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Major flaws in both points here:

1) You can lend your Kindle out all you want and let people read your books, just as you could before. You just can't duplicate the book onto someone else's Kindle or in any other way, just as you couldn't before. This is a reasonable restriction and not any worse than it was with a physical book, which you are also prohibited from scanning, photocopying and distributing outside of fair use.

2) You can not copy/paste a physical book either. I agree that this should be allowed, but it's not a dystopian future - there is no loss over physical books here, only gain.

Perhaps Amazon should allow some sort of way to help with "fair use" citations, and maybe they should remove restrictions on public domain material. On the latter though, those are generally available for free from many sources, so the fact that you can't copy/paste on your Kindle is an inconvenience, not a dystopia.




> You can lend your Kindle out all you want and let people read your books, just as you could before.

Only until that becomes a violation of Amazon's TOS, or reading your books requires you be 'authenticated' with a rights server.

These things happen in steps and just because it works now does not imply that is will continue to work next week/month/year.


Have you actually read that this plan is in the works, or that someone at amazon intends to do it? Otherwise, it sounds an awful lot like a slippery slope fallacy.


I'll point to the music industry for prior art: Originally, the CD you purchased was your to enjoy in perpetuity unless you chose to resell it. Current 'state of the art' is either:

A. Purchase a streaming 'membership' where you only have the right to personally stream music from a remote server

B. Purchase encrypted, non-transferrable 'tracks' which will become unplayable when the company supplying them stops running their servers.

There are still avenues (Amazon mp3) which do not take this approach (DRM), but you still cannot legally resell the goods you purchased.


To say that there are “still avenues” for buying music without DRM is a grotesque distortion of history.

For the longest time it was impossible to buy any (mainstream) music without DRM from anywhere online. This is no longer true. New services (like Amazon MP3) now sell music without DRM and old services (like iTunes) also switched over to selling music without DRM.

Music is the clearest example that this issue is quite a bit more complicated and that working towards more freedom is possible, has already worked and might work again in the future.


How long was it impossible to buy mainstream music on CDs? CDs don't have DRM, and they're all-digital. Your position is the grotesque distortion of history.


Online. You could only ever buy music with DRM online. It seemed like history was trending in the direction of less freedom but that has completely changed by now. To suggest otherwise is grotesque. CDs are really irrelevant to this particular discussion.

(By the way, the labels also tried to bring DRM to CDs for quite some time. I think they stopped doing that, too. I’m not so sure because I didn’t buy any new music on CD ever since I could buy all the un-DRMed music I wanted online.)


you may not be familiar with this episode - they tried numerous methods of DRM'ing CDs. Some were circumventable with black marker. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_copy_protection_rootki...


I was, but none of those methods even came close to working; you could "circumvent" them just by putting the CD into a computer running an unexpected operating system, because they all had to be compatible with existing CD players.


DRM has passed the music scene for individual purchases. I didn't accept either of those propositions you mentioned, so I purchased CDs until DRM went away.

Now, I get the bonus of being able to buy just one track.

I would say the people's will is doing nicely in the music industry, even given how hard the RIAA has fought it. I suspect books will follow as people determine what the new norms are and companies find a way to flourish or die therein.


I'm a little unclear why you are referencing patent law.

Anyhow, it seems strange that you feel like you have a right to something produced by someone else. I'm not sure they should be able to make laws making circumvention illegal. But, aren't you complaining because you can't access someone else's work in a manner that you think is convenient?

The whole "our rights are being squashed because I can't share my ebook with you" argument reeks a little too much of entitlement for me to get behind it.


Entitlement is indeed a pretty useless concept in this context.

Are you "entitled" to lend a paper book to someone. Publisher say no, and they are backed up with the force of law in some countries.

Are you "entitled" to read a book out loud? The Authors Guild says no.

Are you "entitled" to sing a song out loud? ASCAP says no.

Are you "entitled" to sell a CD that you own? Music publishers say no.

Eventually I'll might get to something to which you do think you are "entitled", and smart money bets there is someone in the content industry who wants to deprive you of it, and someone in the legislature willing to make you a criminal if you if you try. The slippery slpe has been well documented for a long time.

