Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: digital rights management

Did You Know You Probably Don’t Own Your E-books?


DRM and Ebooks

Image Courtesy of Olivier Bourgeois ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/ornicar69-54520

I’ve written about a corporate “device” or “digital method” called Digital Rights Management (DRM) before—here are 5 past posts that talk about it

When I say you “probably” don’t own your e-books, I mean, if you’ve bought them all from Amazon and certain other retailers, you don’t own them, because they have DRM woven into their soft warm bodies

A couple of those past posts about DRM also talk about Cory Doctorow—two of them have videos of Cory

On his blog BoingBoing, Cory recently had the article, What’s Wrong with the Copyright Office’s DRM Study?

And, for those of you in countries other than the USA, do stay tuned in; because, in our world of corporate takeover and general shenanigans, what’s in one country can easily invade others

Before I share a few excerpts from Cory’s article, here’s a very brief definition of DRM:

“Digital rights management (DRM) schemes are various access control technologies that are used to restrict usage of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works.”

Also, be aware that Copyright does have its Problems

O.K., now, excerpts from Cory’s article:

“The Copyright Office…fails to even show that DRM does anything useful in the world, but still advises against allowing people to buy or share tools to let them bypass DRM in order to do the kinds of things the Copyright Office endorses, from repairs to security research.”

Here’s the “main point” of the article:

This month’s US Copyright Office study on Section 1201 of the DMCA identified many problems with America’s DRM laws, which ban bypassing DRM even when no copyright infringement takes place.

If you read that last linked article, you’re in for some very shocking truths

So, here’s Cory’s major conclusion:

“…the report’s recommendations fall far short of the minimum standard that the Copyright Office should aspire to, namely: allowing Americans to use their property in lawful ways, even if some corporation wishes they wouldn’t, because it hopes to sell them expensive parts, service, apps, or other add-ons.”

So, all that is potentially hard to interpret; and, corporations want to keep it that way………

However, an excerpt from one of those 5 past posts of mine might clear things up, just a bit…

“When Amazon sells you an an eBook for the Kindle they have the right to remove it at any time. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is referenced and Amazon can take your books away if it finds you’ve been ‘naughty’.”

While most folks still trust the major retailers to not suddenly snatch all their e-books (since, technically, they are not owned but just “licensed” for use), if you’d like to explore the DRM-Free life, check this out…
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Do You Know Why DRM-free E-books Are The Best?


So, do you know what e-books with DRM are?

DRM stands for “digital rights management” and has been touted as a method of protecting the rights of authors

Wikipedia says DRM is “a class of controversial access control technologies that are used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyrightholders, and individuals with the intent to limit the use of digital content and devices after sale.”

They also say, “DRM is any technology that inhibits uses of digital content that are not desired or intended by the content provider.”

So, is the “content provider” the author or the retailer?

Should Amazon, for instance, insert DRM into the books they sell even if the author-as-content-provider doesn’t want it?

By the way, if you “buy” a book with DRM from Amazon, you’re really “renting” it, since they can revoke your ability to read the book; and, there’s no way you could send it to a friend to read………

Amongst all the good things Amazon is doing for the Book World, this stand out as their Blackest Mark.

Two previous posts here that deal with this issue are:

Distributors of Books Are Oppressing Authors?

Digital Content & Creators’ Rights [with a Very Good video]

Today I want to feature a piece of software and its WebSite that support DRM-free e-books—Calibre.

Here’s some of the “About” from their site:

“Calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books. It has a cornucopia of features divided into the following main categories:

  • Library Management – calibre manages your e-book collection for you. It is designed around the concept of the logical book, i.e., a single entry in your library that may correspond to actual e-book files in several formats.
  • E-book conversion – calibre can convert from a huge number of formats to a huge number of formats. It supports all the major e-book formats.
  • Syncing to e-book reader devices – calibre has a modular device driver design that makes adding support for different e-reader devices easy.
  • Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form – calibre can automatically fetch news from websites or RSS feeds, format the news into an ebook and upload to a connected device.
  • Comprehensive e-book viewer – calibre has a built-in ebook viewer that can display all the major ebook formats.
  • Content server for online access to your book collection – calibre has a built-in web server that allows you to access your ebook collection using a simple browser from any computer anywhere in the world.”

