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eReader.com Limits E-book Sales To US Citizens

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the geography-is-destiny dept.

Books 182

An anonymous reader writes "eReader.com seems to have begun applying distribution restrictions to its library. I first noticed that there was a FAQ page about distribution restrictions this morning. When I tried to order a few books this afternoon I simply couldn't — a large banner on the order confirmation told me the books had distribution restrictions. I checked a number of titles but it seems a large number of books are no longer available to non-US citizens like me. It is interesting to note that this policy change got implemented shortly after Barnes&Noble purchased Fictionwise. I have no idea if the new owners are behind this new policy but it seems crazy to restrict sales of ebooks. I've bought dozens of ebooks from eReader the past 4 years. I still have 15 dollar store credit but cannot buy any of the books I am interested in." (Right now, the link that should display these new geographic restrictions returns an error message that says the page is being updated.) Sounds like Barnes & Noble is taking its cues from Apple.

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182 comments

Link for Geographic Restrictions (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641533)

(Right now, the link that should display these new geographic restrictions returns an error message that says the page is being updated.)

Well, they still have their (what I assume to be their old) Geographic Restrictions page here [ereader.com] up and it says:

We are legally bound to restrict sale of titles that have these limitations to the allowed countries. If we did not, we would lose the books and nobody would be able to buy them from us. We don't like it any more than you do, believe us when we tell you that. It causes us not only to lose sales, but also to get complaints from customers, and we like to keep our customers happy.

I don't think they're taking a cue from anybody, they're just following distribution laws so they don't lose their license to distribute ... and possibly face a lawsuit. Once you get big enough, you become a target. I wouldn't blame eReader or B&N ... blame a shitty distribution system.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641643)

What makes you think this is a matter of laws and not a stupid restriction placed into their contract by the content rights owners? It would be nice to know the content rights owners hanging on to the old distribution models so the complaints could be sent there.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641673)

What makes you think this is a matter of laws and not a stupid restriction placed into their contract by the content rights owners?.

Yes but it's important to remember why these contracts were often in place. I mean, it wasn't that we had to get all of Herman Melville's whaling stories to China so they could enjoy them ... it was to ail a very real problem of people taking literature, translating it and selling it in foreign countries with no revenue going to the original artist or publisher. So I believe it was commonplace to accept distribution contracts to--ironically--protect your works from being distributed for free in foreign countries where you would have no chance of prosecuting. But if someone is there with distribution rights, the people posing as you had better watch out!

There are other reasons for these distribution contracts and I'll bet a lot of them are along the lines of "sure we'll take a few thousand from you because no one's going to read this in your area" ... have fun with those piracy lawsuits.

I would like to call distribution rights an old or archaic system but frankly that's what's in place and you'd need to point out how it would protect their work from being sold without consent if you dreamed up a new system. I'm sure it varies publisher to publisher but the rights are probably an ongoing contract that would be difficult to change. You have some very real barriers to overcome ... like court cases to handle piracy, accurate translations, royalty management, etc. What system do you propose replace distribution rights contracts?

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (5, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641933)

it was to ail a very real problem of people taking literature, translating it and selling it in foreign countries with no revenue going to the original artist or publisher. So I believe it was commonplace to accept distribution contracts to--ironically--protect your works from being distributed for free in foreign countries where you would have no chance of prosecuting.

This may be one of the historical reasons for the restrictions, but I don't think it has much to do with the present reasons for them.

To start off with, you have to understand that traditional-style print publishing is an extremely capital-intensive business. It costs a huge amount of money to set a traditional (not print-on-demand) printing setup for a run. Once you have it set up, the incremental cost of producing one more book is virtually zero. Then you have this huge inventory, which you have to hope you can sell. Because of this, magazines and book publishing houses want to make sure that their contract with the author is exclusive. I've sold some short fiction, and typically what happens is that they want first North American serial rights (FNASR) and exclusivity for a certain amount of time. Books are somewhat different, but it's still the same general concept either way. If they're going to spend the money to put you in print, they want to be damn sure that readers will be getting your writing through them. (By the way, most short fiction markets don't mind at all if you put your work up for free online after a certain amount of time has elapsed.)

However, it would be ridiculous for them to try to demand that kind of exclusivity worldwide. In many cases they simply don't have marketing, sales, and distribution in other countries, so demanding exclusivity would do them no good, and would do the author harm.

There are also all kinds of other things that the publisher doesn't want exclusivity for because they're not in a position to exercise the rights effectively. For instance, it's very common these days for people to publish short fiction in a magazine, and then afterward sell audio rights so that people can buy a recording to listed to on their iPod or in their car. In the case of short fiction, there's also the possibility that it will be anthologized, and that's something a book publisher is going to handle, not the magazine publisher. None of this is an evil plot. It's just common business sense.

By the way, in my opinion Fictionwise is very cool. As a writer, I need to be familiar with my genre (SF). If someone tells me, "You've got to read 'Out of All Them Bright Stars' by Nancy Kress," I want to read it. The library doesn't have it, and I don't particularly want to pay $10-20 for an anthology so that I can read that one story. Well, I can simply buy it on fictionwise for a buck. Best deal ever. It's like being able to buy one song on iTunes or Amazon rather than having to buy the whole album full of crappy filler that you didn't want.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (4, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642865)

I'm wondering if they aren't just trying to set themselves up like the DVD cartels did - with the ability to sell books for $1.00 in places where people can only afford $1.00, while preventing people in places where they can afford to pay $10 from buying "grey market" books.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27643013)

As a writer, I need to be familiar with my genre (SF).

