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I treat all E-books purchased with DRM as rentals.

When making a decision whether to buy or not, I look at the price and consider whether I'm willing to pay this much to rent the book for an indeterminate amount of time, possibly as little as 3 months. Quite often it turns out that the price is too high. But I never delude myself that I actually "own" any of the DRM-restricted content that I paid for.




> I treat all E-books purchased with DRM as rentals.

Good for you. Nobody else outside of HN does.


> > I treat all E-books purchased with DRM as rentals.

>Good for you. Nobody else outside of HN does.

Lawyers and librarians also do. There are big discussions in those circles about the meaning of the verbs "to buy" and "to possess" as used by Amazon, Apple and other big DRM "retailers". It is not only about DRM. Libraries are realising that paying for access to a website of a publishing house is not exactly like paying to receive a copy of a published journal or magazine. Have a look at all the dark archives and to who is financing them.

First it was an hacker problem, now it has spread to humanities, in five years the DRM will finally become a layperson problem. The first signs surfaced some years ago, when kids started complaining about the fact that their iPod could not be used to pass or share music while a cheaper Creative MP3 player could without a problem.


I had never heard of "dark archives." Is this what you mean?

(from: http://www.osti.gov/ostiblog/dark-archives)

So, what is a dark archive? It is, simply put, an archive of information that is not used for public access. Most often it serves as a failsafe copy of a light archive, i.e. a publicly available version of the information, for use in disaster recovery operations. Dark archives need not be a fully operational copy of an information system, rather just the content behind the information system.


A dark archive is an archive that is not meant to be publicly accessible. As you said it is used to store information that must survive in case of disaster.

But what is a disaster for a library? Yesterday it was a fire, today is a publisher going bankrupt and dismissing its online (paywalled) archive. A dark archive pays the fee to access various online resources and store them indefinitely, but without letting anyone access that information (well, except the archive admins). The legality of this? Dubious. The usefulness of this? High.

As Portico.com puts it, «We chose to create a “dark” archive to focus our efforts on securing and preserving large volumes of content important to libraries and their users; however, it is not exclusively dark. Participating libraries experience the archive as a “light” or accessible archive in two ways: auditing the archive to ensure we are prepared to support eventual use and accessing of content that has been made available as the result of a “trigger event” or post-cancellation access claim. Unlike many ongoing preservation initiatives, Portico participants and their users experience direct customer support, should they ever need it.»

But the devil is in the details. Who pays the fee for these dark archives? Do we trust them? Who is auditing what is happening behind the doors of the dark archives? Luckily there are FLOSS systems like LOCKSS and CLOCKSS that allow you to create your own dark archive.

Few links:

* http://news.jstor.org/news/2004.12/repositories.html

* http://hul.harvard.edu/publications/ln1356/03.html

* http://www.clockss.org/clockss/FAQ

* http://www.clockss.org/clockss/How_CLOCKSS_Works

* http://www.portico.org/digital-preservation/the-archive-cont...


Could you spell out what a "dark archive" is? The top few Google hits don't give me a precise sense of the thing.


> Nobody else outside of HN does

I agree with this, provided that we adopt Joel Spolsky's definition of "Nobody:"

  Please understand that I'm talking about large trends
  here, and therefore when I say things like "nobody" I
  really mean "fewer than 10,000,000 people," and so on
  and so forth.
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/APIWar.html

That's the meaningful definition of nobody, and while it's entertaining for me to quibble that my ex-mother-in-law only "buys" light novels that she doesn't plan to re-read, your point is cogent.


I tend to use the phrase "Of course there are some people who do X, but we don't care about either of them."


Nobody else outside of HN [treats DRM'd e-book purchases as rentals].

Which is why the court hearing in cases like this should be short, and brutal to Amazon.

Of course, they know that by being based in a different jurisdiction from the person they're screwing, such a case is unlikely to materialise. This is a problem with legal systems generally: low-value cases are rarely worth pushing through if you're not a lawyer, because it takes so long to figure out how to do it without that legal education that you've lost more than you ever stood to recover anyway. This is why consumer protection organisations with the weight of national governments behind them are necessary, but the idea hasn't caught up with the Internet yet.


What's funny is this:

Fine let's say it's not a rental, and forget about the DRM issue for a second.

But what's your cost in keeping the data "alive"? I could copy it from machine to machine, maybe backup it on S3 (or similars), but all that has a cost (time, money, new reading devices, etc).

A physical book has a cost as well: space, weight, etc.

At some point, abandoning the book may be more cost effective, and even if digital books have a 'expire date' it looks like they may be cheaper in the long term


You should talk to more librarians. They're acutely aware of the problem and a number of people view public education on the subject as a professional obligation.


> I treat all E-books purchased with DRM as rentals.

I don't buy e-books. It would annoy me to be locked out of e.g. a steam account or a Google Play account or an AppStore account or whatever, but I'd manage. Not having access to my books, that is something which wouldn't fly, books have been close friends for all my life, so I will remain physical-only until and unless DRMs are dropped from ebooks, as I did with music. I just don't see the benefits as worth the risk.

Seeing DRM'd ebooks as short-term rental is an interesting idea though. I would see myself "renting" an ebook for a buck. For the same price as the mass-market paperback it still makes no sense.


I treat all digital (-ly distributed) content as "rental."

Most of the people I know do too... more or less. I treat all digital (-ly distributed) content as "rental." The reality is that "ownership" of digital property is different from ownership of physical property emotionally, legally and practically.


Even DRM-less? That makes no sense.

I agree on the DRM content though.. The problem is that most people will probably not.


You still don't necessarily own a DRM-free copy of something. DRM is simply a technical method of enforcing a legal license.

Just because you can use a DRM free file in more ways (for example copy and share it) doesn't mean that the license grants you the rights to do so.

One example I remember from the early 90s was "shareware" where you could send off for a free or low cost copy of a software program. These programs were sometimes just demo versions but often actually provided the entire program for free.

However the license stated that you must either delete the program from your computer after some period (usually 30 days) or you must pay a "registration fee" to the developer. Of course without DRM they had no actual way of enforcing this so plenty of people kept shareware versions of programs long after the 30 days which lead to developers releasing only versions with limited functionality for free.


Sme shareware would stop working after the trial period, and if you played it by the book or didn't know the workarounds, you would have to make the purchase.


That seemed to come later, a lot of DOS programs would let you keep using them with just a reminder screen on startup.

mIRC is one program that was free to use for a long time.


I'm talking about the feeling more than anything else. Having a song or a book on my computer/device doesn't feel like ownership to me so I don't treat it like ownership. A book on my kobo feels no different to a podcast on my phone. I don't think about my relationship with it.

Part of that is probably because I already treat physical copies of music/books as temporary things. I abandoned all my CDs & books during my last move. I don't really care about owning this stuff. I just want to listen to music read books and watch shows.

Another part is probably because I think whatever the system is now for owning, distributing & acculating digital property will be moot anyway within the next 10-20 years.

Basically, I don't expect my grandchildren to inherit my "cloud." They'll have access to all that stuff one way or another anyway.


Uhm, what? The button name is "Buy now with 1-click", not "Rent now with 1-click". If I buy something, I own it. Period.


May be you consider it a rental, but most consider it a purchase. That's why throwing out DRM and making a backup should be expected the moment you buy some ebook.




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