The New Deal On E-Books

I said a few weeks ago that e-books are a different sort of medium than print books. Now we are seeing how some of those differences are shaking out. Harper Collins recently changed their terms of use to cap the use of their ebooks at 26 checkouts, at which point if libraries still want access they will have to repurchase the book. This set off the library community. There are a lot of blog posts on this (there’s a good roundup of them at Librarian By Day). There are also a plethora of tweets under the #hcod hashtag.

Below I am posting the eBook User’s Bill of Rights. It’s a good document outlining what ebook users want (and probably should be able) to have and do. I know as an e-book user I get really annoyed that I can’t use some of them on my iPad or Android devices. What are your thoughts about the bill of rights or the new Harper Collins terms? Let me know your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #hcod and #ebookrights.

The eBook User’s Bill of Rights

Every eBook user should have the following rights:

  • the right to use eBooks under guidelines that favor access over proprietary limitations
  • the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software the user chooses
  • the right to annotate, quote passages, print, and share eBook content within the spirit of fair use and copyright
  • the right of the first-sale doctrine extended to digital content, allowing the eBook owner the right to retain, archive, share, and re-sell purchased eBooks

I believe in the free market of information and ideas.

I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can flourish when their works are readily available on the widest range of media. I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can thrive when readers are given the maximum amount of freedom to access, annotate, and share with other readers, helping this content find new audiences and markets. I believe that eBook purchasers should enjoy the rights of the first-sale doctrine because eBooks are part of the greater cultural cornerstone of literacy, education, and information access.

Digital Rights Management (DRM), like a tariff, acts as a mechanism to inhibit this free exchange of ideas, literature, and information. Likewise, the current licensing arrangements mean that readers never possess ultimate control over their own personal reading material. These are not acceptable conditions for eBooks.

I am a reader. As a customer, I am entitled to be treated with respect and not as a potential criminal. As a consumer, I am entitled to make my own decisions about the eBooks that I buy or borrow.

I am concerned about the future of access to literature and information in eBooks.  I ask readers, authors, publishers, retailers, librarians, software developers, and device manufacturers to support these eBook users’ rights.
These rights are yours.  Now it is your turn to take a stand.  To help spread the word, copy this entire post, add your own comments, remix it, and distribute it to others.  Blog it, Tweet it (#ebookrights), Facebook it, email it, and post it on a telephone pole.

To the extent possible under law, the person who associated CC0 with this work has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.


Andy Burkhardt

One Comment

  1. I agree with these principles. However, why are people spellng the word as ‘eBook’? Why are people capitalizing any part of that word? The term should be ‘e-book’. No capitalization, please! It is not a proper noun! It is the joining of two otherwise individual, independent words, and as such should be hyphenated, but without capitalization!
    We have enough trouble with the publishers without making a mess of the word itself.

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