No, you don't. Read everything else. No SF authors ever seem to do that, and it shows.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (0)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641971)

it was to ail a very real problem of people taking literature, translating it and selling it in foreign countries with no revenue going to the original artist or publisher.

OMFG THE WRITER HAS TO WORK FOR A LIVING! Seriously. If your country is not big enough for you, move to China.

Besides, you think translating is a free action? It takes a significant amount of creativity and talent to produce the same text in another language, another set of cultural conventions and references, idioms, etc. If the translator does a good job, they deserve as much credit as the writer.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642001)

Oh melodrama, it's why we come. And for the occasional wack job.

You do realize, Mr. Wack, that most translations are done by machine nowadays? And that any edits, if they even occur, are lackluster at best?

And IF the work is done by a good translator do you really honestly believe they deserve as much credit as the AUTHOR? What planet are you from anyway?

I suppose you actually think copyright infringment is a right too, right?

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (-1, Troll)

santiagodraco (1254708) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642013)

Oh melodrama, it's why we come. And for the occasional wack job.

You do realize, Mr. Wack, that most translations are done by machine nowadays? And that any edits, if they even occur, are lackluster at best?

And IF the work is done by a good translator do you really honestly believe they deserve as much credit as the AUTHOR? What planet are you from anyway?

I suppose you actually think copyright infringement is a right too, right?

oops didn't log in on that post.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (3, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642123)

You do realize, Mr. Wack, that most translations are done by machine nowadays?

Most: maybe, the good ones: no. And if you can show me something that translates to Hungarian, I'll take your argument at face value. Regardless, if you think that there are algorithms to translate The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy in a way that it retains its qualities, you're a moron. Go learn another language.

When was the last time you read a machine-translated text that didn't have glaring semantical errors?

And IF the work is done by a good translator do you really honestly believe they deserve as much credit as the AUTHOR? What planet are you from anyway?

The author conveys his thoughts. The translator conveys someone elses thoughts. We can argue about which one is harder all day. And no, word-for-word things are not translations. If you say "there's more than one way to skin a cat" in Hungarian, you get an uncomfortable silence and you won't get invited to parties.

I suppose you actually think copyright infringement is a right too, right?

I suppose you think the whole world is under US jurisdiction, right?

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (2, Informative)

karuna (187401) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642139)

At present machines are not capable to perform even simple technical translations except in strictly controlled setting and only where highly repetitive texts are involved. Book translation by machine today is pure fantasy. And copyright law acknowledges translation as a derivative creative work. Both the original author and the translator have rights to the translated work.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642169)

I had to translate a couple of texts from Spanish to English a few weeks back. That was the first time i've done something like that for years and i used google translator for the first time.

I had to do some serious editing, but it did make the job considerably easier. If i had to translate a book, i reckon i'd do it the same way. But then i'm not a professional translater.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (3, Interesting)

asc99c (938635) | more than 4 years ago | (#27643147)

Agreed. I am writing a computer system for use in Spain. Most of the translations just go into a database of strings that the customer translates as and when.

I had to demo a couple of screens that had missing translations. I don't speak Spanish but I tried to do these in a mechanical style - just copying parts of translations that were already done. Most of them were slightly wrong in some way.

Also some small parts use hard-coded strings in javascript. I ran these through Google translate and asked them to point out any problems. There were only about 30 words / phrases in total.

I got complaints that on the date selector, March and May were translated as Marcha and Puede (March as in walking, May as in 'may I...'). And there were many complaints about shortened phrases - removing words such as 'of' is generally fine in English when pushed for space, but not in Spanish.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (1)

quadrox (1174915) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642167)

You do realize, Mr. Wack, that most translations are done by machine nowadays? And that any edits, if they even occur, are lackluster at best?

Citation Needed.

Seriously, my uncle is a translator, and he most certainly does not employ machine translation, simply because it doesn't work.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642887)

And IF the work is done by a good translator do you really honestly believe they deserve as much credit as the AUTHOR?

If the work is done by a good translator?

Yes, they deserve almost as much credit as the author in that case. A mediocre translator can just translate the sentenses. As long as they're legible he's done the job at least as well as a mahine would.

But a good translator almost writes a whole other book. One that (hopefully) conveys the same meaning as the original book, which might be exceptionally difficult depending on what concepts exist in the intersection of the pair of languages. This translator has to understand TWO cultures, well enough to write the same poetry in both.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642089)

Well here's a blindingly obvious answer to your question: iTunes for ebooks.

There, rights problem solved.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642341)

"was to ail a very real problem of people taking literature, translating it and selling it in foreign countries with no revenue going to the original artist or publisher."

Sorry this as the main excuse is total tosh. This happening would have no effect if it was in eReader or book form. This has been going on for years. If anything the eReader makes this more annoying to do (can't distribute pages among multiple people to type faster, can't OCR).

The reason why they have it like this is simply for the real world book stores. It isn't easy to print up books elsewhere for worldwide distribution so if the eReader version comes out sooner then the book stores lose out.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642453)

As they do not want me as a customer - I guess I will continue to use the more common, current distribution system accessible to me: bittorrent.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642815)

Nah it has nothing to do with copy protection: in this world of high quality OCR applications, scanning a book a making a text file out of it is very easy.

It's all about maximizing income by partitioning the market into segments and then charging each segment the maximum they can. Same as region coding for DVDs.

