Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Readers Have Copyright Rights Too

Yesterday, there was an article in the New York Times about ebooks and the increase of ebook reading and possible dangers. The plus takeaway was that Kindle readers purchase more books than most heavy book purchasers.

Amazon for example, says that people with Kindles now buy 3.1 times as many books as they did before owning the device. That factor is up from 2.7 in December 2008. So a reader who had previously bought eight books from Amazon would now purchase, on average, 24.8 books, a rise from 21.6 books.

We romance readers know that from our own experience. Many of the early adopters of ebooks have been romance readers who buy more books than any subset of readers out there.

The negative takeaway from the Times article was that there was a reader who shared a Kindle account with someone else. She was quoted as thinking she was probably taking advantage of a loophole.

Ms. Englin has linked her Kindle to the Amazon account of some nearby friends, allowing all of them to read books like "The Lost Symbol" at the same time -’ while paying for them only once.

"I read much more, I tend to read faster for some reason, and I read a greater variety of things," said Ms. Englin, adding that this is nearly the same as lending a physical book to friends. "We haven’t really looked closely at Amazon’s terms of service. But I do suspect we are breaking the rules."

This caused some authors to start calling her a thief and trying to shame her. I pointed out that the Kindle Terms of Service allow for up to six devices to be registered to a single account.   A number of authors did not believe Eglin was acting lawfully or ethically:

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Ross continued:

Ross checked with Amazon:

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When you hook up a device to a Kindle account, whether it is an iPhone/iTouch or Kindle, every user of the registered device has the ability to charge books to that account so only those you really, really trust would register a device on the same account.

Then the discussion segued into more general copyright issues.   Elizabeth Burton, a publisher, had this to say:

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and this:

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The problem here is that the very same law that gives authors a property right to their creative work gives consumers the right of first sale and fair use privileges.   Let me state that again.   The VERY SAME LAW that creates intellectual property for authors gives readers rights too.

Here’s how it works.

  • COPYRIGHT LAW   gives a bundle of rights to AUTHORS.
  • AUTHORS sell that bundle of rights, including the right of distribution and copying to a PUBLISHER in exchange for money.
  • PUBLISHER exercises its purchased rights by making many copies and selling those copies in a few ways including, but not limited to, the following two:

1. A SALE which results in a consumer purchasing the book and gaining the RIGHT OF FIRST SALE and FAIR USE RIGHTS granted by same COPYRIGHT LAW.

2. A LEASE which is bound by the terms of an agreement.

In the Kindle instance, the purchase is of a lease of a book for as long as Amazon deems it appropriate for you to have access to a copy.   The contractual terms between a Kindle owner and Amazon allows for up to six devices registered to an account to simultaneously share that book.   This is not infringement as so many authors (looking at you, Toni Blake, and others) have suggested.   What Amazon is allowed to share with a reader is dependent on the rights that are granted to Amazon by publishers.   Hence the turning off of Text to Speech and conversely, the allowance of 6 simultaneous downloads.

To unapologetically call a reader a THIEF when she is exercising a right granted by Amazon and therefore by the publisher is terrible. It’s an affront to all readers.

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No laws are being skirted.   No laws are changed.   Except that readers are being given the shaft.   Because some readers prefer to read digital books, our rights have been erased.   We cannot resell a digital book because no one trusts that we have deleted the originals.   We cannot be allowed to share a book because the fear is that pressing the email button with an attachment being feared we are using it as a copy button.   WE ARE PRESUMED TO BE DIRTY, THIEVING CRIMINALS.   I AM VERY TIRED OF IT.

The default position is that we ebook readers are always engaged in some form of wrongdoing.   We are charged more.   We don’t get the book at the same time.   We are constrained in how we use our books, on what devices we read them on, with whom we can share them.   We are not considered legitimate customers if we do not leave our house and buy a paper copy.

Sharing is a fundamental part of reading.   Sharing is a reader’s way of saying “try this, I think you’ll like it. There is no risk here.” It’s a way of building a relationship with another reader so that the next time you are reading a book, you can say, “get this” and that person will go and buy it, solely on your recommendation.   From one reader to another, there is no greater expression of trust than to buy on another reader’s recommendation.

Sharing is part of creating the reading community. Sharing seeds reading.   It creates and generates more interest in reading. Why is this important? Because the biggest threat to authors’ livelihood is not piracy.   It is not casual sharing.   It is a declining readership.   It is rising rates of illiteracy.   It is alternative forms of entertainment.

I am not arguing that piracy is right. It is not.   But sharing between people on one Kindle account is not piracy and to equate piracy with sharing is incredibly insulting and frustrating.   As an ebook reader, I have given up so many rights.

Thank god for people like Courtney Milan and Tessa Dare who blogged about readers’ rights too.   Discovering what seemed like so many authors ill regard toward sharing, that so many would leap to the conclusion that sharing amongst even six readers is piracy, is so offputting that I am reluctant to foster anyone else’s joy in reading.    If authors want us to respect them and their rights, they need to start respecting us and our rights.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

417 Comments

  1. Jane
    Oct 22, 2009 @ 22:07:10

    @KristieJ Actually, KristieJ, not every author has apologized. Some have justified and explained and some have truly apologized. I’m sure it is the former that bothers readers. Englin has been gracious enough to set aside her own abuse to accept the non apologies of those who defamed her and dishonored her good name publicly and ultimately it is she who judges whether the apologies are enough.

    There certainly don’t need to be apologies made to me from any author, not the least of which is Roxanne St. Claire whom I know to have a big heart.

    This thread has shown me that there are very competing attitudes toward the ebooks, none of which are easily resolved. I do wish for some certainty in the law for I think that could have a great role in revising expectations on both sides. But it also shows that ebook readers are viewed with suspicion by many authors which is sad and fosters an author v. reader struggle.

    It is particularly easy to blame the reader in times of economic recession, when fewer dollars are available for purchase, when the publishing industry is undergoing a huge sea change, when advances, print runs, and sell throughs are declining. I do know that it is a scary time out there for authors, just like it is a scary time for many in every industry. It is easy to lash out at the reader because it seems that there is no one else authors can blame. It’s easy, but it is no less harmful.

  2. Caligi
    Oct 22, 2009 @ 22:29:55

    Oh, I’m not putting Roxanne St. Claire on the Orson Scott Card list. She’d have to do much more than make a fool of herself on Twitter to earn that honor. As much as I disagree with her thoughts on ebooks, she’s hardly dipped her toe in the “opinions I can’t cope with” pool. He’s done a cannonball and laps.

    I was never a potential reader of hers, since her sub-genre is very much not my bag.

    It was a qualified apology, meaning she still thinks her original behavior would’ve been fine if Englin didn’t clear up misunderstandings, and I can’t agree that sharing an ebook with close friends, even in violation of some ToS, equates to stealing or piracy. So I still think she’s wrong.

    If I liked romantic suspense, and her books, I’d still buy them.

  3. Tanya
    Oct 22, 2009 @ 22:55:06

    An apology that needs a lengthy explanation filled with excuses, is not an apology.

    Thankfully, I don’t need to apologize. I’ve been, instead, following the thread closely and kept my mouth shut. Lesson learned here? Don’t throw out accusations without getting your facts. That’s as bad as a writer penning an historical romance without researching the era. Investigate first!

    I talked to several publishers and none were aware of the Kindle sharing ability. I’m quite sure it was buried somewhere deep in the contract they signed with Amazon. Had they been aware, perhaps they would have talked to Amazon to change that rule before committing to making the books available for the Kindle. But since the new reader from B & N has the ability to share, I guess it’ll become common practice.

    The piracy war has been going on for some time now and I know from author buddies that it has affected their sales. It seems the more said about piracy publicly, the more people go out there to search for free books. Also, the fact that readers are publicly stating they’ll never buy an author’s books again if he or she speaks up about their books being pirated? That’s just horrible. Readers are taking out their grievances now on innocent authors who are only defending their hard work?

    Many e-book authors are not huge earners. They work their asses off for every penny they make. So, yes, it’s upsetting for them to find their books on pirate sites, some even very shortly after they’re published. I could go on and on about this issue, but enough said about it all already.

    Beware of interviews with nosy reporters and watch what you say. Ask to read the interview before it is published!!!!

  4. Sunita
    Oct 22, 2009 @ 23:17:45

    I talked to several publishers and none were aware of the Kindle sharing ability. I'm quite sure it was buried somewhere deep in the contract they signed with Amazon. Had they been aware, perhaps they would have talked to Amazon to change that rule before committing to making the books available for the Kindle. But since the new reader from B & N has the ability to share, I guess it'll become common practice.

    As previous posters in this thread have already noted, the ability to “share” is common across platforms, including that Patron Saint of DRM, iTunes. iTunes allowed up to 5 (I think that’s the number) computers to have access to their DRM’d material (I don’t know what the rules are in the post-DRM era). Mobi (on Fictionwise at least) allows 4 devices to be registered to share files. eReader doesn’t seem to care how many devices open its files, as long as they enter the CC code. I believe Sony and Adobe Digital are in the Mobi range (4-5 devices). None of these companies require the sharers to be resident in the same household. So what exactly is new about Kindle’s system that surprised the publishers you talked to?

  5. Blue Tyson
    Oct 22, 2009 @ 23:21:02

    203

    That’s still an incredibly self-centred viewpoint, though. That constant me-me-me refrain is part of Jane’s point.

    Readers work hard to earn the money that they then give to you.

    So Cry Me A River, already.

  6. Weekend Is Here, Finally! | avidbookreader
    Oct 22, 2009 @ 23:32:31

    [...] Reader's Have Copy­right Rights Too at Dear Author. I have noth­ing to add. Said it all over there.  [...]

  7. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 00:53:13

    The piracy war has been going on for some time now and I know from author buddies that it has affected their sales. It seems the more said about piracy publicly, the more people go out there to search for free books. Also, the fact that readers are publicly stating they'll never buy an author's books again if he or she speaks up about their books being pirated? That's just horrible. Readers are taking out their grievances now on innocent authors who are only defending their hard work?

    @Tanya

    Interestingly enough, you just contradicted yourself. I’m all for defense against piracy and there are so many arguments on that but shouldn’t the authors also get their facts straight before lashing out? Great that authors defend their own hard work (who the hell doesn’t – on both sides) but before the authors make it so public, they should have read and searched about the legal issues before throwing accusing words to others. After all, everyone makes mistakes but hell, twitter was all over the place. Have you seen what’s been said other than in Dear Author’s blog? It’s like accusing a car that ran over your dog without even checking if the dog’s fine. *Bad analogy, but that’s all I can think of for now* So maybe they should have done the same too by keeping their mouths shut. I would be pissed too if I was an author and accuse the reader, but seriously, – *gasp* She’s sharing her kindle books without them paying! How dare you! – I would take major insult at being called a thief from authors when it’s me who pays. People share books legally, read for a week give back the next and buy the book. And if the excerpt is so boring but I like the book description, I’d ask for a friend to lend me a copy to see if the first few chapters are good before I buy or not. Because of piracy, don’t think the majority of Kindle owners do that. They still freaking pay for your hard earned work with their own hard earned money. (Both paperback/hardcover/kindle)

    And readers stating they won’t buy an author’s book if she speaks up about piracy? Listen, I don’t think I know a single person who’d do that. If your talking about the readers in this thread and elsewhere about not buying the authors book because of what the authors have said against Englin, then maybe you should get of your high horse of *gasp, how horrible* about that. Some already aren’t interested in them so maybe the author’s loud response in twitter turned them off even more. Or maybe it’s how the author treated the reader. False. I don’t think that’s really the reason they stopped buying. Either way, I don’t think anyone would do that. But if an author doesn’t respect a reader then anyone can bet I’ll stop buying,

    It’s a huge misunderstanding and has been corrected (I think) but that doesn’t mean the burn marks are going to disappear.

  8. Sterling Editing | Written on the internet
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 03:36:56

    [...] need readers. Does that mean that every reader should pay to read a book? Join this interesting conversation about sharing versus [...]

  9. Angie
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 05:24:17

    All my published stories are e-book only, so piracy hits me particularly hard. All Cory Doctorow’s assertions about how e-book piracy drives paper book sales are completely irrelevant to me and other writers like me. I hate pirates and have no problem coming right out and calling them filthy, selfish, entitled thieves.

    At the same time, though, there’s a difference between a pirate who uploads a file under copyright to a torrent site for hundreds or thousands of strangers to download for free, and a reader who shares a favorite book with a few friends. The latter violates my publisher’s sales agreement just as much as the former, but I personally am not going to get all bent out of shape if I hear that a fan has passed on copies of one of my books to six friends because she’s sure they’ll love it.

    Those six friends, or at least one or two of them, might well become paying customers next time. Reading the discussion threads on the pirate sites, it’s clear that there are few if any sales to be made among that crowd. They laugh at the idiots who’d pay for something that’s available for free.

    Unfortunately, the pirates refer to what they’re doing as “sharing” too, so the whole concept of sharing electronic media has fallen into disrepute. Maybe the honest readers need another term to use? :/

    Angie

  10. Why Sharing Books Does Not Automatically Equal Lost Sales | Monkey Bear Reviews
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 05:59:56

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  11. Blue Tyson
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 06:01:07

    209

    The media executives like to bandy the pirate term around. I’d like a few of them to get a taste of the real Somali gun-wielding variety, see if they still do, talking about terminology.

    If you call a significantly large group of people something they are not – especially by your own laws – your respect drops still further, remember.

    You do also realise that currently many publishers WILL NOT sell ebooks to most of the planet. No idea if this is your particular case, or not. Some are more sensible.

    Would you rather someone downloaded and read your stuff in that case? Or completely ignore you and leave you to wither and die, with no chance of anyone talking to their mates and suggesting they give you ago.

  12. Angie
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 06:15:38

    Blue@211 — The media executives like to bandy the pirate term around. I'd like a few of them to get a taste of the real Somali gun-wielding variety, see if they still do, talking about terminology.

    You know, that’s like slamming all the writers who talk about “murdering your darlings” because they obviously don’t have any experience with Real Murderers. o_O Real Somali pirates. Umm, right. You can go there if you want, but I’m not following you.

    This has nothing to do with the legal definition of a pirate-at-sea, and trying to make it about that is just a derailing tactic.

    My publisher will sell books to anyone, anywhere. We have customers all over the world, where there are English-speaking readers who are interested in our genre. Some of our books are also up on Amazon, Fictionwise, etc., and I/we have no control over where they will or won’t sell, but anyone can come to my publisher’s web site to buy books, so that’s not a valid defense.

    I’ll admit I’m of two minds about whether I’d rather someone who doesn’t have legal access to my books for whatever hypothetical reason get a copy however they can just to have another reader, but I have to point out that if people in Country X really can’t buy legal copies of my books, whether they read me or not anyway has zero impact on my sales. I’m hardly likely to “wither and die” based on whether a bunch of people who couldn’t give me money even if they wanted to choose to obtail illegal copies of my books or not. Again, completely invalid argument.

    And again, I’m not grousing at people who loan my books to a few friends. Uploading copies of my books to a torrent site, though, is not someone sharing with a few friends. This is wholesale theft, in the hundreds or thousands of copies. The common term for such is piracy, which has been used in this context — illegal copies of copyrighted material — for far longer than e-books have existed, whether you or anyone else approves of it or not.

    Angie

  13. Blue Tyson
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 06:45:31

    212

    You want to call people pirates and thieves, then being subject to actual piracy and robbery? There’s a reason these are different legally – and those who utilise the terms are well aware of such and it is why they use the terminology.

    Ok, so your publisher is sensible.

    Invalid argument? You are of course assuming all communication stays in-country. Which certainly isn’t the case.

    There’s also this possibility, that someone downloads it, reads it, mentions it to other people, who then buy it. Now if you are an author who sells about as much as people can count on their fingers and toes then nothing will matter a lot.

    However, the above scenario will result in >= 0 sales, as opposed to zero. It you have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times it is pretty much mathematically guaranteed that those downloads will result in sales.

    Let’s take a less enlightened publisher, say a garden variety American.

    They now won’t sell ebooks to people in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South America, Europe, etc.

    You are suggesting that if all those people never, ever see an author’s work (and hence never mention it to anyone) that sales will be exactly the same as opposed to what happens now? Can’t possibly be the case.

  14. SB Sarah
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 06:49:02

    @KristieJ: Kristie – dang it woman, you logged in and said everything I was going to say. Fine. Be that way. Solidify my fangirl crush on you. Wench.

    Roxanne’s comment was both an apology to a specific party and an explanation of why she reacted the way she did – and in my perspective it was understandable, particularly because the article did not make any effort to point out that six Kindles/one account is part of the Kindle terms of service. As a matter of fact, until that article ran, I had no idea I could hook someone else’s Kindle to my account.

    Roxanne had the balls to show up and speak up, explain her perspective and her reaction. And if you didn’t like her apology, tough noogies. You’re missing an opportunity for a dialogue, and the apology wasn’t meant for you anyway.

    I saw red a lot of times yesterday and the day before because I really hate to have my ethics questioned and my character impugned as a reader. Calling me a thief and a pirate, whether it’s on Twitter or on Facebook, gets my attention in a hurry. But so does someone who says, “I am sorry. Here is why I was so upset,” and invites a dialogue about the issue.

  15. Angie
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 06:57:18

    Blue@213 — the same words are often used for multiple meanings. Attacking the use of “pirates” to mean people who steal copyrighted works, on the basis that “pirates” also means rapacious murderers who operate on the water, is an invalid argument, yes. People who steal copyrighted works and distribute them wholesale have been called pirates for longer than either of us has been alive. It’s the standard term, deal with it.

    Since I’ve already said more than once that I have no problem with people sharing my books with a few friends, I’m assuming you’re arguing in favor of the people who post e-books and other things to the torrent sites. I’ve read the discussion boards of people who use those sites, and according to their own words, these are not people who are willing to spend money on an e-book if there’s any way they can get it for free. These are not potential customers, and I doubt many of their friends are either.

    When I was reading the message board threads pertaining to the people who were looking for a “free” copy of one of my stories, not a single person complained about being unable to find a legitimate copy, or how their government stopped them from buying this sort of book, or even about how they personally were terribly poor and wished they could afford to buy a legitimate copy but simply couldn’t do so. Not a single person.

    On the contrary, all the messages in those threads were from people who laughed about the stupidity of paying for something you can “find” for free. These were people who complained bitterly about “having” to pay money for something they couldn’t “find” for free. These were people who joked about how, “Looks like I’ll actually have to spend money on this one, hahaha!”

    These weren’t poor people who can’t afford books; these were people who wanted to grab whatever they could get for free, just because they were too self-centered to even consider that it might be fair or right to compensate the people who create and distribute the books they enjoy so much. They don’t think about that aspect, don’t care about it, and will mock anyone who brings it up. They can and occasionally will open their wallets if there’s a book they badly want but can’t find on the torrents, but they’d rather not, and they think paying for books is stupid if there’s any alternative. These are selfish thieves, period, and I won’t apologize to you or to anyone else for calling them so.

    Angie

  16. The Great Geek Manual » Geek Media Round-Up: October 23, 2009
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 07:02:38

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  17. Blue Tyson
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 07:15:10

    Sure, call them what you like. The more wrong or insulting or antagonistic you are though the lower the chances of you convincing any of them of your point of view.

    However, aren’t these people, by your own argument, having zero impact on your sales? If people that can’t buy it downloading has no impact, then people that will never buy it must have no impact either? Arguing you don’t lose money from people who can’t buy it but do lose money from people who won’t doesn’t make a lot of sense. Zero is still zero there.

    Both groups of course can talk about or promote work…

  18. Angie
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 07:23:13

    Blue@216 — my point on the nomenclature issue, which you’re clearly not getting and therefore I must be miscommunicating on pretty horribly, is that I DIDN’T INVENT THE TERM. People who violate copyright wholesale have been called pirates for many decades. I didn’t decide that. It’s a standard term. Millions of people use it. Millions of people understand what it means in the context of copyrighted materials. Changing to something else just because you personally disapprove of its use would do nothing to enhance communication. The point of communicating is to use words the greatest number of people understand. The vast majority use the word “pirate” in this context, therefore I do too, because I want to communicate with them.

    On the other, I never said the torrent pirates are impacting my sales — please don’t put words in my mouth.

    That doesn’t change the fact that they’re stealing from me, and from my publisher, and it makes me angry. The fact that they’re not stealing money is immaterial. It’s not fair to all the people who pay money for my books that there are thousands of other people taking them for free. It’s rather an insult to them, actually, and the torrent pirates actually do insult them, talking about how stupid the people are who pay money for e-books. I don’t like it when my readers are insulted, nor do I like it when thieves mock my paying readers.

    And I don’t give a damn whether thieves are “promoting” my work to other thieves. Why should I want more people stealing my books? I suppose I can just sit back and hope that some of the thieves have honest friends who’ll actually come and make a purchase. Pardon me, though, if I don’t hold my breath.

