It's funny that in the name of protecting "intellectual property," big media companies are willing to do such violence to the idea of real property -- arguing that since everything we own, from our t-shirts to our cars to our ebooks, embody someone's copyright, patent and trademark, that we're basically just tenant farmers, living on the land of our gracious masters who've seen fit to give us a lease on our homes.
In the fine print that you "agree" to, Amazon and Sony say you just get a license to the e-books–you're not paying to own 'em, in spite of the use of the term "buy." Digital retailers say that the first sale doctrine–which would let you hawk your old Harry Potter hardcovers on eBay–no longer applies. Your license to read the book is unlimited, though–so even if Amazon or Sony changed technologies, dropped the biz or just got mad at you, they legally couldn't take away your purchases. Still, it's a license you can't sell.Link (via /.)
But is this claim legal? Our Columbia friends suggest that just because Sony or Amazon call it a license, that doesn't make it so. "That's a factual question determined by courts," say our legal brainiacs. "Even if a publisher calls it a license, if the transaction actually looks more like a sale, users will retain their right to resell the copy." Score one for the home team.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.