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HarperCollins Wants Library EBooks to Self-Destruct After 26 Loans

Roblimo posted more than 3 years ago | from the it-sounded-good-on-paper dept.

DRM 181

An anonymous reader writes: "HarperCollins has decided to change their agreement with e-book distributor OverDrive [and other distributors, too]. They forced OverDrive, which is a main e-book distributor for libraries, to agree to terms so that HarperCollins e-books will only be licensed for checkout 26 times. Librarians have blown up over this, calling for a boycott of HarperCollins, breaking the DRM on e-books -- basically doing anything to let HarperCollins and other publishers know they consider this abuse." Cory Doctorow, who wrote TFA, says: "For the record, all of my HarperCollins ebooks are also available as DRM-free Creative Commons downloads. And as bad as HarperCollins' terms are, they're still better than Macmillan's, my US/Canadian publisher, who don't allow any library circulation of their ebook titles."

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Unsaid but... (5, Funny)

esoterus (66707) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319198)

Harper Collins also wants libraries to self-destruct after being used 26 times.

Not as bad but I don't care (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319456)

I don't care if other publishers won't license to libraries at all.

What I want is e-books to be available to libraries just like regular books, and to be able to be loaned-out indefinitely.

The one-loan-per-license restriction is the only compromise I am willing to make.

Re:Unsaid but... (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319508)

in DRM America, Libraries want Harper Collins to destruct after being sued 26 times!

Re:Unsaid but... (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319874)

No they don't.

Even a single use is a lost sale. Remember, sharing is stealing!

Re:Unsaid but... (2)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320346)

No they don't.

Even a single use is a lost sale. Remember, sharing is stealing!

Which is a slightly more logical argument than saying skipping the commercials is stealing.

Considering the fact that the latter bashit insane logic was successful at trial and tanked SonicBlue, the first (and only) manufacturer of the auto-skip commercial DVR's, I am willing to bet that HarperCollins will find some receptive (read corrupt) Senator to make eBooks in libraries illegal and that it in order to enforce it we all need to have 100% surveillance in cyberspace.

You know..... if logic and precedent are any indication.

Re:Unsaid but... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35320214)

OMFG, self-destroying information. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe what we need is some common middle ground. How about we let Harper-Collins decide which information should be destroyed, which should be altered, and which should persist?
It has become clear to me that the USA simply isn't ready for a digital information age, and whomever should have the power to effect change, cannot (for whatever reason). I think it is time to exclude Americans from the table of countries looking to move forward with this technology, and in a generation or two, they'll "tear down that wall" and catch up.

Re:Unsaid but... (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320376)

Is it bad if I want Harper-Collins to self destruct right now?

How about using books instead? (0, Flamebait)

DogDude (805747) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319208)

How about just keeping actual books in libraries instead? No tech support, no licensing needed. I'm really surprised that libraries, of all places, are jumping on an untested fad so quickly.

Re:How about using books instead? (2, Interesting)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319240)

I've been reading ebooks on my mobile devices for at least six years. It's hardly an "untested fad".

Re:How about using books instead? (3, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319274)

Fad? I take it you haven't actually tried an ebook, but they're pretty amazing. Pretty much the only aspect that's worse than the dead tree editions is that you need electricity to use them. There's more to innovate there like improving the interface and the screens, but it's a lot more convenient for me than books are.

Plus, I'm the sort of person that likes to keep books once I've bought them, and I just don't have much room available for books I might not read for several years.

Re:How about using books instead? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319598)

We move around, a LOT. About 3 years ago, my poor husband begged me to consider an e-reader to save his back. I agreed, and I LOVE it.

I think it's great that I can carry a whole library of books in my purse. Everything from whatever fiction I'm currently reading to various textbooks.

Yes the technology still has some ways to evolve, but I don't imagine that the future of books will remain locked in paper for much longer.

Re:How about using books instead? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319978)

Or, y'know, you could pay your damn rent on time and stay at one address for more than 3 months.

Re:How about using books instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35320820)

Or, y'know, you could sit down and STFU before you talk out your ass. What do you not know about the AC Poster, Troll? You don't know if she or her Husband are Military. You don't know if She or her Husband are in any kind of Consulting Field for their employment, where they may have to move cross state or Cross country or cross world on a semi regular basis to fulfill contracts. Or your lame assumption may be right and she could be someone who has to move often.