    Angie

  19. Heather (errantdreams)
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 07:29:25

    @Barbie Furtado:

    You know, first I'd like to say that boycotting an author because of something they personally did, or said or whatever, is about one of the most ridiculous thing I've heard.

    While it isn’t something I do often (I certainly don’t go looking for writers to dislike, and the “infraction” has to be something that really offends me), I have to heartily disagree. There are more than enough good books to occupy my limited reading time and money. I don’t want to give that money to people whose behavior appalls me, and that’s my right.

  20. Blue Tyson
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 07:31:47

    “On the other, I never said the torrent pirates are impacting my sales — please don’t put words in my mouth.

    That doesn’t change the fact that they’re stealing from me, and from my publisher, and it makes me angry.”

    Ok, if they are not impacting your sales one bit, how are they stealing from you exactly? Those two would seem to be pretty much mutually exclusive.

    Theft requires actual loss. No loss, no theft.

  21. Blue Tyson
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 07:36:19

    And on the namecalling front, pretty sure those getting around the rules and breaking laws have been calling those who don’t stupid or sucker for a far longer time than copyright has even existed. Those doing it now didn’t invent the term, so to speak. ;-)

  22. Angie
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 07:39:13

    Blue@219 — you know, I’m not going to go into the whole intellectual property thing with you. Explaining why I use the term “piracy” was frustrating enough; I’m not about to let myself in for whatever megabyte multiple-post, back-and-fill explanations it’d take to get you to comprehend the value of something that isn’t money. So I’m going to bow out right now.

    Have a good day, seriously.

    Angie

    PS — I checked out your web site, and I think you’re doing a good thing spreading word about legitimately free SF on the net. There’s plenty of stuff out there to read for free without stealing it, without even having to get up off your butt and go to a library. I wish more people would wise up to that.

  23. Angie
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 07:40:22

    Blue@220 — yes, jerks have always been jerks. A long history doesn’t make them any less jerks.

    Angie

  24. Eileen
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 07:45:21

    I’d like to hear from someone other than GrowlyCub about my posts here. He or she obviously is furious with me; called me unprofessional and full of an astounding level of disdain for my readers. Says he or she is going to find out who I am so he or she can be sure never to buy my books again–and possibly spread the word to others about my behavior, I don’t know.

    I remain mystified. I asked people here to cut the Twittering writers some slack. Was that unprofessional? I explained what writers really earn. Was that showing disdain for readers? I exchanged a couple posts about DRM. I’m in favor of it. Clearly many readers aren’t. Is that my real sin?

    I am honestly in the dark here. In my last post I said I couldn’t apologize when I didn’t understand what I’d said that was offensive. (If I tried, it would be one of those icky political apologies where someone says they’re sorry if what they said offended anyone . . . . that’s not an apology.) That post only infuriated GrowlyCub further.

    So, to the rest of you–did others read disdain into my posts? If so, can you explain what I said that came off as disdainful?

    FWIW, I’m not on Twitter.

  25. Blue Tyson
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 08:04:37

    223

    It is hard to make money writing – but so? It isn’t easy to do well. Neither is anything else, everyone knows that from when they are knee-high to a grasshopper.

    It is hard to make money acting, playing music, playing football, or even stamp collecting. Video game pros even exist in some places. So do those making games.

    If you want to be an entertainer, the odds are seriously stacked against you.

    So why should this fact mean anything in particular to readers? They are well aware that this is the case.

    I, and many other people like me spent countless hours practicing jump shots and kicking and slogging up and down courts and around ovals. Actual hard, physical, work, as opposed to some tired wrists at a keyboard. Most of us didn’t make any money doing it – still don’t – a handful of people that I used to play with went on to become professional footballers (and more semi-professional), etc. Boo-hoo for the rest of us, eh?

    It’s just that pretty much anybody can write or type as the physical act, at least in countries that educate the large majority of the population. Perhaps this leads to the overoptimistic attempts and attitude.

  26. Eileen
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 08:06:33

    @azteclady:

    Azteclady, I see what you mean . . . but I have no control over pricing. Zero. Or any expertise on the subject, so I’m not going to express an opinion about what price point would work. :-) I will add that at this point, e-books don’t sell nearly as many copies as print books, but that number will keep growing. I would guess that once some tipping point is reached and publishers are selling enough e-books, the price will begin to come down–because once one major publisher lowers its price on e-books, the others will have to follow. And at some point, some publisher will see a competitive advantage in offering their e-books at a lower price.

    That’s just a guess, of course. Could be wrong.

  27. ann
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 08:32:47

    @Angie:

    On the other, I never said the torrent pirates are impacting my sales -’ please don't put words in my mouth.

    As a disinterested party I certainly took that implication from your little paragraph here and the rest of your post.

    All my published stories are e-book only, so piracy hits me particularly hard. All Cory Doctorow's assertions about how e-book piracy drives paper book sales are completely irrelevant to me and other writers like me. I hate pirates and have no problem coming right out and calling them filthy, selfish, entitled thieves.

  28. Kim
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 08:44:26

    @Eileen
    Actually, GrowlyCub said it’s *possible* to expose who you are despite your alias. An argument stirs up a lot, but I don’t think he/she will actually consider it. This is my take on this: As a poster said waaay (153) above, are we readers going to extend the same courtesy when the authors failed to do the same? I don’t know, if I’m accused of being a thief because I *sometimes* share my books with my friends straight-up the bat then yes, those who find more information on the issue would also not do the same to the authors.

    I don’t mind people defending, but really, I found the entire thing offensive regardless of them trying to justify their answers only afterwards. Is it fair to cut them (omfreakingosh, I just shake my head at their tweets) some slack? They aren’t the only ones who are also proclaiming, “unfair!” just because of their workload on this. So what, an author earns, goes through, does this and that, etc, so back of a little please? No. It’s an excuse to justify and dismiss their behavior. Clearly, they should also take in the account of readers on this. Not everyone will see eye to eye.

    Since it hurts my eyes looking up and down with all these posts, I’ll just agree to disagree with you on some things. A writer’s standpoint that’s good for them could be bad for readers who purchase their work.

    I don’t find everything you posted offensive, but some of them make me on the defensive side on some topics. As for being professional, *shrugs* everyones human. But if you are an author, I think it’s the way you phrase your, “don’t buy from me then.” That doesn’t matter to me though.

  29. Angie
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 08:53:49

    Ann@227 — Cory Doctorow’s idea is that spreading around bazillions of free copies of an electronic version of your book will cause whatever fraction of the people who read the free version and liked it to go buy the paper version, because at this time most readers still greatly prefer paper books. So far as it goes, he’s correct, and for writers who have paper editions of their books available, distribution of free e-books (possibly including books distributed on the torrents by pirates, although that’s just supposition, and from what I’ve seen of the torrent pirates’ attitudes out of their own keyboards, I doubt it) drives paper book sales and therefore puts money into a writer’s pocket. I have no paper books available, so free distribution of e-books, whether I’m doing it or my publisher or my fans or the torrent pirates, gains me nothing at all under the Doctorow model.

    I’m not willing to call this “lost revenue” though, when the problem within the context of this model is that I don’t have any paper editions available. My issue here is that Cory seems to think he has the solution to life, the universe and electronic publishing, when he’s ignoring the thousands of writers whose books are available only electronically. My issue here is with his lack of scope; he claims that piracy (at all levels) benefits writers because it drives paper book sales, but that’s clearly not true in all cases. The pirates love Cory, of course, and the smarter ones quote him often; he gives them some great excuses to use when they’re whining about how they’re not reeeeally doing anything wrong. It’s still not lost revenue IMO, though, because the core issue is distribution formats, not theft per se.

    If you buy one of my books, and read it, and like it, and share copies with six of your friends because you think they’ll enjoy it, that’s also a different situation. One or more of your friends might well like that book enough to go looking for others, and there I’ve gained a new reader who’ll buy my stories. I have no problem with this model. It’s against my publisher’s policies, but in the absence of used e-bookstores and e-libraries, I’m not going to make a fuss about fans sharing with their friends. I suppose it might be a loss of revenue in some cases — since there are no paper versions available, it’s up to your friends whether they want to replace the copy of the first book they got from you with a legitimate purchased copy, and from what I’ve seen in various communities, most people probably won’t. At that level, though, I’m willing to see it as an investment in the possibility of future sales of other books.

    When the torrent pirates steal copies of my book by the hundreds or thousands, that’s not lost revenue either. Some writers and publishers refer to it that way, but I’ve disagreed in multiple venues, including this one I think, in various other posts. The pirates are still taking my work without compensating me, though, and I consider that stealing. I haven’t lost revenue, no, but these people have taken my work for free, while jeering at the people who are paying me for it. And yes, I’m angry about that, even if it’s not actually taking money out of my pocket.

    Angie

  30. Blue Tyson
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 08:59:03

    Ok Angie, so did your publisher buy all the rights – much like some do now with electronic rights and never use them? They have to the option to do a print version if they want, and you can’t have a POD version that some people might prefer?

  31. Angie
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 09:08:23

    Blue@230 — no, that’s not the problem. My publisher is one of the few which will publish stand-alone short stories as e-books. I have six shorts and a novelette out, most stand-alone, with one short in a mini anthology with two other shorts. None of the e-books is big enough to be worthwhile publishing in paper; even the anthology is only forty-three pages. I knew going in that there wouldn’t be any paperback editions of these stories, and I’m happy with how it’s been handled. It’s just not cost-effective for anyone, either my publisher or the readers, to try to put out a paperback that’s only ten or twenty pages long. :)

    Angie

  32. Blue Tyson
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 09:22:34

    Ah, cool. Big fan of that.

    There are projects like Anthology Builder though that might be of interest.

  33. Eileen
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 09:26:19

    Kim, thank you for your response. That’s very helpful. I do try to learn from my mistakes, but first I have to identify them. Sometimes that’s easy and obvious, sometimes it isn’t. This time I was truly in the dark.

    I really am in favor of cutting people slack in general, especially when it comes to stuff posted on the Internet, because we all trip ourselves up sometimes. But I see now that I was also–in a subtext kind of way–trying to tell people what to feel–”don’t feel angry, don’t feel insulted”–and it’s none of my business to tell anyone what they should feel. I apologize for that. It was wrongheaded of me.

    And I apologize to GrowlyCub for defaulting to sarcasm when I felt attacked. Sarcasm isn’t helpful, it isn’t appropriate, and I regret it.

  34. Angie
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 09:28:20

    Blue@232 — I’ve seen that, yes. I’m not sure whether it’d be worth it. Any idea what their distribution looks like? I don’t have enough shorts to make a decent anthology at this point, though, so it’s all speculative anyway.

    As it is, my publisher does publish paperbacks as well, and it’s possible that when I accumulate enough to make a book, I might be able to get a collection out. That’d be cool, but that’s for the future.

    Angie

  35. Courtney Milan
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 09:29:42

    @Blue Tyson:
    For the record: The term “piracy,” used to denote theft of intellectual property, is actually older than the Statute of Anne; its first use is attested in the Oxford English Dictionary from 1654:

    1654 J. MENNES Recreation for Ingenious Head-peeces clxxvi, All the wealth, Of wit and learning, not by stealth, Or Piracy, but purchase got.] 1700 E. WARD Journey to Hell II. vii. 14 Piracy, Piracy, they cry’d aloud, What made you print my Copy, Sir, says one, You’re a meer Knave, ’tis very basely done.

    This usage is a mere 70 years younger than the robbery-at-sea version.

    Notwithstanding the long history of the word piracy, I agree that it is inflammatory rhetoric. For the record, I do not use the words “piracy” or “theft” when I’m talking about what is merely “copyright infringement.” I also believe in an extraordinarily lenient IP regime. I believe in fair use. I believe in the right of first sale. I despise DRM. I believe, very strongly, that the term of copyright is too long and that this is impeding creativity. I seriously doubt you will find many people (let alone authors) who believe in as lax a copyright regime as I do.

    So let me tell you, when you said this:

    I, and many other people like me spent countless hours practicing jump shots and kicking and slogging up and down courts and around ovals. Actual hard, physical, work, as opposed to some tired wrists at a keyboard.

    I found it offensive and I didn’t want to listen to you any longer. And I agree with you. If you’re trying to change minds, you’re doing a terrible job. If you’re trying to score points, well, fine. I hope the point collector in your head is happy, because you’re not helping.

    You should know that when people like you snark away, it makes my publishers feel justified in not listening to me when I tell them I’d rather have my content released in a DRM-free format.

    So from someone who really respects the public’s rights, thank you for delegitimizing my cause.

  36. GrowlyCub
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 09:40:56

    @Eileen:

    I’m not infuriated, I’m disgusted.

    You are hiding behind an alias and when I asked for your name because I do not want to support your writing career any longer (if I ever did), you flippantly told me to never buy a book by anybody named Eileen.

    I find it sad that you cannot see that as the unprofessional behavior it is. Taken to its conclusion, fellow authors could very well be negatively impacted financially because they happen to either share your first name or you internet alias. Not a very nice thing to do to your fellow authors, whom you came to support on this thread.

    I could try again to explain to you why I found your original posts, several comments since then and your attitude in general dismissive and disdainful of readers, but others have done so as well, and you do not seem to be able to see it.

    Kim is right, I didn’t say anything about finding out who you are, just that you are not as protected behind this alias as you think you may be. I’ve found that people who think that nobody can find out who they are tend to behave more recklessly and more impolitely to others online and I wanted to caution you to rely on your anonymity to protect you from possible repercussions.

    Many readers do not care about the personality, character and behavior of the authors whose books they read, but just as many do as is evidenced by many comments on this thread.

    As we all know, for every letter of complaint written to customer support, there are 400 people who feel the same way. That should make authors wonder what is really going on with their readership in situations where only a few speak up in disgust and disappointment at reader witch hunting.

    I ask again. Why is it so hard to understand that as the party wanting to sell the readers something it behooves you not to insult, dismiss or pooh-pooh said readers’ concerns?

  37. GrowlyCub
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 09:51:41

    @Eileen:

    I see our replies crossed. Thank you for the apology. I’m glad Kim was able to explain better than I what I was reacting to.

  38. Blue Tyson
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 09:56:04

    Same applies for people who put years into mathematics, or history, or knitting, or whatever and never made any money.

    Wasn’t trying to change minds, just suggesting that silly whingeing is just that.

    Writing is hard work, sure. Little chance of you being injured or killed while doing it, however. So when people complain about that, and there are cops and firemen and teachers etc. out there, The woe-is-us refrain can be a little hard to take seriously, you know? Same thing goes for guitarists or javelin flingers.

    I’d like authors and all of the above to get paid more. Extremely unlikely to happen as things stand. Certainly not with the industry as they stand.

    I’ve told publishers directly why people are not going to buy their DRMed books, and that a lot of what they are doing doesn’t make any economic sense. They inconvenience their most frequent buying customers the most, here.

    If they want to continue along those lines and be punished for it (not to mention their ever-increasing PR nightmare) – as has been happening recently, that’s up to them. Probability, (and history seeing you bring that up) suggest a nice decline for media industries and formats with defensive, backward business processes.

    The McMillan CEO I think it was the other day said ‘he couldn’t see a scenario where digital content caused a beneficial scenario for them.’ That’s their head strategic mover. Good, eh?

  39. Heather (errantdreams)
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 10:57:30

    @Blue Tyson:

    Writing is hard work, sure. Little chance of you being injured or killed while doing it, however. So when people complain about that, and there are cops and firemen and teachers etc. out there, The woe-is-us refrain can be a little hard to take seriously, you know?

    Chalk another one up to ‘I agree with your point but you’re undermining your own cause with your rhetoric.’

    I say that as someone who’s had tendonitis from fingertip to shoulder in both arms since 1993, and because of that pretty much cannot drive, cannot work for the most part, etc. Yes, the injury was due to typing. I know of another author I’ve spoken to recently who’s had multiple surgeries for similar reasons.

    No, I don’t think writers should be automatically cut slack because of their work conditions, but neither do I think it’s right to dismiss them as somehow having everything easier. You never know the individual working conditions of any one person you’re talking to, so making sweeping generalizations about ANY group will almost ALWAYS make you look bad.

  40. Anon76
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 11:11:58

    @Blue Tyson:

    Wow, Blue

    I’ve watched your ongoing debate with Angie and must step in to say I find much of your logic flawed, other than your last post.

    Torrent pirate sites are damaging to authors. You claim that it would not have been a sale to those individuals anyhoo, so what’s the beef?

    The beef is they are still downloading the product and enjoying it for free. If you aren’t inclined to buy my product, fine and dandy, but don’t then steal it.

    I’m not of the mind to buy a Kindle at this point, however I wouldn’t mind taking one for a test drive. Is there a torrent site for that where I can get one for free, then when the upgraded version comes out I can decide to buy it or not? While keeping the first one free of charge, of course.

    And while your last comment supports writers getting paid more, how exactly does that happen when their wares are free for the taking? Do you think they put on their next query proposal: “While my sales were anemic, 100,000 free copies were downloaded from blah blah blah sites. This shows that the public is very interested in another of my stories.”

  41. rowena cherry
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 11:23:53

    As I understand the law, “sharing” a copyrighted e-book is “illegal”

    Here’s a simple explanation.
    http://www.copyrightalliance.org/content.php?id=12

    The problem is “Reproduction”.

    The Digital Millenium Copyright Act gives copyright holders the right to control the reproduction and distribution of their work.

    If “sharing” means that you have to create a copy that did not exist before and that you did not pay for, then you have fallen foul of the law.

    That’s not a truth that is easy to share. As a society, we still metaphorically “kill” the messenger who tells us something we don’t want to hear.

    The law is the law. Individuals cannot renegotiate it because they feel strongly one way or another. We can’t unilaterally renegotiate our taxes–or the speed limit– either.

    It’s none of my business what authors want to say or do about their own copyright. If some authors wish to publicly renounce their own rights to control the distribution and reproduction, that’s their affair…. I hope.

    The front matter of a legally purchased e-book ought to say what our rights are as readers. Some don’t. However “all rights reserved” means that the copyright owner reserves all rights.

    “All rights reserved” means that we (the readers) do not own the story itself. We don’t have any “copyright” over the content. We do not have the right to reproduce and distribute that story, any more than we have the right to go to our local copy shop and photocopy a paperback book and give that copy to someone else.

    “First sale rights” do not apply to e-books because an ebook is not physical property. It’s intellectual property.

    If you do share your books and music with your friends using a university or workplace computer, check out the warnings to students at Iowa State university.
    http://www.dso.iastate.edu/ja/violations/

  42. Robin
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 11:24:41

    @Eileen: Thank you for your apology. I made the comment above (153?).

    Since you are not on Twitter, you may not be able to relate to the time frame of how this all played out — so much of it in real time (as Twitter allows very easily). What I think really upset some of us was the way the accusations started flying very quickly on Twitter, and once it was determined that the Kindle TOS actually allowed what Englin’s doing, it wasn’t like the accusers apologized en masse for their accusations; some of them proceeded to Englin’s blog to IMO justify the accusations.

    How hard is it simply to say, “gee, I’m sorry I accused you of stealing/calling you a thief”? Those are strong words to throw at someone, and if a writer doesn’t know that, then why use them to begin with?

    And add on to this that even if everything Englin had been accused of saying was true, IT’S NOT PIRACY. So authors going on and on about piracy just seemed to bring into relief for some of us the automatic suspicion aimed at ebook readers — that we’re all dirty rotten stealers and pirates. And I defy anyone to convince me that such a suspicion does not exist, as yesterday’s Twitter frenzy and this thread IMO clearly demonstrate that it does.

    So when you, another author, show up and tell us that we need to “cut” these authors “some slack,” I read it as just one more de-legitimating comment from the river of suspicion flowing through some author rhetoric about ebooks and readers who like them.

    But I appreciate you apologizing, just as I appreciate Crystal Rain (who was, I think, the only author to apologize publicly on Englin’s blog) and Roxanne St. Claire (who, as Jane said, is someone with a very big heart and a great eagerness to have her books in the hands of readers, and who has generously provided me with a number of ARCs), both of whom made a direct apology. I am still baffled as to why others did not, but my personal suspicion is that they believe that if they apologize they will be weakening their stance against piracy. Even though this was NEVER piracy, and even though the sharing is perfectly legal and allowed under the Kindle TOS.

    As I said here and elsewhere, I personally think it’s these hair-trigger anti-reader accusations that pose a greater risk to an author’s ability to cultivate readers than piracy, but I doubt some authors who are consumed by fear over piracy (and who doesn’t realize that piracy has an always will exist, that it’s just as easy with print books as ebooks, and that not every downloaded copy is a lost sale) are willing to see the serious dangers involved in (especially publicly) associating ebook readers with thieves.

    I really wish someone would study the differences between publishers and authors whose work is made readily, easily, widely, and reasonably available in digital and publishers and authors whose work is not. It might begin to answer questions on both sides of the digital debate.

  43. Eileen
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 11:33:46

    @GrowlyCub:

    Thank you for accepting my apology. I really do appreciate it.