BTW, if you haven't already recognized it, this discussion is about much more than just Amazon's TOS.


This whole 'entitlement' angle is just wrong thinking here.

The fundamental is that technological advance has given us something good, that we did not have before, for free. The sensible question is, how can we best benefit from it.

Are we entitled to the invention of the car? Are we entitled to comfortably travel at faster than walking pace? The question seems meaningless, let alone unhelpful.


I don't think that's necessarily the sensible question.

Aamazon built the kindle. It is their to decide what to do with it. You and I have no right to usurp their product because we want to alter the benefit. If you don't like the DRM or the features, don't use the product, or start a competitor to the Kindle.

Please don't expand my comment to any other industries. There are certain safety and utility businesses that require regulation. I don't think being able to electronically download a book over a propriety network using a proprietary device (that someone chose to purchase) is one of those.


If it comes to be that a significant majority of the book market is locked by DRM schemes, then no, Amazon ought not have the right to do as they please, and a regulatory agency should be established to ensure fair and equitable access to the materials.

Education, water, electricity, communication, and healthcare are all fine and proper examples of what happens when incumbents reach "escape velocity" and their past innovations turn into today's rent seeking.


Considering all the abuses that giant media companies visit on us daily with attacks on "pirates", bittorrent, etc. maybe you should be providing us with concrete proof that there this is no such plan in the works.


I'll take more time than I should to respond to your comment. It doesn't deserve to be in this discussion, as it's just a knee-jerk reaction with little substance.

In short, I'll just say this:

* "media companies" is an unnecessarily broad category. But saying "books' rights owners" would invalidate your entire point. Now, you could have pointed out that the MPAA and RIAA felt they had no choice but to lock things down and "attack". Then you could have pointed out the similarity in contexts between their situation and the books' rights groups. Then it would have been reasonable (although a huge stretch, IMO) to suggest that the books' rights groups may make similar decisions. But you chose not to, which leads me to my next two points:

* you cannot prove a negative (this is a big one, so you might want to re-read it)

* your tone is overly emotional and inflammatory, something that at once weakens your points and makes me not like you very much


I'm not sure why you were downvoted. I suppose the counterargument would be that you can't lend just one book at a time, or something similar. However, that is as much a consequence of packing all your books into one device as it is amazon's fault.

I don't see why people would expect a business to be run in a method that yields no tangible benefits (why does amazon or penguin want you to share books?), but could have consequences (reduced sales).

Sometimes it seems like people are shocked when companies act in their best interests. It's very strange.


The point of the article is in fact that because the companies have acted in their (perceived) best interests, we have lost freedom.

And that maybe we should care.


Look, I love the law as much as my fellow citizen but this is ridiculous. If you don't like the restrictions placed on you by Amazon, don't obey them! Just break the DRM and give your books to whoever you please. Until Amazon actually manages to track and prosecute people who do this, which doesn't exactly seem likely, you haven't lost anything at all.

You are a human with free will. You can choose to do whatever you think is ethical and rational. If you think it's ethical to give books to other people, and you aren't going to suffer for it, then why aren't you doing it? I think it's really weird that we can sit here on Hacker News and talk about these arbitrary restrictions that Amazon has made as if they are actually restricting something. They are restrictions in name only.


Have you ever heard of Milgram's experiment? People will actually torture each other if commanded by a higher authority, much less not share a book :)


Have we really lost any freedoms? You can still get any book on paper, and will for the near future. You can still swap books all you like.

If people are willing to give up their right to loan books in exchange for the convenience of eBooks, it sounds more like an exchange of freedom for convenience. But that's a choice people make, which is something I can't get too worked up over.

I also don't buy an argument that paper books are going away any time soon. There are huge swaths of people 40-and-up who will never read ebooks (and I suspect that is the demographic that reads more "books" than the younger set)


Have we really lost any freedoms?

Not per se. But it is withdrawal of extra freedoms/features that electronic media and the internet provide e.g. nearly-free copying and distribution and random access.

There are many possible (and legal) applications that are made impossible, even for the buyer of a book. Think e.g. of corpus linguistics, applications for automatic annotation of phrases, etc.