For that matter, we don't even know if it really IS a "she" that posted. For all we know, "she" could be a gay drag queen that does shows in clubs across America. All I'm saying is if you can't keep your mouth shut when you don't know all the facts and talk anyway you'll just wind up replacing G.W. Bush as the poster child for Adopt-A-Tard. Just sayin'.

Re:How about using books instead? (2)

DogDude (805747) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320230)

A. I don't want to spend extra money on an e-book reader, and cross my fingers that whatever e-reader I buy today will be usable next year.
B. I don't need yet another gadget that requires bug fixes, internet access, batteries to be replaced, and headaches. No gadget made today is as simple as a book.
C. E-books is an entire category of products that's fixing a problem that doesn't exist.

I guess that possibly, if you live in NYC or San Francisco, and you have thousands of books, that space may be an issue, but other than that particular circumstance, I can't see what the problem with books is that needs to be solved by yet another expensive, complicated, polluting gadget.

Re:How about using books instead? (1)

B1oodAnge1 (1485419) | more than 3 years ago | (#35321052)

My Kindle will be usable until it breaks, i'm not sure how you think they might become "unusable," I don't need bugfixes, internet access, or batteries, and I keep the wifi turned off so I won't get any of those unnecessary things pushed down my throat.

Re:How about using books instead? (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35321502)

If you get Nook or some other ereader that supports the epub standard then you're not going to be in that sort of situation. I can replace the battery in my Nook without much trouble, and the device itself is standards compliant. Worse case I have to get a new battery from a 3rd party source and stick with DRM free books, not that big a deal.

Plus, it's just a whole lot easier to read books on an ereader than it is with a standard dead tree edition.

Re:How about using books instead? (1)

macshit (157376) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320544)

E-books have many advantages, but -- ignoring the idiotic licensing shenigans -- they have a huge disadvantage too: they're less pleasant to read. Yes, e-ink displays are better than LCDs, but frankly they're still awful compared to simple old paper.

Maybe some future tech will fix that, but I'm not holding my breath... even when it becomes technically possible, the current market focus seems to be more on making books into little TVs than supporting reading well.

[I'm thinking mainly of books that one reads at length. For something like a reference manual, of course, which is typically read in short bursts, and where small size, searchability, and random access are huge advantages, an e-book of just about any sort is the bee's knees.]

Re:How about using books instead? (1)

orangebox (1997192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35321226)

I have to disagree here. I have been using an eInk book reader for the past two years and have had no regrets. I take it on trips as well as to the office to read while at lunch. I can lock the keys instead of looking for a bookmark, and if I exit the book I can start right up where I left off. I used to do reading off of an Ipaq, and that was not enjoyable for long periods of time.

I would not recommend eInk for manuals with illustrations yet because I don't see a device that can do them justice. In my experience the PDFs were reduced so much so everything fits on a page, and the diagrams and text were almost unreadable.

But ebook readers for novels and such, totally as pleasant as holding a book in my experience.

Re:How about using books instead? (3, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319670)

No licensing? I suggest you take a good look at what libraries have to do to not be considered stores.

Also Libraries are trying to do everything they can to get people to visit them. With the internet they aren't used as much anymore.

Re:How about using books instead? (1)

gregor-e (136142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320094)

Have you been into a major public library in a large urban center lately? They're usually about half full of "itinerant campers", who are either surfing porn on the free public internet terminals or are giving themselves sponge-baths (or worse) in the library's rest rooms. Emphasizing electronic content frees the genteel reader from the physical and social hazards of travel to their library building. It reduces the problem of specialized content being in a different building. It also allows patrons to relax more about borrowing, since there are never any overdue fines for electronic content.

Re:How about using books instead? (2)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320106)

How about just keeping actual books in libraries instead? No tech support, no licensing needed.

Right, just physical space (heated, air-conditioned, humidity-controlled, access-controlled space) and staff to store, shelve, check out, check in, reshelve, index, and repair every single print volume.

And the print books are only available during the limited hours the library is open. (This can be a serious issue for individuals with long work/commuting hours coupled to family commitments, especially in communities where library hours are very limited.)