  44. Eileen
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 11:51:29

    @Robin:

    So when you, another author, show up and tell us that we need to “cut” these authors “some slack,” I read it as just one more de-legitimating comment from the river of suspicion flowing through some author rhetoric about ebooks and readers who like them.

    I’m beginning to understand that now, and I appreciate your taking the time to explain. FWIW, one of my closest friends only reads books on her Kindle now, as I mentioned in another post. I have absolutely nothing against e-books. I don’t read that format myself since I don’t like to read on my computer and can’t afford an e-reader, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to have one.

    I’m fighting against this deep and powerful need to explain myself some more . . . but I don’t think that will help as much as listening. So I’m going to hang out awhile and listen.

  45. Suzanne Allain
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 12:56:00

    @Eileen: I thought you were the voice of reason, but reason appears to have flown out the window here.

  46. The Week That Was | Booksquare
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 13:00:04

    [...] Readers Have (Copy)Rights: I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, but the basic premise behind copyright protections included the idea that the public had rights and, in exchange for protecting the copyright of an artist, would be granted a sort of quid pro quo. In the early days, this came in the form of things like, oh, limited copyright terms, which encouraged further artistic expression. I call the change in attitude about copyright “The Mickey Mouse Syndrome” as laws have certainly changed due to the influence of the Walt Disney Company. [...]

  47. Reader
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 14:05:35

    I am a reader of romance books. I love reading, and I read voraciously. So far so good…right? However, I take offense at how the eBook reader Shayna Englin was treated by well-known authors and how they returned on this blog to justify their original fallacious assumptions.

    Why was I offended? I am not a fan of assumptions; however, I can see how the NYT article would have led authors to reasonably assume that something was fishy. Reasonable assumptions are not offensive to me, though like I said I'm not a fan of assumptions in general. Again, why am I offended then? What did I mind exactly? The bullying. Yes, the bullying.

    I don't know about you, but I've never been a fan of bullies, whether they stand on the playground, school, or workplace. What I saw was Shayna Englin become the recipient of the bullying mentality by authors. Authors were quite deliberately, happily, and willfully provoking fellow authors and their fan-followers to forcefully drive home the immorality of Shayna Englin's actions by harassing her through email, twitter, and blog posts. As it turned out, the hue and cry was all due to a misunderstanding, and as authors understood later, legal. But I am still offended.

    Why should I care? I am not Shayna Englin. Yes, that's true… The word “but” butts in… But I care because I like to think that while I might never meet face-to-face any of the authors whose words transport me to a world of romance, they are the kind of people I could chat with cozily somewhere were I to meet them. However, the authors who participated in the “bullying” mentality are not the kind of authors whom I would like to know, let alone support with monetary currency. I freely admit writing is a craft, and authors who practice the craft are gifted. But I would like to point out that there are other authors who are equally talented, equally gifted who did not participate in raising the hue and cry which led me and other readers to take umbrage at the lack of respect displayed by prominent authors.

    By the way, a true apology is issued without justifications, without explanations because an apology is only half-hearted at best when it is accompanied by other (if) well-intentioned accounts of why or other such qualifiers. I am all for forgiveness, because I like to think we are humans and make mistakes, but what really still offends me is the level of rudeness authors continue to display in their mistaken belief that readers will not notice their particular brand of gratuitous sarcasm and disdain.

    Also, I have seen a few authors say here that there are fellow authors who would like to have supported them on this blog but are afraid they will be added to the ‘Do Not Buy List.' I am astonished at this non-dialogue tactic taken by their anonymous-remaining ‘fellow authors.' I thought condescension was reserved for romance readers by other-genre-readers, not romance authors for their own loyal readers. I fail to grasp how any author can seriously believe that readers will boycott authors' sales just by having an author express his/her personal views on the issue. Please, authors, credit your readers with intelligence enough to know the difference between open dialogue/levelheaded debate and “attack” positions, caustic remarks, and covert hostility. Engage in the former, and we’ll respect you even if we disagree, going by Voltaire’s example.

    On the whole, the authors with a few notable exceptions posting here have been quite a disappointment to me as a reader. And as evinced by the comments' section here, I'm not alone.

  48. Eileen
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 14:30:59

    @Suzanne Allain:

    You may be right, but which of my posts were you referring to?

    I thought you were the voice of reason, but reason appears to have flown out the window here.

  49. Barbara B.
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 15:05:23

    “You know, first I'd like to say that boycotting an author because of something they personally did, or said or whatever, is about one of the most ridiculous thing I've heard”

    A few years ago Lydia Joyce had some very racist things to say about black people on her blog. You can be very sure that I’ve never purchased or read anything by her since. Of course I know that mainstream romance writers in general don’t acknowledge the existence of black people but Joyce is ballsy enough to OPENLY express her contempt. It’s entirely possible that Lydia Joyce might be one of the best romance writers on the planet and I’m missing some fantastic reads. However, I’ll never know and I really don’t give a damn if that strikes someone as ridiculous. Why would anybody support those who despise them? Now THAT would be ridiculous.

  50. Courtney Milan
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 15:24:52

    @rowena cherry:

    The Digital Millenium Copyright Act gives copyright holders the right to control the reproduction and distribution of their work.

    This is wrong. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act gives copyright holders the right to implement technological measures to control the reproduction and distribution of their work, and makes it illegal to circumvent those technological measures. It does not grant any stricter copyright controls than the copyright statute itself.

    The making of a copy is controlled by the copyright statute; it is one of the exclusive rights reserved to authors under 17 USC section 106. This is no different for electronic products as for print ones. The reason why the law “appears” different for electronic versus print copies is that in order to hand a “print” copy to your friend you need not make a copy of it; but every time you move an electronic copy electronically, you do make a copy of it. But reproduction is a right protected by the copyright statute, and applicable to all copyrightable works. It does NOT stem from the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

    “First sale rights” do not apply to e-books because an ebook is not physical property. It's intellectual property.

    That’s an interesting assertion to make, and it is not supported by any case law that I am aware of. Courts applied the right of first sale to computer software, which is clearly intellectual property. The only reason that courts would not currently apply the right of first sale to computer software is that the computer software industry sought (and received) a statutory exclusion from the first sale doctrine. No such statutory exclusion exists for e-books, and I would feel perfectly secure in asserting that if I had an e-reader with 100 e-books on it, I could sell someone the e-reader without deleting the books. (Transferring it via an electronic network involves making a copy–and so it’s a stickier story, which has more to do with what we think the default implied license for such things is–reservations of rights not withstanding.) And in Quanta v. LG Electronics (a patent exhaustion case: the close cousin of the right of first sale), the Supreme Court recently held that the right of first sale should be broadly applied, and should not be limited to cases where there is a specific machine embodied.

    I really don’t think your limited view of the right of first sale is defensible, in light of the case law.

    In any event, you’re entirely missing the point of what is being said here. Which is that sharing is only copyright infringement if it involves unauthorized copying. Authorized copying (either explicit, as in the Kindle license, or implied under the expected uses of the device) is not copyright infringement.

  51. Anion
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 15:49:27

    Reading those author Tweets made me sick.

  52. Weekend Reading - ProfHacker.com
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 16:31:23

    [...] For your delectation, two remarkably different attitudes toward copyright.  First, a very limited definition of fair use, and, second, the sensible observation that readers have copyright rights. [...]

  53. Barbara B.
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 16:39:33

    Janine, surely you know that Asians, at least East Asians, are near the top of the Western racial hierarchy. Those of sub-Saharan African descent are at the very bottom. That’s just a sociological fact. So no, a white woman married to an Asian man would not necessarily be lacking in racial animus towards blacks. Possibly quite the contrary. Anyway, I don’t know why anyone would think that being interracially married or romantically involved guarantees anti-racism.

    Sorry, I’m not exactly sure when I read Joyce’s blog. It could have been back in 2006. I don’t doubt that it’s still up, however. She and her blog fans got quite a kick out of it as I remember. They were so very sick of the ‘blacks’ whining about racism when it’s the ‘blacks’ themselves who are the racists. According to her if blacks didn’t keep talking about race and self-segregating there would be no race problems. I’m sure if you asked her, Joyce would gladly expound at length on her racial theories. According to her she’s a genius and would no doubt welcome the opportunity to share her brilliance.

  54. Robin
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 16:44:03

    @Barbara B.: Is this it?

  55. Janine
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 16:56:19

    I’m sorry, Barbara, I had deleted my post before you posted your reply. But I did say there that being married to an Asian doesn’t necessarily preclude racism. I do think that people often become more sensitized to the obstacles their spouses face, but certainly, that isn’t always the case.

    I sometimes do read Lydia Joyce’s blog (mostly because I’ve enjoyed some of her books and I check periodically to see when another one is coming) and I can tell you that her views on many social issues are diametrically opposite of my own. For example, she once posted her opinions of Buddhism on the AAR boards and they were so opposite of mine that I could hardly comprehend them.

    But so far, I haven’t let that stop me from reading her books. I totally understand why other readers stop reading authors whose behavior or views they don’t agree with, and I wholly support every reader’s freedom to do so.

    But on a personal level, it’s a freedom I almost never exercise.

  56. Nonny
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 16:59:26

    I haven’t read the whole slew of comments yet (oh my, there goes my afternoon and evening!) but it puts me in mind of a discussion in which authors said outright that libraries and services like BooksFree were “stealing” from authors because they were not compensating the author properly for each individual reading.

    Seriously, I never thought I would see the day when fellow authors would decry libraries.

  57. Dana
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 17:04:34

    @Robin: @Robin: Holy shit. I just read through that blog, and I’m horrified. I actually have a couple of her books in my TBR pile and I liked one her books, but I’ll be taking them to a used bookstore ASAP. *sigh* My list of authors to not buy, keeps getting longer and longer, but at least my wallet’s a little heavier.

    In regards to piracy, here’s an interesting article from teleread: French survey: 95 percent of pirated e-books are NOT online in legal editions.

  58. Janine
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 17:04:53

    @Barbara B.:

    If it’s the post Robin has linked at #254, I understand your reaction.

  59. Barbara B.
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 17:07:37

    by Robin October 23rd, 2009 at 4:44 pm
    “@Barbara B.: Is this it?”

    Yes, Robin. And I think there might have been another post previous to that one.

  60. Blue Tyson
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 17:27:25

    240

    No, it was Angie’s claim that people downloading had no effect on sales, actually.

    Now you see the point. To get electronics gear for nothing, you’d have to actually indulge in actual theft, and deprive someone of something. :)

    If 100,000 people downloaded some book you wrote, then you are of much more interest as a commercial proposition than someone no-one is interested in at all, certainly. Can you actually point out one author where this is the case? There are torrent sites out there with stats. If you actually find one that looks like that, pretty sure everyone will know the name of the author.

    Lots of the sites of course only show people currently on the torrent – so if you find one with even 4 figures, let alone six, same will likely hold. That person’s sales will be far from sickly. Stephen King was mentioned earlier – he will definitely be in this category because of the refusal to sell ebooks, with his new bank.

    You not wanting people to download is nice. Maybe you’d like everyone to stop jaywalking, too. And a pony.

  61. Blue Tyson
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 17:29:28

    Bank = book. Doh. Same thing, for him, I suppose. :)

  62. Robin
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 17:52:22

    @Dana and @Barbara B.: I actually wish I liked Lydia Joyce’s books more, since she tends to take some interesting issues and characters on in her work. But I have not loved anything by her I’ve read. In any case, there are many authors whose work I read *in spite of* their views or online persona(ae?), etc., and Joyce is among them.

    IMO a reader should be able to choose whether or not to read an author’s work on any basis. Like Janine, I rarely actually exercise the option to not read myself, although on more than a few occasions occasions I have switched to buying an author’s works used, which is sometimes more about a publisher’s particular policies. It forces me to purchase a paper copy of a book, but I’ve certainly done it more than once.

    If I had to articulate a casual policy for myself, I’d say that I rarely shun an author’s work for things they say and do that are not aimed at me or at readers in general. Plagiarism, articulated lack of respect for me or readers generally — those are the kinds of things that might make me think twice about reading a book. But in the vast majority of cases, an author who upsets me in some way just gets a “cooling off period” in which I work on dissociating the author’s comments or actions with their fiction.

    I basically figure that if I learned too much about any artist, I’d have woefully few pieces of art to enjoy, lol. And I’m sure there are things about me that, if I wrote fiction, would make people not want to read my books either. So it takes something pretty extreme to permanently demolish that separation between an author and a book. And this stance is much less a moral imperative than an act of selfishness — I want to be able to read as many books as I can, on my own terms.

  63. Deb
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 17:55:09

    I find it astonishing that the authors responding to the article Do Not Know How these devices function. This is “your” livelyhood. To not know that the devices offer sharing on more than 1 device is inexcusable. It’s in your best interest to keep up with the technology. You’ve mastered Twitter, now try Sony.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, et.al. You don’t need to buy one, all e-reader device websites list the features prominently.

    Any author who decries libraries should get out of the business. That attitude is an affront to any reader and taxpayer. If your sales are so low that you cannot see clear to lending books, you are spending way too much time on Twitter. Grow up.

  64. Robin
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 18:02:06

    @Nonny: See I’m deeply afraid of knowing how many authors really do resent libraries, used book stores, and services like Paperback Swap, because I suspect the number is much higher than those who have stated these opinions, and I’m a very selfish reader in that I want to be able to read as many different books by as many different authors as I can without having to think about stuff like that, lol.

  65. Angie
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 18:04:59

    Hating libraries is not only promotional suicide, it’s just plain stupid. There are thousands of public libraries in the US — when I did a blog post on the subject a little less than a year ago, the number was 16,543, according to the ALA web site. Heck, when I have a paper book out, I hope all those libraries will each buy at least one copy. :D

    Angie

  66. Janine
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 18:24:17

    @Robin:

    I actually wish I liked Lydia Joyce's books more, since she tends to take some interesting issues and characters on in her work. But I have not loved anything by her I've read.

    Her books were something of an acquired taste for me — it took me some time to get used to her prose.

    In any case, there are many authors whose work I read *in spite of* their views or online persona(ae?), etc.,

    That is true for me as well. I can also think of at least one author who isn’t online at all, but whose political and social views come across in her books, and though I disagree with them, I keep reading because there are many other things I enjoy about her books.

    IMO a reader should be able to choose whether or not to read an author's work on any basis.

    Absolutely. People shouldn’t be required to read anything, except for traffic signs when they are driving.

    If I had to articulate a casual policy for myself, I'd say that I rarely shun an author's work for things they say and do that are not aimed at me or at readers in general. Plagiarism, articulated lack of respect for me or readers generally -’ those are the kinds of things that might make me think twice about reading a book. But in the vast majority of cases, an author who upsets me in some way just gets a “cooling off period” in which I work on dissociating the author's comments or actions with their fiction.

    For me it is more the case that I stop only when I can’t dissociate no matter how hard I try. And actually the only case I can think of where that has happened to me is with Woody Allen, whose movies I haven’t seen since I read an article in Vanity Fair which described not only his taking up with Mia Farrow’s teenaged stepdaughter, Soon-Yi, but also some inappropriate and to me, very disturbing behavior with his biological daughter, Dylan, who was four years old at the time. I never made a conscious decision to stop going to his movies, but all desire to see them left me.

    The closest case to that I can think of that involves an author is Georgette Heyer. I don’t think I have ever felt so personally hurt by something I read in the pages of a romance as I was by the anti-Semitism in original edition of The Grand Sophy, especially since the book was published in 1950. The 1970s revision did not do nearly enough to correct the problem IMO. But still, I went on to read Sylvester and The Nonesuch, although with less enthusiasm for Heyer than I had had previously. Intellectually, I really would like to read even more of her fiction, but emotionally I do have some resistance to overcome.

    I basically figure that if I learned too much about any artist, I'd have woefully few pieces of art to enjoy, lol.

    Isn’t that the truth. Artists have all the flaws of other human beings. Sometimes their art transcends that, but that doesn’t mean they do.

  67. Dana
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 18:31:23

    @Robin:

    I basically figure that if I learned too much about any artist, I'd have woefully few pieces of art to enjoy, lol. And I'm sure there are things about me that, if I wrote fiction, would make people not want to read my books either. So it takes something pretty extreme to permanently demolish that separation between an author and a book.

    I can totally understand that, and it takes a lot for me to stop supporting an artist as well. (I’m ashamed to say that I kept reading Orson Scott Card up until a few years ago.) But for me, Joyce’s post is just too full of bigotry that I don’t think I’ll be able to disassociate the author from the book, at least not for a very long time. She just talks about some of my hot button topics, and I just can’t support an author who spews that much bigotry.

    Sometimes I wish there was a little more distance between authors and readers.

  68. Jess Granger
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 20:06:11

    This is why the only thing I post on Twitter are beer reviews, slightly naughty haikus and updates on what I’m doing with my writing. That form of communication is waaaay too quick to start a frenzy.

    I did link over to Englin’s blog from a Twitter post, and added my two cents because I thought the debate was interesting. I still think it is interesting. But people shouldn’t get beat up over debates.

    Let’s spread some nice around. I’m heartened by some of the apologies I’ve seen, they lead to more civilized discussion. Bravo to civility.

  69. rowena cherry
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 07:43:14

    Courtney,

    Thank you for the explanation. I assume that the United States Copyright office would be the best place to seek out the truth, if we are discussing Copyright (who has copyright rights).

    This from circ01.pdf “What is copyright”
    “Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.”

    Also
    “Mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, or any other copy or phonorecord does not give the possessor the copyright. The law provides that transfer of ownership of any material object that embodies a protected work does not of itself convey any rights in the copyright.”

    http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#106

    It’s a bit cumbersome. However, here’s an exciting passage:

    § 106. Exclusive rights in copyrighted works38
    Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:
    (1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
    (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
    (3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
    (4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
    (5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
    (6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

    Further into the document it states that where a copy may be made (in the case of a computer software program) it is for back-up, and may not be given to anyone else.

    As similar explanation was allegedly provided to many publishers who signed up for Kindle, but that is hearsay, so I really cannot comment on that.

  70. Deirdre
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 09:12:39

    Below is the exact TOS involving the multiple device issue. Note, the account holder must own the devices, not “friends”. The woman did break the TOS and did cheat …. period. http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630#multiple

    “Downloading to Multiple Devices
    Content purchased from the Kindle Store can be downloaded to your Kindle, iPhone, or iPod touch as long as you’ve registered the device to the Amazon.com account that purchased the Kindle content. There is no limit on the number of times a title can be downloaded to a registered device, but there may be limits on the number of devices (usually 6) that can simultaneously use a single book.

    That means you can download and read your books on any Kindle device you own as long you’ve registered each device to the Amazon.com account where your Kindle library is stored.

    You can see the items in your Kindle library under Archived Items on your Kindle and send downloads to your registered Kindles from the “Your Orders” section of the Manage Your Kindle page.”

  71. Robin
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 10:38:20

    @Deirdre: If you read the entirety of the sentence, I think it’s clear that what controls is here is this part:

    as long as you've registered the device to the Amazon.com account that purchased the Kindle content.

    That is, what’s important is the the Kindle is registered to the account that purchased the book, not that the *you* is only the person who bought the Kindle. And even if *you* is the Kindle owner, again, the only requirement is that it be registered to the account that purchased the book, not that you can only have one Kindle owner registered to each account. Also, keep in mind that this was checked on and *confirmed* by Amazon as okay.

    @Dana: I TOTALLY get what you’re saying. ;)

  72. Jessica
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 10:42:19

    @Deirdre:

    Below is the exact TOS involving the multiple device issue. Note, the account holder must own the devices, not “friends”. The woman did break the TOS and did cheat …. period. http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630#multiple

    I do not know anything about specific people — i.e. who cheated and who did not. No comment.

    However, as a Kindle owner, I have always understood this policy the way you state it.

    But it is up to the customer – not Amazon — to decide whom she will allow to share her account. Since it means sharing credit card information and One Click privileges, it requires a lot of trust. I personally would not do it with anyone who is not immediate family living in my domicile. Others may choose differently, and Amazon has not told them not to.

    Is sharing between friends, who do not live together, an abuse? Would it violate the spirit, if not the letter of the policy, to share my Kindle account with a friend for a week, allowing her to download all of my library, then kick her off it?

    I know what my personal answers are, but I am pretty sure Amazon has left it to each customer to decide for herself.

  73. deirdre
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 10:59:45

    Please re-read the TOS. The account holder may download their purchased material to up to 6 alternate devices that THEY OWN … hello. To allow otherwise is called digital piracy of copyrighted material. It is NOT up to each customer to decide. It is up to each customer to not exploit the TOS and commit piracy.

  74. GrowlyCub
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 11:05:36

    @deirdre:

    As Amazon has confirmed this to be legal under their TOS, you must be mistaken.

  75. deirdre
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 11:20:49

    @GrowlyCub:

    Since I quoted Amazon’s TOS and even linked to it, you must be being obtuse.

