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Friday, 10 June 2011

eBooks - a step backward

eBooks are a step backward to the printed book, claims Richard Stallman, founder of the free software movement and the GNU Project. In an article entitled, "The Dangers of E-Books" (PDF), Stallman makes the case that e-books are "a step backward from printed books."

Books printed on paper can be purchased anonymously with cash without signing any kind of license that restricts the purchaser's use of the book, Stallman notes. No proprietary technology is required, and it's sometimes even lawful under copyright to scan and copy the book.

Once it's paid, the purchaser owns the book, and no one has the power to destroy it.
Contrast that situation with Amazon e-books, where users are not only required to identify themselves to purchase an e-book, but also to accept "a restrictive license" on their use of it, Stallman notes.

"In some countries, Amazon says the user does not own the e-book," he asserts. "The format is secret, and only proprietary user-restricting software can read it all."


William Quincy Belle said...

Interesting. I've installed Amazon's Kindle for PC and purchased one ebook. I realise that the book is not backed up (trying to do something now) but then question pricing. I spent $2.99 and that is far less than what I spend on a magazine which I generally read once and throw away. At $0.99, that's less in some cases than the price of a newspaper, another read-once-throw-away work.

Sean Thomas Fisher said...

Wow, that is really hard to believe. I mean, people still pay for stuff with cash??? They must be from the 80s with access to a hot tub time machine...

Chap O'Keefe said...

Richard Stallman also rejects copyright laws and suggests authors can better be supported by distribution of tax funds, based on some mathematical calculation of their "popularity", and by anonymous voluntary payments.

I can't see the tax bit working for authors, other than within the country where they live and are deemed a "tax resident" -- that's how it works with Public Lending Right payments for books borrowed from libraries.

Voluntary payments? It's hard enough to persuade anyone to buy an O'Keefe Kindle novel for 99 cents let alone to make an additional contribution! As of this moment, NO ONE has bought a download of the just-released ebook of THE SHERIFF AND THE WIDOW.

If Mr Stallman would like to be the first and to make a voluntary payment to me, I will send him a non-DRM digital copy of the novel which he can own subject to the sames laws applying to a physical edition of the book.

Gayle Martin said...

Interesting. I've never stopped and thought about the privacy issue.

Anonymous said...

and what about those people who cannot get access to a reader? People without computers?
People without electric power?
Ebooks should not replace Real Books.