For individuals with mobility concerns getting to the library can be costly or time-consuming, if not impossible. For individuals with limited vision an ebook offers adjustable font size.

In rural areas, it may be impossible for individuals to get to the library by public transit; even library patrons who own cars may need to commit significant time and generate appreciable emissions driving to their nearest library.

Larger cities with multiple library branches can share a small number of ebooks across a large number of branches.

That's why.

OK....... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319216)

I agree to their terms but I will be using loan money. It ceases to function after 28 days and gets returned to me.

No deal?? ok I'll just pirate them. You lose.

Re:OK....... (0, Flamebait)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319516)

Do you also plan to pay for food with money that turns to shit within a day?

See, the thing about analogies ...

Re:OK....... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319552)

At the rate things are going, it seems like money turns into shit inside a day.

Re:OK....... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319596)

Are you implying that the anon would trade food for food, because you know what happens when you eat food right...*something witty about language*

Re:OK....... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319688)

If the food is loaned.. Yes!

Re:OK....... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35320394)

I paid with US Dollars didn't I?

LOL (1)

Voulnet (1630793) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319226)

Inspector Gadget style?

look elsewhere (2)

Weezul (52464) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319238)

It's okay, I've found gigpedia & usenet have simpler checkout procedures.

It's asinine that library ebooks should self destruct. If they want to negotiate a minimum loan duration to force the library to buy more of popular books, like maybe 1 day per 100 pages, well fine, but checkout counts run contrary to the whole idea of libraries.

Re:look elsewhere (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319292)

I'd sort of assumed that they were licensed the way that other media is licensed. But either way, the library buys a certain number of copies, and I don't see any reason why ebooks should be treated differently than regular books. Well, perhaps the fact that they don't wear out might warrant a little something to help the publisher, but this is just asinine.

Re:look elsewhere (2)

Professr3 (670356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319406)

Library books don't wear out, either - if a page gets damaged in one copy, the library scans and prints that page from another copy, then pastes it into the damaged book. The only limit is the hassle required.

Restoring damaged pages from a digital repository of page scans is a logical step

Printing replacement copies from a digital repository of ebooks is a logical step from that

Loaning out ebooks from the digital repository is a logical step from THAT.

Re:look elsewhere (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319702)

OK, I'm no expert, but I've checked out a lot of library books. I've never seen this printing-scanning-pasting evolution you describe.

Re:look elsewhere (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319878)

I have, it typically happens at larger places like Dallas Public LIbrary or at a College Library.

Re:look elsewhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35320278)

...like Dallas Public LIbrary...

Well, that explains it.
I live in Wisconsin and we take care of or books here.
Even at the university.
Even when we borrow them from a library.

Re:look elsewhere (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319926)

I'd sort of assumed that they were licensed the way that other media is licensed.

I guess that's true, in a way.

Virtually no media is licensed. When you buy a book from a bookstore, you simply buy it. There's no license. You can do anything you want with it, as long as you don't break the law. Making copies of copyrighted books is against the law (unless you fall within certain exceptions). Reading or lending copies of copyrighted books is not against the law, (provided that you lawfully have access to them -- you aren't allowed to break into a building in order to read a book, for example) therefore, you can do it.

In the US, anyone who owns a lawfully made copy of a book can lend that book out, rent it, sell it, use it to prop up uneven furniture, etc.

Ditto for CDs, DVDs, works of fine art, etc.

The only area where there's a significant trend of licensing instead of ordinary sales is for software, and while this may have developed for odd historical reasons, it's actually completely pointless now, due to changes in the law. Yet it is still the accepted practice, out of habit, I guess. Unfortunately, this tends to confuse people into thinking it is somehow normal, when in fact, it is abnormal.

However, since downloading necessarily involves the making of a new copy, and since making new copies of copyrighted works is not legal, unless you have permission (i.e.a license) from the copyright holder, licenses are relevant for downloading music, or movies, or games, or ebooks. Without changes to the law to handle new forms of what really should be distribution, power is shifting to copyright holders, and we can expect more of this sort of thing in the future.