  76. Jessica
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 11:29:21

    @deirdre: I just called Kindle customer service. The devices must be connected to one account, but do not have to be owned by one person.

  77. deirdre
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 11:39:37

    @Jessica: Perhaps their customer service should read their TOS, then.

  78. Mireya
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 11:47:01

    How is lending an ebook to a friend different from lending a print book. Technically, I can lend a print book to hundreds of people. Using a Kindle I am limited to six. Am I missing something here? Come on, enough with the moronic paranoia.

  79. Robin
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 11:47:02

    @Jessica: Which is what the TOS that @Deirdre linked to said.

    I’m sadly bemused that people think this is so horrible, especially since the new BN nook allows for even broader file sharing (albeit time controlled) to friends, none of whom have to own a nook themselves.

    Sharing has always been a core right of readers. How sad it is that lawful electronic sharing is viewed by both authors and readers with such resentment, suspicion, and derision (I’m not saying you feel this way, Jessica, just that so many responses have led me to this conclusion). I have no doubt that there are authors who want that Amazon policy changed, completely unwilling to see that such a change is likely against their own interests. I hope publishers understand this better, since they have negotiated these distribution rights with Amazon, but who knows — it’s not like publishers have been particularly pro-reader, either.

    Gah, this whole thing has made me feel so unenthusiastic about reading, let alone book buying. Right now I have no desire to buy even one freaking genre fiction book, and book browsing/buying is usually one of my favorite hobbies.

  80. Jane
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 11:58:17

    @deirdre Given that you are able to state with definitiveness what is legal and what is not pursuant to the TOS, I’ll only be restating the law that you already understand and know. I only clarify for the people who may not have your familiarity with the law.

    As you know, the bounds of the Kindle TOS are interpreted under contract law. As you know, contract law depends upon a) the intent of the contracting parties as determined by the language of the contract and b) if that intent cannot be determined then the most reasonable interpretation. If more than one reasonable interpretation exists, then the one that most benefits the non drafting party is the definition that applies.

    The contract term that you provide is ambiguous in that it is capable of having two or more reasonable interpretations. Even Amazon’s own employees are interpreting different than yours, showing that the reasonable person can have interpreted it in the fashion that you have or in the fashion that others (like the original Kindle owner) has.

    There is no use of the term “household” in limiting usage. The court interpreting the TOS would put the onus on Amazon to clearly define the terms of service to limit the usage of the product given that they wrote the clause. Further, given that Amazon does not disagree with Englin’s interpretation, it means that her interpretation is not incorrect or “illegal” as you call it. (illegal being a misnomer since I don’t think a breach of contract can be termed “illegal” or having to do with criminal conduct).

  81. GrowlyCub
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 12:01:01

    @deirdre:

    I think the one being obtuse is not me. You can link to the TOS all you want. The company that wrote the TOS determines how it is to be interpreted, not you. And Amazon has now confirmed several times that sharing in the manner described is legal.

    All your bullying and namecalling is not going to change that fact.

    And if you think you are convincing anybody to your point of view by calling us names, you are sadly mistaken.

  82. Ebook author
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 12:03:32

    Sharing a great book has long been part of romance reading/book reading culture. The zeal some authors show to stop any form of sharing, even between friends or family members really turns me off.

    If someone really likes one of my ebooks(not available in print) and shares it with a friend or friends, I don’t mind one bit. I give away all my author copies, then buy more to give away–because I’m hoping if someone reads one of my books, they’ll like it, and become a fan! Heck if they just remember my name I’d be happy. There’s a lot of competition out there, if you haven’t noticed. Actually reading one of your books goes farther than all the excerpts and promo you do–I think.

    I’m not talking torrents etc here. I’m talking word of mouth sharing, emailing a friend a great book.

    Seems like some are not thinking in their best interest. Heck, your ebooks aren’t going to make enough to give up the day job anyway, except in very rare cases. Aren’t you just trying to gain readership until you hit bigger publishers? I am.

  83. Karen Templeton
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 12:58:36

    As someone who shares books with friends/family all the time (and who has always been a huge fan of libraries, and has bought books used, etc.), clearly I don’t have an issue with the practice as a general rule. But something struck me, as I read these last few posts about the Amazon sharing-amongst-six deal, especially in light of the oft-stated (and more than reasonable) justification that sharing often leads to a reader buying her own copy.

    In this scenario, however — since up to six people, if we interpret the TOS to mean six devices on one account, not necessarily owned by the same person — there is no incentive to buy another copy, ever, if six people get their own copies with a single purchase. IOW, this would be like six readers walking into a bookstore, and because one person buys a book, the other five ALSO get copies. Six books, not one book shared six times. If you already have the book and don’t have to give it back…no reason to buy it.

    So as far as comparing the Kindle deal to sharing print books, it’s rather apples-and-orangish. Which is all I’m saying. And for God’s sake I’m not equating the practice with piracy.

    I’m also gonna go out on a limb here and opine that this probably isn’t what Ammy had in mind, since I can’t imagine they’d be thrilled with the idea of losing those five sales, either. How many copies is the Nook allowing “out” at one time? Isn’t it only one?

    Now, granted — six people sharing an account who end up buying six times *more* books together than they would individually could — theoretically, at least — yield the same net results. I.e., no loss of revenue for authors. But that’s sketchy. And probably unrealistic, since everybody’s looking for way to reduce spending these days. (And that’s not a complaint, just an observation, since I’m in the same boat.)

    *This author’s* take on it: Could it be problematic? Perhaps. Not much liking the idea of six people who *used to* all buy their own books suddenly deciding, hey — now we don’t have to. So sue me. ;-) But is it worrying me overmuch? No. At least, not yet, since there really is no way of quantifying what impact *anything* has on our sales. (Although I am curious to see, because of the surge of Kindle sales in category romance, how those figures shake out on my next royalty statement.)

    I also don’t see the practice as something likely to become terribly widespread, since — as was pointed out — sharing an account with people outside your family requires a level of trust I doubt most people have.

    I’d also — since I’ve got the floor :) — just like to point out that authors as a group no more share a brain than do readers. This idea that all print authors are somehow anti-ebook, or equate e-book reading with piracy, just has me scratching my head. Yes, it’s easier to pirate an e-book than it is print — soon as Harlequin started releasing my books in e-versions, boom! There they were, up on the sites. That’s a fact. Only occasionally do I see a print-only book up there (although, to be honest, I stopped looking some time ago. Nothin’ I can do about it, and thus far not affecting my numbers.) But to assume that I look suspiciously on all e-book customers as potential pirates is absurd…any more than I would assume all members of *any* group are “evil” because of a few bad eggs.

    None of us speaks for the rest of us, is all I’m saying. Okie-doke? ;-)

  84. Deirdre
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 13:03:32

    @GrowlyCub: Goodness. I am a bully, now? I called people names, did I? *peers*

    Since you can’t interpret my simple post, I forgive you all your outrageous accusations against me. Peace.

  85. Deirdre
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 13:10:21

    When you lend a hard copy book to your friend, you can’t access it till your friend gives it back … if your friend gives it back, that is, so there is no illegal reproduction of copyrighted material.

    When you give someone your account info so they can download their own copy of the e-book you bought to their own device, how is that not illegally reproducing the copyrighted material?

  86. Jane
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 13:28:37

    @Deirdre I’m sure you are asking this question rhetorically because, given your command of the law, you know the answer to this. Amazon makes a deal with the publisher to allow a certain number of simultaneous downloads. The consumer then contracts with amazon to be allowed a certain number of simultaneous downloads. Ergo, the customer is being allowed the rights that Amazon has been granted from the publisher. There is nothing illegal about that. (as I am sure you know. I don’t mean, of course, to be articulating an understanding of the law that you already have but trying to explain it to anyone else who may be reading).

  87. Karen Templeton
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 13:59:35

    Deirdre and Jane: Not a lawyer, here, copyright or other, but it seems to me this is all about, not only interpretation, but assumptions. :)

    Deirdre — every copyrighted book has the disclaimer about reproduction not being allowed *except with written permission from the publisher* (my Silhouettes actually say “from the editiorial office,” but for purposes of this discussion, the same thing.). Therefore there are situations where reproduction is allowed. I.e., if the publisher gives their permission.

    Now, Jane, since I’m still dangling out on this limb, my interpretation of the TOS is the same as Deirdre’s, that the Amazon’s intention is for the device-sharing to be a convenience for the individual (and, perhaps, family members) rather than any six random folks linked to the same account. Otherwise, I think the TOS would state that upfront (but then, this is Amazon we’re talking about). As it stands, though, it’s not clear (apparently!) and is thus subject to interpretation — by their customer service reps and well as customers. I get what you’re saying…but you’re also assuming publishers are not only aware of, but have given express permission for this type of sharing. And you may be correct. But do any of us know for sure that’s the case?

    I mean, seriously — just being pragmatic here: How many publishers would willingly allow six copies to be sold for the price of one? Yes, they give books away, and do two-fers, etc. all the time. But with profit margins as slim as they already are, such a business model as a matter of course feels completely illogical to me.

    So I’d love to know if publishers really are aware of/have sanctioned this particular practice.

  88. Jane
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 14:15:47

    @Karen Templeton If publishers, multibillion companies, don’t know how to read a contract, I hardly know why that is a problem for the consumer.

  89. GrowlyCub
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 14:24:11

    @Jane:

    You are being obtuse. The same way it’s our problem/responsibility whether or not authors make enough money, didn’t you learn this from this thread?

    /sarcasm off (or maybe not)

  90. Jessica
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 14:27:51

    Robin — the words “you own” did throw me for a minute, but I spoke to both the front line Amazon customer service associate and her manager, giving them the scenario under discussion in Jane’s original post.

    It would have been nice if the TOS consistently used one term, like “account”, for clarity’s sake.

    Is it possible that Amazon and the publishers it has contracted with have attempted to remove a major barrier to the purchase of the Kindle and ebooks, namely, the inability to lend them, by reaching a “6 device” compromise (probably with the help of eleventy billion lawyers)?

    And, yeah, I have got to share some of the dismay Robin expressed over some authors’ attitudes toward this policy, when a significant chunk of my discretionary income has gone into the purchase of a $350 ereader, so I could spend the rest of my discretionary income on their books, and my free time blogging about them. Thanks a bunch!

  91. Karen Templeton
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 14:30:28

    @Jane:

    True enough. Except…if they’re interpreting the contract the way Deirdre and I did, perhaps they’re unaware of that broader interpretation?

    And if that broader interpretation eventually negatively impacts publishers’ incomes — and hence, their abiity to provide the consumer with product — then it does become their problem, yes?

    Not that it necessarily will, I’m just speaking hypothetically. As the moment, as robust as Kindle sales are, not sure how much they’re yet affecting the Big Guys’ revenue. And obviously the industry has done just fine thus far with people sharing and buying used, etc., which is why I don’t, and never have, seen sharing per se as a threat. I do believe, however, that it’s wise to keep tabs on how these new methods of sharing impact sales overall. Building readership/increasing sales is always good, no matter how that’s achieved. Whatever erodes sales, however — not so much.

    So it just bears watching, IMO.

    Edited to add: Jessica — good point, that perhaps the six-device deal is a compromise to assuage the “but we can’t share the books!” argument against e-devices. That makes sense.

  92. Carol
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 14:32:26

    Myth-’The publisher sets the price of the book at Amazon.
    Fact-’A publisher sets a price, but Amazon reserves the right to change that price to suit Amazon.

    Myth-’The customer is being allowed the rights that Amazon has been granted from the publisher.
    Fact-’No publisher I know of at this time ever authorized Amazon to allow simultaneous downloads as such is not something any publisher allows on their own site.

    Amazon has their own set of rules. Fact is, if a publisher and author want their book on Amazon, then the publisher and author have to accept Amazon's terms of service.

    Not all publishers are on Amazon and it's likely that said publisher dislikes the multi downloads that mean one price for six copies, something most pubs find unfair to authors, but many have little choice if the books are on Amazon.

    I'd bet many pubs didn't know about that multi download aspect.

  93. Deb
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 14:33:43

    Jane, I think I love you.

    Every author whose books have been published and sold electronically gave up the right to complain about it after the fact. As soon as the contract was signed and the advance was sent, the digital rights transfer was a done deal. Any author who has not taken the time to learn what their digital rights are, has not been taking care of the business side of their profession.

    Print publishing has been on the wane for a long time, while digital publishing is on the rise. It’s not going to go away by ignoring it.

    As far as sharing digital books on one account, a bestselling author indicated (I think on SBTB) she has been sharing her Amazon account with friends. I caught a message on the Amazon Kindle discussion boards, by one of the authors listed as part of the twitter melee, indicating to wait on purchasing the discussed book, the price will come down(aren’t royalties affected by price?). In both cases, the authors are on the best seller lists.

    The problem is that authors have not taken the time to educate themselves in what they were discussing. If it had only been a mild complaint, it would not have generated the kind of reaction by so many here. It was mob mentality, bullying in my opinion, without having a clue. That’s nuts.

    Lastly, had my mother used one of her kids with the intention of scaring the “accused”, her ears would be ringing from now until Christmas.

  94. Jane
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 14:35:16

    @Karen Templeton A lawyer’s job is to anticipate different permutations of a contract clause. If publishers have shitty lawyers, then the issue is to be taken up with them. It is not to accuse readers of not respecting author rights.

    Further, amazon is not selling a book to Kindle readers. They are selling a leasehold interest that can be yanked at any time (Read the terms of service). Amazon can and has exercised its right to remove access, cripple features, and bar readers from content. This is possible because the transaction is a lease.

    You seem to be missing a big issue here. With the Kindle, there is no return and there is no resale. Sharing is limited to 6 devices. These are far more injurious to a consumer than they are to a publisher. Given your long time position in the industry, you understand that one of the largest problems is returns. Why is it not conceivable that the Big Boys, as you refer to them, haven’t determined that the lease model with its terms that allow very limited sharing isn’t one that is more beneficial than a print/sale model that allows for returns, resales, and unlimited sharing?

  95. Carol
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 14:35:24

    I know most people who buy a paper book generally buy one single copy, much like someone who buys an eBook. The trick is when you lend out that paper book, it physically leaves your hand and is then in the sole possession of the individual you handed it to. That's not the case with eBooks.

    The lending of paper books verses electronic books boils down to how many people you can share with or lend to at a time. With a paper print, the logical and common sense answer is you may share with or lend to as many people as you have legally purchased physical copies in your possession. IOW, if you buy one copy, you can share with or lend to one person because when you share with or lend your purchased copy, the copy is no longer in your possession and therefore you cannot share with or lend to anyone else until the copy is returned to you unless you buy another copy.

    While the same basic rule should apply with an eBook, we all know that eBooks are not treated the same because while you should rightfully share as above, you know, with as many people as you have legally purchased copies, the plain fact is, how many of us remove the original from our possession when we share that eBook? Less than 2%. The problem is that original eBook copy never leaves your desktop unless you delete it.

    Since a paper book leaves your possession while shared or on loan, an eBook should be treated in the same manner. Think about it, once you hand over the paper book, you can't access it. Why should an eBook be any different? I believe eBooks should be treated like paper books.

  96. GrowlyCub
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 14:40:14

    @Carol:

    Fact-’No publisher I know of at this time ever authorized Amazon to allow simultaneous downloads

    Would you provide some proof of this supposed ‘fact’?

    The fact that publishers made their authors’ books available via Amazon Kindle download means they agreed to Amazon’s TOS. If they didn’t know about it they didn’t do their homework when reading the contract.

    I’m getting more and more confused about why authors think that readers are at fault for their publishers’ and Amazon’s doings.

  97. Janine
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 14:48:55

    @Karen Templeton,

    I'm also gonna go out on a limb here and opine that this probably isn't what Ammy had in mind, since I can't imagine they'd be thrilled with the idea of losing those five sales, either.

    I don’t understand the assumption that all five other people would have bought (or perhaps “leased” is a better term) a copy of the same book if they hadn’t been able to access the same Kindle account.

    Just because six of them are linked t one account, doesn’t mean that all six have the same reading tastes or the same budget. One of the benefits of sharing is that it enables readers to try books they would not have read otherwise, either because they’re not sure they would like them or because they can’t afford them. Since that is so often the case, why assume that five sales of each book were lost?

  98. Deb
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 14:49:41

    Actually, the publishers do control the number of downloads and Amazon does indicate that info with the affected books. Not all books sold in the Kindle store are available to 6 devices.The publishers reserve the right to turn of the TTS function on their books. This info is listed also.

    Amazon is not a bad guy here, nor any of the other e-reader sellers. They built a device with functionality to appeal to the consumer. If a publisher does not like all the bells and whistles, they can contract that stuff out. The publishers are not required to sell their books through Amazon in any case. As far as pricing, Lisa Kleypas’s most recent release (paperback) is sold on the publisher’s website for $14.99, Amazon dropped that price to $7.99, the price of the print published book. Amazon is taking the hit on this, not the publisher.

  99. Carol
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 15:10:42

    Very interesting. I was talking with both my pubs on three-way about it and both said they were please to learn it was something they have the ability to control and will be looking into it, but as with any business, you do it their way or not at all.

    And I am in no way saying readers are responsible for anything, didn’t even think it was phrased in my comment, but if anyone misconstrued that, I apologize, it was never the intent, not now, not ever.

  100. Carol
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 15:12:38

    A copyright must be for sale for one to purchase it. Since the sale of a copy of a book, in any form, is not accompanied by a bill of sale stating the copyright was also purchased, one cannot buy the copyright just by buying a copy of a book for sale.

    Copyright belongs solely to the person who wrote whatever is copyrighted. If buying an eBook gives the purchaser/reader a piece of the copyright, then why when you buy a Stephen King or Nora Roberts novel don't you get a piece of their copyright as well?

    Because just buying an eBook or a Stephen King or Nora Roberts novel, does not buy a share of the copyright, but merely the right to keep and read the copy you bought.

    Buying that paper book or eBook gives you the right to use it for you, not the right to claim any of the copyright.

    And for those who want to say an eBook is like software, the rule is even stronger.

    If buying software, be it an eBook, MS Word, Vista or some other program, why don't you get a piece of that copyright? Because just buying software, be it an eBook, MS Word, Vista or some other program, does not buy a share of the copyright. You have the right to use it for you and you alone.

    Sharing is fine as long as you only share the number of copies you legally purchased.

    Fair use has nothing to do with the use of the book, paper or electronic, because fair use refers to specific use of copyright work for specific purposes.

    Think about it this way, if buying an eBook granted a reader any share of a copyright, then buying a burger at McDonald's and getting the wrapper would grant the consumer a piece of McDonald's in the same manner.

    This is direct from the US Copyright Office.

    —quote—
    One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords. This right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the copyright law (title 17, U. S. Code). One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” The doctrine of fair use has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years and has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.
    Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:
    1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
    2. The nature of the copyrighted work
    3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
    4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work
    The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.
    Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.
    The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”
    Copyright protects the particular way an author has expressed himself. It does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in the work.
    The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material. The Copyright Office cannot give this permission.
    When it is impracticable to obtain permission, use of copyrighted material should be avoided unless the doctrine of fair use would clearly apply to the situation. The Copyright Office can neither determine if a certain use may be considered fair nor advise on possible copyright violations. If there is any doubt, it is advisable to consult an attorney.
    FL-102, Revised May 2009
    ________________________________________
    Home | Contact Us | Legal Notices | Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) | Library of Congress
    U.S. Copyright Office
    101 Independence Avenue SE
    Washington, DC 20559-6000
    (202) 707-3000

    —end quote—

  101. Barbara A.
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 15:15:33

    It is hard for me to believe that Ms Burton is in publishing when she gets it so wrong…she says
    “The problem here is that the very same law that gives authors a property right to their creative work gives consumers the right of first sale and fair use privileges. Let me state that again. The VERY SAME LAW that creates intellectual property for authors gives readers rights too.

    COPYRIGHT LAW gives a bundle of rights to AUTHORS.”
    Not exactly right – A copyright is the laws recognition that an original work belongs to the author of that original work and only that author can give the rights to reproduce it.
    “AUTHORS sell that bundle of rights, including the right of distribution and copying to a PUBLISHER in exchange for money.”
    Not exactly right – Authors LICENSE the rights to their work – that means they give a publisher the right to issue it in various forms like print books or audios but the author does not give up the legal right to the work and the authors contract may allow for some types of publishing but not others – also in a publishing contract there is a revert clause where the license expires and the right to sell the work again goes back to the author

    “PUBLISHER exercises its purchased rights by making many copies and selling those copies in a few ways including, but not limited to, the following two:
    1. A SALE which results in a consumer purchasing the book and gaining the RIGHT OF FIRST SALE and FAIR USE RIGHTS granted by same COPYRIGHT LAW.
    Again not exactly right – Publisher exercises what ever rights are in the contract by LICENSING rights for specific uses – a “fair use” is mainly exerpts or free copies to reviewers or other uses that may be promotion or education use – they are not meant to EVER be any kind of use that cuts the author out of any royalty

    2. A LEASE which is bound by the terms of an agreement.
    A lease is what exists between the publisher and a market like e readers – that is one of the rights LICENSED to the publisher by the author – the e reader company will enter into an agreement with the publisher to have access to the publishers books and will record and re-imburse that publisher for the downloads of that book – that lease will set down the terms – how many downloads one account can have and things like that or how many accounts can be linked to one reader – but again if an e reader owner is exceeding that number or in other ways violating the terms of the lease they have with their e reader company they are “pirating”.

