To stay with the real world analogy: while the article is right that nothing will glue the pages of a physical book together once the credit card expires, it is also the case that purchasing a book once doesn't entitle you to go to the bookstore and demand another copy of the book because you lost your initial one.
I can see a technical reason which prevents the redownload by locked accounts. Or rather, I can imagine the additional work such a feature could require - work that obviously isn't going to be paid for by anybody (or rather paid for by customers who do have valid accounts and buy more media) - the card of the affected account is expired after all.
IMHO, if we want to demand that an electronic media purchase is a traditional sale, then we can't rurn around and demand that it also isn't and that we should have right to infinitely ask for additional copies - however cheap it might be to create them.
oh Yes, We can. The reason we're entitled to it is the fact that DRM stands in the way of us customers backing up our purchases. If my eBook were in a format devoid of DRM & I could back it up by saving it in Droppbox or my external hard drive, then your argument would carry some weight.
I compare the ebook readers as a physical object with the books (also physical objects). If I can read books on that device even when my credit card has expired or other things have disabled my account, then IMHO the parity to the real world exists: I have that one physical object which represents the content on it. If I lose it and don't have my account any more, well, too bad.
Of course, by centralizing many books to one physical object, you risk losing much more content as you lose that physical object. But the advantage is that, in case it breaks, it can be repaired (which might be impossible with a physical book)
Now. I know for a fact that this is how Kindle works: even if your account is gone, your books stay on your Kindle and you can continue to read them. I would assume it works the same for B&N in this case.
Being able to infinitely redownload the books is a nice convenience that goes far beyond what a physical book would allow.
Also, I haven't tried it, but these DRMed books are just files after all. It might be possible to back them up and later read them on the same device (again the physical book analogy) even if the account has been terminated.
Also, even though I have a child at home, I never had a book that "broke" - as there's nothing that some glue can't fix. The only real danger for the preservation of books in physical form is fire.
> by centralizing many books to one physical object, you risk losing much more content as you lose that physical object
No, you got it wrong. The far bigger danger is that the eBook reader is a device running on integrated circuits and battery, which will break in only a couple of years and those B&N servers will not be online forever (I would be quite surprised if they are still online in 10 years), it's only a question of when that will happen.
And making this whole thing defective by disallowing people to backup their books however they want is the most evil and stupid thing I've ever seen. DRM is defective by design and no matter how much you try painting this crow, it's still a crow.
Fire is more dangerous than floods and historically we've lost more books by fire than from anything else, although I'm pretty sure there are effective methods to recover content partially from books that are only partially burned.
The durability of physical books is amazing and the only thing going for digital content is that the cost of copies is zero, which means you can easily make backups in multiple places of this world instantly and retrieve those backups with whatever device you happen to have in front of you. Unfortunately that's exactly what DRM is trying to prevent.
Other than loss and theft of course.
Some oppressive regimes will confiscate some books. I don't know what happens to that book afterwards.
But you knew this when you bought the e-book. If companies were selling DRM-protected e-books but labeling them as DRM-free, that would be fraud. But (AFAIK) they're not.
Unfortunately from what I've seen, the public has no idea what DRM is, as the technical details are hard to understand. When buying a DRM-protected copy of something, that copy is not yours, you don't own your copy in any way, your only right is time-limited access to that copy, you know like renting with a public library subscription (it's actually even worse, since when renting something you usually have a contract that guarantees availability for a specific time period, whereas with DRM you never know for how long it will last).
And I disagree with your point on advertising - because buying something DRM-protected is really renting, customers should be informed of this.
EDIT: Actually, I should clarify. One ebook retailer does make this explicit — Google. But I wasn't counting them because they don't "own" a market segment and you'd probably be pretty savvy to be buying from them anyway.
If it's DRM'd then I'd expect to pay far less for it. I've got a Kindle, and I won't buy any books for it - because I feel so uneasy about where I stand on this. Which is a shame really. Add to that, that paper copies are somehow cheaper a lot of the time, and that I can pass /sell them on, after reading. Prevents me from becoming spineless.
Don't Restrict Me!
And for the record. Norwegian law states that you can freely distribute anything you own to a few friends and also make backups of it. DRM is technically illegal in Norway, but no one has brought a case to court over it yet.
The DMCA act in the USA prohibits DRM removal, under all circumstances, even if we are talking about your own content for which you own the copyright.
