Friday, May 7, 2010

E-books and the new copyright bill

As the Canadian government prepares to unveil its new "anti-consumer" copyright bill, there is one relatively new problem that should be considered: e-books. Consumers want to be able to use their e-books over the years as technology changes. They want to use the e-books they buy today for their Kindle or their Sony E-Reader on the next generation of e-readers. Many ebooks are not only in today's format, but they are also locked by DRM to their current e-reader units. This is usually not advertised when the e-books are sold, so many consumers will be in for a surprise when they try to replace their e-readers in a few years.

The new copyright bill could potentially make it illegal to break those digital locks in the future when it's time to transfer those books onto future devices. The new bill is said to be based on bill C-61, which made the ability to format-shift your own content (froim an old format to a new format) illegal if the content had DRM on it, like most ebooks sold today do.

For many books, and especially academic ones, the price for the ebook is the same (sometimes hundreds of dollars) as it was for the print edition. Canadians shouldn't live in a world of expiring and disappearing books. Consumers should have the right to use books the way they're used to doing - i.e. to buy them and have them for life, and to use them for years to come on future generations of devices.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fair Use contributes to US economy

Wired reports on a new study that sees fair use as contributing "$4.7 trillion in revenue and $2.2 trillion in value added" to the US economy, "roughly one-sixth the total gross domestic product of the United States."

Concordia goes open access

Congratulations to Concordia University for adopting a policy that will "encourage all of its faculty and students to make their peer-reviewed research and creative output freely accessible via the internet." This shows Concordia's laudable desire to "make publicly-funded research available to all rather than just the minority able to afford the rapidly rising subscription costs of scholarly databases, books and journals."