  102. Karen Templeton
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 15:18:19

    @Jane: Why is it not conceivable that the Big Boys, as you refer to them, haven't determined that the lease model with its terms that allow very limited sharing isn't one that is more beneficial than a print/sale model that allows for returns, resales, and unlimited sharing?

    Again, very true — one of the huge advantages of ebooks to both the industry as a whole and authors is the removal of that “returns against reserves” problem. It’s definitely nice to know whatever numbers of e-editions of my books sell, they will show up in my royalty check on the next statement. Yee-hah.

    However, I think the issue here is net sales numbers. Since few readers return books to stores, with print the biggest concern is with unsold books, stripped and returned from distributer to publisher. In this scenario, we’re focused on how often a title is downloaded and paid for. So I return to my main question — will allowing six people to consistently share a single title, with no reason for any of them to buy a copy for themselves, be a boon to the industry or not? Only time will tell.

    Yes, I understand this means squat to the consumer, but as I just said, it may well if the model turns out to be a bust. I’m not saying it will, simply that it’s too soon to tell, since e-publishing delivery models are likely to be in flux for quite a while until a lot of the major kinks are ironed out.

    But tossing out another thought, just for the heck of it — but when you go see a movie in the theater, or a concert, everyone has to pay for a ticket, and you don’t get to “share” the experience with anyone else. You’ve paid for the privilege of spending two hours of your time in the theater, and that’s it. With DVDs or CDs, there’s no limit to how many people can listen/watch at once; you can lend it; if you bought it, you can sell it or give it away. But while the content is the same, the delivery model — and your rights as a consumer — are different.

    While I understand the annoyance of only being able to lease books on your Kindle, perhaps many readers see that as a fair tradeoff for being able to carry hundreds of books with them at once, for being able to order a book and start reading almost instantly, for not needing to deal with a physical copy of something they don’t want to keep in the first place.

    If I want the live or big-screen experience, I go to the performance or cinema. If I want to pause the movie or songtrack at will, I buy or rent the DVD/CD. But I don’t expect the experiences to be equal. So I’m not sure why readers expect e-reading to be the same as paper.

    Except, you know, different. ;-)

  103. Karen Templeton
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 15:28:51

    @GrowlyCub:

    I'm getting more and more confused about why authors think that readers are at fault for their publishers' and Amazon's doings

    If a reader’s simply following the TOS according to Amazon’s own interpretation of it, then of course she’s not “at fault” for anything. If a store offers a product at a sale price, no matter what their deal is with the vendor, the consumer certainly isn’t doing anything wrong by buying the product at that price.

    While I find this six-for-one set up curious, why on earth would I blame the reader for it?

  104. Jane
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 15:46:43

    @Karen Templeton You think that the paper book is the equivalent of a movie theater experience? In SAT analogy form: CD is to digital download what paper is to ebook download.

  105. Jane
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 15:47:45

    @Carol Copyright includes with it (amongst other things) the right of distribution of copies, not merely the right of copying.

  106. Karen Templeton
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 15:51:23

    @Janine:

    Just because six of them are linked t one account, doesn't mean that all six have the same reading tastes or the same budget. One of the benefits of sharing is that it enables readers to try books they would not have read otherwise, either because they're not sure they would like them or because they can't afford them. Since that is so often the case, why assume that five sales of each book were lost?

    Again, true. Of course it’s highly unlikely all six people would always order the same book. :) (And I honestly do wonder how many of these accounts we’re talking about. Probably not all that many.)

    BUT, say Reader 1 loves Author X’s books, so she downloads it and shares it with a friend. Or six. Reader 2 has never read Author X before, and she loves it, too. Now, if the share had been paper, perhaps Reader 2 (assuming she can afford it)might have either bought her own copy of that book, or a subsequent book, because she didn’t want to share/wanted her own copy. In the Kindle scenario, however — why would she do that? Even if the readers sharing the account rotate who purchases the next book…there’s always only a single sale, since the copies can be read simultaneously.

    All I’m saying is that it sure seems to be as though the potential for extra sales of that, or even subsequent, books is decreased with simultaneous, and continous, free downloads. Which somewhat dilutes the “build a readership” argument.

    Of course, it’s possible that these gals only ever buy one copy of a book, no matter what the format, in which case it’s a wash. Can’t lose something that never existed.:) Or maybe either or both will decide, for whatever reason, to buy paper copies. So variables abound.

    But while the Kindle program can be the same as sharing paper books, in many ways it’s not at all. I know most readers couldn’t care less — nor should they — but as an author, I’d be a total turkey brain not to at least keep an eye on it and see how it all plays out.

  107. Deb
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 16:00:06

    As I see it, the biggest difference here is that of control. Leasing an e-book with DRM means the lease is controlled. Only shared on limited number of devices. With the printed book, sharing is uncontrolled. A book can change hands in an unlimited fashion, resold numerous times in USBs. I never expected to have the ability to pass on or sell an e-book. But I also didn’t expect to be castigated for legally using the device with it’s legal functionality. I’m also really saddened to find that book sharing, i.e. libraries are now frowned upon.

    I’d bet $$ to Krispie Kremes, the amount of book account sharing among friends is so small, it probably isn’t worth the time spent discussing it. The more typical scenario is that of 1 person reading the same book on multiple devices depending on where they are in any given moment. How many of us have hand-helds with purchased music as well as smartphones and on our computers? In the case of videos, shouldn’t all individuals pay for the viewing not just the renter or buyer of said DVD? Do you pay for listening to a radio? Shouldn’t you have to pay for tivoing a televised broadcast? In all these scenarios, aren’t the digital rights being shared?

  108. Michelle
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 16:14:14

    I predict the authors who are the most shrill, and continue to treat readers as criminals and cheats will be losing more future revenue from their own actions, than by any loss due to sharing.

    Readers have long memories, and not all publicity is good.

    Trying to conflate sharing with piracy is disingenuous.

    Edited to add-I am not trying to stifle authors; I am trying to recommend they think very carefully before they speak/write/tweet.

  109. Angie
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 16:14:43

    Deb@307 — Leasing an e-book with DRM means the lease is controlled. Only shared on limited number of devices.

    Be aware that while this might sound nice on paper, it doesn’t work in practice and never has. The only people constrained by DRM are the honest customers who’ve handed the publisher/vendor money. No actual pirate has ever been inconvenienced by any DRM scheme. Heck, most of them think cracking a tough new DRM is fun, and they dive right into it with gusto, as a recreational activity. And it only takes one person to crack the DRM — once they’ve got a clear file, it goes up on the torrents and is then free for anyone else to upload to other torrent sites, etc.

    The only people burdened by DRM is the honest customer. And the tighter and harsher DRM gets, the more burdened the honest customers are. On the computer game side of the issue, there’ve been customers who used to be honest but were shoved over to the pirate sites because they got tired of paying their money and then being treated like criminals, losing their software when their hard drive crashed or they upgraded systems and they were out of installs, or when their software had to “phone home” for validation and the company which sold it had gone out of business or been acquired or just decided it wasn’t cost effective to maintain the old validation server anymore. When that happens, the customers who handed the publisher money are SOL, while the pirates can go on happily playing their game. Yeah, that works. :/

    When EA released SPORE, it was one of the most widely anticipated games, with hordes of people looking forward to it, including me. Then word got out about the DRM, which was going to be particularly onerous. A good chunk of that horde decided not to buy the game after all — including me. Other people, folks who’d never downloaded an illegal game before, bought a legal copy, left it shrinkwrapped, then downloaded a cracked copy so they could actually play it without all the hassles. Consider how much moral fortitude it takes to do that, to keep handing money to a company which has made you that annoyed. How many of those people are going to say “Screw that” next time and just get the cracked version without bothering to buy a legal copy they can’t use?

    DRM doesn’t work, period. The tighter it gets, the more expensive it is to implement, and it’s never deterred a single pirate. All it accomplishes is to inconvenience and piss off the honest people who handed a company money. DRM is stupid, and pointless, and severely counterproductive, and the sooner electronic media producers/retailers figure it out and drop the whole idea, the better off everyone will be.

    Angie

  110. Carol
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 16:20:10

    @Jane:
    Yes, but only by a person who is given permission from the copyright owner. A copyright owner is the person who created the work and to whom the copyright is owned by. In the case of an eBook, the copyright owner is the author and the author’s name is the name logged with the copyright registration office and the name listed at the ISBN office as the copyright owner.

  111. Karen Templeton
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 16:20:23

    @Jane:

    No, I’m not equating paper books with movies on the big screen. I’m saying consumers don’t have the same expectations, or experiences, from different delivery methods of the same content. And different rights, if you will.

    Maybe this is clearer:

    There are many ways to watch TV shows these days: As they happen, On Demand, TiVo, rent or buy the DVD, when the eps are repeated online. Some methods involve commercials, some don’t; some you can fast foward through the commercials, some not. Some you own the copies, some you’re just “borrowing.” Same content, different delivery methods. But you don’t expect to be able to pause the “real time” episodes, or eliminate the commercials. And all the other viewing options involve at least some waiting, right?

    IOW, nothing’s perfect. The consumer has choices, but each of those choices involves advantages and disadvantages. Same with paper and e-books, IMO. Even when many issues causing current disgruntlement with e-books are ironed out — a cheap, universal reader, no DRM, etc. — it will never be the ideal choice for every reader.

    I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a way to share e-books. Obviously, there should. And ideally the e-book experience should improve on the paper book experience (for those who choose it); otherwise, what’s the point? But it’s never going to be the same because, well, it isn’t.

  112. Jane
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 16:23:32

    @Carol Who is the owner of a copyright is not dependent on format, be it paper or digital. It is not dependent on creative product, be it book, song, movie, etc. Yes, I agree that the original content creator is the one who is vested with the copyright (which I like to refer to as a bundle of rights). Those rights are then granted, in exchange for money, to someone else. You cannot enforce rights that you no longer have, even if you are the original content creator.

  113. Jane
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 16:25:13

    @Karen Templeton Honestly? I have no idea what your point is. I agree that consumers have different expectations pursuant to different mediums. However, it is not customer expectation that interprets copyright law. (although consumer expectation may be a very small part of what the courts consider in terms of balancing rights).

  114. Robin
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 16:39:44

    @Carol: If you think that ebooks and paper books should be treated the same, that means you also want readers to a) be able to sell their copy of the ebook, b) to own the book outright, c) to be able to return the book to the bookstore, d) to have a physical copy of the ebook.

    But I don’t really think that’s what you mean.

    IMO this focus on how it’s so horrible to legally share an ebook because the lender *may* lose access to the book for some time is shortsighted. It belies the trade-offs between ebook and paper and conflates equal characteristics and rights with equitable characteristics and rights. And it glosses over the idea that even in physical lending, it’s not THAT book that most readers will purchase, it’s the *rest of the author’s list*. So what’s the difference between a group of friends splitting the cost of an author’s physical booklist and sharing the books among them, and that same group of friends splitting the cost of the author’s ebooklist and sharing the books among them on the Kindle?

    I know you guys are worried about your sales; I know the market is rough and you feel like you’re competing for every dollar. But at a certain point I think you’re working against your own interests — if those interests are to cultivate more readers and more sales — and IMO this legal electronic sharing issue is a powerful example.

  115. Carol
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 16:45:32

    A copyright is held and owned by the creator. Various rights can be granted for the duration of a contract to a publisher or anyone the copyright owner chooses, but the copyright is never given up without the copyright owner specifically signing away the copyright ownership.
    Below is a statement from the copyright office that proves the copyright does NOT transfer with the mere purchase of a book. Yes, the signing of a contract can transfer a copyright, but only if the author signs away their copyright ownership. I guarantee you that Nora Roberts, Steven King and most authors out there with reputable publishers do not sign away their copyright to a publisher when they sign a publishing contract.

    —quote is from the copyright office—

    Two General Principles
    • Mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, or any other copy or phonorecord does not give the possessor the copyright. The law provides that transfer of ownership of any material object that embodies a protected work does not of itself convey any rights in the copyright.

    —end quote from the copyright office—

    Read on as the above section is at the end, but here is the basis what and why of copyright fact.

    —quote from the copyright office—
    Copyright Basics
    What Is Copyright?
    Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive
    right to do and to authorize others to do the following:
    • To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
    • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
    • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
    • To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
    • To display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and
    • In the case of sound recordings,* to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
    In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights of attribution and integrity as described in section 106A of the 1976 Copyright Act. For further information, see Circular 40, Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts.
    It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright law to the owner of copyright. These rights, however, are not unlimited in scope. Sections 107 through 121 of the 1976 Copyright Act establish limitations on these rights. In some cases, these limitations are specified exemptions from copyright liability. One major limitation is the doctrine of “fair use,” which is given a statutory basis in section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act. In other instances, the limitation takes the form of a “compulsory license” under which certain limited uses of copyrighted works are permitted upon payment of specified royalties and compliance with statutory conditions. For further information about the limitations of any of these rights, consult the copyright law or write to the Copyright Office.

    Who Can Claim Copyright?
    Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.

    The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright in the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

    Two General Principles
    • Mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, or any other copy or phonorecord does not give the possessor the copyright. The law provides that transfer of ownership of any material object that embodies a protected work does not of itself convey any rights in the copyright.

    —end quote from the copyright office—

  116. Jane
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 16:53:46

    @Carol The copyright is a bundle of rights which gives the owner the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do things with those bundle of rights. Those rights can be assigned, granted, used as collateral, etc. Simply because an original content creator is vested or imbued with copyrights does not mean that they hold all of those rights in one bundle at the same time as others may hold rights in that bundle.

  117. Deb
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 16:54:56

    Angie@310, re: DRM. You will get no argument here. I spent 2 weeks working with Adobe Digital Editions to get my Sony reader authorized correctly. I’m lucky both the e-reader and my laptop are in 1 piece. But.

    As an honest customer, I understand the need and expectation on the part of authors to limit transfer of their work. I could have downloaded the readily available scripts to remove the DRM from the books I purchased, but I didn’t. As it happens, I also don’t share my Kindle or Sony accounts either. I have spent a couple grand over the course of my reading life to support all authors. I want to continue to read. But I don’t feel I owe any explanations for using an e-reader now and thus looked upon as a possible pirate due to the fact that I now have the technology which could hold pirated material, or could have a shared book and thus 1 less sale.

    Until the publishing industry comes to grips with pirates, until the courts, lawmakers et. al. make pirating a punishable crime and actually enforce the law, all artists will have to accept pirating as part of the life in the creative process. Not fair, but realistic.

  118. DS
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 17:20:00

    @Deirdre: There are times I truly regret that “one” is rarely used in the US as an impersonal, objective pronoun. It would easily clear up some issues. I definitely read it as the general and not the specific “you.”

    @Jane: You (the specific and not the general you) have the patience of a saint.

  119. Carol
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 17:21:30

    I would love eBooks to have the same respect and treatment of paper books, even returns and secondhand stores, BUT with that comes the fact that one would have to treat an eBook exactly the same as a paper book. IOW, you bought only one, you have ONLY that one, whether you sell it, trade it, return it, or give it away, it would be the only one and once it was out of your hand and in someone else's possession, it would no longer be in your possession until returned by a borrower or re-purchased by you-’meaning once the eBook was traded, sold, returned, or on loan to someone, it would be shredded from all your reader/computer equipment until returned to you from the borrower or re-purchased.

    I'm not worried about my sales. I don't mind readers sharing. I don't hold readers responsible for what Amazon or other third-party sellers do or even publishers.

    What I'm worried about is that someone might believe my signing a contract meant I signed away my copyright ownership. I did not. My copyright ownership is registered with the copyright office and my name is attached to the ISBN my publisher arranged for my book. I did not, in any contract I signed, give up my copyright ownership. Most authors don't because doing so can and most likely will take their name off the work in question and one would no longer be able to claim any part of the work in question.

    What I am worried about is someone might believe, from some of the above info, that their purchase of a book grants them any copyright permission. If someone believes such, they might make the mistake of trying to contract a book they purchased. If someone thinks buying one of my books grants any copyright permission, then said person would need to think the same with the purchase of a Nora Roberts eBooks or a Steven King novel. No matter the format, a book is a book is a book. While I own many Nora Roberts, Steven King and Robert Jordon books, I do NOT have ANY copyright permission to do more than read their books or pass them off without keeping a copy.

    Like I said, just because you buy a book does NOT give you any copyright power. You have to create something to be able to put a copyright on it. The copyright office has a ton of PDFs for free download.

    What I am worried about the disrespect of copyright law.

    As for the statement of-’So what's the difference between a group of friends splitting the cost of an author's physical booklist and sharing the books among them, and that same group of friends splitting the cost of the author's ebooklist and sharing the books among them on the Kindle?

    IMO, none. I don't mind sharing as long as people share the copies they pay for, not make 10 copies to pass around to 10 friends who will also make 10 copies to pass around to 10 friends who will…well, you get the idea.

  120. Courtney Milan
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 17:58:37

    @rowena cherry: Yeah, Rowena, this is one of those times where, when I mention the exclusive rights reserved to an author mentioned in 17 USC 106, it might behoove you to assume that I have actually read the copyright statute. This is particularly true when I’ve actually read not only the statute but the underlying case law interpreting this statute.

    If you had actually read and understood what I said, you would have noticed that what I am talking about — 17 USC s. 109 — explicitly reserves the right of first sale to purchasers of a good, excepting only computer programs.

    This does not give them a copyright, obviously, because it does not give them the right to exercise any of the exclusive rights reserved in s. 106. It does give users the right of first sale, which is not part of the bundle of exclusive rights reserved to authors.

    So here are the things that are obvious:

    1. Copyright gives the copyright owner the exclusive right to make a copy, subject to fair use defenses.
    2. Transferring ownership of an electronic work (e.g., exercising the right of first sale) usually involves the creation of an electronic copy.
    3. But so do reading, viewing, and making back-up copies for personal use–all of which are probably impliedly allowed under either implication if the transfer is a lease (where the right of first sale would not apply), or are implied by license if the transfer is actually a sale.
    4. So the legal question is whether the right of first sale means that a sale of an ebook must give the person the implied license to transfer it, even if such transfer involves the creation of an electronic copy. This is not a question that we can answer from the statute itself.
    5. The answer, based on the computer software cases (which have been statutorily overturned, but which still state principles of law that are good as to other goods) must be yes: If you can install & delete, or split into portions, a computer program, and then resell it, you must impliedly have the license to make a copy.
    6. Point #5 is legally debatable–there is no direct case law that I am aware of that is on all fours with my assertion–and as I’ve mentioned, I do have a public-oriented bias on copyright law. But you can’t debate it by pointing to 17 usc 106. You have to actually engage the right of first sale and discuss why there is no implied license to make a copy pursuant to transfer.

    This might not make sense to you, if you do not understand what the difference is between a sale or a lease, or if you do not understand the legal implications of an implied license.

    Also, this from Barbara A.:

    A copyright is the laws recognition that an original work belongs to the author of that original work and only that author can give the rights to reproduce it.

    is only true in jurisdictions that recognize author’s moral rights. It’s not true in the US. You can create as work-for-hire and never own anything.

    In the United States, copyright is a bargain between content-creators and the public; content-creators get limited-time exclusive rights in exchange for public disclosure and public domain ownership when the term of the limited rights is up.

    That’s why I find this debate so gosh-darned annoying–and I’m sorry, I try to edit for bitching, but I know my annoyance does come out even so–but it’s because so many people refuse to admit that as a constitutional matter, copyright exists for the good of the public, not for the good of the authors. I have exclusive rights to my writing for a limited time in order to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. Period.

    End of rant and back to revisions.

  121. Robin
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 18:31:59

    @Carol: I honestly don’t understand why you’d worry any more about “disrespect of copyright law” with digital as opposed to paper books. That is, IMO many of the differences some draw between digital and paper are illusory.

    As for the more general idea of “disrespecting copyright law,” I’m sure we all could go around and around about who’s disrespecting whose rights and who more properly understands copyright law and its attendant rights scheme. ;)

  122. Nina Brand
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 19:01:22

    @Emily Ryan-Davis:
    It really scares me that you feel an author is not entitled to make an income from his or her work.
    You don’t care about ebook piracy because nobody bothers stealing YOUR books. I checked all the known theft sites so I know you have the luxury of being ignored.
    You need to learn something about the issue of widespread theft before you mouth off about piracy NOT taking food off our tables. It is.
    Do you go to any store and buy an item such a newspaper or magazine and expect to take it?
    No.
    Why should you not compensate somebody whose work is providing you with hours, possibly more of sheer reading pleasure?

