May 28, 2022

E-book Restrictions Leave ‘Buyers’ With Few Rights

Update: As we were posting the item below, a related article appeared on ars technica. It might also be of interest.

The music industry dropped DRM years ago. So why does it persist on e-books? (via ars technica)

For many industry watchers, it comes down to the fact that generally speaking, most people own more individual pieces of music than they do individual books—the American digital music market is still much bigger than the digital book market.

From a cultural standpoint, people want to put music on more devices than they do e-books, and some will want to remix that music. Aside from zombie crossover fanfic, few outside the ivory tower are interested in remixing the written word.

“Most people don’t care about the ethics of DRM or about the finer points of copyright policy,” Aram Sinnreich, a Media Studies professor at Rutgers University, told Ars. “What people care about, is being able to do what they want with the stuff that they think they have.”


From a Column by Michael Hiltzik in The Los Angeles Times:

Typically, e-book buyers have no idea about these complexities. How could they? The rules and limitations are embodied in “terms of service” documents that Amazon, Apple, B&N and other sellers shroud in legalese and bury deep in their websites. That tells you how little they want you to know.

The rules are based, in turn, on the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, with which Congress hoped to balance the rights of copyright holders and content users. “In the digital environment, that’s always been the trickiest balance to strike,” Annemarie Bridy, a specialist in intellectual property law at the University of Idaho, told me. In those terms, the DMCA looks like a failure.

Read the Complete Column

Note: This column makes points worthy of discussion but the author does make a factual error.

He Writes:

Lending by libraries, one digital copy at a time, should be facilitated — it tends to widen the audience for books.

While we all know there are MANY serious issues with libraries and ebook lending we do know that the service is already available from many libraries.

A Pulitzer Prize winning journo should have been able to do the research to learn this fact (e.g. The Los Angeles Public Library offers access to books via OverDrive, EBSCO, and others) it once again points out that very few people are aware that library ebook lending is available.

Last week we pointed out a finding from Pew Internet & American Life report that illustrates the lack of awareness.

Roughly two thirds (63%) of residents in each type of community say they do not know if their public library loans e-books; two in 10 say their library does.”

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.