In Canada bill C-61 also made DRM circumvention illegal. In Europe too. It is unclear to me how these fare to the DMCA, because it might be that only providing the tools and information for doing that is illegal. But in Europe, even if we are talking only about the tools being illegal, if you end up removing the DRM protections from some content, it can be argued that's changing the format, which is a different thing but also illegal.
It is worth pointing out that pieces of software, like CloneCD , are illegal even in Europe, even though this software only makes exact copies and does not change the format (it does not remove DRM).
And the US, being the 800-pound gorilla that it is, is constantly pushing others for copyright reforms similar to the DMCA.
Also, whenever you're talking about "fair use", you're always in a gray and dangerous area, as fair use clauses are intentionally ambiguous, so sentences are passed based on subjective reasoning based on context and in the US on precedents. If fair use is your defense, then more often than not you're screwed if you can't afford competent lawyers.
Norway is not an EU member state, so normal european laws will not necessarily apply there.
Here in the UK I'm not aware of any specific laws that would make owning software like CloneCD illegal, though it could be used in ways that might be considered illegal.
What I don't like is that the US has so much leverage that they are able to efficiently push dumb and evil reforms (e.g. ACTA) and the representatives of many countries simply sign agreements without blinking or thinking about it.
Granted I'm mostly playing devil's advocate here, but I think it's entirely silly to expect people to know things that are very firmly technical knowledge and not common sense. The person you replied to might have known that their eBook reader is prone to failure but what about the vast majority of consumers?
The real world analogy does not work here - as I can carry on storing the books I want, and am fully aware that when I choose to remove a book, then I no longer have it - the expectation with a digital purchase, is that they hold my virtual bookself. If they don't then they need to make that clear, and provide ways for me to take on that responsibility.
You didn't pay for a book in the abstract. You paid for a DRM-protected file, and you got it.
Just for the record, I think that anti-circumvention laws are absurd, and that EULAs aren't worth the RAM they consume. But I also think it's childish to buy a DRM-protected e-book from a company, terminate your account with that company, and then expect them to let you download another copy of the e-book for free.
EDIT: Specifically, it is against the law to break DRM (unless for few cases outlined by library of Congress), and the law as written makes no exceptions for fair use. The courts have also held in positive that it was Congress intend to make breaking DRM a crime even if there is a fair use case.
Lets not lose sight of the fact that DRM does present a different situation by pulling additional laws into play, in our blind defense of DRM.
Isn't this one of those areas which even if it is potentially technically illegal is likely to practically never be an issue?
It might be copyright infringement, but would almost certainly be covered by fair use assuming it was not then distributed to others.
I've never heard of a DMCA case prosecuted against someone who photocopied the screen of a ebook reader. If you know of one, I'd be interested to read it.
In practical terms, the DMCA doesn't result in prosecutions of people who break DRM for personal use. It results in the prosecution of people who produce/distribute software that breaks DRM to allow consumers to copy media for personal use, because there is no practical way to find people who are breaking DRM for personal purposes.
I can't speak as to photocopying the screen of an ebook reader since that has never happened (to my knowledge), but here's a similar case:
Blu-ray discs are encrypted with AACS. If someone were to make a program that, in real time, takes screencaps of a movie being played back by a legal Blu-ray disc player and records the audio output from the player, then recombines that fully unencrypted data into a video file also without DRM, that person would most definitely get hit with a lawsuit on the basis of the DMCA.
Yes. A new version of that book, not a new version of every book in your library.
>Of course, by centralizing many books to one physical object, you risk losing much more content as you lose that physical object. But the advantage is that, in case it breaks, it can be repaired (which might be impossible with a physical book)
Which is irrelevant if the company doesn't allow you to redownload the data, as in this story.
Okay, maybe that's a bit assholish of me to phrase it that way, but it really does seem like an odd decision to me as a user.
only if you have a valid account with them. Which is the exact issue the original article was complaining about. Now, a Steam account stays valid even after the credit card has expired, but if you lose that account for whatever other reason, all your content is gone.
Which is worse than many ebook readers because they will allow you to continue to access your content even once the account is gone. Steam OTOH doesn't. No account? No login. No login? No content (their offline mode is too unreliable to be called that).
The wrongs of Paypal have been mentioned, but most account blocking happens when a user violates Steam's TOS. Being an abusive jerk online while logged in and playing games. Or cheating.
Now, I think that's bullshit. You still paid for those games. I think you should own them. Completely. At most they should block you from their servers and their online play.