You see, in an ideal world (from the point of view of the seller), a seller would be able to charge each and every buyer the maximum said buyer is willing to pay for the product or service being sold (something like what Amazon tried to do at some point by setting different prices for different people, depending on their buying history). Since in practice that's difficult to do, the second best is to artificially split the market into geographical areas and for each area charge different prices:
- You sell it for peanuts in Africa and most of Asia and Latin America
- You charge North Americans a stiffer price
- You squeeze Europeans and Japanese for all you can

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641655)

Exactly right. This is not something companies have a choice over... if you don't own the distribution rights in a particular country and sell anyway, whomever does own them will eat you for breakfast.

Oh, and the restriction mentioned would be to residents, not citizens. A US citizen living abroad would be restricted just like anyone else in their country of residence, while foreigners in the United States would not be.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641703)

Oh, and the restriction mentioned would be to residents, not citizens. A US citizen living abroad would be restricted just like anyone else in their country of residence, while foreigners in the United States would not be.

This is not true, I believe the only way they determine what country you reside in is your credit card. So as long as your credit card is still linked to your home on U.S. soil, purchase away while abroad and download as you'd like. In the original Geographic Restrictions, they stated this and I would expect it to be the same way since it's the safest way and the way Amazon does it. Quite counter-intuitive as a foreigner could walk into any brick and mortar store and pick up a copy (hopefully in a language they understand) from the U.S. distributor.

Filtering by IP address range would be far easier to subvert than this ... unless of course, you're in the fake credit card market and you're in deeper trouble than violating distribution rights at that point.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (5, Informative)

ssintercept (843305) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641775)

Oh, and the restriction mentioned would be to residents, not citizens. A US citizen living abroad would be restricted just like anyone else in their country of residence, while foreigners in the United States would not be.

according to Ereader its your billing address of your credit card:

How do you determine what country a customer is in? We look at the billing country of your credit card to determine your location.

source- http://mobile.ereader.com/ereader/mobile/help/GeographicRestrictionsFAQ.htm [ereader.com]

as long as your credit card is resolving to the US/Canada or another non-restricted country you are in the clear.

Mod Parent Redundant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642873)

That's the same link as the original (gp) post.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27643127)

I've found that a lot of the time I can use half of my actual billing address and change the last line to say California and it works fine. IP blocking is more annoying tho.

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#27643257)

The bain of my life for these past 12 years ... dumbass websites who assume that because you hold a credit card in one country, you must BE in that country.

So people with credit cards don't travel abroad ?

People with credit cards automatically cancel them if they move overseas, destroying a great credit history and limit, just to make e-commerce easier ?

Yes, I have a UK credit card, but live in the Philippines ... good to see your GeoIP lookup is working, look forward to you programming some common sense into that system soon !

GRRR ... okay, rant over.

Re:work around (1)

ssintercept (843305) | more than 4 years ago | (#27643401)

i was just thinking that if you had a friend in a non-banned country, they could send you a pre-paid credit card...

i dunno - maybe?

Re:Link for Geographic Restrictions (1)

Mista2 (1093071) | more than 4 years ago | (#27643391)

Now let me see, I can buy a book or a CD/DVD from Amazon.com and have it shipped to me here in NZ, but I can't download movies/mp3's or buy ebooks or listen to pandora.com?
Umm, I wonder why the pirates win?
Hey America, you are only one country, not the whole friken world!

Internet vs. Comapnies (5, Insightful)

amclay (1356377) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641545)

I don't see why a company should have to sell things to other countries. Despite the internet being free, things contained on the internet do not necessarily have to be geographically free. It reduces the amount of time, energy, and money they might have to spend on lawyers looking up various countries copyright claims, and their market may primarily be based in the United States. Of course, in time this might change, but I'm not one for forcing companies to do things some other way. I'll just buy from another company. Capitalism wins in the end.

Re:Internet vs. Comapnies (5, Insightful)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641895)

It reduces the amount of time, energy, and money they might have to spend on lawyers looking up various countries copyright claims, and their market may primarily be based in the United States.

So maybe I'm riding on my fanciful unicorn while writing this, but the Internet offers a unique possibility to dissolve borders. This isn't about anarchy or forcing my world view on people, this is about people coming together irrespective of their location and having an intellectual, economical, and political dialogue.

The side effects of the Internet's design include creating a borderless society. Why should I have to look up the laws of another country? In effect, they are a traveler that has arrived in the US and are electronically conducting trade. It's as if they arrived here, pulled out a credit card and paid for a product, and got back on their plane home. Except this plane goes nearly the speed of light and they don't have to enjoy the privilege of a body cavity search at the airport.

Re:Internet vs. Comapnies (2, Insightful)

THEbwana (42694) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642667)

In effect, they are a traveler that has arrived in the US and are electronically conducting trade. It's as if they arrived here, pulled out a credit card and paid for a product, and got back on their plane home

I think this is why people get so massively irritated by these restrictions.
When a customer gets turned away from a web based shop, it is usually not perceived by the customer as a sale rejected due to some import/export restriction - instead, the people impacted by these restrictions feel as though they've entered the store, chosen a product, produced their credit card in order to pay - just to find themselves being kicked out of the store due to their nationality.

I remember in the old days (10-15 years ago) when the Internet had not been i18n'ed yet. I could order goods / services from anywhere in the world and have it shipped to wherever I would be located.
Nowadays, I always find myself forced to go to some vendors regional webpage which is not accessible in a language I understand due to the underlying (and horribly outdated) assumption that everyone is born, lives and dies in one tiny geographic area, from which they never move, and that they only are able to speak the "official" language used in that area.

