by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 7th 2016 1:58pm
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 7th 2016 10:38am
DRM Is Evil, Part 8,492: Nook Pulls Out Of UK, Exploring Options To Let People Retain Access To At Least Some Books
from the drm-sucks dept
In one of the most amazing statements this author has read, the company says it's trying to set up a deal with Sainsbury's Entertainment on Demand "to ensure that you have continued access to the vast majority of your purchased NOOK Books at no new cost to you" (emphasis added).Of course, this is hardly a new phenomenon. Remember when Microsoft had a DRM it called "PlaysForSure"? And remember when it shut down those servers, blocking people from ever moving that content to new machines? Or how about when Scholastic shut down its Storia DRM'd book offering, meaning parents who purchased ebooks for their kids had digital pixie dust instead. Or when Rhapsody/RealNetworks killed off an old DRM, killing off access to songs people had legitimately paid to access. Or when digital comics company JManga shut down and with it took down access to purchased content. And remember when Adobe changed its DRM and made old ebooks obsolete?
This kind of thing happens again and again and again. And for what? What benefit does it actually create for copyright holders? At best it only serves to entrench the most dominant retailers, taking power away from the copyright holders (who already took power away from the actual creators). And it tends to do nothing to stop actual copyright infringement, because all of those works are still readily and easily available.
Mon, Dec 14th 2015 9:31am
from the used-and-abused dept
I really do hate that most of the time we've spent here talking about eBooks, a digital technological advance that should be all about the wonderful expansion of knowledge and reading, is instead spent talking about that purchasing minefield eBooks have created by not actually allowing for true ownership. Whether it's retailers' DRM efforts to restrict access to already-paid-for books or the inability to get at the books you've purchased simply because you've moved around the world a bit, it's been made abundantly clear to the average reader that they do not own the eBooks they've purchased.
Well, folks in the Netherlands are having that point driven home to them at this moment as well, though there appears to be some mystery over who is actively teaching them this lesson. It seems that many citizens are getting emails accusing them of illegally selling unwanted eBooks.
In an email titled “Illegal dissemination of digital books”, sellers of pre-owned eBooks were warned, apparently by Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN, that their activities were illegal.The email goes on to state that the fine for this "infringement" is roughly $20k and up to six months in the clink -- all, keep in mind, for selling eBooks that had been legitimately purchased. Part of the problem here, though, is that nobody has sussed out who exactly is sending these letters, because BREIN has indicated it ain't them.
“The Brein Foundation acts against piracy of music, film, interactive software and digital books on behalf of rights and stakeholders such as authors, performers, publishers, producers and distributors,” the email begins. “We’ve detected that you are distributing digital books without permission being granted by the copyright holders. This practice is unlawful towards the rights-holders and if you infringe you are liable for the damage they suffer as a result.”
However, according to BREIN chief Tim Kuik the emails are nothing to do with his organization.So, essentially: people selling their legitimately purchased eBooks is totally illegal, we just aren't the clowns sending out these threat letters. Which gets us nowhere, of course, because it avoids the key issue at hand: do people who buy eBooks own those eBooks or not? As both a reader and a writer, I'm frankly tired of having this question even come up. If eBooks are not owned upon purchased, and are instead licensed or rented, then that's a fact that needs to be made extremely clear to the buyer. And I don't mean that it gets buried in a Terms of Service document that nobody reads. I mean abundantly clear.
“We are concerned,” Kuik told nos.nl. “Someone is stirring up weird stuff.”
While BREIN are hardly supporters of people selling used product, the anti-piracy group says it only usually targets those attempting to sell large quantities of illegitimate products online.