  123. Barbara B.
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 19:50:36

    @Nina Brand
    “Why should you not compensate somebody whose work is providing you with hours, possibly more of sheer reading pleasure?”

    My position is quite the opposite of the one you’ve cited. I’ve compensated authors big time for providing me with unreadable crap. I’d just LOVE to compensate an author for providing me with “sheer reading pleasure.” Being a compulsive romance reader I’ve BOUGHT over 3000 ebooks. I’d say about 2900 of them are pure shit. When I’m on my deathbed and if someone asks me if I have any regrets I’ll say f**k yeah! Buying all of those shitty ebooks when I’ve actually found better stories at Literotica for FREE. Literotica ffs!

  124. Barbara A
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 20:26:07

    Carol seems to be making the most sense here – a copyright is not a ‘bundle of rights’ as someone states – a copyright is the legal acknowledgment that an original work is owned by whoever created that original work – doesnt matter if its a book or a painting or a piece of music.
    If you paint a picture you can license the right to reproduce that picture to people who make posters or t shirts or bed sheets or whatever and when someone else buys that t shirt the artist who has the copyright gets a royalty or some sort of payment for licensure – you cannot filch that artwork and put it on your own t shirts and sell them – and that is why if you ever ordered from a custom design clothes or trophy or stationary place they will tell you up front they cannot reproduce copyright art or trademark logos.
    If Author A writes a book he licenses it to the publisher – there is a contract that says what the publisher can do with it – make audio books or sell it to TV or sell foreign rights – but the licensing of the right is the license to reproduce only for the stated purpose and only by the end user licensee – it does not give the end user ‘ownership’ – not even the publisher has ownership that stays with the author – and when you sell or distribute what you dont own in violation of the stated end user agreement you are stealing – i know nobody who splices a cable box or file shares music or books or movies wants to think of themselves as a thief but when you violate a license agreement and the effect is to defraud the author and publisher of contractual royalties – stealing is what it is.

  125. Jane
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 20:34:11

    @Barbara A Carol may make the most sense to you but she is wrong. I am sorry. Look at the code that Carol cited. The Copyright Act confers upon an original content creator a number of exclusive rights which can then be granted, assigned, conferred upon others. NUMBER OF RIGHTS = BUNDLE OF RIGHTS.

    If you don’t have a correct understanding of the very basic concept of copyright, it’s impossible to make correct conclusions for issues that stem from those basic concepts and involve more complex issues.

  126. MaryK
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 20:51:42

    @Courtney Milan:

    sharing is only copyright infringement if it involves unauthorized copying. Authorized copying (either explicit, as in the Kindle license, or implied under the expected uses of the device) is not copyright infringement.

    That is an excellent point.

  127. Courtney Milan
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 20:57:03

    Find me a lawyer who doesn’t think property is s bundle of rights and I will show you someone who did not pass the bar exam. Jane is unassailably right. Copyright is by definition a bundle of rights: the right to exclude others, the right to reproduce, the right to assign, et cetera.

  128. “e”-cologically Friendly: A Look at eReaders The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood :
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 22:08:01

    [...] Regarding sharing ebooks, there is a very interesting article at Dear Author discussing Reader’s Rights HERE. [...]

  129. Nonny
    Oct 24, 2009 @ 22:48:35

    @Nina Brand:

    I think you are misunderstanding Emily’s comment. I’m sure as an e-published author, she is familiar with widespread e-piracy. I actually am on a romance writing community with her and have seen her speak on this subject before so I feel fairly confident that my interpretation matches her intention.

    The sticking point is the idea of potential earnings. Some authors feel that pirates are stealing money from them directly, because they could have bought the book, and that would have been royalties earned. Realistically speaking, most of the people downloading from BitTorrent or Limewire aren’t going to go out and buy the book; if they can’t find it, they’ll wait until it’s made available “for free”. How do you lose money if someone wouldn’t have spent that money in the first place?

    I’ve seen authors talk about doing massive searches on dozens of BitTorrent sites for their books daily to see if anyone is pirating them. This is, IMO, pointless. It’s going to pump up your blood pressure and stress levels, and it’s not going to have that much of an impact, particularly as there are some sites that will not comply with take-down notifications. Emily doesn’t feel there is any point in trying to police it; nor do I, frankly.

    My primary e-publisher actually recommends authors not search repeatedly to see if they are being pirated. It is like music and software; it’s part of doing business on the Internet, as frustrating as that may be. If you happen to become aware of it, by all means, notify the site (or your publisher, in some cases; I have heard of certain sites that have harassed and stalked people who submit take-down notices).

    The problem is not going to stop until there is international agreement on copyright laws. The BitTorrent sites get away with it because they are hosted in countries that do not respect American (perhaps also International?) copyright laws; there is actually one court case in Russia where the pirates were absolutely clearly doing something wrong and the pirates won. If it is illegal in the US but not in {insert other country}, then we sadly have no say in the matter. :-\

  130. Marianne S
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 05:29:10

    Copyright: The legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work.
    This is a single right, the right granted to the creator of a work to publish, produce, reproduce, sell, lease, license, issue, record, videotape, upload that creator’s work. The person who receives that work, buys that work, listens to that work, looks at that work is not an owner of that work, so even the header of this article is deceptive – “Readers have copyrights too” is correct only if you are saying they have created a work that they have exclusive right to – but they do not own or share the copyright of the author or artist or film maker just because they read the book or buy the painting or watch the movie.
    Barbara is right to use the work “license” – the publisher or music producer or art gallery does not own the copyright of the work. They are given permission by the writer in a license agreement to display, distribute or issue that work in certain forms. They can then enter into lease agreements with another party, as when a book is reprinted by someone other than the original publisher or when it is made available to something like Kindle, and that lease agreement will have a binding end user clause that puts limits upon the use and distribution of the work. If a Kindle allows for six accounts, just as if a cable TV contract allows for 3 TVs, and only six linked accounts are used, that is not a violation of the end user agreement. If a Kindle allows for six accounts and the owner of the Kindle violates that, he has broken the contract.
    Just because publishers have not sued yet does not mean they won’t – there was a very large music lawsuit judgement that just came down in favor of the music producer. The music producer does not hold the copyright which is still owned by the creator of the music and lyrics but as the larger entity that has a lot to lose in unlicensed downloads they have decided that enough is enough as they lose a lot more on the piracy of a CD than the musician does just as a publishing company takes in more in the sale of a book than the author does in royalty.
    Any unlicensed or unauthorized distribution or “sharing” of a work is stealing that work and stealing is both illegal and immoral. If you worked for months or years to get something and it was stolen in an instant you would feel angry and victimized and if I were an author who worked for months and years to create a book to earn some money and someone took that work in an unauthorized manner that cheated me out of royalties I would be rightfully angry. The author whose article started this all off may not have used the most polite terminology in expressing her anger and frustration but I think she has every right to feeling them both because when you cheat an author out of rightful earnings you are not only cheating them out of what they earn on a single book but – since low earnings can determine whether a publisher will take up another book by a low earning author – you are cheating them out of future earning.

  131. ann
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 05:51:34

    @Nina Brand:

    Do you go to any store and buy an item such a newspaper or magazine and expect to take it? No.

    I can’t be the only person who’s gone into a newsagents and seen men in particular standing there reading the magazines without buying them. I always make sure I pick a copy from the back of a rack to avoid the flick through. Why would you steal a newspaper from a store when you can visit the newspaper’s free website and read the majority of the articles in the printed “paid” edition?

  132. Michelle Cary
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 09:21:19

    As an author who has found her e-books on pirate sites, I tend to be a little gun shy when the topic of sharing arises. Pirate sites can cause me to lose 100′s of dollars in money because thousands of people can download my book without a dime going to me. And yes, we as e-book authors really do make pennies on the dollar, so those sites make me very upset.

    It’s these people who download free copies of all my books, read them, then offer them up for money or even for free to hundreds of others and then say (so what, I’m not doing anything wrong) that bother me. I ask any of you who do that to put yourself in my or any e-book author’s shoes and then see if you still feel the same way. If you were trying to make a living writing (and by making a living I mean making enough money to pay bills and feed your children) and you saw what little money you make going away tell me you wouldn’t be upset by it?

    HOWEVER, I do believe that there is a BIG difference between pirate sites and sharing books with a couple of friends or relatives. I’ve had friends lend me paperback books, which I’ve read and then went out and bought the backlist of said author. It is a great way for promotion when done smartly.

    AND as far as Amazon’s rules for kindle sharing go. Guess what authors? When you signed your contract with your publisher, you signed over your rights to who they sell the books to and what those sites do with them. If Amazon (as much as I might not agree with it) deems 6 readers on one account reasonable, then that’s how it is. Yes, it might suck, but sometimes thats the cost of doing business.

  133. Deb
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 09:39:01

    I wonder how much of the pirated material is actually read/listened to. In the case of software and games, the pirated copies are probably used and more desirable. But in the case of books & music, I wonder if the numbers are so high due to helping your “friends” raise their street cred and have the same returned. In other words, the downloaded product is the tool for street cred. It’s the same culture in followers of Twitter, Facbooks, Youtube, etc. The higher the numbers, increased street cred and importance, i.e. “this person is one of the cool people”. The lazy man’s way of gaining self respect.

    I think the best way and only way at this point, to combat piracy, is through education. For the authors, find out what your digital rights are in your existing contracts, find out what rights you can negotiate on and still remain “profitable” and learn the digital device functionality. I like to point out that the self life of an e-book is unlimited, as opposed to the limited life of the print published book. The term” out of print” doesn’t apply obviously in an e-book.

    We all bear the responsibility to educate future generations on moral and ethical responsibilities.

  134. Selah March » Blog Archive » Community building: Ur doin it rong.
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 10:32:13

    [...] Own a Kindle? Or a Nook? Or some other nifty device that allows you to hook up with a few other nift… [...]

  135. Courtney Milan
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 10:49:03

    There are two general sorts of questions. One type of question is a matter of taste or policy preference: “Do you prefer ham or turkey sandwiches?” or “What, if anything, should be done to rein in the investment banking industry?” Another type of question is a question of fact: “When is my doctor’s appointment today?” or “Who won the Battle of Waterloo?”

    One shouldn’t treat the latter as the former. Saying, “My doctor’s appointment should be at 2 PM, because then I will be able to finish this book before I go,” is all well and good, but sadly, my hopes and wishes are irrelevant to the question of when my doctor’s appointment is. If I want to know when it is, I must consult my calendar, not my preferences.

    The question of whether readers actually have rights is one of those questions that is not subject to anyone’s wildest hopes or darkest desires. You may dislike the fact that readers have rights, but your preferences are immaterial; you must consult the statute, not your own wants, to determine what rights readers have.

    Authors receive certain exclusive rights to distribute, reproduce, etc. their work. This is provided by 17 USC s. 106. Whether you call these rights “one” copyright or a “bundle” of separate, distinct copyrights is immaterial; authors have certain exclusive rights, enumerated in 17 USC 106. Nobody is seriously contesting this. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/usc_sec_17_00000106—-000-.html

    The question then, is whether authors are the ONLY ones to receive rights under the copyright statute. And the answer to that is unarguably, no. Under 17 USC s. 107, the public receives fair use rights, which allow them to on some occasions reproduce, distribute, and make derivative works notwithstanding the exclusive rights granted to the author in section 106. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/usc_sec_17_00000107—-000-.html There are additional rights that are granted to the public, including section 109, the right of first sale, but also including sections 108 through 112.

    People sometimes disagree on vocabulary. Some say that fair use is a limitation on the exclusive rights of authors; others, rights reserved to the public; others yet call them defenses to copyright infringement. People don’t disagree on the existence of these sections.

    Under section 107, the public has the ability to make copies, legally, under certain circumstances, notwithstanding the exclusive rights of the author: they can make copies for back-up, replacement, criticism, parody, space-shifting, time-shifting… the list goes on and on. The mere fact that reproduction occurs does not mean that something illegal has happened.

    You can read the entirety of the copyright statute here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/usc_sup_01_17_10_1.html

    Everyone who is saying that readers do not have (copy)rights needs to engage sections 107 through 112 of the copyright act, which explicitly grant protections to various members of the public, notwithstanding the exclusive rights given to authors.

    You may be arguing that fair use is not a “right,” as a matter of vocabulary, but you can’t argue that it doesn’t exist, or that authors’ rights under the copyright statute are given without limitation, just because you don’t like that fact. This is not a question of personal taste. It is a question about the content of a statute, and we find out the answer by looking at the statute, not by asserting our own personal views about what the law should be.

  136. Deirdre
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 12:50:59

    The number of excuses and justifications people have posted for allowing the permanent additional copying of an ebook in order to allow friends to put the single ebook purchase on their own devices -and thus deliberately avoid them having to make their own purchase- is apparently as endless as it is thin and transparent.

    One camp would you have you believe any wrong doing was negated as their purpose was to actually benefit the author. *snort* The other, that they don’t understand the words “your” and “you own”, and thus additional copies can be downloaded to any device of your choosing, not to a device you personally own in your household.

    Sad.

  137. Michelle Cary
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 13:12:14

    Maybe the term ‘fair use’ needs clarification as some people would use this term to justify their uploading an e-book to a piracy site to ‘share’ with others and not just to copy for ‘backup, transfer, etc…or to share with the occasional friend. There is a huge difference between piracy and sharing and those who can’t see that difference are alienating their potential fanbase by not seeing the forest for the trees. Of course that’s just my opinion and you know what they say about opinions…

  138. Monica F.
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 13:26:17

    “When it is impracticable to obtain permission, use of copyrighted material should be avoided unless the doctrine of fair use would clearly apply to the situation. The Copyright Office can neither determine if a certain use may be considered fair nor advise on possible copyright violations. If there is any doubt, it is advisable to consult an attorney.”
    This is excerpted from the US Copyright site and is an example of of fair use – a limited amount of material for non profit, non commercial, educational or charitable – as in recording books for visual impaired – and the use of small excerpts in reviews. It does not extend the copyright protection – that is the ownership of the work – to those uses it allows, which is to say it licenses for free, those uses for specific non commercial purposes.
    The public cannot make complete copies of works for commercial use not even under Fair Use with charitable exceptions – only excerpts can be used in all other Fair Use cases. When a college tried to use complete chapters of books in reprinted course works handed out to the students, it went to court. If you think that you can reproduce an entire work of an authors without that authors permission you are asking to be slapped with an infringement suit.

  139. Jane
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 13:38:55

    @Monica F. Yes, the public can make entire copies without infringement or permission. A classic example of this is the Sony case in which the court agreed that taping a television show was permissible (in its entirety). It is the basis on which TIVO and other recording devices have made its business. That’s called time shifting. There have been cases in which the court have approved backup copies – which, again, is a complete copy without permission.

    In this case, with the Kindle device, the publisher has allowed 6 simultaneous copies to be made.

    Therefore, there are times in which the consumer may make copies with and without explicit permission. Again, you may not like this but it is the law.

  140. Robin
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 13:47:27

    I’d just like to add here that authors make use of copyrighted and trademarked material all the time in their books — whether it be in using song lyrics, book quotes, or the like. And we are certainly aware of cases where an author of one book has actually infringed on the copyright(s) of another author.

    Also, as Courtney Milan stated in an earlier comment, Congress has Constitutional authority over copyright specifically for the purpose of progress in science and the useful arts. Every retelling of a Shakespeare play or a fairy tale is testimony to the need for artistic creations to eventually move into the public domain, just as every use of song lyrics or the like reflects the importance of the fair use defense. Copyright protections that extend too long or are too broad will actually impede authors in their ability to create new works of art that are, of necessity, in conversation with, interpretive of, riffing on, inspired by, etc. other works of art (i.e. nothing exists in a vacuum). In other words, everyone, including artists, benefits from the limitations and exceptions to an author’s exclusive rights over the copying of his or her work.

  141. Anon76
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 14:15:51

    Man, I’m going to come off as a total hoot here, but I must say my piece, peace…whichever nomenclature you prefer.

    I am not against libraries, I am not against sharing books with friends, I am not against readers, and I am not against Kindle policies if that is the terms of sale for that book on that site.

    What bothers me is two sides facing off when they only want the same thing. Good books reasonably priced and legal.

    I’ve heard people jump in to say, hey, we don’t owe an author a living, so get over it. And I’ve also heard others say, I spent x amount of dollars for this ereader and other devices that I can transfer it to, so get over it. Or, I’ve bought a lot of sucky ebooks, get over it.

    On the first note, no, you do not owe an author a living. The second, no author asked you to buy things with all the bells and whistles. That is your choice. Easy access in traveling and what not. (I only say this because it was offered up as a justification why authors should just back off, that the price of the device justified reader angst.) And on the third, dang, we have all bought crappy books at one time or another.

    The other side of the fence is that readers should be able to file share…to a point. And that to me is the key issue far beyond the simple kindle 6 share limits. Amazon seems to have a grasp on it not becoming viral, but with non-kindle files one can share with two friends, then those each with two friends, and on and on. It’s a pyramid.

    Now you can all flay me at will.

  142. Michelle Cary
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 14:20:32

    Let me simply say that I agree. I’m an author who makes little money and has books listed on pirated sites. I don’t have any of those fancy e-book readers, mainly because I can’t afford to purchase one. So I download my books to my laptop or cellphone. I backup my files to an outside sourse (copying the books as mentioned before), but I do not share my e-books with anyone as I’d be unsure of who I could trust not to upload to file sharing sites. Paperback books, as much as we don’t want to admit it are a different animal and therefore are treated differently. You can’t copy a paperback without substantial cost to you, unlike an e-book, which is simply a click away. Nobody owe’s me a living, but I would ask that they be honest and if they’ve borrowed a book and like my work that they purchase the next one and not download it for free also. Otherwise, what reason do we as authors have for continuing to produce books for you as the consumer to read? Yes, it’s about the story, but it’s also about the money. I understand the economy sucks right now, but there are many sites such as fictionwise offer stories at additonal discounts.

  143. Jane
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 14:37:46

    @Michelle Cary You seem to operate under the same assumption that so many other authors do in this thread and that is that ebook readers are just a bunch of filthy thieves and if we don’t stop any sharing, place numerous technological locks on it, that these ebook readers will just run amok with the piracy. Thanks for proving my whole assertion.

    In fact, I appreciate reading the thoughts of authors here because now I actually have proof that you essentially think the digital readership is a bunch of individuals with no ethics and no honor. Thanks for proving my cynicism in humanity folks!

  144. Michelle Cary
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 15:00:48

    I’d really like to know how you came to that conclusion from my post? Is it because I ask that if you’ve borrowed one of my books that I’m asking that you purchase the future titles? Maybe it’s the word ‘you that I’ve mis-used. I’m NOT calling all e-book readers a bunch of dirty rotten theives and frankly I resent you making that assumption. Nine out of 10 people who purchase and read e-books are good, honest individuals who wouldn’t share their books with more than their immediate friends and family. It’s that 10th person I was referring to when I asked to purchase a second book.

    As much as you might not like it, the fact is that a few can ruin it for many and when authors continually see their books pop up on pirated sites, over and over and see their sales continue to go down in return, they tend to get a little suspicious. It’s unfortunate, and it’s sad, but it’s life.

  145. Jane
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 15:03:39

    @Michelle Cary

    As much as you might not like it, the fact is that a few can ruin it for many and when authors continually see their books pop up on pirated sites, over and over and see their sales continue to go down in return, they tend to get a little suspicious. It's unfortunate, and it's sad, but it's life.

    This sentence proves my whole thesis. Thank you.

  146. Karen Templeton
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 15:10:36

    @Robin:

    I'd just like to add here that authors make use of copyrighted and trademarked material all the time in their books -’ whether it be in using song lyrics, book quotes, or the like. And we are certainly aware of cases where an author of one book has actually infringed on the copyright(s) of another author.

    Just FYI — Harlequin authors are absolutely forbidden to use song lyrics, or quote from other books (unless in public domain, of course) because of copyright issues. ASCAP, especially (American Society of Composers and Publishers) is hugely aggressive about protecting its members’ copyrights, and will be all over anyone’s ass who violates those copyrights. So any attempt to use lyrics — unless, of course, the author is willing to pay the big bucks to get that permission — will be struck by our editors. Period.

    Not saying other houses don’t let violations slide, but Harlequin isn’t one of them.

  147. Jane
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 15:12:51

    I am going to institute a new mantra here at Dear Author. It’s “Buy Used, Get More”. Buying used is great for these reasons:

    a) a way to allay author fears about digital usage and sharing;
    b) it’s more ecologically sound. Reduced printing costs will mean fewer carbon emissions;
    c) buying used means you can get more books for your hard earned dollar;
    d) buying used usually means buying locally and that means you are supporting your local economy, inserting dollars back into your community, both directly and indirectly (through local sales tax).
    e) greater selection. Most “new” bookstores stock only the latest releases. At a used bookstore, you can find books published from almost every decade, particularly the golden era of the 90s.
    f) less risk is associated with buying used. At the used price, you can try out more new to you authors. Just remember to return to the used bookstore when you find new authors
    g) greater chance of finding better authors. If you can’t find a book in a used bookstore, it pretty much means that book was terrible. Be grateful that someone else is weeding out the crap before you get to it.
    h) no question about your rights. if you choose to share your used book with a bunch of reading friends, no one is going to be calling you a thief. Total win! Plus, you get to resell it without anyone accusing you of keeping a copy in your deskdrawer. Another win.