The media companies are trying to turn what is new and provides enormous potential benefits to the population into what is old, because it is easier to stay with old business methods than to reinvent yourself.


"Not per se. But it is withdrawal of extra freedoms/features that electronic media and the internet provide e.g. nearly-free copying and distribution and random access."

This just means that these attributes (sharing, copying, etc.) are not something inherent to the medium. While I agree that these restrictions can prevent cool features from being enabled, it's a stretch for me to believe I'm entitled to those features.

It also sounds like you're projecting a little onto the media companies with your last paragraph. Isn't it just as reasonable that they are clinging to old business methods because the new ones may cause their non-existence? In that sense, they are acting in rational self preservation.


These restrictions are not only preventing "cool features", they are preventing progress. You seem resigned to that fate, but I for one am not.


What progress?


This just means that these attributes (sharing, copying, etc.) are not something inherent to the medium.

They are precisely inherent to any digital medium.

That's what some find so galling. Part of the point being made here is that you need to resort to cumbersome kludges to prevent people from enjoying the opportunities that are already enabled by the medium.


We have lost no freedoms. Using a Kindle and subsequently agreeing to the terms of service are voluntary. If you feel strongly about sharing books, don't use ebooks.


That sort of reasoning works fine right up until there are only ebooks. Then there's no alternative, and the terms of service are effectively no longer voluntary.


When has that happened though? Music, arguably the first form of media to go digital, has also gone non-DRM. What about the Internet, the largest collection of non-DRM information ever in the history of humankind? How about freely available lectures, via services like Open Courseware? Or distribution of virtually any kind of media via archive.org? That's not even going into non-legal methods of exchange.

For the content you want, there may one day be no alternative, but I find it unlikely. The trend through all of RMS's posturing and windbagging has been more and more free exchange of information than there ever has been.


Take a university class. Odds are that your required textbook is not Open Courseware.


Most people don't seem to understand this until they encounter it on a close and personal level -- as rms has.


> If you feel strongly about sharing books, don't use ebooks.

I understand what you're saying, but I feel like I should point out that there is a very large corpus of ebooks available that are not customer-hostile. (feedbooks.com, pragprog and oreilly, etc.) In fact, the Kindle hardware works great with them. It's only content purchased from Amazon which is objectionable.


Those who purchased a kindle have gained based on the only meaningful metric: they valued the benefits of an exchange over its costs. Freedom was not "lost".


1) except that lending someone your kindle isn't like lending them a book -- it's lending them your entire library at once

2) you are comparing "copying" text from a sheet of paper to an electronic device. that doesn't make any sense at all. people who view text on an electronic screen are used to being able to select and copy it. that was never possible, nor will it ever be with a physical paper book.


Copying an ebook is conceptually the same as photocopying a physical book, or duplicating a physical music album. It's just easier and faster to copy a computer file, or cut-and-paste a portion of it.


It's not anyone's fault but your own that your entire readable library lives in one physical device. Asking to change copyright to allow you to "photocopy" someone else's work and give it to a friend is unacceptable.

Now that I've played devil's advocate, I'm not a big fan of the technological measures that attempt to prevent piracy. I believe that the solution is pricing digital media so that it's more 'disposable' - that is, price it so cheaply that pirating and even lending is too much trouble.


Music is already 99 cents. It can't get more disposable than that. Apps in the iphone and Android stores are also very cheap (most are under $10).

Piracy hasn't slowed down.


Are you sure that you can legally lend your Kindle if it contains copyrighted work? I would be surprised if this wasn't also covered by the strict sense of the law (not that I am suggesting that anyone would ever prosecute for it).


Interesting question. I'm not lawerly enough to answer outright, but regardless of the current law I don't that a case against someone lending their Kindle would ever be upheld. It's analgous to saying letting someone use your computer is a violation of your OS license.

Like you say though, likely a moot point.


Ok, one good counter-point below: You can't loan an individual book (other than through the Amazon program) using a Kindle.

Folks, this is not an Orwellian conspiracy, but rather a limitation of matter and energy which is a consequence of the tradeoffs we make when we decide to use an ereader and put all our books in one device.




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