But that won't actually happen, because sellers know that as soon as they get in front of buyers and tell them they aren't actually buying what they're paying for, those purchases will dry up faster than a spill at a paper towel convention. So, who is threatening Dutch readers with jail time for selling a thing they bought? We don't know for sure and it really doesn't matter. The important bit is getting someone on the side of the consumer in this insane fight.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 5th 2015 12:43pm
from the open-it-all-up dept
When new platform innovations come along, the standard progression is that they take the old thing -- whatever it is they're "replacing" -- and create a new version of it in the new media. Early TV was just radio plays where you could see the people, for example. The true innovation starts to show up when people realize that you can do something new with the new media that simply wasn't possible before. But, with ebooks, it seems like we've never really reached that stage. It's just replicated books... and that's it. The innovations on top of that are fairly small. Yes, you can suddenly get any book you want, from just about anywhere and start reading it almost immediately. And, yes, you can take notes that are backed up. Those are nice. But it still just feels like a book moved from paper to digital. It takes almost no advantage of both the ability to expand and change the canvas, or the fact that you're now a part of a world-connected network where information can be shared.
While I don't think (as some have argued) that Amazon has some sort of dangerous "monopoly" on ebooks, Mod is correct that there's been very little pressure on Amazon to continue to innovate and improve the platform. And, he argues (quite reasonably), if Amazon were to open up its platform and let others innovate on top of it, the whole thing could become much more valuable:
It seems as though Amazon has been disincentivised to stake out bold explorations by effectively winning a monopoly (deservedly, in many ways) on the market. And worse still, the digital book ‘stack’ – the collection of technology upon which our digital book ecosystems are built – is mostly closed, keeping external innovators away.And, on top of this, people creating "ebooks" are limited to the options given to them by Amazon and Apple and Google. And then it all gets locked down:
To understand how the closed nature of digital book ecosystems hurts designers and readers, it’s useful to look at how the open nature of print ecosystems stimulates us. ‘Open’ means that publishers and designers are bound to no single option at most steps of the production process. Nobody owns any single piece of a ‘book’. For example, a basic physical book stack might include TextEdit for writing; InDesign for layout; OpenType for fonts; the printers; the paper‑makers; the distribution centres; and, finally, the bookstores that stock and sell the hardcopy books.
Designers working within this closed ecosystem are, most critically, limited in typographic and layout options. Amazon and Apple are the paper‑makers, the typographers, the printers, the binders and the distributors: if they don’t make a style of paper you like, too bad. The boundaries of digital book design are beholden to their whim.The fact that all of these platforms rely on DRM -- often at the demands of short-sighted publishers -- only makes the problem worse:
The potential power of digital is that it can take the ponderous and isolated nature of physical things and make them light and movable. Physical things are difficult to copy at scale, while digital things in open environments can replicate effortlessly. Physical is largely immutable, digital can be malleable. Physical is isolated, digital is networked. This is where digital rights management (DRM) – a closed, proprietary layer of many digital reading stacks – hurts books most and undermines almost all that latent value proposition in digital. It artificially imposes the heaviness and isolation of physical books on their digital counterparts, which should be loose, networked objects. DRM constraints over our rights as readers make it feel like we’re renting our digital books, not owning them.If ebook platforms and technology were more open, it's quite conceivable that we'd be experiencing a different kind of ebook revolution right now. People could be much more creative in taking the best of what books provide and leveraging the best of what a giant, connected digital network provides -- creating wonderful new works of powerful art that go beyond the standard paper book. But we don't have that. We have a few different walled gardens, locked tight, and a weak recreation of the paper book in digital form.
It's difficult to mourn for lost culture that we never actually had, but it's not difficult to recognize that we've probably lost a tremendous amount of culture and creativity by not allowing such things to thrive.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 1st 2015 8:31am
Craziest Part Of Apple's Price Fixing Ruling: Publishers Knew They Were Encouraging Piracy, Didn't Care
from the because-of-course dept
You may remember that, two years ago, Apple was found guilty of price fixing for ebooks, in an effort to break Amazon's hold on the market and to artificially inflate the price of ebooks, creating significant consumer harm. Apple agreed to settle with the government last year, but dependent on how its appeals process went. Well, the Second Circuit appeals court was... unimpressed with Apple's appeal and has upheld the original ruling. The ruling (and the dissent) are interesting reads, but perhaps most interesting is the tidbit in which the big publishers admit that what they're doing will increase piracy, but they don't care because they so badly want to raise prices from Amazon's established $9.99 per ebook.