(The 'wearing out' thing makes no matter; a well-cared for book can last for centuries)

Re:look elsewhere (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320440)

If you want to get really specific, even reading a single copy of a book on your computer hard drive requires it to be copied. It has to get copied from the hard drive into RAM. If you want to get even more pedantic, it then gets copied into the registers of your CPU, and then the CPU eventually creates a copy you can see on your computer screen. Oh, and if you downloaded the eBook in the first place, it probably got copied 6 or 7 times as it travelled over the internet.

Re:look elsewhere (1)

Ganthor (1693614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320236)

Absolutely agree,
This is against the basic idea of libraries. These publishers are seeing an opportunity to add yet more control and bring in additional revenue streams. This is just stupid greed.

Personally I hate the idea that any third party can kill a book once purchased. To me, it gives too much power for evil.

Re:look elsewhere (2)

Weezul (52464) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320290)

There was another comment down thread saying "DRM is the end of history" or "society ends with successful DRM" or some such. Sounds like a good meme.

Re:look elsewhere (1)

smisle (1640863) | more than 3 years ago | (#35321516)

The wait lines for electronic books is still insanely long - for popular books, there are hundreds of people waiting to be able to check them out. If the library budgets weren't the first thing to get slashed in a poor economy, the libraries would be more likely to buy ebooks ... but not ones that self destruct after 26 loans.

How do you like that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319250)

Two car analogies right near the top. Great story

Where have I heard this before? (5, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319266)

"I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further. "

Re:Where have I heard this before? (5, Funny)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319648)

Sony?

Re:Where have I heard this before? (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320298)

Oh lord. I need to clean the coffee off my monitor. Bravo.

Re:Where have I heard this before? (1)

stemcel (1074448) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320234)

Don't get it? Here's the reference. [youtube.com]

Re:Where have I heard this before? (1)

stemcel (1074448) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320266)

Even better. [youtube.com] ;)

From my thread on artificial scarcity... (2)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319290)

From http://yuhongbao.blogspot.com/2010/06/artificial-scarcity-drm.html [blogspot.com] :
"Fair use rights
DRM is often used unintentionally or intentionally to take away fair use rights and sometimes sell them back, assisted by anti-circumvention provisions in laws like the DMCA that applies regardless of things like fair use rights."
In this case it is of course first sale, but the point is still the same.

Why paper books are better (4, Insightful)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319322)

They work when the power goes out

They work when the vendor changes formats for newer releases

They work when civilization collapses and they're found centuries later in a cave

And the don't magically turn into pumpkins when the clock strikes twelve.

There is of course, a way to make a normal book stop working when the availability of its content becomes a problem. It's called fire. It's generally bad form to burn a paper book. Why exactly is it socially acceptable to DRM a book again?

Re:Why paper books are better (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319392)

when DRM is perfected. society as history knows it, will cease to exist.

Re:Why paper books are better (2)

fish waffle (179067) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319542)

They work when civilization collapses and they're found centuries later in a cave

Absolutely. As well as lending out, one of the primary functions of libraries used to be as an archive. Many/most libraries quickly jumped on the e-* bandwagon, ignoring that fundamental property in favour of cheaper acquisitions. Now they're reaping the benefits. I'm glad they're fighting back, or at least complaining. Unfortunately the argument still centers mostly based on arguments over cost rather than realizing what is being lost..

Re:Why paper books are better (4, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319550)

They work when the power goes out

My Kindle can easily last for a week without recharging. If the power goes out completely for longer than that, I think there will be other things that I'll be worrying about.

(Naturally, I'm talking about fiction books and other literature I read for fun here. A decent hardcover book on survival basics should always be in one's collection "just in case").

They work when civilization collapses and they're found centuries later in a cave

Why would I care?

They work when the vendor changes formats for newer releases

If an ebook can be read and interpreted by the reader, it can also be converted. I used to own a Sony reader and converted stuff to LRF for it; now I convert it to ePub for my phone and tablet, and to MobiPocket for my Kindle. It has never been a problem.

DRM is a problem, but that is a different issue.

Why exactly is it socially acceptable to DRM a book again?

Now we get to the crux of the matter. You seem to be confusing e-books in general with DRM. It's true that most popular online stores only sell DRM-encumbered books today, but there are still many legal (and even more illegal) ways to get an e-book with no strings attached.

Re:Why paper books are better (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319680)

They work when civilization collapses and they're found centuries later in a cave

Why would I care?

