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The Kindle, DRM and sharing books

3 Sep 2008 | | 4 Comments

Brad Feld raised a fair point in his The Kindle and DRM blog post today by posing the question — why isn’t it possible to share ebooks, which you’ve purchased through Amazon for your Kindle, with other people?

He’s not talking about creating multiple copies of the ebook and sharing it with people, he’s talking about actually transferring the ebook to another person, just like you would physically give a paper book to another person, so that they can read it. This happens every day with real books, between friends or at the library, and as far as I know, it isn’t illegal — since only one person is reading, and in possession of, the book at any one time.

I agree with Brad on this point. You should be able to share your ebooks, just like you can share your physical books. And DRM isn’t really the issue. It’s fair enough that publishers would want to stop one person from buying the book and then uploading it to a file sharing site. The real issue is that ebook publishers have yet to strike the right balance between their rights and the purchasers rights. Yes, publishers should be able to stop people from illegally pirating their books, but purchasers of ebooks should also be able to share their books.

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4 Comments »

  • Karl De Abrew said:

    This too, is a debate which was also, and still is being held on (electronic) music and video…

  • Bikram Singh said:

    well, i guess we are mot allowed to share the book with friends is a direct result of paranoia resulted due to pirated e-books.

    i recently bought kindle 2.0 but am not planning to buy many book rather I will convert the books i have in pdf format then will read it. Kindle device is really sleek and sexy. it is fun to read on kindle but in my country (India) as Amazon is not available, i have to get the books from unauthorizes sources and convert it for my kindle

  • Peter Boyer said:

    I wrote this to Amazon the other day and ended up talking to one of their customer representatives, but nothing came of it.

    I have saved the money to buy a Kindle 2, but have now decided NOT to do it. Rather I will begin to look for other ebook readers to see what they have and how their system works. The reason I won’t buy a Kindle 2 has to do with how Amazon handles the ebook DRM. As I understand it you will allow me to download a book I pay for on a “few” Kindle compatible devices that are in my account, but this figure of “few” is not published and changes from book to book. Amazon will even allow me to download the book to this “few” devices as many times as I like. This approach is nothing like I am used to from buying regular books. I would think that Amazon handle the DRM as follows:

    1. Allow me to download to only one machine at a time that is on my account as often as I would like. Insist that I delete the book from one machine before you allow me to download it to another. Or delete the book from the machine it is on when it is downloaded to another of my machines.
    2. Delete from my machine and download the book to a friend’s machine, that is Kindle compatible, that I identify for a specific length of time.
    3. Allow me to identify a new friend who has a machine, that is Kindle compatible, and download the book to that machine for a specific length of time.
    4. When the time is up for my specified friends make sure the book is deleted from their machines and allow me to again download the book to one of the machines on my account.

    This is a huge difference from how Amazon is handling DRM now, but it is more reasonable for something I pay for. I may not be able to find another ebook reader company that handles things this way, but Amazon is capable and I don’t want to buy a Kindle 2 the way things are now. It also has the advantages of encouraging others to buy Kindles because they must buy one in order to borrow one of the books I have paid for.

  • Morten Seeberg said:

    I have decided same thing, almost bought it, but without the share feature, it makes no sense.

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