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There are a few fundamental differences the author doesn't take into account:

1. There is nothing stopping you from lending out your kindle.

2. The notion of "lending" doesn't really apply to electronic books. Absent copy protection, you can just give someone else a copy. With copy protection, to mimic "lending" some infrastructure needs to be in place to give someone else access rights to a copy of a book while simultaneously depriving you of your copy. And of course this is controlled by the seller, since they're the one putting the copy protection in place.

3. I can't copy/paste from my paper books either, at least not in any way that's not also available to kindle owners.

4. Every choice involves trade-offs. There is no morality involved here, much less the sound of jackboots. There is only what people value. Many seem to value the convenience of having their whole library in a small device over the ability to "lend" individual electronic copies. Those who feel differently can stick to paper books, or electronic books unencumbered by copy protection.




> 2. The notion of "lending" doesn't really apply to electronic books. Absent copy protection, you can just give someone else a copy. With copy protection, to mimic "lending" some infrastructure needs to be in place to give someone else access rights to a copy of a book while simultaneously depriving you of your copy. And of course this is controlled by the seller, since they're the one putting the copy protection in place.

Sometimes comments like this makes me wonder whether or not it is not in our best interests not to let technology get hijacked by corporate interests. I understand Amazon has to make a profit somehow to continue providing the infrastructure, but if computers and technology have gotten us, humanity, to a point where one can "lend" books while simultaneously keeping our copy ourselves, why do we encumber ourselves? I can't imagine what people even 100 yrs ago would have wondered at such technology.

I am quite uneducated about history, but I can imagine a similar revolution with the printing press. How much of the clergy / priests opposed printing presses because they allowed the common masses to access information on a scale unprecedented at that time?

Edit: I realize upon a second reading the phrase "... technology get hijacked ..." might be hyperbole, but the point stands.


How much of the clergy / priests opposed printing presses because they allowed the common masses to access information on a scale unprecedented at that time?

Movable type was one of the causes and main tools of the Reformation and thus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_wars_of_religion , so yes, there were huge consequences with lots of opposition.

It’s complicated, of course. The clergy was not always against the spread of books, and the wars had many causes. But comparing cheap digital copying with cheap printing is pretty safe from a historical perspective.


I completely agree.

Every time I see a digital library service, where you can borrow a book or other media that then is deleted after certain lending period, I can't help but thinking that they are missing the point.

The time-limited lending period used by libraries is a bug. A bug that's solved by technology.

Libraries exist in order to spread knowledge and information. But they can't share their knowledge to everyone who wants it, they physically can't keep enough books or duplicate them in a timely manner. This bug has been fixed by digital technology, and we can duplicate them in a timely manner to anyone who wants it.

But some people insist on keeping the bug, and that they are doing society a favor.


'Lending' someone an ebook that they can keep indefinitely is like xeroxing them a paper book, is it not?


Yes, that is an excellent point. Although, in a lot of cases, photocopying a book requires significant labor, with much lower guarantee of quality and I've rarely seen people making a business out of photocopying novels. For technical books, on the other hand, things get much more complicated. I understand prices are higher because circulation is typically much lower.

However, that leads me to another question: Must we always look at analogies from the past and work with them? The beauty of new technologies is that they're better than the old ones we had. It might take a lot more work, but it is much better to look at things afresh rather than falling back on old structures and status quo. The reason IP is so contentious is precisely because of this. We do not have anything to fall back on and must device probably completely new and arbitrary rules. Clearly it is in the publishers best interest to stick to status quo as much as possible and try to find analogies to old models so that it might be easier to justify a system in place that guarantees a revenue stream. But for the consumer, it is not obvious why this must be the case. In fact, the whole notion of publisher itself was a solution to a problem that technology has now (seemingly) solved.


But if you lend someone a copy that they could keep indefinitely, the creator doesn't get paid for that copy. Isn't that simple enough?


What if you price it in such a way that lending someone a copy allows them to still pay the creator?

You do realize that you as a creator are taking advantage of the medium to distribute your creation in much more efficient ways, yet, you don't want to give the privilege of the abilities of the medium to the consumer. It is this asymmetry that fundamentally perplexes me (to which I have no satisfactory answer).


I don't see any reason for this to perplex you. The dead tree model is well established; enough people are willing to pay for their own copy so that they don't have to go through the annoyance of lending.

One of the abilities of ebooks is that there is essentially zero duplication cost. That means that (outside of legal and DRM) there would be absolutely no reason for anyone to ever pay for a book instead of getting it for free.

I would actually say that there is very little advantage of ebooks to an author; piracy is suddenly an actual problem instead of something that would be laughable (how many pirate paper backs do people own?), people suddenly can't lose your book meaning they will only purchase it once, and most importantly you lose the entirety of the extra profits from hardcover editions (the price of hardcover versus paperbacks is not really from the cost to produce). Publishers are clearly going to be decimated by self publishing becoming more viable for up and coming authors.

The efficiency of not having to print actual books, ship them, etc is nothing compared to these other factors. The real reason why they have to sell ebooks is because customers are demanding them, and would buy their competitors books if they didn't offer digital editions.

Almost nothing about ebooks is actually positive to publishers or established authors. They are the horseshoe manufacturers and the model T has just been invented; just because they start making tires doesn't mean that they wouldn't be much happier if cars had never become invented.


Printing was welcome by the church, as it increased quality: less errors and a more uniform look. One of the first printed books was a latin bible http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutenberg_Bible


Lending your kindle is like lending ALL of your books. When I lend book A, I can still read book B. That's why I stick to dead trees for the time being.


Actually, amazon hasn't been very clear about whether or not physically lending a kindle is within their terms of service.

http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6649814.html?rssid=1...


Regardless of where it actually stands in their ToS, I suspect that even if they wanted to start enforcing it (which they seem not to want to do based on the article), some group like the EFF would be pretty quick to mount a court challenge. The iTunes ToS[1] says, "You agree not to modify, rent, lease, loan, sell, distribute, or create derivative works based on the Service in any manner," but I think if there was ever a challenge on people loaning their iPod (with iTMS music on it) to a friend, it would get struck down pretty quickly.

[1]http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/us/terms.html#SERVICE Under Intellectual Property


I would think and hope so, but that gets awfully close to the Zediva case (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/03/zediva-copyright/). I would think the 'public performance' argument still holds, even though it would be a free performance.

So, I do not think this would get struck down quickly. I do doubt that studios would dare sue in this case, though. Under pressure from public opinion, laws can change very quickly, and such a change could see studios lose quite a few sources of income.


I agree, If you have a credit card, it comes with the same limitation for obvious reasons.


>3. I can't copy/paste from my paper books either, at least not in any way that's not also available to kindle owners.

You mean I can chop the spine off of my kindle and run it through that massive scanning/OCRing beast like I did with textbooks? Awesome!


Talk about limiting access to technology. I think more people can afford Kindle's (and thus their access to the lending, DRM removal and other options) than have access to a "massive scanning/OCRing beast".


The Kindle doesn't have a spine, and it turns pages by the press of a paddle rather than flip of a paper, so it is even easier to scan by machine than a hard book is.


There are machines that accept a stack of (unbound) paper and OCR it all. There's no "batch mode" for Kindle (apart from cracking the DRM, but that's a separate issue).


And a duck isn't an orange. His point was that an OCR machine would be easier to make for the kindle--just have it press the paddles. His point was not that an existing OCR machine for books would work on a kindle.


And all the while are we arguing about creating a digital copy of digital content. Even thinking about OCR here is like priting a screenshot and scanning it back in to send it via mail. Possible? Sure. Useful? Not at all..




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