Jesus Christ. You don't care about the survival of your own species? WTF is wrong with you, in addition to playing Devil's advocate for the Devil?

Re:Why paper books are better (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320180)

Jesus Christ. You don't care about the survival of your own species? WTF is wrong with you, in addition to playing Devil's advocate for the Devil?

If the survival of our species is in jeopardy, the last thing on my mind will be if a Gray anthropologist likes my taste in literature.

Re:Why paper books are better (2)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319820)

They work when civilization collapses and they're found centuries later in a cave

Why would I care?

It's happened (more or less) before. Aside from just being nice to help future historians, religious scholars, readers of classical literature, etc., know about us for their own enlightenment, if civilization collapses, preserved books can keep knowledge alive. They helped out the Renaissance quite a bit, although had to be discarded as we progressed to the Enlightenment, since they hadn't gotten that far themselves.

You seem to be confusing e-books in general with DRM.

True, but even without DRM, there's nothing to indicate that electronic records are particularly robust or long-lived. It's a pain in the ass to read punch cards or paper tape, much less run software or understand the data encoded on them. And those media were in use within living memory. Human readable paper books are pretty durable and easy to copy, republish, and distribute (which are also important for long term survival of information).

I'd say that it would be a good idea to have computer printers that can output to stone tablets, but then HP's would probably bitch about being low on quartz or something.

Re:Why paper books are better (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320046)

It's a pain in the ass to read punch cards or paper tape, much less run software or understand the data encoded on them. And those media were in use within living memory.

I do agree that dead tree books are, overall, the more robust medium, but your point here is flawed. Punch cards and paper tape didn't have an installed base anything like the size that CDs, hard drives, or many other modern technologies do - as such, both the hardware and the knowledge to decode them is rather sparse. There's also the fact that people now have a fundamentally different attitude to computing than they used to, and the question of data longevity is one that's commonly considered with the benefit of hindsight - back in the punch card days, the technology didn't have enough 'history' for people to learn from. Even so, if I had a stack of cards that I really needed to decode, I'd be able to rig something up with a sheet-feed scanner, image recognition software, and so forth.

Digital data isn't at all apocalypse-proof, but for general archival its strength is in the ease of duplication; storage is cheap and constantly expanding, so it's usually reasonable to copy all of your data to a new format every so often and still leave more space than you would've had in the old system. Open file formats can always be interpreted or converted into newer ones, should that become necessary. It's proprietary formats and DRM that cause the most immediate problems. Basically, if your data needs to be machine readable, you'll generally be fine passing it from machine to machine in [duplicate/triplicate/whatever], with at least one live and one offline copy. If it needs to be human readable to the extent that you might not have a machine available to do the interpreting then yeah, paper's the way to go.

I'd say that it would be a good idea to have computer printers that can output to stone tablets, but then HP's would probably bitch about being low on quartz or something.

CNC machines, of the laser or router variety, should do the job nicely.

Re:Why paper books are better (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320576)

CNC machines, of the laser or router variety, should do the job nicely.

What about reg'lar old 3D printers? The enviros keep telling us that PVC or polystyrene, or whatever it is those things print with aren't susceptible to biological decay. Perhaps that's a less expensive alternative to wearing out end mills or burning out lasers?

Re:Why paper books are NOT better (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319556)

They don't work in the dark.

They cost a forest and a polluted river.

They require huge structures to house them, constant vigilance to watch for mold and deterioration, mice and fire.

Caves are not where you find books.

They bring jack booted thugs to demand their surrender for burning.

Books have to be carried around, you can never carry very many of them. Moving house is a bitch.

Shipping them is expensive. Printing them is expensive. This leads to a artificial scarcity of ideas and knowledge.

Books out of print may never come back into print. If you didn't buy it then, it may not be possible ever again.

Long after the copyright has expired, the Physical DRM encumbering books still hinders their distribution and replication.

ok, I'll get off your lawn now.....

Re:Why paper books are NOT better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35320390)

Actually with new printing technology, it's getting easier for the printers to sprint small batches of books, and may become economical to do single prints upon request, so a book will eternally be available in print upon demand.

Re:Why paper books are NOT better (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320760)

They cost a forest and a polluted river.

