Ebook checklist from EFF

Hugh from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez, "EFF has released a white paper to help readers of digital books answer questions about privacy, book licenses, DRM and other issues."

1. Does it (your e-book reader/service/tool, etc.) protect your privacy?
* Does it limit the tracking of you and your reading?
* Does it protect against disclosure of your reading habits?
* Does it give you control over the information it collects about you?
* Does it tell you what it's doing with the information it collects and can you enforce its commitments to you?

2. Does it tell you what it is doing?
* How clear are the disclosures? Will they be updated and, if so, how?
* Does it let you or others investigate to confirm that the product, device or service is actually functioning as promised?

3. What happens to additions you make to books you buy, like annotations, highlights, commentary?
* Can you keep your additions?
* Can you control who has access to your additions?

4. Do you own the book or just rent or license it?
* Can you lend or resell?
* Is it locked down or do you have the freedom to move it to other readers, services or uses?
* Can the vendor take it away or edit it after you've purchased it?

Digital Books and Your Rights: A Checklist for Readers (Thanks, Hugh!)


  1. I’m so old that the concept of “book” will always be printed-pages-bound-between-covers accompanied by a certain sensuousness (appreciating the paper, typography,etc.) and utility (margin notes, flinging against the wall when angry, etc. ;-) eBook readers just cross my radar as another gadget in the gizmosphere….

    So I think TFA’s author missed my demographic up in the Introduction; I would add four words to make it relevant: “The over-arching question: are digital books as good or better than physical books at protecting you and your rights as a reader [at the price charged]?

    At a buck a pop I’d be willing to trade utility and user experience for some restrictions; at hardcover prices I’m gonna be much more picky. P’bly a slippery-slope attitude for going into the future, but the (to me) nonessential role of eBooks makes them a being-qua-value question rather than being-qua-being.

  2. A lot of great stuff in there. Still some ugly holes though.

    What does DRM-free right of first sale mean? What is the digital version of a used bookstore?

    I personally can’t see how it could work.

    I buy DRM-free music because DRM sucks, so if we’re picking sides don’t throw me to the wolves. I do not however have any expectation that I can sell the mp3s I bought from amazon or emusic.

    How would that work?

  3. Some interesting stuff there. But its also symptomatic of some ebook readers that they can make an 18-page list of demands. Is there and absolute entitlement for everyone for every new technology? I don’t mind paying for ebooks and generally would like to see DRM fade away entirely. But I have some appreciation for the costs of creating and growing a market, so I have some patience.

  4. Are there answers to the questions for each eBook Reader out there? A chart indicating which eBook Readers do what would be extremely helpful.

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