A pirate’s dilemma

An evolving list of digital readers' rights

Last week, author (and former agent) Nathan Bransford took on Joe Wikert's call for a DRM-free world of eBooks.

Although I think Bransford missed a core aspect of what makes DRM objectionable (it restricts markets), he did outline several reader-friendly outcomes he'd like to see implemented:

  • The right to transfer libraries
  • The ability to access a book on multiple devices
  • The ability to give away an eBook

In Book: A Futurist's Manifesto, Kassia Kroszer closes the second section with "A Reader's Bill of Rights", in which she extends Bransford's list to include the right to:

  • Valued (and error-free) content
  • The whole book (including cover art)
  • A reasonable price
  • