Wednesday, March 9, 2011

$10 All-You-Can-Download fee proposal

The Montreal Gazette reports that Songwriters Association of Canada is proposing a $10 monthly internet fee that would give Canadian consumers a licence download unlimited numbers of songs. They propose trials by the end of the year.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

E-book users' Bill of Rights

From the Librarian in Black and Andy Woodworth; with an interesting discussion of the eBook User's Bill of Rights on BoingBoing:

The eBook User’s Bill of Rights is a statement of the basic freedoms that should be granted to all eBook users.

The eBook User’s Bill of Rights

Every eBook user should have the following rights:

  • the right to use eBooks under guidelines that favor access over proprietary limitations
  • the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software the user chooses
  • the right to annotate, quote passages, print, and share eBook content within the spirit of fair use and copyright
  • the right of the first-sale doctrine extended to digital content, allowing the eBook owner the right to retain, archive, share, and re-sell purchased eBooks

I believe in the free market of information and ideas.

I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can flourish when their works are readily available on the widest range of media. I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can thrive when readers are given the maximum amount of freedom to access, annotate, and share with other readers, helping this content find new audiences and markets. I believe that eBook purchasers should enjoy the rights of the first-sale doctrine because eBooks are part of the greater cultural cornerstone of literacy, education, and information access.

Digital Rights Management (DRM), like a tariff, acts as a mechanism to inhibit this free exchange of ideas, literature, and information. Likewise, the current licensing arrangements mean that readers never possess ultimate control over their own personal reading material. These are not acceptable conditions for eBooks.

I am a reader. As a customer, I am entitled to be treated with respect and not as a potential criminal. As a consumer, I am entitled to make my own decisions about the eBooks that I buy or borrow.

I am concerned about the future of access to literature and information in eBooks. I ask readers, authors, publishers, retailers, librarians, software developers, and device manufacturers to support these eBook users’ rights.

These rights are yours. Now it is your turn to take a stand. To help spread the word, copy this entire post, add your own comments, remix it, and distribute it to others. Blog it, Tweet it (#ebookrights), Facebook it, email it, and post it on a telephone pole.

To the extent possible under law, the person who associated CC0 with this work has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work

E-book library controversy

For some time now, it has been possible to check out e-books from many local public libraries. While the service has a few important flaws, it's also a wonderful service that expands the range of books available to e-book readers. Importantly, public library e-book lending is a way of expanding the role and philosophies of local public libraries. Library service is especially important given the extremely high prices of some e-books.

Harper Collins, one of the publishers that licenses e-books to libraries for check-out, has recently proposed to change its library licence. Under the new provisions, a book could only be checked out 26 times before the library would have to obtain a new licence. Cory Doctrow reports. HC argues that libraries, in the case of hardcopy books, have to repurchase books from time to time, and that the repurchase would, in any case, come at a discount. It appears that libraries have been purchasing the lending rights for the e-books at or below the regular price of the ebook. The 26-lending limit would increase the price of books to libraries, in many cases by 5, 10, 20, 30 or more times, depending on the lasting popularity of the book. The new strategy is a transparent attempt to ensure that the publisher can milk libraries and each book for all they're worth for as long as a book is being checked out.

Academic libraries, in my experience, have not yet adopted e-book lending or the international epub standard. Some offer a form of e-books for viewing on the screen in very clumsy browser applications that are totally inadequate for scholarly reading, with incapacitating limitations on printing, note-taking, copy-pasting; and often with limitations on simultaneous users that preclude their use for course readings. All the same, were the HC principle to be accepted and established, it would be a very big problem for academic libraries as well. Not only are academic books already overpriced in the extreme, making a 10x; 20x; 30x or more increase all the more shocking; this type of licensing system could inhibit the adoption of ebook lending in academic libraries before it even gets started.

In response, some libraries are boycotting Harper Colllins.