Calibre also has a service called Open Books, of which they say:

” Calibre introduces Open Books, a site for easy browsing of DRM-free e-books (e-books without DRM) that are not in the public domain. Calibre has a cornucopia of features…but to make the most of these features with your e-books you need to ensure your e-books do not carry DRM.

“Open Books is a compilation of non-DRM e-books from various sources linked to enable readers to browse and download them.

“Open Books invites you to submit links to DRM free e-books that you would like added to the database.”

Also, you can watch Calibre in action :-)

So, what do you think about DRM?

And/or, what do you think about Calibre??
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Distributors of Books Are Oppressing Authors?


I’m confused. Can you help me understand?

I write fiction.

My publishing aid company, FastPencil, produces and distributes my books.

Places like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple sell my books.

So, I create them, FastPencil invests its operation in producing my books, and other places sell them.

Also, I hold the copyright

Along comes a Reader

They “buy” my book—the e-book edition.

Do they own it?

No

Well, technically, if they buy it from FastPencil directly they do own it and could, for instance, give it away to someone else.

But, the companies where most folks will find my books are Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple.

I’m still unclear about Barnes & Noble (and, they’re the least powerful of those three) but, if someone buys an e-book edition of my books from Amazon or Apple, they don’t own it—they essentially are only “renting” it.

I began to be confused about all this when a friend on Book Island in Second Life sent me a link to Outlawed by Amazon DRM.

That link will lead you to the story of a woman who had a happy Kindle—full of books—and suddenly had Amazon remove them and never give her a good reason for their action

DRM—Digital Rights Management—is putting some code in an e-book that makes it very hard to share the book—tampering with the code (even if you are the copyright holder) is illegal.

We really have two issues here and we’re also right in the middle of my confusion

Amazon’s ability to wipe-out your book collection has to do with having your Kindle connected to them through Wi-Fi—I never do that

Not being able to share an e-book (by passing someone a file copy of it) has to do with the DRM code the retailer adds to the book’s file.

Now, get this:

I wrote a book.

Someone bought my book.

Even though I hold copyright, if I break the “digital lock” to help the person who bought my book share it with someone else, I’m breaking a law………

Does that make any sense to you?

Does it seem fair that the creator of a book has less legal rights than the retailer of that book?

I must insert an analogy that may seem off-beam but captures my emotional state as I contemplate my rights as an author.

I live in the United States of America.

This country purportedly is “of the people, by the people, and for the people”.

The U. S. A. can now spy on all my on-line activity and phone conversations.

They can, because of something they discover through their spying, arrest me and put me away where no lawyer could help me.

Even if what they discovered about me is perfectly legal………

Sure, the comparison of situations is extreme but, some days, I wonder if the folks who use DRM to control what I supposedly have to right to manage will team up with the folks who are using certain crisis situations to usurp my rights as a citizen of a “free” country.

Want an in-depth explanation of how DRM is overriding copyright?

Watch the video below…

And, if, after watching it, you can help me clear up some of my confusion with this issue, Please make a Comment

If you’re the kind of person who wants to sink your teeth into this issue, check out these links:

An e-book enigma: here one day, gone the next

Electronic copyright laws are bugging readers—and authors

Doctorow’s Law: Who Benefits from DRM?

Any & All Comments Welcomed :-)
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
* Google Author Page

Digital Content & Creators’ Rights


Do you know what DRM means? Do you know how it takes rights away from the creator of digital content?

Cory Doctorow, who’s been mentioned here many times, does know the answers to those questions and brilliantly discuss them in this video:


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