‘The freedom of not owning books’: Orwellian defense of Kindle-style DRM

image “Ownership isn’t a panacea, especially in an age of information abundance. Will I be concerned if the Kindle dies and books I’ve read on it become inaccessible on that platform? Not really. If I want to read them again, there will be plenty of alternative ways in the future. And my bookshelves long ago stopped being my collection of known facts and resources.” – Kent Anderson, in The Scholarly Kitchen.

The TeleRead take: Raw red meat to start the week. Have at it, gang. Here’s a head start.

Related: Psst! Amazon DRM may limit how many clips you can make from a book—even one out of copyright.

7 Comments on ‘The freedom of not owning books’: Orwellian defense of Kindle-style DRM

  1. Wow… that was total ownage. Superb anti-DRM argumenting there.

  2. The article (and a few of the comments) readily illustrate that… people are different, and what works for some won’t work for others. As someone who does not need to buy first-issue books, but likes to keep the books I get, and never loans them, e-books on a PDA work great for me. For those who want to read and forget it, like instant gratification, never loan books, and have $350 burning a hole in their pocket, a Kindle is great. Apply your preferences and choose your weapons as you desire.

  3. Funny, he is willing to talk about the purchaser giving up ownership rights, but he ignores the fact that by giving up our ownership rights, we are only strengthening the ownership of the media by the original producer and the publisher. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the author or the publisher making money for their work (At least in so far as it actually adds value… I think some publishers add a lot of price without actually increasing value by a similar amount), however, that does not mean I want to give up my fair use rights to a work.

    Essentially, that is what Mr. Anderson is arguing for here (Though he may not realize it). Publishers and authors have a vested interest in limiting what the consumer to the work as much as possible. In a publisher’s perfect world, consumers would pay per use of the book. Obviously, a consumer’s perfect world has all works in the public domain. The compromise that is copyright law was established to give authors and publishers an incentive to produce, but at the same time, it use to be recognized by all concerned that this was a limited license and that ultimately the works would enter the public domain to be used by the public freely. Now publishers not only want to take away the public domain, they ultimately want to take away any form of ownership to the consumer.

  4. I’ve never been convinced by either side in this argument. The information in a factual work is not copyrighted. Anyone can read the book, summarize it, digest it, paraphrase it, and it’s all fair use. So the progress of technical civilization is safe.

    In a work of fiction, the author has more rights, but they’re most important to people who want to copy the author’s expression in some form. Personally, I have never read that many fiction books I wanted to read twice, much less copy or parody. Most authors just aren’t that good. If I felt the need to write something similar, I’d just file off the serial number, bash a few dents in it, and change the paint color. “The Voidship Enterkey, it’s 3.2 year mission is to search for novel biology and undiscovered polities.”

    Buying a paper copy solves the reread problem in the unlikely event something goes wrong with my electronic one. (I do backups, etc., but I’m not fanatical about them.)

    Personally, I think both sides are blowing smoke up the orifices of straw men. My complaint against DRM is that it makes the book hard to use, not that the author is exercising some kind of right against my interests. So long as the price reflects the diminished utility of the book, I can accept a long term lease disguised as a purchase.

    Regards,
    Jack Tingle

  5. Fiction and non-fiction would fall into different places within this argument. He fails to address that. It’s not all about information. I like to revisit favorite fiction books from time to time.

  6. Do you ever rent movies or watch pay-per-view? I think almost everyone does in 2009. Yet no one makes these kinds of complaints. Why? Because you pay a lower price to watch the movie once. It’s understood that you’re getting less as far as rights to the content and you pay less.

    In the realm of ebooks, at least on Kindle, you pay a lower price, in many cases much lower, for the content and you have fewer rights (although FAR more than someone who watches a movie on pay-per-view).

  7. Then you may as well go to the library and not pay anything. I like to own my books. I can read them at my leisure and if it’s a stinker I can trade it in or donate it to the library. If it’s great I can reread it, lend it out (only to a relaible and neat close friend, and keep it proudly displayed on my book shelf.

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