And electronic trash [nationalgeographic.com] is any better?

Re:Why paper books are NOT better (3, Insightful)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 3 years ago | (#35321230)

They bring jack booted thugs to demand their surrender for burning.

Dude that is so old school. These days you don't need firemen to burn unwanted books/ideas. In a world of electric books on multi-media devices there are two far simpler options:

  • You run code to remove electronic copies/versions of unwanted ideas whenever they are found on the network
  • You produce large quantities of reality TV, trash novels and other "noise" to drown out unwanted ideas

Re:Why paper books are NOT better (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35321252)

Do books cause more pollution than creating an e-reader?

Re:Why paper books are NOT better (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35321568)

They bring jack booted thugs to demand their surrender for burning.

At least that is a conspicuous abuse of power. With e-books, someone at amazon enters a command or two and Orwell's works go *POOF*

Re:bad form to burn a paper book (3, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319614)

Actually, you might be on to an idea.

Can we contact the agents for Ray Bradbury for permission to crowd-source Fahrenheit 451?

Re:Why paper books are better (2)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319718)

They work when civilization collapses and they're found centuries later in a cave.

I'm buying the book so I can read it, not so future archaeologists can.

There is of course, a way to make a normal book stop working when the availability of its content becomes a problem. It's called fire. It's generally bad form to burn a paper book. Why exactly is it socially acceptable to DRM a book again?

Not the same thing. Book burning is used by dictators and fanatics to censor the content of books they don't like. They don't want you to read the book at all.
Publishers want to use DRM to keep extorting money out of you. They don't care what the book says, as long as you pay for the privilege of reading it.

The closest we've come to an ebook-burning so far is the mechanism that allowed Amazon to yank illegitimately sold copies of 1984 from users' Kindles.

Re:Why paper books are better (2)

antdude (79039) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319748)

Pumpkins??? Oooh, I could easily make them as pies. I love pumpkin pies. ;)

Re:Why paper books are better (1)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 3 years ago | (#35321074)

They work when civilization collapses and they're found centuries later in a cave

Most paper in books don't last that long. I'd guess 150 years is the limit.

The documents we do have that are much older were made using a (more expensive) process which includes durability as a side effect. There's no way one can produce the volume of books we do using that kind of process - it would be prohibitively expensive.

Re:Why paper books are better (1)

cswiger (63672) | more than 3 years ago | (#35321352)

Most paper in books don't last that long. I'd guess 150 years is the limit.

You're right that most mass-market paperback books won't last that long, at least not without significant yellowing and deterioration. However, any trade edition paperback or hardcover book ought to be made from acid-free paper, which is supposed to be good for hundreds of years if kept in reasonable archival storage conditions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid-free_paper [wikipedia.org] wikipedia link

The documents we do have that are much older were made using a (more expensive) process which includes durability as a side effect. There's no way one can produce the volume of books we do using that kind of process - it would be prohibitively expensive.

This is true, although it's more because a lot of cheap paper around nowadays is made by recycling, which means using bleaches and acids to remove the old print. (But recycled paper is more often used for newspapers and napkins than for books....)

Back in time, they tended to use natural fibers like Egyptian papyrus or cotton, rather than wood pulp, which tend to last longer than paper made from wood pulp.

Re:Why paper books are better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35321092)

Wow, the negative replies to this are amazing. To those people: Civilization will never miss you when you are gone. Hurry up and go away.

Another assault on The Commons (5, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319386)

This is just another attack from the corporate powers against what is known as "The Commons". They won't be happy until they've destroyed any social institution that doesn't function to create profits for corporations. From prisons to libraries, there have been institutions in our society that we hold "in common". Public libraries, public schools, public safety (police and fire departments) even parks are all facing coordinated assaults on their very existence as public institutions. Corporations hate these things because people make use of them without enriching the economic elite. Hell, they don't even believe you should be able to lend something you bought to a neighbor or friend.

It can only happen if we go along with it.

What Harper Collins wants to do, what the RIAA and MPAA want to do, make a great case for civil disobedience, which in this case might take the form of "piracy" (an inaccurate label). Why would you want to buy a book from someone who holds you in such contempt?

And it is definitely possible to support the artists without supporting the corporations. It just takes a little more thought and effort.