But with Steam you can easily download any title you own as many times as you like. Steam has its own problems, but this they got right. You can even back them up quite easily. (Man, that used to be a broken tool, but even it's good now.)
A TOS ban means your account is no longer usable.
The database could get corrupt or the data center burnt down and if the service provider hasn't a good backup strategy your account could be gone. The same goes for unauthorized access to the database or your account, it can be removed without your say so. Or the service provider is shut down by the government for whatever reason. Or worse, your country decides that the service provider may not operate in your country and that all accounts of people from your country should be removed and they comply. Or some governmental agency takes all the servers of your service provider and won't give them back (in one piece).
If you're going to put DRM hurdles in my way to make it difficult to move a book I "bought" from you between my phone, my tablet, my ereader, and my laptop; then yeah - I'll get outraged at you when you refuse to allow me to redownload it. I never asked for "infinite additional copies", B&N are forcing that requirement on people who need to move DRMed files between devices.
> if we want to demand that an electronic media
> purchase is a traditional sale
If however, in the very unlikely scenario, they market those books as temporarily rented products, and clearly informed the consumer of this fact (to the point of informed decision, by legal definition), then the customer can only expect what was informed at the time of purchase.
By the sound of the article, this is not the case however. If the company had been located in the EU, they would be in violation of a number of consumer protection laws.
Obviously going back to a physical bookstore and demanding to get another copy of a book you lost is not something that anyone would do, but why is this so far fetched for an eBook? At least as long as that eBook is on sale (and on their servers), I don't see the ability of re-download being a major technical hurdle -- nor are B&N actually losing a copy of the book (as a physical bookseller would).
Because it's hilarious, just look at them! See it's exactly like when you try to fit many clowns into a tiny car, and you know you could fit in just one more, if only you could remove the steering wheel to make room. Except it's got a steering wheel lock. Now in a traditional car, one of the clowns would hand you the key, but with DRM, that clown is a robot and it's stuck behind all the other ones, just out of your reach.
See how that works? Now it's your turn. For instance you could try arguing my analogy is flawed because in the EU, most cars are even tinier.
I really like the idea getting of an e-reader, but if I do, I will ONLY buy DRM-free content. I will do this with the understanding that I'm responsible for backing up my books.
If I did understand the book to be licensed and DRMed, I would demand that my "rental" be labeled as such as come with a guaranteed period of availability via re-download.
Over the years my subconcious has grown used to indexing the story according to certain physical properties of the book. "Oh yes, that happend about a cm in on the right side page, like halfway down" is something I might think- but this coordinate system doesn't work with an e-reader. Seeing the cover art each time counts, too. I also rather like (and miss) the small stains, tears and incidental damage that normal books get. There's also the matter of distraction - now that my book is a device I can't help but fiddle with it. Finally, even though the quality is very good on my Nook Touch, I can see the pixels and I find it distracting.
Maybe some or all of these concerns will go away in time, but then there's also the (rather stunning) fact that ebooks are MORE expensive than the paperback - this, even though the cost of production is negligible, and typically you can't share or bequeath your e-library, etc.
And then on top of all these objections B&N does something asinine like this...let's just say that I'll be perfectly happy reading paper books for a long long time.
I love that I don't have to remember my page or use a bookmark, I love that I can change the font size, I love that I can select a word and get an instant definition for it, and I love how light it is to carry around and much more comfortable to read with. I prefer them over real books in every way (though, I'm from Australia where a hardback is $50 and a paperback is around $20-$25, so ebooks are cheaper for me).
Is keeping your place really a problem for you? I've never found it to be. Those rare times I lose my place serve as a quick and easy review. And, actually I tend to use whatever is handy as a bookmark, which also adds to the charm of any particular book, now that I think about it.
You are absolutely right about the weight!
Maybe one day they'll release an e-reader which is more like a paperback book: cover art, hinged with two reading sides, some visual indicator of where you are in your current book, etc. More
Regarding your memory system, this is a matter of changing habits.
As for the nostalgia, I could tell you I miss my CRT and the clack of a first generation remote, or the times when video content was limited so everyone watched the same thing, of when folks could design with their hands and wrote letters. Times change.
I too love physical books, but I won't buy them these days because the convenience of ebooks is just too great.
The Nook Touch is an e-ink device. The pixelation thing is the lowest on the list.
Two more things: the feeling of a scam, and ebooks are editable. It seems far-fetched, but the possibility exists that a malefactor can literally edit every copy of a book from a central location. This possibility does not exist with physical books.
