E-book restrictions leave 'buyers' with few rights
Unlike the owners of a physical tome, buyers of e-books are licensees with lots of limitations. It's time to change the rules.
By Michael Hiltzik December 22, 2012
There's a crass old joke about how you can never buy beer, just rent it. Who would think that the same joke applies to book buying in the digital age?
But that's the case. Many people who'll be unwrapping iPads, Amazon Kindles or Barnes & Noble Nooks on Tuesday morning and loading them with bestsellers or classics won't have any idea how limited their rights are as their books' "owners."
In fact, they won't be owners at all. They'll be licensees. Unlike the owners of a physical tome, they won't have the unlimited right to lend an e-book, give it away, resell it or leave it to their heirs. If it's bought for their iPad, they won't be able to read it on their Kindle. And if Amazon or the other sellers don't like what they've done with it, they can take it back, without warning.
...***** Moderator's Note *****
I bought my wife an ebook sold by Barnes & Noble last year, and wound up returning it the day after Christmas. It worked as advertised, but the titles that were listed on the B&N website cost almost exactly as much as a hardcover "dead tree" version. My wife, to her credit, was incensed that Barnes & Noble would even attempt to charge that much.
Bill Horne Moderator