    So readers, if you care about the environment and the impact that it is having on our children as well as being frugal, contributing to the vitality of the local economy, you’ll Buy Used and Get More.

    The drawback of buying used means that authors don’t get a royalty but as digital book readers, we don’t really care about that? We are, after all, more than likely going to pirate that book and deprive authors of at least five other royalties, at the very least. It’s best to buy used. No one can accuse you of wrongdoing then.

  148. When Suing The Customers Is Your Best Answer To Changing Technology, YOU HAVE PROBLEMS! | The Naughty Bits
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 15:13:41

    [...] Readers Have Copyright Rights Too [...]

  149. Michelle Cary
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 15:16:35

    I had posted another comment here, but after reading your above post felt the need to amend it. I guess we all know where you stand in your position and it’s not for the authors in any way shape or form. Even those who don’t see every reader as a potental thief. I guess I’ll be exercising my right not to return to this site and read future posts since I’m sure they’ll all be slanted AGAINST e-books and the author’s who write them.

  150. Jane
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 15:20:10

    @Michelle Cary Educate authors on what copyright is, for one. Also educate authors on what is wrong with the publishing industry, is another. Reduce the number of books published, increase the quality of what is published. Allow for sharing amongst readers to increase and foster reading. Make every book available digitally for purchase to each and every reader who is willing and able to buy, no matter what the geographic location. Spend more time and money marketing the books instead of on outsized advances that don’t pan out. Recognizing that digital book readers are some of the very best, most willing to pay for product out there and create innovative ways to reach out to the market and monetize it. There are lots of things that can be done to “fix the problem” although you and I may have a fundamental difference in what the “problem” actually is.

  151. Michelle Cary
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 15:23:03

    Considering it appears that you see e-book authors as the main problem here, I’d say yes, we do have a fundamental difference of opinion.

  152. Jane
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 15:23:35

    @Michelle Cary what are you talking about? Did you even read the post?

  153. Michelle Cary
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 15:33:32

    I read the post, but your above post about buying only used books made it seem to me that you’re totally against author’s making any money at all.

    I realize that there are authors out there who are not for any type of sharing in any form, regardless of copyright law and they are the ones calling readers thiefs. I’m not one of them.

    I see nothing wrong with sharing a book with your neighbor across the street, your best friend or a family member. There is such a thing as good promotion from that kind of sharing. I’ve done it myself. I once borrowed a book from a friend, read it, returned it and then went out and purchased the entire series. Book sharing is good for promotion to a certain point. The issue I have and I believe most authors have is with those on-line file sharing sites where hundreds, even thousands of people can simply download every single one of our titles for free and then turn around and continue the process by posting it on another site for others to do the same. That’s where in my opinion the promotion no longer works and something needs to be done.

  154. Jane
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 15:35:50

    @Michelle Cary What is wrong with buying used? You have a problem with that? Someone bought at least one copy in order for it to show up at the UBS.

    And there you go again conflating sharing with piracy.

  155. Michelle Cary
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 15:45:52

    And there you go again conflating sharing with piracy.

    No, I don’t believe I did, but let me ask you, what would be your definition of piracy?

    And NO I don’t have a problem with buying used on occasion, usually when a book is out of print or hard to find and I come across it used. However, I do like to support my fellow authors buy purchasing new so that they can get what little royalty they have coming to them. Is there a problem with me advocating buying a book new?

  156. Jane
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 15:54:29

    @Michelle Cary Maybe my reading comprehension needs help. Perhaps you can explain this:

    The issue I have and I believe most authors have is with those on-line file sharing sites where hundreds, even thousands of people can simply download every single one of our titles for free and then turn around and continue the process by posting it on another site for others to do the same. That's where in my opinion the promotion no longer works and something needs to be done.

    What is “the promotion?” This entire post is about the sharing between six individuals. That is not piracy. That is the sharing we are discussing. To inject piracy into this discussion implies that the sharing amongst a few friends is deemed piracy. So yes, talking about piracy in the manner that you have conflates piracy with sharing. Sharing and piracy are two very different concepts.

    Used book buying is only okay for you when the book is out of print or hard to find? Just want to make sure I understand your point of view so as not to inaccurately represent it as you have accused me of doing even though I merely quoting your words back to you.

  157. Meljean
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:07:53

    @Jane:

    In fact, I appreciate reading the thoughts of authors here because now I actually have proof that you essentially think the digital readership is a bunch of individuals with no ethics and no honor. Thanks for proving my cynicism in humanity folks!

    Just posting, hoping to swing the balance back on the side of authors who don’t think this. :-/

  158. Jane
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:08:47

    @Meljean It’s too late. Get back on your side of the line.

  159. Karen Templeton
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:15:03

    No, she’s not.

    And I don’t understand why, every time an author CLEARLY SAYS she has nothing against sharing as it’s been done since whenever the heck Guttenberg invented the printing press, but then expresses a legitimate concern about piracy (meaning, torrent sites), you immediately accuse that author of conflating sharing with piracy.

    Why, if — as business people, and writing is a business — we point out the POTENTIAL for abuse in a new practice, we’re somehow automatically assuming that every freaking reader of e-books is going to be an abuser?

    If ONE person slaps a file up on a torrent site, that proves OUR point — that the system can be abused. And has been, over and over again. By, I’m guessing, an infinitesimal percentage of e-book customers. Yes, *those* people are thieves, morally and legally, and I’m not gonna say otherwise, even if I don’t worry my pretty little head about it. But for crying out loud — I no more lump those few in with the entire e-book readership than I’d say all TV shows suck because a few do. And neither did Michelle. So why do you keep insisting we are?

    There are thousands of authors, just in romance. Fewer than twenty have posted here. Even if every single one of those twenty had said they equated sharing with piracy — and IIRC, not one has — that would still be a pretty neglibile sampling with which to form an iron-clad conclusion.

    I don’t know how much more clearly to say this: I am not anti-e-book. In fact, I’m thrilled there’s another way for people to read books. I’m not anti-library, or sharing, or buying used. The fact is, far more people read “for free” than pay for a book — it’s always been that way, and always will be. And should be, frankly. And any author who gets up in arms over legitimate, legal ways of reading for free (and that includes publisher-sanctioned sharing of e-books) is being hugely unrealistic. Not to mention short-sighted.

    But e-publishing is still in its infancy, in the larger scheme of things. There are problems to be ironed out and questions yet to be answered, for readers and authors. And authors have just as much right to answers as readers do…as well as the right to openly express concerns without being accused of being “anti reader.”

    We really are all in this together. Or at least, I thought we were.

  160. Michelle Cary
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:15:47

    Used book buying is only okay for you when the book is out of print or hard to find? Just want to make sure I understand your point of view so as not to inaccurately represent it as you have accused me of doing even though I merely quoting your words back to you.

    Actually, you put my words in quotes and then interpreted them as you saw fit. However, yes, buying used is only okay for me when the book is out of print or hard to find. As an author, I want to support my fellow authors whenever I can and that includes buying new. Which is why I took your above post as you being anti-author. I want to make clear buying new is my position for me. Others won’t feel the same way and I’m okay with that. You want to buy used, it’s your choice.

    What I meant by promotion is that sharing on a small scale-one friend to another-can work as promotion for authors as it can entice a new potential reader to buy other of the author’s books. I see nothing wrong with it. The amazon issue with sharing between six individuals would, in my opinion fall into that small scale category, so no I don’t have an issue with it, in fact it could work to an author’s advantage.

    Now, since this blog and all the comments surrounding it were supposed to deal only with the amazon issue and small scale sharing, I apologize for injecting the priacy issue and asking for your definition of what you thought piracy was. That topic, I can only assume will be saved for another day.

  161. Caligi
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:16:33

    This thread needs a lolcat in a big way.

    /sadpanda that no pictures are allowed.

  162. Jane
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:21:11

    @Karen Templeton No one is advocating for piracy in this thread and therefore to continually insert it into this conversation is done to justify attacks on ebook readers.

  163. Jane
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:22:48

    @Michelle Cary I am not pro author or anti author. I am pro book and pro reader. Am I to take from your post that you think that advocating for buying used is anti-author? That’s pretty telling.

  164. Karen Templeton
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:23:32

    Okay, I think I at least understand where the conversation’s getting scrambled.

    Since the original post wasn’t about piracy, but Amazon’s sharing policy, any author who also mentioned piracy is presumed to be conflating the two?

    I see. I think. ;-)

  165. Jane
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:26:16

    @Karen Templeton No, but it’s clear from the comments that quite a few authors here believe that ebook readers are one click away from piracy. Otherwise why mention it at all?

    If you think I am the only one who thinks this, you are sorely mistaken.

  166. Karen Templeton
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:28:24

    @Jane: Okie-doke. Still not sure how mentioning piracy = attacking all e-book readers, but no more mentioning the P-word in this thread. Got it.

    Off to work on new proposal. :)

  167. crankypants
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:29:16

    I think most readers are in this together with authors, they are just getting cranky with being constantly associated with pirates, that we are too stoopid to realise that sharing an ebook unlimited would have detrimental affects, that because we want to share ebooks, we immediately want to share with 20 instead of most likely 1… etc
    Would also like to see an equal campaign against print readers against scanning books, since that seems to be where the majority of the pirate ebooks come from, and have been coming from since before mainstream legitimate ebooks started.

    And the fact that it is brought up so freaking often, even on a post about sharing, makes a reader think that majority of authors think readers are going to pirate at first chance.

  168. Jane
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:34:00

    @Karen Templeton Thanks for the condescension!

  169. Karen Templeton
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:39:32

    @crankypants:

    Um, know I’m not supposed to talk about this, but… ;-)

    Actually (and just saying this from personal experience) until Har started putting my books out in e-editions, I never had a title on a torrent site. And the sites have EXPLODED since the advent of e-books, obviously because it is easier to share a file than scan a print book. For those inclined to do so, they must’ve thought “Dude! Sweet!”

    But saying the delivery method makes it easier for pirates is *not* the same as saying all, or even many, readers would choose to do that. Or that sharing = piracy. Not how I see it, so I’d prefer not to be lumped with authors who do hold that viewpoint.

  170. Karen Templeton
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:44:15

    @Jane: No, Jane, I truly didn’t understand why we seemed to be talking at such cross-purposes, why the more some of us tried to say, “No, that’s not what we’re saying,” the deeper we seemed be digging ourselves into a hole.

    Was only trying to inject a little levity in the discussion, but clearly it bombed. Sorry.

  171. crankypants
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:58:18

    I am not too sure about romance specifically, just know across the board, there are a lot of pirate ebooks for books that do not have legitimate ebooks out there, and they have been around for pretty much the length of my internet days.

    But why bring piracy so heavily into this thread which is about basically authors attitude to ebook readers and legal sharing?
    And it happens with a lot of discussions, while I think it is good for authors to educate readers about piracy and it’s ill effects on individual author and industry, the constantly being beaten over the head with it on nearly every broad online discussion on ebooks, authors launching witch hunts like in the OP etc, make me feel like authors think all legitimate ebook readers are pirates or potential pirates.

    It is painfully clear that I am a reader not a writer, but hopefully you get what I am trying to say.

  172. Michelle Cary
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:59:09

    No one is advocating for piracy in this thread and therefore to continually insert it into this conversation is done to justify attacks on ebook readers.

    I absolutely disagree with that statement. Explaining why some authors were acting badly and accusing all readers of being pirates is not the same thing as justifying it. Piracy is a serious issue for the e-book industry, but that does not give any author the right to accuse the readership as a whole for the misconduct of a few.

    Actually, I was trying to make a point that there is a distinct difference between sharing with just a couple of friends and piracy, but I’ve definitely been made to feel that no matter what I say it’s going to be taken out of context and twisted in a way that makes me look like I’m anti-reader. So let me make this as clear as possible. I AM NOT ANTI-READER. I DO NOT THINK ALL OR EVEN MOST READERS ARE CRIMINALS NOR DO I THINK E-BOOK READERS ARE ONE CLICK AWAY FROM BECOMING PIRATES.

  173. Michelle Cary
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 17:03:41

    And let me once again apologize for trying to make the distinction and bringing up the topic of piracy. Starting that debate was absolutely my fault, even if my intention was to make the distinction between e-sharing and e-pirating and how one was legal and acceptable and the other wasn’t. It’s obvious I’ve offended many readers on this list and for that I’m sorry.

  174. Maili
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 17:17:14

    @Michelle Cary

    Paperback books, as much as we don't want to admit it are a different animal and therefore are treated differently. You can't copy a paperback without substantial cost to you, unlike an e-book, which is simply a click away.

    It’s not as simple as you implied. Print books were – are still are – heavily pirated, and a lot more in demand than authorised ebooks.

    And I tell you, it can be incredibly easy to create an ebook from a print book.

    I volunteered to do an OCR scan of an OOP paperback for an author who didn’t have an electronic copy of her manually-typed manuscript. It was certainly time-consuming, but still a lot faster and easier than typing it all out.

    More importantly, it’s books* not yet available as authorised ebooks – or are priced too high (think $29) – that are largely in demand on pirate/torrent sites.

    *I’m referring to genre fiction, literary fiction, mainstream non-fiction, textbooks, instructional guides, art books, photography books, monographs, magazines, certain newspapers, academic books, children’s books, public domain works, etc.

    According to some reports, the books in heaviest demand are text books, instructional (computer-related, mostly) guides, and mainstream non-fiction.

    Since they don’t take notice of romance fiction, I did an informal search on three major torrent sites in light of a discussion about piracy a couple of months ago. It seems to me that romances with highest numbers of downloads are out-of-print romance novels, erotic romance novels, romance novels not yet available as ebooks, and cracked-DRMed romance novels.

    What makes it interesting is, a huge number of those people who downloaded those books aren’t your typical (romance) book buyers. They take those ebooks because it’s simply there. Similar to people in a park and a table of free books. a passerby sees and takes those books, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that said passerby would buy those books if he were in a bookshop.

    Of course, there is a minority that makes a vow not to buy books, so they have “shopping lists” that they post to the request board. Most of their shopping lists contain a huge number of OOP romance novels and romances not yet available as ebooks, which brings back to the pirated books issue I mentioned above.

    However, there is a HUGE demand for m/m or gay romance novels. Certainly a lot more than any other romance sub-genres. I’m not sure why. I’m guessing it’s the same group that adores and reads so-called yaoi (Japanese erotic gay romance) comics widely available among scanlation groups. I suspect the ignorance of basic copyright law among those readers is the biggest cause.

    Yes, there IS a valid concern about piracy, but rather than looking at what is available, wouldn’t it be better to find out WHY it’s happening?

    Ignorance of basic copyright law? DRM? Unavailability of books? User-unfriendliness? A mentality of ‘if it’s available online, it must be free’ (which is what artists and photographers are trying to combat as so many people are using their works as avatars, icons, banners, galleries of “sexy hunks!”, ebook covers, web design, book trailers, fan-made videos, and many more)?

    When we have a better picture of reasons why, we can find sensible solutions that can work for both authors and readers.

    All that said, it surprises me that some authors aren’t happy with Amazon/Kindle’s method because it’s actually IMO the best compromise for both readers and authors.

    A controlled environment is – to me – a win-win situation all round. It can be a lot more easier, popular and friendlier than the widely-hated DRM for readers. I’m reasonably confident that readers won’t mind the controlled environment as long as they could share their copy among their chosen reader friends.

    If the controlled environment (other than Amazon/Kindle) becomes popular, authors could control how many copies (that a purchaser could share among devices attached to an account) by including a clause in a contract between them and their publishers.

    It’s more flexible for authors, surely? Those who encourage limited sharing and those who are against it.

    The possible downside to this is, if a purchaser finds that a purchased book is restricted to a one-time use only, the purchaser will know it’s due to author’s decision via a clause, which will – IMO – reflect badly on said author. I’m sure authors who chose this clause won’t care, though. They are probably the same authors against libraries, used bookshops and the sharing among readers.

    Some commenters’ interpretations of copyright surprised the heck out of me because, I’m sorry, their interpretations are wrong.

    A copyright isn’t a single right. Certainly not according to English, Hong Kong, Belgian-Franco and Japanese copyright laws. According to those, a copyright contains a number of rights (economic and moral rights; in some countries, they are strictly kept apart), which is what Courtney Milan and Jane pretty much are saying, so I’m with them in this case.

    In spite of Courtney Milan and Jane’s (IMO, correct) explanations of U.S. copyright law, it’s still – and always – a good idea to check with your solicitor or lawyer – preferably those who specialise in media and entertainment law – rather than relying on anyone as resources in this thread.

    Or better yet, invest your time in attending a workshop on basic copyright where you could ask questions about some aspects you’re not sure about. It will really be worth your time.

  175. Anon76
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 17:19:15

    Yeah, I think this is the way to go now,

    All authors seriously apologize for the castastrophe that came to be from the NYT article and the Twitter debacle that ensued.

    This includes myself, who never even knew about the whole thing until it was brought up on this site.

    My humblest apologies to everyone involved and everyone offended.

    Yeah, sorry, but I’m feeling grumpy. I’m just sick of being lumped in with evil authors, the same way readers are sick of being linked in with evil thieves.

    I can no more apologize for my fellow authors, than I can offer an apology from them. But I guess I feel the need to.

    Perhaps this is why I no longer write.

  176. Michelle Cary
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 17:24:44

    Perhaps this is why I no longer write.

    I’m really sorry to hear you no longer write as I’m sure at some point it was enjoyable for you. I think at this point we’re all a bit grump about being lumped into categories that we don’t necessary belong, author and reader alike.

  177. Michelle Cary
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 17:34:48

    Maili, I found your post both interesting and extremely informative. Thank you for sharing.

  178. Robin
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 17:50:53

    @Karen Templeton: Speaking for myself, all I can say is that Maili’s posts (she’s made at least two in this thread, now) about how it’s largely print books that fuel the pirate sites hasn’t seemed to make a dent in the ebook falls down the slippery slope to piracy assertion. So it’s like some can’t mention ebooks without mentioning the piracy potential. But is it the same with print books? No, even though it’s print books that are probably more at risk for being pirated. Sooooo, there’s a two-level frustration for me: a) the misunderstandings and misstatements regarding piracy, and b) the persistent mentioning of ebooks in tandem with piracy — especially in a post that’s about sharing.

    So it’s like readers are being told that authors don’t oppose sharing, etc. but so many of the comments suggest that what we’re being told is not true/sincere/honest, because there’s a big, flashing red neon sign of “piracy threat” over so many of those comments that it basically belies the sincerity of the “we don’t mind sharing” assertions.

    Now I’m NOT saying authors honestly do mind sharing, but I do think readers are getting a REALLY MIXED message from authors who feel the need to insert the “Piracy threat alert” into every comment about ebooks and ebook sharing.

    Especially when it’s largely PRINT books that are fueling the pirate sites.

  179. Druther not say
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 18:55:35

    @Robin:

    Speaking for myself, all I can say is that Maili's posts (she's made at least two in this thread, now) about how it's largely print books that fuel the pirate sites hasn't seemed to make a dent in the ebook falls down the slippery slope to piracy assertion.

    I’m not an author. I’m a reader – and one who has trolled some darknet sites for digital versions of books I own in print (hence, the choice to post anonymously).

    I would wonder at the age of the studies Maili quotes.

    Back when I first started looking for digital versions of books I already own (but weren’t available in ebook yet), almost all the books were scanned versions (and some just awful!)

    Today, the vast majority of books I see offered are hacked ebooks. I don’t go to torrent sites, so maybe that’s not true everywhere.

    I don’t look as often as I used to, since almost every book I want digitally is available that way now. But I still look now, especially for some of my older books still not available. And I see lots of hacked ebooks there (they post them as “version 5″, meaning it wasn’t scanned and doesn’t need to go through the versions 1-4 to show the status of the clean-up on the text).

    Do I think this has anything to do with Jane’s original article? Nope. But the question was raised why no one was acknowledging that part of Maili’s comments, so I wanted to answer that.

  180. Anne Douglas
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 19:30:39

    @Robin:

    I could well be wrong, but I’m wondering if there is a disconnect of a type, between those authors commenting who I know are eBook only/small pub (and relating to that industry specifically), and readers who are angry with the way NY treats eBooks, and by association, them? Jane cited a number of things that don’t apply to indie/small ePubs as being her hotbuttons/issues up a few posts, but those were, for the majority, NYPub issues.

