ATTENTION: You are viewing a page formatted for mobile devices; to view the full web page, click HERE.

Main Area and Open Discussion > Living Room

Why ebooks are bad for you

(1/16) > >>


That old guy Richard Stallman makes the case against ebooks vs. print because they go far beyond copyright restrictions (and I agree):

-- Books printed on paper can be purchased anonymously with cash without signing any kind of license that restricts the purchaser's use of the book, Stallman notes. No proprietary technology is required, and it's sometimes even lawful under copyright to scan and copy the book.
-- Once it's paid, the purchaser owns the book, and no one has the power to destroy it.
-- Contrast that situation with Amazon e-books, where users are not only required to identify themselves to purchase an e-book, but also to accept "a restrictive license" on their use of it, Stallman notes.
-- "In some countries, Amazon says the user does not own the e-book," he asserts. "The format is secret, and only proprietary user-restricting software can read it all."
-- Copying such e-books is "impossible due to Digital Restrictions Management in the player," he adds, "and prohibited by the license, which is more restrictive than copyright law."
-- Not only that, but Amazon can remotely delete purchased e-books through a back door, Stallman points out, much the way it did in 2009 on "thousands of copies of George Orwell's 1984."

What about e-books published in open formats that are DRM free? :huh:

Firstly, as Doezaan suggests, the correct title for this short article would have been "The danger of DRM-protected ebooks".

This article says nothing new. I agree that from a practical point of view, the only viable method to reward book authors in the long-term is likely to be voluntary payments by readers.

We've all watched idealistic software authors make their software freely available, inviting voluntary donations. And then a 100,000 downloads later, they notice they've earned just enough to pay for the bandwidth used by the downloads.

So I am pessimistic. People's mindsets will have to change. Today, people don't think about the welfare of individual authors, or singers, or software writers. That's something they'll have to learn.

There are green shoots. I remember the author of Instapaper inviting "subscriptions" to support the service, while offering nothing new in return. I think enough people signed up to give him some hope that voluntary donations could be part of a viable model (I signed up - Instapaper is a fantastic service, and I'd hate to see it disappear). But I'm pretty sure his paid-for apps are still the mainstay of his income. Most people only pay when they have to.

At the moment I'm in the "I don't like DRM on ebooks, but I don't see a viable economic alternative" camp. So despite having a Kindle, I still buy printed books. I only use the Kindle to read my Instapaper feeds, and other documents I email to the Kindle.

Worth reading on this topic: Seth Godin's recent blog on the "free-gap":

"Creators don't have to like it, but free culture is here and it's getting more pervasive"

The ability to remotely delete content is damning as far as I can see, with much more serious implications than just purchased books. For phones and tablets, could you run a business on them with the shadow of that eternally hanging over your shoulder? Could you deal with having things wiped? A sales guy is out in the field, visiting a potential customer and goes to pull up some... oh, wait... it's gone... Ummm... Who looks like the idiot?

I don't agree with everything Stallman says, but he's got some very good points. Here he's bang on.

DRM would be ok if it actually worked to enable people. But it doesn't. And I can't see the behemoths of industry endorsing a version of DRM that does work well.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version