The most significant attack that the publishers considered and then undertook, however, was to withhold new and bestselling books from Amazon until the hardcover version had spent several months in stores, a practice known as “windowing.” Members of the Big Six both kept one another abreast of their plans to window, and actively pushed others toward the strategy. By December 2009, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times were reporting that four of the Big Six had announced plans to delay ebook releases until after the print release, and the two holdouts — Penguin and Random House — faced pressure from their peers.In other words, the publishers were so focused on wanting to raise the price of ebooks, they were willing to embrace a solution that they knew both encouraged piracy and harmed long-term sales.
Ultimately, however, the publishers viewed even this strategy to save their business model as self‐destructive. Employees inside the publishing companies noted that windowing encouraged piracy, punished ebook consumers, and harmed long‐term sales. One author wrote to Sargent in December 2009 that the “old model has to change” and that it would be better to “embrace e‐books," publish them at the same time as the hardcovers, “and pray to God they both sell like crazy.” .... Sargent agreed, but expressed the hope that ebooks could eventually be sold for between $12.95 and $14.95. “The question is,” he mused, “how to get there?”
It really makes you wonder what kind of boards of directors these legacy publishers have, that they'd allow their companies to purposely shoot themselves in the foot, so they could raise prices and put in place windowing, even while recognizing all the harm it causes long term.
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Jun 22nd 2015 8:03am
from the the-internet-as-curtained-off-room dept
Why is it that many efforts made "for the children" are so stupid most tweens could point out the obvious flaws? Back during the discussion of the UK's now-implemented ISP porn filtration system, Rhoda Grant of the Scottish Parliament wondered why the internet couldn't be handled the same way as television, where all the naughty "programming" isn't allowed to take to the airwaves until past the nationally-accepted bedtime.
“If there’s a watershed on the TV then why isn’t there one for the internet?”The children are right to laugh at you,
Cutting through the mocking laughter comes the German government, armed with a law that has its origin in more captive content (movies -- the kind shown in theaters) and attempting to apply it to the internet (ebook sales).
Heise.de and Boersenblatt reported on Friday and Thursday that the Jugendschutzbehörde (Youth Protection Authority) has handed down a new ruling which extended Germany's Youth Media Protection Law to include ebooks.The law behind this baffling proclamation states it is intended to protect children from coming to harm via "advertising or teleshopping." It was written in 2002, and was no less stupid in its belief that it could somehow force online retailers to take certain items off the "shelves" for two-thirds of the day. It's only receiving attention now because the Youth Protection Authority trying to hammer it into place over bits of the internet.
As a result of a lawsuit (legal complaint?) over the German erotica ebook Schlauchgelüste (Pantyhose Cravings), the regulators have decided that ebook retailers in Germany can now only sell adult ebooks between 10 pm and 6 am local time (4 pm and midnight, eastern US).
As Nate Hoffelder points out, the law's origins date back further to a point when such an action was both a.) not thoroughly ridiculous and b.) could mostly be enforced.
Boersenblatt says that the 10 pm to 6 am window originally came from restrictions on adult cinema (where it made sense), but I still don't understand what the regulators were thinking in applying that rule to the internet. Do they really believe that the adult internet, including porn sites, pirate sites, video sites, etc, is going to be turned off for 16 hours a day?How will this work in practice? With lots of regulation, meddling, filtering and other stuff that won't actually keep the determined from accessing the porny ebooks they're looking for. Retailers selling ebooks in Germany (hello, Amazon!, etc.) will have to figure out what "youth-endangering" means, apply it to their existing ebook stock, and "wall off" those titles behind some sort of filtering system until 10 pm (local time) every night. Or else.*
*Unspecified legal action.
