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HarperCollins Wants Library EBooks to Self-Destruct After 26 Loans 181

An anonymous reader writes: "HarperCollins has decided to change their agreement with e-book distributor OverDrive [and other distributors, too]. They forced OverDrive, which is a main e-book distributor for libraries, to agree to terms so that HarperCollins e-books will only be licensed for checkout 26 times. Librarians have blown up over this, calling for a boycott of HarperCollins, breaking the DRM on e-books -- basically doing anything to let HarperCollins and other publishers know they consider this abuse." Cory Doctorow, who wrote TFA, says: "For the record, all of my HarperCollins ebooks are also available as DRM-free Creative Commons downloads. And as bad as HarperCollins' terms are, they're still better than Macmillan's, my US/Canadian publisher, who don't allow any library circulation of their ebook titles."
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HarperCollins Wants Library EBooks to Self-Destruct After 26 Loans

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  • by RightwingNutjob ( 1302813 ) on Friday February 25, 2011 @08:51PM (#35319322)
    They work when the power goes out

    They work when the vendor changes formats for newer releases

    They work when civilization collapses and they're found centuries later in a cave

    And the don't magically turn into pumpkins when the clock strikes twelve.

    There is of course, a way to make a normal book stop working when the availability of its content becomes a problem. It's called fire. It's generally bad form to burn a paper book. Why exactly is it socially acceptable to DRM a book again?
  • by blarkon ( 1712194 ) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:13PM (#35319498)
    The great problem that libraries have is that most of them aren't used by the people that support them. As local governments are increasingly finding, you can shut a library and other than some well written letters to the editor, most taxpayers will go along with it. Public libraries have been around for 150 years and were far more important in ages where books were a lot less accessible. Spin forward to today and the use of public libraries has been declining. Part of this is the Internet. A lot of the information you once would have once gone to the library for you can search the internet for on your mobile phone. Schools have libraries that complement their curriculum, and Universities tend to be the place where you go if you are looking for more obscure books. My high school library was superior to the civic library when it came to research for papers back then. If I couldn't find stuff in my high school library, I had to go to the University library, because civic libraries didn't carry those sorts of books.
    Although it is nice to believe that the community is charitable enough to want to spend money on putting books into the hands of people that can't afford them, a lot of people aren't willing to fund public health for poorer people. If you aren't willing to fund doctors for poor kids, you probably don't give a rats about making sure they have access to books. What is comes down to is that as much as a certain segment of the community likes the IDEA of libraries, the majority of the community doesn't give a rats arse because they never use them. That makes them an easy cut when local municipalities are trying to right the balance sheets.
    People would rather less services than more tax and that puts libraries, increasingly less utilized, squarely into the "this is a luxury" column.
  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:19PM (#35319550) Journal

    They work when the power goes out

    My Kindle can easily last for a week without recharging. If the power goes out completely for longer than that, I think there will be other things that I'll be worrying about.

    (Naturally, I'm talking about fiction books and other literature I read for fun here. A decent hardcover book on survival basics should always be in one's collection "just in case").

    They work when civilization collapses and they're found centuries later in a cave

    Why would I care?

    They work when the vendor changes formats for newer releases

    If an ebook can be read and interpreted by the reader, it can also be converted. I used to own a Sony reader and converted stuff to LRF for it; now I convert it to ePub for my phone and tablet, and to MobiPocket for my Kindle. It has never been a problem.

    DRM is a problem, but that is a different issue.

    Why exactly is it socially acceptable to DRM a book again?

    Now we get to the crux of the matter. You seem to be confusing e-books in general with DRM. It's true that most popular online stores only sell DRM-encumbered books today, but there are still many legal (and even more illegal) ways to get an e-book with no strings attached.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:20PM (#35319556)

    They don't work in the dark.

    They cost a forest and a polluted river.

    They require huge structures to house them, constant vigilance to watch for mold and deterioration, mice and fire.

    Caves are not where you find books.

    They bring jack booted thugs to demand their surrender for burning.

    Books have to be carried around, you can never carry very many of them. Moving house is a bitch.

    Shipping them is expensive. Printing them is expensive. This leads to a artificial scarcity of ideas and knowledge.

    Books out of print may never come back into print. If you didn't buy it then, it may not be possible ever again.

    Long after the copyright has expired, the Physical DRM encumbering books still hinders their distribution and replication.

    ok, I'll get off your lawn now.....

  • obRMS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adavies42 ( 746183 ) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:39PM (#35319758)
  • No Surprise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:39PM (#35319762)

    Harper Collins = Newscorp = Rupert Murdoch = Fox

  • Re:Unsaid but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:36PM (#35320214)

    OMFG, self-destroying information. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe what we need is some common middle ground. How about we let Harper-Collins decide which information should be destroyed, which should be altered, and which should persist?
    It has become clear to me that the USA simply isn't ready for a digital information age, and whomever should have the power to effect change, cannot (for whatever reason). I think it is time to exclude Americans from the table of countries looking to move forward with this technology, and in a generation or two, they'll "tear down that wall" and catch up.

  • by jackspenn ( 682188 ) on Saturday February 26, 2011 @01:01AM (#35321230)

    They bring jack booted thugs to demand their surrender for burning.

    Dude that is so old school. These days you don't need firemen to burn unwanted books/ideas. In a world of electric books on multi-media devices there are two far simpler options:

    • You run code to remove electronic copies/versions of unwanted ideas whenever they are found on the network
    • You produce large quantities of reality TV, trash novels and other "noise" to drown out unwanted ideas
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Saturday February 26, 2011 @07:11AM (#35322664)

    I mean, really. What are they being paid for? The author writes a book, presumably in digital form... ebook publisher does exactly what before posting it into the Apple store or Amazon? Sprinkle fairy dust on it?

    I can see the need for an editor to proofread and make some quality suggestions, so freelance or editing companies, but then? Advertising? Google Ads...


    Buh bye publishing houses.

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]