E-books feel like a scam, and I admit it's not entirely rational - although I will say that paying $10 for bits vs. $7 for paper just doesn't seem rational, and it's a change that only seems to benefit a small few. E.g. if e-books offered authors a bigger cut, then I'd be more supportive of them. If the royalty was 50% of $10 vs. 10% of $7 I'd say that reason alone made ebooks a better choice for readers wanting to support authors. But as ever, the system seems to benefit the few with customer reach, rather than the few with some actual talent. And that is a failure of our society as much as it is a failure of the market.
So for technical stuff I prefer to read a PDF version of the eBook (that is the precise copy of the actual book), and for novels I don't mind using an EPUB format, where the layout is not exact.
So I believe, that analogies like "glue the pages of a book shut" and "selling" are misleading. The much more interesting question is, what is a reasonable default licence for digital goods? Or to pose the question slightly differently, what can each side of a default licence agreement reasonable expect of each other?
So the important point of me buying a book, is that a unique physical object becomes mine, by contrast there is no such thing as a unique digital object. [ IANAL, it is entirely possible, that there is some case law which defines a sale of software. But my point is, that this would be kind of a default license.]
which had a huge influence on my thinking about digital goods. (Or economics in general.)
As crazy as it may seem, I believe in the B&N case the DRM licence is based on the credit card details.
Hence no more credit card, no more licence.
One day I may do a longer post how horrifyingly awful Adobe DRM is technically, (never mind the ethics), but knowing what I know, this is not any sort of surprise.
The bigger players who use Adobe DRM (Like B&N) of course don't want this, so there are alternative schemes where you can use a token to represent the user that is not the Adobe ID.
In the B&N case, I believe that token is based on the credit card details.
You also only download the actual encrypted epub after the DRM licence has been applied. (The initial download is a small XML file which your Adobe RMSDK app uses to decide if you have access to the ebook)
ergo, no valid credit card, no valid account to unlock DRM, and get access to the actual content file.
 "I cannot unlock my books" at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/nook-books-frequently-asked-...
Remove drm from adobe:
How to share nook books:
Obviously this is an issue that should be fixed, but there isn't even any evidence that any attempts were made to contact B&N - just someone encountering an error message in B&N's software.
I'm as against DRM as anyone else here but this is a non-story.
This is a customer service issue, not a DRM issue.
Non-DRM'd books are better, of course.
I want my descendents to be able to read my e-books just as easily as they can read my physical books. So my conversions include collapsing rich text to plain text, which I am reasonably sure will survive format changes over the next 100 years.
I don't go to the extreme of converting to plain text. Epub is a zipped collection of html. There should be tools to extract data from those for a very long time into the future.
i.e. Product owner goes to dev: We want to make sure that customers always have a valid credit card on file so that when they go to purchase it doesn't distract them (etc, etc).
Dev makes it so that you can't do anything with the website until you've updated your expired credit card.
Greed is a natural human feeling that usually comes from a basic survival instinct. That's why greed is deeply embedded in our society. Also, that's another reason why Vulcans are superior to humans.
No argument at all on the superiority of Vulcans (or whales, for that matter) to humans.
I like their mortar stores but I haven't shopped there is ages, so I imagine that others are the same. They need to drop the nook or at least completely reimagine it and rebrand it (nooks are for english muffins), start up a second online team completely physically separate from the current one hiring top talent for UX and focus on a non-backlit color e-ink screen for whatever the rebranded ereader is called. The mortar stores aren't cheap to run either, and most stores are way too huge for the amount they sell. That needs to change also.
Basically, they need serious, serious help. It is a shame that B&N used to be the epitome of a bookstore, but now it is seriously flailing against a company that sells more other stuff than it does books. But who knows, maybe taxes will kill the Amazon giant.
I guess we are good ways away from that...
This attitude right here is part of the misunderstanding, and part of the problem. You haven't BOUGHT the ebook. You've paid for a license, and in all likelihood, that license prevents stripping the DRM.
Funny, the button clearly says "Buy now". Not "License now" or anything else. If retailers want to make that distinction clear thats fair enough, otherwise I'm perfectly happy with the attitude you refer to.
Although I do agree that the distinction between a product with DRM and a license to use a product with DRM does not seem well distinguished. Exactly what you are obtaining should be spelled out, at least in some form of legalese somewhere that you see when you buy the product, not just in some document buried on the website you're browsing.