Re:Internet vs. Comapnies (1)

omz13 (882548) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642839)

Nowadays, I always find myself forced to go to some vendors regional webpage which is not accessible in a language I understand due to the underlying (and horribly outdated) assumption that everyone is born, lives and dies in one tiny geographic area, from which they never move, and that they only are able to speak the "official" language used in that area.

So true, and so annoying.

Where I live, vendors sell computers with AZERTY or QWERTZ keyboards... but I want QWERTY since its a hell of a lot easier to program using a US layout... and don't even get me started about only being able to pick up an OS that is localized into a language NOT of my choice (even though there is no practical reason why the OS can't be supplied with all localized languages. (Note that OS X does come with all localizations as standard, unlike XP, et al)

The problem as I see is it that vendors and retailers still think of the world as individual countries with their own languages and, more importantly price structures... which is a polite way of saying they can and do get away with selling the same stuff in different countries with different prices (using localization as the excuse for different prices)... look at the whole region encoding on DVDs, which attempts to stop you buying DVDs from elsewhere which may be cheaper/better than whats on offer in your own region.

Re:Internet vs. Comapnies (1)

Niffux (824706) | more than 4 years ago | (#27643315)

I think this is why people get so massively irritated by these restrictions.
When a customer gets turned away from a web based shop, it is usually not perceived by the customer as a sale rejected due to some import/export restriction - instead, the people impacted by these restrictions feel as though they've entered the store, chosen a product, produced their credit card in order to pay - just to find themselves being kicked out of the store due to their nationality.

That's the most apt description I've ever heard. They can cite however many distribution rights they want, but it still seems like completely arbitrary discrimination.

Re:Internet vs. Comapnies (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641997)

I don't see why a company should have to sell things to other countries.

Well one reason would be that they are required to by trade agreements entered into by their governments. For example the NAFTA requires that once you start selling a product to one of the member countries you have to keep selling it unless you also restrict selling to customers in the home country - i.e. no discriminating against the consumers in other countries. The US actually pushed hard for this because they didn't want Canada to be able to sell oil (and other natural resources) to Canadians at a lower price than they charged Americans - for obvious reasons.

Re:Internet vs. Comapnies (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642055)

For example the NAFTA requires that once you start selling a product to one of the member countries you have to keep selling it unless you also restrict selling to customers in the home country - i.e. no discriminating against the consumers in other countries.

Except that there in practice appear to be all sorts of exemptions. e.g. all the fuss made by the US over pharmacuticals, the difficulty Canadians have subscribing to US satellite TV, even the US having different Harry Potter books from the rest of the world...

Re:Internet vs. Comapnies (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642439)

Sometimes things do have top be taken to trade tribunals to get a ruling. I'm not sure what you are referring to about US pharmaceuticals so I can't comment. Canadians not being able to subscribe to satellite TV isn't a violation because it is Canada stopping it's citizens from buying it rather than the US saying it can't be sold to Canadians. Although I think control over the airwaves may in fact be exempted for all countries. And there are all sorts of violations that nobody cares enough to do anything about - or the people who care don't have deep enough pockets to do anything about it.

Empty Ideology (4, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642005)

Capitalism only wins if there are neither artificial or natural monopolies (and one could argue that with books it is certainly often the case) or artificial barrier to competition like DRM to implement region encoding. There is no reason whatsoever to have something like BITS limited to a region of the globe, except to artificially limit the market.

Re:Internet vs. Comapnies (2, Insightful)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642071)

Downloading illegally wins in the end. I just went on BT and downloaded some 45,000+ titles from Fictionwise. Good thing they wouldn't let me give them any money.

Re:Internet vs. Comapnies (1)

Mista2 (1093071) | more than 4 years ago | (#27643429)

Yeah, it's not theft if you aren't allowed to buy it is it?
They certainly can't claim a lost sale when they claim for damages.

Re:Internet vs. Comapnies (2, Insightful)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642085)

I'll just buy from another company.

Where else can I get Hulu.com content then? The Pirate Bay?

Re:Internet vs. Comapnies (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 4 years ago | (#27643265)

If you want streaming instead of torrents Surf the Channel works well. It's a collection of links to video sites that actually work.

Re:Internet vs. Comapnies (1)

Jaroslav.Tucek (1344577) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642145)

"I don't see why a company should have to sell things to other countries. Despite the internet being free, things contained on the internet do not necessarily have to be geographically free."

Well I don't see why a company should have to go to lengths not to sell things to other countries. Especially digital content over the internet where your geographic location means nothing. All they should care about is whether I am a customer with enought money. Their loss, if they are going to explicitly exclude me from the set of people able to buy their goods, I am most definitily going to steal them ... no idea what they expect to gain from such restrictions...

Socialism. That's why. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641563)

It is because most non-US people are foot-loose and fancy-free with distributing copyrighted material. That is, you are all pirates.

So really, you brought it on yourself by assuming that just because you chose socialism in your country, everybody else has to be force into socialism too.

Re:Socialism. That's why. (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641603)

Nah, it's similar to the real reasons for Region Code restrictions in DVDs.

By limiting the scope of distribution and introducing products into different markets at different times, big publishers can manipualte the market to get bigger profits.

The price a market in another country pays might be a lot higher. If they could just buy from overseas distributors (i.e. in the US), those profits would go away.