In other words, it won't work. And I wouldn't expect this application of the law to last for very long once larger internet retailers begin pointing out the amazing amount of unworkable flaws in this half-baked "plan" to save German kids from electronic erotica. I think the children this is supposed to protect will find that, when given the choice between hurtling a few governmental roadblocks for the opportunity to pay for written erotica and just, say, going almost anywhere else on the internet to get the same sort of stuff for free, they'll do the latter. And no one will be saved, Youth Protection Authority or no. But the YPA gets to say it tried, and I guess that's all that matters. It will just have to live with the mocking laughter.
Wed, Apr 29th 2015 2:45pm
from the gronk-gronk-gronk dept
Much of that speculation, including my own, focused on the fact that a portion of the Patriots trademarked uniforms, as well as a commemorative team patch, appeared on the cover and wouldn't it just be so NFL of the league to get the book taken down over the images being used. Turns out that wasn't the case. A lawsuit filed by two anonymous folks from Ohio likely had it removed and have followed that up with a lawsuit against the author, Amazon, and Apple over the use of their images on the cover. Yes, I'm talking about the two people appearing in the foreground. Those are apparently two people from Ohio who had no idea that an engagement photo of them was being used on the cover of a novella about a housewife banging Gronk.
"The cover of the book contains a photograph of the Plaintiffs which was taken as part of their engagement journey leading toward their wedding," states the complaint. "The photograph was appropriated by the Defendants for commercial gain without the permission of the Plaintiffs nor with the permission of any lawful copyright holder."And the inclusion of the service providers is where this lawsuit gets fun, because Amazon has already replied asserting section 230 protections, and I can't imagine that Apple and Barnes & Noble will be terribly far behind them in doing the same. Including the companies in the suit would obviously be advantageous from a monetary award standpoint, but that would rely on those companies being considered publishers of A Gronking To Remember. Are they?
The lawsuit targets Noonan, and also Apple, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble for allowing readers to access the work in iBooks, Kindle and Nook digital formats. The plaintiffs — captioned as "John Roe" and "Jane Roe" — are asserting violations of their rights of publicity under Ohio law.
No, I don't think so. In the context of books such as this, those companies do two things: they assist authors in self-publishing and they provide a platform where self-published works can be purchased. Neither of those actions are consistent with what a book-publisher does and have more in common with websites that allow readers to publish their own comments, which obviously falls under section 230 protections. The platform-providers, or service providers, didn't choose the cover images or create them, so I'm not sure where their culpability would lie. The inclusion of the service providers sounds like an attempt at a money-grab.
In any case, it looks like A Gronking To Remember will be remembered at the very least in court documents.
Fri, Jan 9th 2015 7:39pm
from the gronk-gronk-gronk dept
I'm less pleased to find that there are many ways in which those works can be taken down. See, Lacey Noonan is an author who goes out of her way to create parody novellas making fun of the romance genre. She recently released her short book about a housewife wanting to have sex with an NFL player.
Yes, the story quite prominently features Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots tight end, and general all-around party boy. You know, this friggin' guy.
Yo soy fiesta. Yo soy fiesta. I am party. That's as Gronkowski as it gets. And it makes him a great subject for a laughable romance novella parody. Unfortunately, A Gronking To Remember has been removed from the Amazon store. Why? You see that small patch on Gronk's sleeve on the cover of the book that reads "MHK"? It's a tribute patch for the wife of the Patriot's owner and it appears to be the reason the book was taken down.
We're told the online retailer pulled the book because someone — perhaps the Patriots or the National Football League — objected to the book jacket, specifically the photo of Gronkowski that features the "MHK" patch on his uniform. (The team began wearing the patch in 2011 after the death Myra Kraft, wife of Patriots owner Robert Kraft.) In an e-mail, author Lacey Noonan told us she hadn't anticipated any problem with the Gronk picture.If you look at the cover with an eye towards intellectual property concerns, you can clearly see how the team or the NFL might have concerns over the team's uniform appearing on the jacket, though it also seems clear that measures were taken to minimize how much the team logo and the uniform appears at all. But for this to be over the patch? And for that patch to result in the takedown of a hilarious piece of parody? It seems that someone needs to explain what rights exist for whom on a patch that consists of three letters, because we can't lose this literary treasure to that.
