Halifax Library Boycotts HarperCollins eBooks

Comboman writes “It’s taken a couple of weeks, but libraries are starting to take action against publisher HarperCollins’ plans to make their eBooks self-destruct after 26 reads. I’m happy to report that my home city of Halifax appears to be the first in Canada to boycott HarperCollins’ eBooks (though libraries in other cities are likely to follow shortly).

Debbie LeBel, the manager of acquisitions for Halifax Public Libraries says she is not buying new e-book licenses from HarperCollins even though demand for eBooks has grown steadily in recent years and HarperCollins titles account for about one in every five e-books in the collection of more than 6,000.”

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Comments on “Halifax Library Boycotts HarperCollins eBooks”

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40 Comments
coldbrew says:

Re: Re: Re: That's my library.

So, you have a problem with people taking a stand (it is legal, ya know), and boycotting a poorly thought out decision?

So they can’t boycott. They can’t pirate. They must consume, and they must pay. Great attitude.

Many of you ACs claim people should refuse the content if they don’t like the way it is offered, but when that is the choice made, you complain about less books?

I guess the only answer is to pay these media companies whatever they say, right?

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: That's my library.

Awesome! Less books available for my neighborhood! YEAH!

You mean fewer books, not less. And only if your google-fu is weak.

It’s the fact that the libraries can’t help you with the latter that worries me the most. It used to be that a librarian was the go-to person for finding information. We’re getting to the point where your neighbor’s kid may be a better bet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 That's my library.

As a librarian I have to say that a surprising amount of kids have no idea how to conduct research beyond one or two poorly executed google searches. I spend a lot of time teaching people the difference between reliable and unreliable data sources, getting them to the information they need.

Don’t write off your local library just yet.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: That's my library.

We can see through you really easily. If the goal was to get as many books into as many hands as possible, then piracy is winning. Never fear, if someone can’t check the book out from the Halifax library, perhaps they should check it out on the Pirate Bay Library. I hear they have a really good lending policies and you rarely have to put a hold on a book. If they have it, it’s available for you to pickup. And in this case, since you were only going to check it out at a library and not pay for it anway, nobody can complain about theft or lost sales.

Or was the goal to get only 26 people (or less) to read more books?

Kind of makes your argument look shallow, eh?

weneedhelp (profile) says:

plans to make their eBooks self-destruct after 26 reads

Ahhh. Just download copies that dont expire.
Whats next? Cars that only allow 26 rides.
Phones that only allow 26 calls.
Women that only allow 26 sexual encounters… well, that may not be so bad.

How about when you buy a car with AC and cruise control, then the manufacture decides that a few are using the cruise to break the law, then decide to remove that function, and not so many always use AC so lets get rid of that too.

What a joke.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

The question remains: Did this librarian act out of her own volition, or was she contacted secretly by a copyright subversive-type person?

I demand all phone records, emails, voice chats, letters and GPS records to know. Someone please start tracking Nina Paley and Matthew Goins. These anti-copyright operatives are surely behind this.

Wayne Martin (profile) says:

This Is A Non-Issue

Most books don’t see 26x checkouts in their life time. The number of books that will require re-licensing will not be that many. What’s at issue here is whether or not e-books sold to libraries will eventually be “hacked”, so that the DRM mechanisms are voided, and then the resulting files passed around so that Harper Collins will lost future sales.

While disdainful of HC’s attempts to stay profitable, one can only wonder what this library would do if it knew that some of its patrons were “jail breaking” e-books? Would they turn the names of those patrons over to the FBI (or appropriate law enforcement agency)? Or will the Halifax library just look the other way, and perhaps smile quietly?

What most publishers should do is begin to consider this for p-books also. There is no reason that people who buy books should have to be taxed once to pay for public libraries, and then taxed again with higher book prices to subsidize the sales to libraries.

The cost to libraries for paying for these 26x expirations will be small, over time. This is really a non-issue in the grand scheme of things. Libraries spend vast sums hiring people to move paper around, or to act as “hall monitors”. Most public libraries spend only about 5%-10% of their budgets on books/periodicals. Paying a little more for books, and maybe a little less for staff, would be a good thing.

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (user link) says:

Re: This Is A Non-Issue

“What’s at issue here is whether or not e-books sold to libraries will eventually be “hacked”, so that the DRM mechanisms are voided, and then the resulting files passed around so that Harper Collins will lost future sales.”

This is a non-issue.

All DRM will be/has already been hacked. If a book is currently for sale digitally, it is already on file-sharing networks, regardless of whether it’s in a digital library or not. If, by some extraordinary turn of events a book is in the library but not available for sale digitally anywhere in the world, then yes, its DRM will be broken and it will be put on file-sharing networks.

The only time a library patron could even conceivably have to download a DRM breaking tool and break it themselves are for books so obscure nobody has bothered to do so previously.

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: This Is A Non-Issue

So paying $20/year/book for their entire works archive should be a viable strategy. What happens if someone checks it out, and reads it more than once per checkout? According to HarperCollins’ logic, that should be illegal, too.

And I would be the first to start the beatdown on the copyright cops. I’d ask if you’re insane, but it’s clear that you are. Self-destructing p-books for libraries only? This plan is about 30 Rush Limbaughs on the scale of insanity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: This Is A Non-Issue

Interesting to know the numbers – but I don’t think it’d even be appropriate to set a limit based on normal wear outs (I’m not suggesting you support this, just extending the argument)

Given fair use, I imagine the library can maintain copies of their books on tape/CD for whichever ones do not have copy protection (thanks DMCA…), and they talked in the video about repairing books that start to show wear.

Also, new technology is supposed to be an improvement, not purposely crippled to enforce “the way it used to be”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This Is A Non-Issue

“Most books don’t see 26x checkouts in their life time. The number of books that will require re-licensing will not be that many.”

I strongly suspect any book by Dan Brown would be checked out many more than 26 times. The forced withdrawal of the ability to read his output would be a huge loss to manki…

Oh wait.

Anonymous Coward says:

Locking up knowledge

The issue is much bigger when you deal with scientific knowledge. How many technical reports and scientific journals are locked up behind paywalls and protected with DRM and Draconian License Agreements?

There is a legitimate need to cover the cost of peer review and editing, but to lock up knowledge in this way is not the right path to take. Indeed, many libraries sped a fair proportion of their budgets on subscriptions to these e-journals, but say the library maintained a sub. for 10 years, but dropped it in the l1th year. Can you now go back to the library and ask for access to the 8th year?
Better yet, they go out of business, and now what can you do?

Support the Public Library of Science! http://www.plos.org

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