents consumers from reading legitimately purchased ebooks on any device of their choosing.

If you are interested in getting involved, you can sign up for the 2011 Day Against DRM Mailing list.   There is also a 2011 Wiki page where you can learn more and take part in making plans for the day.

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Lendle Axed by Amazon

The Kindle lending service Lendle had its access to Amazon’s API shut off today.  Lendle has made a statement on the situation on their website, saying that:

The letter we received from Amazon states that the reason our API and Amazon Associates accounts have been revoked is that Lendle does not “serve the principal purpose of driving sales of products and services on the Amazon site.”

Lendle goes on to say:

We do know that we’re not the only eBook lending site who had their API access revoked today, so we can only speculate that it wasn’t anything about Lendle specifically that caused Amazon to act today, but rather something a bit bigger than us. We know publishers have been skittish about lending, and aren’t yet seeing how much value it brings them, so we might speculate Amazon was acting on pressure from them. [Emphasis added]

Personally, I don’t think that it is all that difficult to speculate what that pressure might be about. This is happening almost exactly a year since Macmillan boycott and the Agency Model went into effect. If, as I surmise, Amazon is once again in negotiations with publishers then lending and ebook rights are almost certainly on the agenda. That, coupled with the sudden rise of several services facilitating the loan of ebooks (with some even charging a fee for the service), does not bode well for readers’ rights in the future.

I also think that it is highly unlikely that it is a coincidence that this situation and the Harper Collins limit on libraries lending eBooks are happening at the same time. Harper Collins has been strangely silent on the library lending issue which may mean that it has some bearing on larger negotiations with retailers.

Watch this space; we are going to hear a lot more about these lending issues.

This blog entry composed while listening to American VI: Ain’t No Grave by Johnny Cash

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What’s in your ebook bill of rights?

One of the big issues over this last week has been Harper Collins’ announcement that they were placing limits on how many times a library book may be circulated. The last-minute announcement broadsided librarians and readers alike. (There are roundups of the blog entries and media coverage available and  you can follow the discussion on Twitter under the hashtag #HCOD.)

Ironically, the new limits went into effect on March 7, 2011, right at the beginning of Read an Ebook Week.

Those discussions have yielded a lot of interesting ideas about accessibility, DRM (Digital Rights Management) and the future of ebooks. One of these ideas is the aggressive promotion of an eBook User’s Bill of Rights, most frequently the one offered by Sarah Houghton-Jan on her blog, Librarian in Black.

Sarah’s bill of rights focuses on:

  • the right to use eBooks under guidelines that favor access over proprietary limitations
  • the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software the user chooses
  • the right to annotate, quote passages, print, and share eBook content within the spirit of fair use and copyright
  • the right of the first-sale doctrine extended to digital content, allowing the eBook owner the right to retain, archive, share, and re-sell purchased eBooks

Well known tech blogger Mike Cane tackled this subject as well on his own blog last August in his article the Ebook Buyer’s Bill of Rights.   His bill of rights focuses mainly on issues involving appearance and functionality: covers, table of content, bookmarks. Formatting issues are also important in his version:

3) You have the right to proper formatting by default.
a) Formatting should mirror a proper printed book.
b) Paragraphs should have indents without spaces between paragraphs.
c) Only after such proper default formatting should a reader be able to mix things up via a device’s software settings (typesize, spacing, margins — in other words, reflow overrides).

A site called the Reader’s Bill of Rights promotes rights for readers of digital books. Created by librarian Alycia Sellie and technologist Matthew Goins, the site advocates critical looks at the downsides of ereader technology and has an anti-DRM stance. The powerful graphic for Libraians against DRM shown above comes from their site. (Note that this site was registered in April 2010, well before the Harper Collins OverDrive announcement.) Its bill of rights focuses more on DRM and accessibility.

The Readers’ Bill of Rights for Digital Books:
1. Ability to retain, archive and transfer purchased materials
2. Ability to create a paper copy of the item in its entirety
3. Digital Books should be in an open format (e.g. you could read on a computer, not just a device)
4. Choice of hardware to access books (e.g. in 3 years when your device has broken, you can still read your book on other hardware)
5. Reader information will remain private (what, when and how we read will not be stored, sold or marketed)

The site also has an interesting blog entry about the ALA president speaking out about this issue on Facebook. The entry links to one of the best arguments I have ever seen for NOT joining the social networking giant.

Each of these rights statements makes it extremely clear that they are meant to be starting points for the conversation about rights. It is also quite obvious that each author has different priorities that are important to them, whether it is the first sale doctrine or DRM.

What I personally find extremely surprising, given all the discussion about eBook prices, is that none of these rights statements even mentions the concept of the price of digital books as an important factor.

How about you?  Is there something that you think should be included in an ebook bill of rights?  Is a fair price something you would like to see as part of the discussion?

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Filed under Borrowing and Lending eBooks, eBook Rights, eBooks, Pricing, Traditional Publishing