"I didn't understand at the outset that Robert Kraft wouldn't want Myra Kraft and her philanthropical works associated with this," Noonan said in the e-mail. "Total newbie ignorance on my part. I believe — and hope — that's the only problem anyone has with the book since it is such obvious satire and parody."
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Dec 17th 2014 6:26am
from the you-can-compete-with-free dept
A little over ten years ago, we noted that the famed 9/11 Commission Report, despite also being in the public domain, had become a best seller in its printed version -- even though it, too, was in the public domain. It appears something similar is happening with the CIA torture report. There is a Kindle version that costs $2.99, and despite the report being available as a PDF (which can be viewed on Kindle), the fee-based version of the torture report is the number one seller in the "intelligence & espionage" section (beating out James Risen's recent book Pay Any Price). And this is happening despite the fact that people on Amazon are warning people not to buy the fee-based Kindle version, posting comments to tell them it's just a PDF that's available for free.
Yet, it appears that the convenience factor has made it worthwhile to an awful lot of people, who are willing to pay the money rather than figure out how to get the PDF onto their kindle. As we've pointed out for years, things like convenience and ease-of-use are real selling points -- and it's why things like Netflix and Spotify have been shown to decrease infringement -- because it's worth paying a little extra for a better-to-use system.
Meanwhile, physical copies of the CIA torture report are being rushed out with at least one publisher, Melville House, saying it will be out by the end of the year -- though, I'd imagine others will follow suit. In Michele Boldrin and David Levine's book, Against Intellectual Monopoly, they have a fascinating discussion on how publisher W.W. Norton made out wonderfully in being the first to publish a hard copy of the 9/11 Commission Report, despite not having to pay any copyright royalties:
The 81-year-old publisher struck an unusual publishing deal with the 9/11 commission back in May: Norton agreed to issue the paperback version of the report on the day of its public release.…Norton did not pay for the publishing rights, but had to foot the bill for a rush printing and shipping job; the commission did not hand over the manuscript until the last possible moment, in order to prevent leaks. The company will not reveal how much this cost, or when precisely it obtained the report. But expedited printings always cost extra, making it that much more difficult for Norton to realize a profit.As Boldrin and Levine point out, according to copyright system supporters, this situation couldn't possibly work out. After all, Norton is agreeing to publish a work that anyone can get for free, and which any other publisher (including the federal government) can offer for sale at a lower price. In fact, the book notes, a rival publisher, St. Martin's, teamed up with the NY Times and got a second physical copy on the market just a couple of weeks after Norton's physical copy, and priced it at $8.50. Clearly, Norton got a bad deal, right? And yet, Norton sold 1.1 million copies of the book, and donated $600,000 in "profits" from the book to charity. But, you know, you can't compete with free (and public domain).
In addition, the commission and Norton agreed in May on the 568-page tome's rather low cover price of $10, making it that much harder for the publisher to recoup its costs. (Amazon.com is currently selling copies for $8 plus shipping, while visitors to the Government Printing Office bookstore in Washington, D.C. can purchase its version of the report for $8.50.) There is also competition from the commission's Web site, which is offering a downloadable copy of the report for free. And Norton also agreed to provide one free copy to the family of every 9/11 victim.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Nov 13th 2014 8:51pm
from the moving-on dept
Either way, the two companies have, well, buried the hatchet, though, as Nate Hoffelder points out, it's not clear in whose back it got buried. Hoffelder does note that from what's being said about the deal, it doesn't appear to be all that different from the one that Amazon recently signed with Simon & Schuster -- without such public anguish -- leading him to wonder what Hachette could have possibly gotten out of going toe-to-toe with Amazon in this battle in such a public manner.
In the end, it seemed like another fight about control and the future -- and, generally speaking, Hachette's desire to stave off where things are heading in the future for as long as possible. But, and this is the important bit, the future has a way of always winning out in the end, no matter how hard you negotiate against it.