    The ‘dirty thieves’ is confusing for me as an author – I don’t think I know any author with a smaller epublisher who doesn’t think their readers walk on water. Without those readers willingness to move to a new vehicle for words and be fairly early adopters of eBooks (and also be willing to read Indie), I wouldn’t have the option of choice for where it came to publish (or read). Instead of having published, and (hopefully) entertained those readers, I’d probably be sitting in the slush pile, or not writing at all.

    (pity party on)I’ve become quite demoralized through most of this thread. It feels like I can’t be a reader and an author, I have to been one, and damn the other with no middle ground. With my 5-10bks/wk reading habit, I don’t like that feeling much, because, if I’m not a reader too, what am I?(pity party off)

  181. Maili
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 19:46:19

    @Karen Templeton

    I would wonder at the age of the studies Maili quotes.

    I didn’t quote anything from any specific report in my previous post, but I’m happy to answer your question.

    – Latest report I read about pirated books: last week

    (source of that latest report: “French survey: 95 percent of pirated e-books are NOT online legally” via TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home, reported by David Rothman on 10/21/09. My impression of this report: the survey was done on French-language sites, but it does reflect what I see on English-language sites.)

    – My informal search on romance novels at three major torrent sites: roughly two months ago.

    And I see lots of hacked ebooks there (they post them as “version 5″, meaning it wasn't scanned and doesn't need to go through the versions 1-4 to show the status of the clean-up on the text).

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘hacked ebooks’, but wouldn’t you agree that ‘version x’ is the clearest clue that it’s an OCR-scanned ebook, not an authorised ebook?

    Because OCR-scanned ebooks tend to contain corrupted or misread letters and/or poor formatting. When this happens, a person edits an ebook to correct misread letters or poor formatting, and uploads it as version 2.

    Unless you’re saying that a hacked ebook is an edited version of an OCR-scanned ebook?

    Do I think this has anything to do with Jane's original article? Nope.

    I think it does, because reactions of some authors – as seen in Jane’s article – were due to not seeing the full picture or perhaps, in some cases, not understanding the legal matters of legitimate ebook sharing.

    It’s easy to see what they are seeing — all they see and know is that their books are up there on pirate/torrent sites that are depriving their legal right to income. It can make anyone reacts badly and most likely, feels betrayed, which is completely understandable.

    This unfortunately causes some to view legit ebook readers with deep – and IMO, largely unfounded – suspicions, which leads to a general refusal to recognise legit ebook readers’ rights. This naturally generates a negative feeling among ebook readers towards some authors and publishers.

    Hence the knee-jerk reaction against Ms. Englin’s (distorted) comments in the NYT article and for some readers, against authors’ reactions.

    The aftermath of this incident reveals three things:

    - both ebook readers and authors are being treated simultaneously as victims and villains equally. We need to put a stop to this.

    - there is a stigma attached to ebooks, probably due to misconceptions and misunderstandings that are mostly unfair and uncalled for. Yes, there ARE stupid ebook readers who bought and uploaded their copies of legit ebooks to pirate/torrent sites. We need to find out why they do this. However, I still stand by my belief that they are a minority, as opposite to the majority of ebook readers that wouldn’t do this.

    - there is a real need to find a workable solution that works best for everyone (readers, publishers, authors). There will never be the Perfect Solution, but there is always the Best Compromise. And both sides really need to work together to find that compromise without demonising either side.

    So hopefully, by discussing ebook piracy and legitimate ebook sharing (such as Amazon/Kindle) here at DA, some may have a clearer idea of certain matters as well as recognising differences and similarities of ebooks and print books.

    Sorry for being so long-winded tonight. I was trapped in bed by the flu last few days, so excuse me for forgetting not to bore everyone. Sorry.

  182. Why can’t we all just get along? | Stacia Kane
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 08:12:08

    [...] just find it upsetting, all of it. When I see discussions like this one at Dear Author, where it seems everyone is speaking at cross-purposes, it upsets me. It seems to me we had a [...]

  183. Kristi
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 10:06:22

    I agree, it is time to stop fighting, decide what the real problem is, and fight against it as a united front of readers and authors.

    If authors have said, “Sharing is not the problem, piracy is the problem” It’s because piracy is the problem.

    If it feels like we’re shouting it over and over, it’s because it is the problem. If we’re bringing it up in every forum we can, it’s because it is the problem.

    We have a problem. We’re seeking help from our readers to find solutions to that problem. If that has led to readers feeling accused or beat up, I don’t think that was the authors’ intention. We’re a little like a person sinking in quicksand shouting, “Someone help! Hurry!” then feeling like our would-be rescuer is shouting back, “Well you don’t have to be rude about it.”

    So everyone please, pull the hackles back down, and let’s start brainstorming solutions to our problems instead of feeling insulted and taking it personally when either readers or authors say, “Hey, we’ve got a problem.”

    We can work together on this. It’s possible to find a solution to the problem and to this animosity. Let’s put our energy into that.

  184. Barbara B.
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 11:38:14

    @Kristi
    “We can work together on this. It's possible to find a solution to the problem and to this animosity. Let's put our energy into that.”

    Shouldn’t authors be working with publishers and law enforcement on piracy? I’ve read about piracy on reader blogs scores of times. Message received. I as a reader can’t do anything about piracy but not buy pirated books and report it when I see it on ebay, something I’ve done. I’ve reached a saturation point with piracy. I know it’s easy for me to say as I’m not losing anything but I’m tired of being lectured at like a juvenile delinquent. You’re preaching to the choir.

  185. Anion
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 12:32:17

    @Barbara B.:

    Exactly. Piracy isn’t the readers’ problem (except insofar as it effects our ability to get new contracts and put out new books). I’ve never seen a reader blog or site advocate it and I’ve never seen one who doesn’t condemn it. Discussing piracy is preaching to the choir, and all it’s doing at this point is annoying readers and making them feel accused.

    I’d certainly like to see us all work together, though, for example in contacting publishers to get them to allow Nook sharing, or to get ebooks released at the same time as paper books, or to make them the same price. These are issues totally beyond writers’ control (for the most part; Stephen King may have a say re ebooks but he’s Stephen King), but if you guys rise up, put together petitions, or write letters to publishers, we can advocate them and possibly tell you where to send them and put our names on them as well. It may not make a difference but it’s worth a shot. JMO, of course, and just a suggestion.

  186. Maili
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 12:50:30

    We have a problem. We're seeking help from our readers to find solutions to that problem. If that has led to readers feeling accused or beat up, I don't think that was the authors' intention.

    Well, I was thinking more of authors and publishers listening to readers (read: customers) that authors could pass on to their publishers. Authors – as many authors keep saying – have no real control over their books, but they have at least some connections or means of passing on what they learnt from the feedback.

    Readers could do their part by investing their time and efforts explaining what works and what doesn’t, and why. As well as suggesting possible ideas that could work for them.

    For example, you say:

    If authors have said, “Sharing is not the problem, piracy is the problem” It's because piracy is the problem.

    I could argue that piracy is an effect of a problem. I just don’t agree piracy is the problem.

    Others have already pointed out possible problems that may drive some to support piracy. Too many formats, restrictive DRM, lack of flexibility, unavailability of books as authorised ebooks, geographical restrictions, etc.

    Did publishers listen? Judging by today’s news item that most publishers are rejecting the LendMe option in B&N’s the nook reader, nope. :/

    When I read that news item, my first thought: “I can’t believe you’re so short-sighted. If you’re going to be such a short-sighted ass about it, I’ll share my ebooks with the selected few, which will probably make Anne Douglas’s diagram come true.”

    The news item made me angry and so frustrated. It really did make me feel like a damn criminal and so untrustworthy.

    The nook’s LendMe option clearly states that when the purchaser lends an ebook to a friend, the purchaser won’t be able to access that ebook while the friend possesses it. When the fourteen-day period is up, the ebook will return to the purchaser and it cannot be lent out again. It’s a lot more restrictive than Amazon/Kindle in many ways, but hey, it’s a start.

    And yet, those publishers reject the option? Give me a bloody break! How long are they going to keep shooting at their feet?

    So everyone please, pull the hackles back down, and let's start brainstorming solutions to our problems instead of feeling insulted and taking it personally when either readers or authors say, “Hey, we've got a problem.”

    Agreed.

  187. Angie
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 13:02:13

    Maili@386 — The nook's LendMe option clearly states that when the purchaser lends an ebook to a friend, the purchaser won't be able to access that ebook while the friend possesses it. When the fourteen-day period is up, the ebook will return to the purchaser and it cannot be lent out again.

    I agree that that sounds great, except for the last part. Since the original purchaser can’t read the book while it’s lent out, then why restrict the option to one lending? If a reader buys a paper book, they can lend it out as many times as they want, one friend at a time, and they can’t read it while it’s lent. I think this is a great way to bring e-books into parity with paper books in a way a lot of readers have wished for, so what’s the problem?

    Will some people hack around the lending function, to let the lendee keep the book or let the lender keep it while it’s lent or lend it to multiple people? (Which I’m sure is what the publishers who are opting out are worried about.) Of course they will. But these are the same people (a tiny minority of people who read e-books) who’ll hack around anything you do to secure an e-book. A hundred percent security is impossible to achieve, and trying to achieve it only pisses off the honest customers, and rightly so. This is a great feature, and they’re crippling it to prevent a few people from doing something they’ll do anyway. It makes no sense, but then so much of what the publishers do with e-books makes no sense. :/

    Angie

  188. Kristi
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 13:17:42

    Hey, now I feel like this discussion is getting a bit more productive.

    As far as preaching to the choir. Message received. And I’m glad there are readers out there who are proactive in helping to shut down piracy when they see it.

    As far as the publishers and the nook lending thing, Grrrr, you’re right, that is frustrating.

    And I also agree that piracy is the effect of a greater problem, but I like that we’re starting to talk about what the deeper issue is that causes piracy, and how to fight against that.

    All I know is I’ve been a romance reader a long time, well over half my life, and one of the things I love about romance is the sense of community and how easy it is to communicate directly with Romance authors. I haven’t ever seen that in any other book genre I read. That’s a good thing. Let’s not rip that apart.

  189. Anion
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 14:50:47

    @Kristi:

    BTW, Kristi, I didn’t mean to snap at you or snark on you. If it seemed like I did, I apologize.

  190. Michelle Cary
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 15:10:58

    The nook's LendMe option clearly states that when the purchaser lends an ebook to a friend, the purchaser won't be able to access that ebook while the friend possesses it. When the fourteen-day period is up, the ebook will return to the purchaser and it cannot be lent out again. It's a lot more restrictive than Amazon/Kindle in many ways, but hey, it's a start.

    And yet, those publishers reject the option? Give me a bloody break! How long are they going to keep shooting at their feet?

    I have to say that hearing this makes me both sad and frustrated. That feature probably would have helped (even if only a little) in cutting down on the piracy issue so many authors are concerned about, yet it would still allow readers to share (maybe not as much as they might like, but it was a start). It was a feature that, for someone like me who has yet to purchase an e-book reader, would have given me a good reason to invest in a e-book reader.

    I really think it AND the Kindle’s sharing feature would help and not hurt the industry as a whole. AND while we’re on the subject, what makes this feature unacceptable to the publishers yet the Kindle’s 6 reader sharing feature is okay? Who made this decision? I know none of my publishers polled their author base to get opinions. I think the publishers maybe need to be listening more to both the consumer base AND their authors.

  191. Becca
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 15:42:35

    all of this is why I’m not getting into ebooks, however much I hear their tempting call, and however much my bookshelves overfloweth. I don’t like something that seems to pit readers against authors, when there should be a natural alliance between them. When there’s an affordable ereader, and I don’t need to worry about book format compatibility and whether I’ll lose access to my books at some third party’s whim or technological obsolescence… then maybe I’ll look at them. For right now, I’ll stick with paperbacks and the occasional hardback, however much they aggravate my allergies.

  192. Blue Tyson
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 19:35:43

    387

    Angie,

    You are right, publishers make no sense. Every living in the past anti-reader move they come up with like this has the potential to drive more custom away, to free sources, or perhaps permanently. Especially as the percentage of readers interested in ebooks grows.

    Remember that some of the management at the top of these companies is the same as that of the music industry. E.g. not competent to work in the current business environment. No interest in content, just in moving physical chunks of stuff around.

  193. A Reader
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 20:21:54

    I buy books ($1,200 – $1,500 budgeted a year for books), share books (lend paper books, email e-books to a small list of people) and I’m a pirate too–I download and upload books to torrent sites and participate in file share sites. I don’t use a library or buy used because it’s more convenient to buy books or steal them online–not that that matters but just to give the complete picture.

    I didn’t seek out how to steal books or how to become a pirate, I stumbled into it when I started buying ebooks from the small e-publishers. There’s a polished/edited excerpt available to read that is the only part of the book that’s been edited and the rest is complete crap. Any reader who’s ever bought books from these publishers knows exactly what I’m talking about. I started to feel ripped off by crap authors–like Michelle Carey funnily enough–and started looking for reviews and came across some pirate sites in the process.

    There’s enough decent authors and even some truly talented ones published by the online publishers to keep me going back for more but now chances are good I’ve read some pirated books before I started buying them.

    So my stance on the issue is you might think I’m the scum of the earth but I think if you can’t make a living selling your books you’re just not good enough of an author. Readers are happy to pay for books and support authors they like so before you start blaming piracy for your lack of books sales first take a good hard look at the books you’re trying to sell.

  194. Miki S
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 21:09:47

    I agree that that sounds great, except for the last part. Since the original purchaser can't read the book while it's lent out, then why restrict the option to one lending? If a reader buys a paper book, they can lend it out as many times as they want, one friend at a time, and they can't read it while it's lent. I think this is a great way to bring e-books into parity with paper books in a way a lot of readers have wished for, so what's the problem?

    I have a guess on that. There’s a forum I belong to that avidly follows the latest ebook readers. On the day the nook was announced, someone was posting there that they were going to register a string of websites along the lines of www dot nookshare dot com and so on.

    I could imagine a ebook version of book swap, where people post messages like “I want to read Nora Roberts’ Kindred in Death, anyone got a copy to lend?” and people who bought it and have already read it could send the book to posters over and over until demand fell away.

    That would definitely not be a fair use of the lending option, IMHO. While I wish B&N had been a little more reader-friendly and allowed somewhere between maybe 3-6 friends to lend to (and to resend the lend to any of those particular individuals, if they couldn’t get the book read in 14 days)…I can understand the desire to limit it to a reasonable sharing count.

  195. Anion
    Oct 27, 2009 @ 00:06:08

    So apparently Ms. Englin’s husband is a Democratic Representative from Virginia, and now the Republicans have jumped on this story and are branding Ms. Englin a thief. I hope she sues those authors, I really do. If this story takes off they could well have ruined her husband’s career. I know lots of authors are Democrats, so…happy now?

  196. Michelle Cary
    Oct 27, 2009 @ 07:52:27

    I started to feel ripped off by crap authors–like Michelle Carey funnily enough–and started looking for reviews and came across some pirate sites in the process.

    I’m sorry you think my books are crap, I don’t expect everyone to like my stories. Obviously you are one of those people. However, even if you don’t like what/how I write the least you could have done was spell my name correctly while you were bashing me.

  197. With
    Oct 27, 2009 @ 10:37:40

    Apparently I’m an old school thief. I love the library–studying to help facilitate libraries right now in fact. So lending is old school, old hat, nothing new. I’m a horrible person who dreprives authors of money(!–perhaps Hundreds of differnet copies go unsold!) and facilitates others to do the same thing. Oh my.

    It seems to me, and its really just a repeat, that so many authors are getting confused. Is this because this is new tech and they didn’t grow up with it? Maybe.

    But I’m a young whippersnapper who learned how to download music on a 56k modem on aol in middle school. I might have learned how to do it earlier but I was young, naive, and didn’t know. Its the way of things, really. As others have said as access and price go down–so to do pirating. Now, pirating is inevitable. It will always, always, happen but who needs to pirate music when Pandora can create a lovely play list fulfilling my every need and introducing me to new things? When I take my scarcely few funds (as is the way of a student) to buy music–I can buy at itunes knowing full well I’m getting EXACTLY what I want.

    Ebooks, as others have said, is a mixed bag. Just like real books, in fact. But with a real book I can go to the library to check and see if an author is right for me. Or, if not that because I do tend to have sort of unusual taste, I can meander through a local bookstore. I can even pick up the book and sometimes read it all (if I so chose) at a local bookstore. I haven’t yet, but I’ve seen others. (Oooh THIEVING).

    I can’t do any of that with an ebook. And, apparently, the discussion on SHARING has to continuously be jerked back to authors bemoaning THIEVES and PIRATES.

    Here’s the break down.

    Most of the people on this blog? They love books. You really don’t have to bemoan or lecture or tell the people here about pirating. They know. They’ve read your blogs on it, or they’ve heard it in passing. Or they’ve seen it for themselves. They might even try their hardest to curb the spread. THEY KNOW. Telling again is not helping you, its pushing many readers away. Find a time and a place for griping over it–but know when and where its appropriate.

    But, you say, there have been pirates here! They came and told us what they do! Yes, but most have given explanations. This doesn’t fix things, mind but: they tend do so to find new authors and then, if they like them and find a thing of quality, they go and buy the back list.

    But there are people who DON’T! Well, I hate to tell you but a lot of people download stuff they never use or never read. The other option is the people who are downloading are likely younger. They probably CAN’T use mommy’s credit card to buy themselves an ebook. So are you loosing income from these THIEVES? Yes, but not nearly as much as you would like to think. I’d wager at least half would never even look twice at your precious story if it wasn’t for free. Others have noticed this, most don’t seem to get it.

    Oh my. Oh dear. Utter nonsense with the waving and wringing of hands.

    I am horrified on behalf of the reader in the OP. The only good thing that has come from this entire discussion is that I now have a vague list of authors I will never, ever touch.

    So I don’t sound like I never buy: I do, actually. If I like a book from the library, or the used bookstore, or have had the glorious experience of getting just the right rec for an ebook and I know the author is good–I buy. I even buy if I just see some author commenting on Dear Author with a comment that makes me go, “Damn, that person sounds awesome. I think I will buy their book and see how awesome they are on paper”. Smart people are awesome and I don’t have cable so I have nothing but the internet competing for my book money. So I do buy books. Lots of them.

    Nevertheless I want to know they’re good. I want them to be worth my money–because I don’t have a lot of it. Unfortunately for authors, with the rise of the internet I’ve come to find that some authors just don’t deserve my money.

  198. Anon76
    Oct 27, 2009 @ 10:44:47

    @A Reader:

    This is an honest question to you without any of my hackles raised:

    Why exactly do you not only download books from torrent sites, but post books to them?

    I understand you came upon the whole thing due to frustration, but you also stated that now you have access to reviews and the like so as to have better control of purchasing power.

    Again, I’m not judging at this point. You were very honest and I’d like to understand more of the “why”.

  199. A Reader
    Oct 27, 2009 @ 12:49:44

    @Anon76:

    Why exactly do you not only download books from torrent sites, but post books to them?

    For the same reason I buy books even though I’ve discovered I can download just about any book I’ve ever wanted to read for free–I value the service (funny thing to say about thieves I know but there you have it) so I support those sites by contributing books.

    I understand you came upon the whole thing due to frustration, but you also stated that now you have access to reviews and the like so as to have better control of purchasing power.

    Again, I'm not judging at this point. You were very honest and I'd like to understand more of the “why”.

    Legitimate reviews for books by the e-publishers are few and far between so I actually never did find those reviews I was looking for. And as long as readers are being charged premium prices for shoddy books by amateur authors I imagine you’ll find more and more people willing to pirate books just like me. Please understand, I’m not just talking about books I just don’t “like” I actually feel like I’ve been defrauded the writing and editing is so bad, especially when the excerpted portion reads nothing like the actual book. I love that the e-publishers are opening doors for authors who otherwise might not get a chance to see their work published (and letting me discover some new favorite authors) but at the same time the majority will never be able to make a living at it simply because they’re just not good enough.

    A little bit more on the “why” of it is that I also don’t think for one minute that pirating books impacts authors sales in a negative way. How could I think that when I’m spending more money now on books than ever? And as much as it pains me to admit it I’m not unique–the truth is dirty, rotten, scumbag pirates buy books too, not just steal them. If not for finding those pirated sites I can assure you small e-book authors wouldn’t continue to receive almost half of my book buying budget. And while I’d never tell an author they should be thankful people can steal their books (that always cracks me up) I will say you (general you) might want to tone down the name calling–I think it’s safe to say showing your ass online is never a good thing.

  200. Jane
    Oct 27, 2009 @ 13:11:11

    I’ve been away from the computer for most of the day and will be for a few more hours. However, I have deleted and will continue to delete any comment that impugns the character of Ms. Englin. You can defame her all you want on someone else’s blog. You won’t get that opportunity here. Anyone who engages in that kind of behavior in the future will be marked as spam and banned from commenting.

    I also deleted comments relating to the above issue as they made no sense when the original comments were deleted.

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