Re:Another assault on The Commons (1)

Ganthor (1693614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320294)

Agree - and this makes me think that we are going backwards as a society. Less egalitarian and less pooling of resources for the common good.

They better not block screen readers and the blind (2)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319394)

They better not block screen readers and the blind should sue.

The solution is a simple 5 steps: (3, Interesting)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319440)

1) Print
2) Scan
3) OCR
4) PDF
5) Lend at will, as many times as you please.

Although it isn't legal, in this case I think it could and should be regarded as simple civil disobedience. Prohibition was brought down largely by people's flagrant disregard for it. If enough people thumb their noses at this foolishness, then perhaps we can all stop fighting about obsolete business models and get on with taking full advantage of the things our shiny new technology offers us.

Re:The solution is a simple 5 steps: (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319570)

If their DRM is anything like other publishers use for their e-books, it is trivially removed without need to print/re-scan. Remember, DRM is flawed by design, since it necessarily puts the encryption keys where the user can always reach them - he just needs to be sufficiently motivated.

Re:The solution is a simple 5 steps: (2)

sltd (1182933) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319576)

The problem is some DRM restricts printing (either no printing, or there's a page limit). This could be circumvented using Print Screen.

Re:The solution is a simple 5 steps: (2)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319622)

I guess I'll just uncheck "Obey DRM restrictions" under preferences in kpdf.

Re:The solution is a simple 5 steps: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319886)

Screen OCR software can scan your screen or any area of it and copy it to a file as it processes it through OCR. Very accurate if you have a basic font for it to read. Pretty much zero errors.

Re:The solution is a simple 5 steps: (2)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319846)

Is it illegal? I mean, I don't recall books coming with any sort of license agreement that would forbid you from digitizing them and allowing one person at a time to view said digital back-ups. I'm not a lawyer or anything, so I have no idea what law that would run afoul of -- but it certainly sounds like fair use to me.

Re:The solution is a simple 5 steps: (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320042)

Replace "thumb their noses" with "execute every last IP and copyright troll", and you might be on to something.

The big problem with things like the DMCA and egregious copyright abuse, is we (consumers) let it happen. We all recognize that good work should be rewarded, but the rules are set up in a way that gives way too much power to the publishers and distributors... often not even the content creators themselves, who sign away their rights. This abusive practice needs to be stopped. In the age of the internet, many of these old-world distribution powerhouses have become obsolete, and they know it, but they're doing everything they can do stretch out just a few more years of profits. HarperCollins "licensing" e-books to libraries is such an example. In reality, the author should be licensing the book directly, since HarperCollins' involvement is merely as a middleman, a useless, contract-abusing profit-hoarding freedom-stifling parasitic middleman.

Re:The solution is a simple 5 steps: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35320322)

seriously?

1) Print

You want Libraries to open up massive-scale print shops? This is the most.. I don't even... Maybe you meant "print to PS" using a driver, and by "scan and ocr" you meant .. uh ...

The sixth step (1)

QuincyDurant (943157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320430)

Actually, it's a new first step, pushing each of the other five down the stack:

6) Buy the book.

You need something to scan, and the publisher and writer need to make SOMETHING.

In many cases, they'll make more because of a potential step 7--some of the people to whom you lend the pdf will want to buy their own paper copy.

Re:The solution is a simple 5 steps: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35320466)

Amen. It is time these dinosaurs at least try to look past their noses at the business model of our age.

I, for one, (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319474)

I, for one, am sick and tired of literates.

Libraries are in trouble (3, Insightful)

blarkon (1712194) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319498)

The great problem that libraries have is that most of them aren't used by the people that support them. As local governments are increasingly finding, you can shut a library and other than some well written letters to the editor, most taxpayers will go along with it. Public libraries have been around for 150 years and were far more important in ages where books were a lot less accessible. Spin forward to today and the use of public libraries has been declining. Part of this is the Internet. A lot of the information you once would have once gone to the library for you can search the internet for on your mobile phone. Schools have libraries that complement their curriculum, and Universities tend to be the place where you go if you are looking for more obscure books. My high school library was superior to the civic library when it came to research for papers back then. If I couldn't find stuff in my high school library, I had to go to the University library, because civic libraries didn't carry those sorts of books.
Although it is nice to believe that the community is charitable enough to want to spend money on putting books into the hands of people that can't afford them, a lot of people aren't willing to fund public health for poorer people. If you aren't willing to fund doctors for poor kids, you probably don't give a rats about making sure they have access to books. What is comes down to is that as much as a certain segment of the community likes the IDEA of libraries, the majority of the community doesn't give a rats arse because they never use them. That makes them an easy cut when local municipalities are trying to right the balance sheets.
People would rather less services than more tax and that puts libraries, increasingly less utilized, squarely into the "this is a luxury" column.

