Canadian Ebook Store Offers 'Free' Public Domain Ebooks — Claims Copyright Says You Can Only Make 1 Copy
from the not-this-again dept
Brendan writes “Chapters/Indigo, the dominant book retailer in Canada, just recently launched their eBook store, thinly disguised as an independent 3rd party called ShortCovers. Both companies are children of the parent company Indigo Books & Music Inc.
The fact that they have launched an eBook program is not a problem. It’s great, in fact. I’d like to see more action in this space, and anything to help people read more is a step in the right direction. The problem I have is with how they’ve done it.
When announcing the service on Monday, the company trumpeted loudly the offer of “FREE eBook downloads!” in a mass email and on the main Chapters page. Can you guess what all the eBooks offered for free have in common? That’s right, they’re almost all public domain works. They do list the publisher as “Gutenberg” for all the PD books, but do they explain what that means? Do they inform the user that these are public domain works? Do they include a link to Gutenberg.org, where any user can download these books in plain texts to use however they want? No, of course not.
Instead, they wrap the books up in their tight little DRM package. Each page (according to their idea of a page) loads painfully in a flash frame and within the text of the book is non-selectable. And most are not available as downloads (as they are on Gutenberg).
The worst offense? That dangerous little line at the bottom of each page of each book: “(C) All Rights Reserved All copyright ownership rights relating to this content are specifically and expressly reserved by the owner thereof and are marked © by the owner of this content, 2009.” An interesting claim, to be sure. What am I to do with this book, ShortCovers?
“All Rights Reserved. You are free to make one (1) copy of this work for non-commercial purposes only, provided you abide by the following:
* For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page.
* Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.
* Nothing in this license impairs or restricts the author’s moral rights.”
I can make one (1) copy? Wow! I better use it carefully.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen bookstores DRM up and claim copyright over public domain works. The DRM stuff is dumb, but understandable, since they just want to have one system and often seem to choose an anti-consumer one. But telling people that they are only allowed to make one copy of a public domain work and putting a © sign on it is pretty ridiculous.