E-Books, More About

Mark Baker-Wright nicodemuslegend at gmail.com
Wed Feb 24 17:53:16 CET 2010

On Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 3:13 AM, <dcml-request at nafsk.se> wrote:

> From: Gary Leach <bangfish at cableone.net>
> Subject: E-Books, More About
> To: dcml at nafsk.se
> Message-ID: <6F60AA4C-DF7B-438A-B66A-28C7731C0A48 at cableone.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed; delsp=yes
> Daniel:
> > As far as I know, songs are also rentals. By "buying" a song of The
> > Beatles,
> > one will never own it. One only owns the vinyl it is printed on. The
> > same
> > for Disney comics. Buyers only own the paper on which someone else's
> > (Disney's) intellectual property is printed.
> I don't believe the "rental" idea really applies here. You don't
> (normally) rent a vinyl record or a printed comic book and then return
> it after a certain period. You buy and subsequently own that copy--and
> the key word here is "copy." It's what the entire issue of copyright
> revolves around.
> Copying used to mean producing a physical duplicate, on paper or vinyl
> or tape or what have you. These copies were--as they still are, for
> the most part--sold, not rented. Sales and rentals are two very
> distinct commercial transactions with their own rules and regulations
> and never the twain shall meet. Just because the office chair I'm
> sitting on was built to a design I had no input into, do not own, and
> certainly have no right to duplicate, does not mean I don't own the
> chair. It is precisely the same for a comic book or a vinyl record,
> inasmuch as these are purchased in sale transactions that establish
> the purchasers possession in perpetuity of that copy for its intended
> purpose, i.e. reading or listening.
> >  With digital copies this
> > situation becomes very clear: one only owns the mp3-player or the e-
> > reader.
> I'm not so sure about this myself, but I admit it comes to the point
> and you may very well be right in terms of how things will ultimately
> shake out. There is, after all, little to nothing that's distinctly or
> even definably physical about a digital copy. It's one reason I've
> been very reluctant to do more than download legit e-book freebies up
> to this point. If I actually pay money for an e-book, what am I buying
> and under what terms am I buying it? Or am I indeed just renting, or
> engaging in some new form of transaction that has yet to be adequately
> codified?
> Gary

At the risk of self-promotion, I sell an e-book ("Women's Speaking Justified
- the 1666 Classic with Modern English" - http://twurl.nl/pyajjr) and think
I might have something to add here (if this has already been said elsewhere
and I've missed it, please accept my apologies).

If someone buys my e-book, they download a PDF file.  The bits and bytes of
that PDF file are actually on their computer, and they have the ability to
save it to a storage device and perhaps copy it to another device should
they so choose.  Even if I decided I didn't want you to have my book later,
once you've purchased it, I have no ability to delete the file from your

My understanding with the way Amazon.com handles Kindle is rather
different.  Although the bits and bytes of a Kindle book do reside on the
Kindle (at least while you're reading it, but I'm not 100% clear on the
point of storage when you're not reading it), 1) you cannot save the file to
a storage device, let alone copy it to another reader.  2) Should Amazon.com
decide that the Kindle book you "bought" is somehow not yours anymore, THEY
can remove the file from your Kindle without your prior knowledge, despite
you having paid money to get the book.  It is this second factor, in
particular,that causes people to complain that they are "renting" books they
thought that they had "purchased," and it really is a significant
difference, the lack of physicality notwithstanding.

Hope that helps,
Mark Baker-Wright

Visit my blog, Transforming Seminarian:
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