[LMB] OT: can't skip to the end of an ebook?

Beatrice Otter beatrice_otter at zoho.com
Fri May 28 18:30:11 BST 2021

From: "Matthew George" <mailto:matt.msg at gmail.com> 
>But, since Amazon doesn't permit its customers to own their 
>titles, and the owner can do what they like, I am not surprised. 

---- On Fri, 28 May 2021 04:38:50 -0700 Harvey Fishman <mailto:fishman at panix.com> wrote ----
What publisher does allow you to "own" a book? That is what copyright is 
all about. You may own the paper and the binding, but not the book. 

Beatrice Otter:
With traditional publishing, you don't own the entire intellectual property rights to the work as a whole, no, and can't copy it a million times and sell your own competing edition. But you *do* own *a copy* of the work. That copy you own is *yours*, completely and entirely, and you can do anything you want to it. Nobody can, for example, compel you to read it only with a certain special reading light that the publisher sells (in the way that ebook publishers, through DRM, try to force you to use only their devices and apps to read with). The bookstore that sold you the book can't come into your house and take the book away--that would be theft.

With ebooks, and, indeed, pretty much every software available these days, you do *not* own even a copy. You are not permitted to own any part of it. You have *leased* it, and have no rights to it. Which means that you don't have the right to fix it yourself--they can require you to pay one of their people to do it even when it's a simple fix you're perfectly capable of doing yourself. And, having established this as the law for e-goods, manufacturers are pushing to make it the case for physical goods as well. For example, take tractors. These days, a modern tractor is computer operated. This is partly because it allows for great efficiency and precision, when combined with precise digital maps of each field and the soil types and moisture content etc. But partly because then to fix anything you need access to the software. Even if it's a simple "swap out this basic part" which the farmer would normally just do themselves. Which means, again, you have to use their technicians. If you crack the software and figure out how to fix it yourself, you are a pirate, and liable (if caught) for a fine of up to $500,000 and up to 5 years in jail. But if you wait for the approved technician, well, it's very expensive and takes time to get them out there, and farmers operate on a very narrow margin to begin with.

Amazon or B&N playing this game with ebooks is annoying. But the same game with other products can have dire real-world consequences.

Beatrice Otter

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