In today's Observer Business
column, John Naughton discusses what a ripoff it is for ebook vendors to "sell" you books with abusive, multi-thousand word "license agreements," pretending that because you bought your book over the network, it wasn't a sale, and so you don't get to own it. These "licenses" aren't about upholding copyright (if they were, you could replace thousands of words of lawyerese with four simple words: "Don't violate copyright law"). They're about overriding copyright -- which has all kinds of guarantees for the rights of book-owners -- with a private law that gives every advantage to the publisher or retailer, converting you from a noble reader
to a wormy, contemptible licensor
who doesn't deserve to own
The Kindle EULA is a good example. Section 3, which deals with "Digital Content" (such as downloaded books), says that "Unless specifically indicated otherwise, you may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense or otherwise assign any rights to the Digital Content or any portion of it to any third party, and you may not remove any proprietary notices or labels on the Digital Content." In other words, you are forbidden to lend or sell the book you've just "bought". In real-world terms, you can't lend your copy of 1984 to a friend or donate it to the school jumble sale.
Kindle readers beware - big Amazon is watching you read 1984
Under the subsection on "Use of Digital Content', the Kindle EULA says: "Amazon grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Device or as authorized by Amazon as part of the Service and solely for your personal, non-commercial use."
Translation: you can't back up your electronic books on to any other device - which means that if your Kindle packs up, or if Amazon moves on to another technical standard, you're screwed: your entire digital library has effectively been vaporised. Then you look round your house and note the number of electronic devices that no longer work.
Craiglist has something wonderful on it: a vast collection of more than 600 vintage Smith-Corona typewriters, including accessories and marketing literature. Yours for a hundred grand. My collection consists of over 600 typewriter items including the company’s first typewriter in the 1880’s to one of the company’s last typewriters in 2000’s and all models in […]
We’re huge fans of portable power gadgets, but this one isn’t going in my pocket to help me keep my phone topped up after lunch. Anker’s Powerhouse is the size and weight of a concrete construction brick, and at $500 and 120,000mAh, by far their largest power pack yet. It’ll charge your laptop 15 times […]
Dyson, makers of high-end vacuum cleaners and other gadgets that do clever things with air, is moving into beauty products. The Dyson Supersonic hair dryer promises a premium model’s power in a smaller, quieter package, and was built around the company’s smallest motor yet. It’s priced at $400, too — apparently not unreasonable for salon […]
Almost everyone has their smartphone in a case of one kind or another. Beyond simple protection, finding a case that can charge your phone on its own, but doesn’t feel like it’s also adding a couple pounds to the phone’s weight is the tricky part. Billed as the world’s thinnest battery case, the ThinCharge iPhone […]
You never know when new projects, ideas or opportunities can drop into your lap at a moment’s notice. That may require you to learn a new programming language like Python. Or maybe you need a primer on 3D game development. Or you might realize you could use a serious brush-up on iOS mobile creation.Point is, […]
Isn’t it about time to stretch what your Mac can do? I mean, you’ve got plenty of great programs now…but don’t you think you could use some new tools to get your creative, analytical and organizational juices really flowing? It’s spring, so we cleaned up a whole bunch of super-cool apps lying around and packaged […]