Re:Socialism. That's why. (3, Insightful)

setagllib (753300) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641667)

Half the point of digital distribution is that prices can be set globally, and for the most part, companies can choose their per-unit profit and let the whole world deal with it. If that price ends up higher than a competitor, the competitor has a chance to get higher sales volume. That free market competition is in the spirit of capitalism.

Re:Socialism. That's why. (2, Informative)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642101)

By limiting the scope of distribution and introducing products into different markets at different times, big publishers can manipualte the market to get bigger profits.

Or rather they believe they can. It's quite possible that doing this can result in less total profit. Because people who can't buy the whatever get it by other means. In the past these means tended to include books being smuggled in tourists' luggage.

The price a market in another country pays might be a lot higher. If they could just buy from overseas distributors (i.e. in the US), those profits would go away.

Many times people will not "shop around". Especially if there is a local supplier.
The other thing is that such price fixing often involves bending, if not breaking, laws.

Re:Socialism. That's why. (2, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641715)

So really, you brought it on yourself by assuming that just because you chose socialism in your country, everybody else has to be force into socialism too.

Have you been living under a rock these last few years? "Everybody else" already has been forced into socialism: it's called a "bailout".

Re:Socialism. That's why. (4, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641739)

It is because most non-US people are foot-loose and fancy-free with distributing copyrighted material. That is, you are all pirates.

So really, you brought it on yourself by assuming that just because you chose socialism in your country, everybody else has to be force into socialism too.

Pirating copyrighted material is capitalism. Regulating distribution of copies (or any sort of regulations whatsoever on a market) is anti-capitalist. Neither is socialist.

Re:Socialism. That's why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642017)

+1 truth.

Kids need to learn what the terms they throw around actually mean.

Re:Socialism. That's why. (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642247)

It is because most non-US people are foot-loose and fancy-free with distributing copyrighted material. That is, you are all pirates.

So really, you brought it on yourself by assuming that just because you chose socialism in your country, everybody else has to be force into socialism too.

Thanks, good sir. You made me laugh and smile on an otherwise dull morning :)

Here's a ball. Why don't you go bounce it?

No story here (2, Interesting)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641597)

Outdated contracts based on a pre-Internet view reduce company's profits yet again.

Why can't I view youtube videos to follow at 11.

Re:No story here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27643501)

no doubt. It seems one of the outcomes of regional limiting certainly is just more ebooks stripped of their DRM and traded online.

Another great example of how corporations try to change reality rather that live by it. They're all for globalization... except when they're not...

What happened? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641601)

It looks like someone fixed the massive flaws that have come to define slashdot, and has introduced some possibly useful features. It's too really to know for sure.

Citizens vs. Residents (4, Informative)

doktor-hladnjak (650513) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641627)

They're not restricting sales to US Citizens. They're restricting sales to US residents (presumably people who have an account with a credit card billing address in the US).

Re:Citizens vs. Residents (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641829)

Yeah, you don't need to be a US resident to have that either.

Re:Citizens vs. Residents (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642621)

Nope. Probably you have forgotten about a small law known as PATRIOT Act.
It makes sure that for a banking relationship to be established between you AND a US-based bank, you MUST have a US residence. Proof Needed including but not limited to Federal ID and/or Passport of any nation which US has recognized (which means no Taiwan passport), and residence proof by way of lease agreement and/or DMV non-driving ID.
In short, you MUST be a lawful US resident to get a US-issued Credit Card.

Re:Citizens vs. Residents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642859)

What about US prepaid cards? Is that covered?

Re:Citizens vs. Residents (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642921)

VISA Prepaid cards don't have a Billing Address. They are meant to be used ONLY at PoS terminals: meaning electronic purchases only. No online crap.
If you try using them online, it gets rejected. I used a Citibank prepaid card at my Holiday Inn. Every single damn time you need to have the card present to make a debit. No online, no CNP transactions.

Re:Citizens vs. Residents (1)

Mista2 (1093071) | more than 4 years ago | (#27643457)

I had a paypal account with an NZ credit card, iTunes US store required a US address (Before it came to NZ) but luckily there was a sign up system that allowed you to use your Paypal account to verfy your credit card. Viola, I had a US iTunes account 8)
Then realised DRM sucked, and hardly ever bought anything from them.
Allofmp3.com did really well out of me until visa stopped letting them process their orders.

Re:Citizens vs. Residents (1)

Diddlbiker (1022703) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642029)

I was wondering how they were checking the immigration status to make sure that they weren't selling to non-us citizens living in the US... "selling to US-residents" makes a lot more sense.

Re:Citizens vs. Residents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642365)

Damn, you are evil! I was thinking I could keep buying e-books just by entering my SSN or my US Passport number... It is not hard enough to be an American living overseas and now I can't even buy American e-books?

fed up with botnets? (-1, Troll)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641681)

I dunno...maybe the linked related story is about a company that got fed up with being attacked by foreign networks?

It's possible that only US residents with US issued credit cards can be trusted.

Re:fed up with botnets? (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641919)

It's possible that only US residents with US issued credit cards can be trusted.

I _really_ hope that is sarcasm.

Canada is not a communist country, y'know.

Re:fed up with botnets? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641991)

I was actually referring to the likes of russia and china, well known for hosting scammers as well as being the origin of many botnet attacks.

Re:fed up with botnets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642163)

Canada is not a communist country, y'know.

not according to This [whycindywhy.com]

Libel troll protection (2, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641701)

If I ever write a book, you can damn well bet I won't sanction distribution in Britain.

