It may shortly be legal in the UK to make copies of your legally purchased DVDs and CDs – Provided it is only for your own use.
In a fit of living in the real world, the British government has announced plans to introduce legislation to allow people to make copies of their DVDs and CDs and make changes in the current laws relating to Intellectual Property in a number of other areas.
This is a sensible recognition of the reality that people already do this in huge numbers, and are thus liable to be taken to court by infuriated copyright owners for so doing. As the Dutch, an eminently pragmatic people, have long known, a law that is massively ignored is obviously a bad one, and needs to be changed.
So unusually for the British, it seems they are about to do this.
Not for ebooks yet…..
Sadly there is no mention of the DRM system used to “protect” ebooks from being copied in these proposed changes to the law in the UK. But it is an obvious next step if this goes through.
Currently if you “buy” an ebook from any of the main ebook online sellers (Amazon, iBooks, Books on Line, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, W.H.Smith et.al) the ebook you buy will almost certainly be burdened with one form of copyright protection or other, the so called Digital Rights Management (DRM), which is intended to stop you making copies of the ebook and then distributing it to others without the publisher getting his percentage.
As all involved in the ebook world know, this system simply doesn’t work, it is so easy to download a free bit of software from the net to remove this DRM protection, and thus have an ebook that you may easily then copy and sell on……
But to do this is illegal, and thus opens you up to being sued by the legal owners of the copyright, should they become aware that you have done this.
As it doesn’t work, the main objective behind this DRM system is obviously not being achieved, and those who want to spread illegal copies of ebooks do so already, via the rapidly increasing number of torrent websites that are springing up all over the net. All this DRM system actually achieves is to stop those of us who simply wish to lend or give a copy of an ebook we have enjoyed to a friend (most people are neither inclined to break the law, nor have the necessary computer literacy to strip the DRM protection).
It has been shown over and over again that when people lend books (paper or electronic) to their friends because they have enjoyed it, those friends tend to go out and buy other books by that author…. Thus it is a form of advertising, and works.
Another major objection to the DRM system is that it can make life really tricky for us when our ereaders dies or is lost…… What then with our expensive library of DRM protected ebooks? Can we get them to work on any replacement ereader we buy? What if the lost ereader was a kindle and we want to move over to a Nook?
This whole stupid, infuriating and unworkable system has to go before ereaders can truly take over from paper books. We need to have one system in place as we do with films and music, which works on any device you happen to own, each type of media having its most appropriate format, but all devices capable of reading those formats.
And publishers and authors have to accept the realities of living in a digital age, i.e there is really no effective way of stopping piracy, sadly, so they simply have to turn through 180 degrees and look for ways to make it less attractive to download stolen ebooks than to pay for legal copies. Should be possible for them to find ways to do this I would have thought if they put their minds to it properly.
Here are a few suggestions for a start:
- Charge a fair price
- Offer free ebook versions with the paper one
- Offer subscriptions to the ebooks of particular authors
- Scrap the geographical limitations of where ebooks may be purchased
- Make ebooks the same price all over the world
- Only offer ebooks in formats that the majority of ereaders can work with (thus forcing companies like Amazon to stop using their own formats).
- If they insist on keeping DRM on ebooks, make it at least possible to lend your ebooks as often as you want (one at a time).
- And……………… Please add your own ideas.
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Any thoughts on any of this?