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

Libraries

Wednesday News: The Adobe Digital WTF Edition

Wednesday News: The Adobe Digital WTF Edition

Digital Editions (DE) has been used by many public libraries as a recommended application for patrons wanting to borrow electronic books (particularly with the Overdrive e-book lending system), because it can enforce digital rights management rules on how long a book may be read for. But DE also reports back data on e-books that have been purchased or self-published. Those logs are transmitted over an unencrypted HTTP connection back to a server at Adobe—a server with the Domain Name Service hostname “adelogs.adobe.com”—as an unencrypted file (the data format of which appears to be JSON).

The behavior is part of Adobe’s way of managing access to e-books borrowed from a library or “lent” by other users through online bookstores supporting the EPUB book format, such as Barnes & Noble. If you’ve “activated” Digital Editions with an Adobe ID, it uses that information to determine whether a book has been “locked” on another device using the same ID to read it or if the loan has expired. If the reader isn’t activated, it uses an anonymous unique ID code generated for each DE installation. –Ars Technica

Reached for comment, Adobe confirms that those data gathering practices are indeed in place. “Adobe Digital Editions allows users to view and manage eBooks and other digital publications across their preferred reading devices—whether they purchase or borrow them,” Adobe said in a statement this afternoon. The statement continues:

“All information collected from the user is collected solely for purposes such as license validation and to facilitate the implementation of different licensing models by publishers. Additionally, this information is solely collected for the eBook currently being read by the user and not for any other eBook in the user’s library or read/available in any other reader. User privacy is very important to Adobe, and all data collection in Adobe Digital Editions is in line with the end user license agreement and the Adobe Privacy Policy.” –Digital Book World

I have followed up on this story and looked into the earlier versions of Digital Editions, just to see how long Adobe may have been spying on users. After testing DE2 and DE3 I can report, and others can confirm, that neither app appears to be tracking my reading habits nor uploading details about my ebook library.

The older apps do send some information to Adobe, but the data packet is small enough that it can’t hold much more than info required to authorize the DRM. So if you need one of Adobe’s apps, you do have safer options than DE4. –The Digital Reader

Thursday News: Facebook apologizes for “fake name” snafu, E-books and research libraries, global gender bias in film, and the DA ad book is open

Thursday News: Facebook apologizes for “fake name” snafu, E-books and research...

Below is part of Cox’s apology letter, and you can read it in its entirety by clicking on the story link.

In the two weeks since the real-name policy issues surfaced, we’ve had the chance to hear from many of you in these communities and understand the policy more clearly as you experience it. We’ve also come to understand how painful this has been. We owe you a better service and a better experience using Facebook, and we’re going to fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were.

The way this happened took us off guard. An individual on Facebook decided to report several hundred of these accounts as fake. These reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports we process every single week, 99 percent of which are bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more — so we didn’t notice the pattern. The process we follow has been to ask the flagged accounts to verify they are using real names by submitting some form of ID — gym membership, library card, or piece of mail. We’ve had this policy for over 10 years, and until recently it’s done a good job of creating a safe community without inadvertently harming groups like what happened here. –Gigaom

The article does make some good points — about, for example, how digital books are currently not available through interlibrary loan and also subject to page download quotas — but comparing digital research books to payday loans and insisting that they are making people dumb threatens to eclipse some of the more legitimate issues.

E-books prevent deep reading, their use is highly restricted, and they can vanish without notice, so why are the CSU and the UC libraries experimenting with replacing paper with computer files? Is the e-book phenomenon yet another example of university administrators chasing after the latest e-fad? Like MOOCs (which even Sebastian Thrun of Udacity called “a lousy product”), e-books trade something that works for something that doesn’t, and even worse, threaten to destroy the very notion of a library. What’s the attraction? The answer is that e-books seem like a cheap way to access hundreds, if not thousands, of expensive books essential for research and teaching. Right now, the subscription packages Proquest and Ebsco offer may sound like they cost a lot (between $500-$800,000 a year), but the price is “extremely low relative to the number of books acquired,” to quote the CSU report on the e-book pilot project. The average cost per book for Ebrary’s package is between $5 and $9, a spectacular savings given that the average price for a hardcover scholarly book in the humanities is around $100, and many are much more expensive. –Times of San Diego

When thinking about gender representation in media, it’s essential to look at who is making our media. Female directors are more likely to work on projects with more women on screen. There’s no country that has gender balance behind the scenes in the film industry, but some do better than others. At the bottom of the pile is France, where male directors, writers, and producers outnumber women nine to one. Brazil is the most equitable overall, but the UK gets the special distinction of being the only film market where women make up a majority of film writers. –Bitch Magazine