International law is an absolute clusterfuck, especially where IP is concerned. There's really not much to be done. Of course, it would be nice to get rid of region coding and other such bull, but it's here to stay.

Re:Libel troll protection (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641735)

If I ever write a book, you can damn well bet I won't sanction distribution in Britain.

Those who can, do, those who can't, complain about potential distribution in Britain.

Re:Libel troll protection (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641873)

If I ever write a book, you can damn well bet I won't sanction distribution in Britain.

International law is an absolute clusterfuck, especially where IP is concerned. There's really not much to be done. Of course, it would be nice to get rid of region coding and other such bull, but it's here to stay.

Fine, then you don't the money that people are willing to give you for it, instead they will resort to acquiring it through less legitimate means and you will still lose.

Re:Libel troll protection (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642191)

So you're saying you would rather people in Britain pirate your work than buy it? Or do you have some kind of racist agenda against the brits?

Re:Libel troll protection (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27643529)

So you're saying you would rather people in Britain pirate your work than buy it? Or do you have some kind of racist agenda against the brits?

If you read the title ("Libel Troll Protection") then you should be able to work out this is about Britain's appalling libel laws, where truth is not necessarily a defence, and where you only have to sell a couple of copies in the Uk (out of e.g. millions worldwide), and where the rich and powerful can have just about anything they don't like banned and the publisher etc. fined millions in damages and ruined if they are small. And the distributors and bookshops can be taken to court as well.

So - no, it's not a racist agenda (not that 'The British' are a 'race' anyhow). And yes, it is better to have people pirate your stuff than to be financially ruined.

Having said this, the main risks relate to publishing such things as 'unauthorized' biographies of famous people, and other sorts of non-fiction which allege any wrong doing (legal or moral) concerning the rich and powerful. You're mostly OK with fiction as long as your character names and traits are checked carefully to make surely they don't resemble any well-known living person (unless it's Jeffrey Archer, in which case you can do what you like!).

clearly... (1)

binaryseraph (955557) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641723)

We must gain superiority as a nation by trying to limit literacy in other country's. Next we will be changing our subtitles to a made up language and export them. Thank that world!

You've got it back to front (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 4 years ago | (#27643383)

We must gain superiority as a nation by trying to limit literacy in other country's. Next we will be changing our subtitles to a made up language and export them. Thank that world!

Bzzzt!

This sort of distribution protection actually promotes world literacy. Think about it:

A book on C costs £27.94 on Amazon UK, and $55.77 on Amazon US. At bookshopofindia.com it costs $7.38. That's more expensive relative to the Indian wage, but it's a hell of a lot cheaper to a US or UK citizen. If there was no geographical restriction on distribution (ie if we had "free trade" of books) no bookshops would buy the US or UK version, instead importing the Indian version. This would mean profits would collapse, and Kelly and Pohl, the authors, can't afford to live on Indian wages.

So Kelly, Pohl and their publisher Addison-Wesley would simply refuse to allow the Indian version to be printed -- if the UK/US edition was the only one available, profits in the core market would be protected. The lost profits in the Indian market would be small change.

If we go further afield, to the ex-British colonies in Africa, A Book on C probably retails at about a dollar, and that's more than a day's wage already. Free trade of books would quite literally remove that sort of book from their bookshelves. Education would suffer.

Yes, geographical IP protection is an unnatural intervention in "the market", but it is to meet the reality of wage disparity. We westerners benefit greatly from maintaining this wage disparity (cheap Chinese goods wouldn't be cheap if the Chinese workers got paid the same as us!) and so it is in our favour to use differential pricing of IP to try to foster an illusion of equality.

HAL.

Killing Themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641747)

Without the Asian business, they are cutting themselves out of the manga and hentai market.

Re:Killing Themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642501)

Without the Asian business, they are cutting themselves

I'm sure Asia is a pretty good continent and all, but do you really think they would turn to self-mutilation because of this?

citizenship or geographic restriction? (1)

jbbernar (41291) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641753)

Which is it? (Do you have any idea what the word "citizenship" means?)

Re:citizenship or geographic restriction? (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641791)

Maybe the person submitting the story doesn't speak English as a first language. The word "nation" for instance means different things in other cultures. The French have a concept of civic nation, which caused a lot of grief and misunderstanding in Canada where some people in Quebec wanted recognition of their nation.

Re:citizenship or geographic restriction? (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641889)

It's based on the credit card billing address. Which isn't really saying much, considering the fact that I know a bunch of people overseas who maintain a U.S.-based credit account for such purchases.

Historical (1)

ian_mackereth (889101) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641899)

The publishing business has always been set up in regions.

An author sells rights to publish his/her work to different publishers in different countries, and there's often either legal protection or trade agreements to prevent parallel distribution of editions from other regions.

So, a book might be published by Doubleday in the US but by Pan MacMillan in Australia, and the major book chains in Oz wouldn't carry the Doubleday version (some specialised genre bookshops might.)

This is almost certainly Fictionwise/ereader just catching up with the requirements placed on them by the publishers who provide their ebooks, possibly because the B&N purchase put them above the radar a bit more.

Re:Historical (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642677)

An author sells rights to publish his/her work to different publishers in different countries, and there's often either legal protection or trade agreements to prevent parallel distribution of editions from other regions.

...which was great during the Victorian Era, but not today.
Why can't RIAA/MPAA/Publishers realize that their world has changed? Are they that stupid and dumb?
An author usually listens to his publisher and is always interested in the Largest audience possible simultaneously (possibly before word gets around that his book stinks).
Instead of moving with the tide, these guys try to break the internet on the assumption that on the internet somebody cares you are a US resident.