How does the e-book know that it has been loaned? (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319562)

/* empty */

Re:How does the e-book know that it has been loane (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319826)

I'll assume you asked this seriously. Despite OverDrive's claim that all you need is your ebook reader, you actually have to download and install a "minder" program from Adobe onto a regular PC. You cannot check out an eBook directly from the library, nor can you check it out to any old device and side-load it. You have to run the Adobe app, which comes in 3 flavors: Windows, Mac, and Screw You (Linux and everyone else). The Adobe app downloads the eBook and peers into your eReader to get the information needed to encrypt the eBook before uploading it into the eReader.

Yes, you heard that right. Not only are you tied to a desktop machine with limited OS choices to get the book into your eReader, you have to provide the resources to put the resulting document under DRM.

If it sounds like forcing the slaves to forge their own shackles, well....

Re:How does the e-book know that it has been loane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35321380)

The library is forced to use a lending system that encodes the ebook with a unique key that ties it to an authorised reading device/service.
To become authorised, it means your device/service has to honour the limited time flag embeded into the encoded book.
Aldiko has just implimented the adobe DRM into their reader software (Android - and doubled the size of the app for it) so they
cold let people read encumbered books - including those from the library (overdrive) system.

F.U.C.K. Y.O.U. (2)

chronoss2010 (1825454) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319750)

A new organization to stuff DRM where it should be U.P. Y.O.U.R. A.S.S.

No Surprise (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319762)

Harper Collins = Newscorp = Rupert Murdoch = Fox

nobody wants to work anymore (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319908)

nobody wants to work anymore, everyone just wants to get paid

LOL @ Doctorow (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35319924)

All I take from this, is that Cory Doctorow needs to have all of his book rights under a better publisher than Macmillan.

Re:LOL @ Doctorow (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320434)

I was going to say that what I took from it was that no amount of permissive licensing and publisher story whoring would make me read Cory Doctorow's books. :)

In coorporativist america the books read you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35320150)

Ah finally the fascist fucks found the one time password concept.

Cory Doctorow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35320204)

Cory Doctorow, who thinks that copyright is abused, uses the full protection of copyright on his most current works. Guess restrictive copyright is OK if it makes him Money.

Quoting Rupert Giles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35320254)

Books smell musty and-and-and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer is a - it, uh, it has no-no texture, no-no context. It's-it's there and then it's gone. If it's to last, then-then the getting of knowledge should be, uh, tangible.

Just as with Music and Movies (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320274)

Pirated versions of your content do not have these annoying restrictions.

simple solution (1)

lolololol (1991780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320552)

Wait to borrow books that do this until someone comes up with a point and click script that rips the DRM off the eBook, like the one I use on my purchased Sony Reader books (linux user, their appstore won't work on linux.) Win.

Just Never... (1)

rally2xs (1093023) | more than 3 years ago | (#35320988)

...buy things with DRM... or that need to be jailbroken. If they didn't make any money at this, they wouldn't do it...

Simple Solution (1)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 3 years ago | (#35321162)

Libraries should simply buy paper books instead of ebooks while this policy is in place.

Let them have it, but we want something back (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35321190)

Let them have their 26 checkouts, if I can have copyright protection only last 60 years, instead of the 120 congress is pushing towards.

Technology sucks... (2)

WaffleMonster (969671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35321560)

Sometimes I truely wonder if useful information technology has plateaued...

It seems any more innovations in communication and information publishing are about maximizing the sales channel rather than providing value to the consumer.

Now I know how poor rice farmers in India must feel as the seeds from their rice harvest can't be regrown after some clever biotech company introduced a terminator gene to protect their IP and profits.

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