The solution is very simple (5, Insightful)

arrenlex (994824) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641953)

With matters like these, fortunately, the solution is very simple

Here it is:
http://thepiratebay.org/ [thepiratebay.org]

Here you have a case where you are willing to pay for a legitimate product but you are unable to acquire it due to arbitrary and pointless restrictions.

It's the same sort of problem as DRM. Region locking, device locking ... primarily serve to piss off customers. So go wild.

(When you CAN legitimately purchase the product you desire, of course, piracy thereof becomes a totally different matter).

Re:The solution is very simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642773)

I agree, I WANT to pay for my music, TV shows and e-books, but I'm in one of those countries where my money is not as valuable as if I were sitting at a desk in Anywhere, USA (N.B. I'm in Europe, but not in the EU). Even funnier part is - I have lived in the US, I have a US credit card at a US bank, but my IP and a current address at the moment put me onto the "unwanted" list.

I don't see how any type of legal "problems" stated should contribute to adding restrictions to some countries in selling e-books. Why can Amazon sell books globally? Amazon has to follow the same laws and yet is able to ship me any product I desire and am able to pay for.

Torrents, illegal downloads of any kind, pirated CDs/DVDs are at the moment the ONLY options these restrictions give me... maybe these companies should start rethinking their outdated policies and stop feeding the global "problem" of piracy.

Re:The solution is very simple (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27643311)

Forget thepiratebay their ebook section is lacking

go and register for free at http://gigapedia.com/ [gigapedia.com]

250000 ebooks there all nicely organized and with great search for you to download ;)

They have won... (4, Insightful)

WoollyMittens (1065278) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641989)

I'm sorry to say that the intellectual property tycoons have won the war of artificial scarcity. It's nonsense to restrict the sale of bits, but they seem to have been able to buy laws in most civilized countries that enforce their obsolete business model. For the normal people like us, there's only one recourse: STEAL THE BOOK.

Why? (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642493)

Which is exactly what i do.
None from RIAA/MPAA and the Book Publishers Association have truly realized that the Internet is a blessing for them.
They STILL fight it because:
1) They still think in old terms: shipping of CDs, books hardcover and paperback etc. as a way to calculate sales.
2) They still think regional agreements with publishers is essential to control price: which is why you see two prices in Playboy's back: USD and Canadian Dollar (twice as USD)
3) They still hope the internet thingy goes away or is controlled by the Government, so that these morons can decide what people can read/listen/see when these morons decide the date & time.
The same was applied when Movies came out first and started destroying roadshows and plays performed on streets. And how Records started mauling Live Concertos. These Live dumbsh1ts started controlling Records and Movies by limiting geographical distribution.
Which is exactly what today's RIAA/MPAA/etc are trying to do.
And which is bound to fail ultimately.
Only a few companies have recognized the ultimate distribution media. Apple did that, but is hobbled with its stupid agreements with RIAA which prevents me from using an India-issued Credit Card for buying Music from iTunes USA store.
So what do i do? I download it via torrents or from Russian site.
Who's the loser? Not Me.
Same with books and ebooks. Some stupid publishers STILL try to limit the ebook mobipocket version i can buy.
What do i do? Download from RS or ML.
When iam willing to pay for a legal content and these morons refuse to take the money, i don't accept their artificial restrictions: i get them for free.
ImpulseDriven and Stardock are two progressive companies. I bought Gal Civ II and Political Machine 2004/2008 the moment it was launched. Why did i buy them? BECAUSE Stardock allowed me to buy them.
Not because it did not have DRM (although it was a factor), but because stardock realized that selling people what they wanted is MORE important than artifically restricting their distribution...
Way to go Stardock: which is why i bought my Company of Heroes Tales of Valor from them, instead of Steam (steam doesn't allow me to use Indian cards).

Announcement today by Fictionwise (2, Informative)

sehlat (180760) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642003)

I got an email today from FW which is probably relevant to the timing of the implementation:

Fictionwise -- Special Newsletter
100% MicroPay Rebates -- J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings eBooks

J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" - perhaps the greatest epic fantasy series of all time - is now available for the first time in eBook format!

Now you can be thrilled by this legendary adventure again ... anytime ... anywhere. Read these Tolkien masterpieces on your iPhone, BlackBerry or mobile device today!

For a limited time, get a 100% MicroPay Rebate on all J.R.R. Tolkien titles, plus get 30% off all Multiformat Fantasy and Dark Fantasy and a 30% Micropay Rebate on all Secure Dark Fantasy and Fantasy titles using your credit card or PayPal at Fictionwise.com!

The Lord of the Rings
http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/eBook85769.htm [fictionwise.com]

The Fellowship of the Ring
http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/eBook85770.htm [fictionwise.com]

The Hobbit
http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/eBook85771.htm [fictionwise.com]

The Children of Hurin
http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/eBook85772.htm [fictionwise.com]

The Two Towers
http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/eBook85773.htm [fictionwise.com]

The Return of the King
http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/eBook85774.htm [fictionwise.com]

Happy eReading,

Scott Pendergrast
Co-publisher
http://www.fictionwise.com/ [fictionwise.com]

Given that the Tolkien estate has a LOT of expen$ive lawyers to feed, the conclusion is left as an exercise for the Slashdot readership.

So how do they know? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642061)

Homeland security would be interested in the magical technique they have for telling apart a US Citizen, a Legal Resident, and an Illegal Alien given they all have US mailing addresses, credit cards, an so on...

The new anti-internet (2, Interesting)

nicc777 (614519) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642063)

Wasn't the Internet supposed to break down physical barriers like distance etc.? Things like this really start to piss me off.

I am also a non-US person and the hoops we need to jump to to get stuff is unreal. I don't get it either... If we buy stuff over the Net in the US, the producer of the goods/services still get their share, so why must I wait 1 or 2 years before the material is available in my country?

O well - there will be a way to circumvent this shortly. I'll just add to my ever growing list :-)

Re:The new anti-internet (1)

nicc777 (614519) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642065)

o - and I just got this link from a friend... myus.com [myus.com] - a "package forwarding service for consumers around the world."

Just obeying the law ... nothing to see here folks (1)

gordguide (307383) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642213)

Copyright, Trademark and Patent laws are all forms of property rights.
That they are artificial property, as compared to real property (real estate), is interesting but otherwise essentially irrelevant.
What matters is like all real property, these other property rights are national, not international, in scope.
Copyright exists in one nation, and is created by an act of law and under the laws of that nation, alone.

For residents of some other country, the copyrights reside with some other entity (which is to say that entity might be the same, but it's an instance of owning two things by the same party, not the same thing by the same party).

There might be treaties, there might be agreements, there might be a lot of things, but the copyrights are sovereign things and are the business of the soverign authority. They cannot move across borders anymore than your acre of land can move across a border.

This is just a simple drawing back from a technically illegal sales model to a system of perfectly legal sale. Can't blame them.

Re:Just obeying the law ... nothing to see here fo (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 4 years ago | (#27643195)

With real property I can pay to have it shipped from another country. I can even do this with semi-real property (half real property, half IP) like DVDs and books. If the seller can ship IP thru the mail why cant they ship it thru the tubes?

Opportunity (2, Informative)

Another, completely (812244) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642361)

I also can't buy Bose headphones from Amazon, since Amazon.com won't ship to Europe, and Amazon.de doesn't sell them. (Didn't actually try Amazon.co.uk, but you get the point.) I can buy those headphones from local electronics shops though. I assume the reason that Amazon.com won't ship them is that Bose has distribution agreements with European companies, and Amazon.com didn't think it was worth the effort and/or expense to secure those distribution rights. (Although it would be nice if they would give you pointers to affiliates who would ship to your address, rather than just saying they won't do it.)

I completely agree with the posters who complain that it's inconvenient, but if you see a product that has value, and is not available in some particular market, then it probably wouldn't be hard to set up a business, sign a distribution agreement, and start selling. Don't blame a company that has chosen to focus their marketing and distribution efforts on a market smaller than the entire world, blame the lack of local initiative (or the lack of local demand) in your country of residence.

Re:Opportunity (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 4 years ago | (#27643447)

Put otherwise: eReader can decide to do this as they wish. But they shouldn't be surprised if the inconvenience they give me make me take my money somewhere else.

Legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642447)

I am not a Citizen yet, but I am a legal resident of the USA. Would they sell to me? Do I have to quote the number onf my green card, or my social?

Citizens or residents? (1)

acb (2797) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642945)

So if you're living in the US on a work visa, you're still not allowed any e-book goodness? How do they verify that you're actually a citizen, and not some foreign ne'er-do-well with a US bank account/social security number/other credentials?

Citizenship vs. Region (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642997)

I'd like to point out that Apple was doing it by provable residence in a region, (i.e. you need a US address to use the US store). B&N is supposedly doing it by Citizenship? So if I am a US Citizen living in Iran, technically I can buy from B&N but not apple. If I am a German in the US, I can buy from Apple but not B&N.

It seems very strange to use Citizenship as a bar - how do they test for that exactly? "No, you only have a green-card, no book for you!" I think that has to be wrong.

And/or the BBC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27643183)

The BBC has inane restrictions on purchasing its online content anyway. Leaving piracy as the only way to get Top Gear in a timely fashion.

Great way to give TPB more users (1)

Eminence (225397) | more than 4 years ago | (#27643597)

With attitude like this the only thing we - all other people on Earth - can do is download off the "Pirate Bay" and other sites like this. Region lockings and limitations like this one are insane, especially now with worl being interconnected. Someone, who thinks digital content can be limited to a teritorry is so detached from reality of Internet it is pathetic.

And btw in case you haven't noticed there is much more people elsewhere than in the US - interesting that US companies fail to notice that. But that has its advantages too. For example, Amazon Kindle is not available outside the US, which means alternatives will be developed and entrenched before they will get their act together to move to new markets.

This reminds me of something... (2, Interesting)

Rutefoot (1338385) | more than 4 years ago | (#27643603)

Several months ago when the Canadian dollar was at par with the American dollar Canadians started looking at the things they were buying and realizing (that for certain items) that they were paying way too much compared to their friends to the south.

The two big things on the list were Magazines and books. Even when you took the old Canadian dollar value into account, it still didn't add up to the amount we Canadians were being charged. (I had even seen Canadian written books, published and produced in Canada being sold for 40% more than the listed American price).

So, naturally, Canadians started getting pissed off and demanding that retailers sell the item to them at the listed US price. Many retailers were happy to oblige.

Publishers, on the other hand, weren't too fond of the events that were transpiring. Within a few months they had started replacing the books and magazines on the shelves with ones with adjusted pricing.

And by adjusted pricing, I mean, books and magazines with the American pricing removed so Canadian consumers wouldn't be able to see the difference in price.
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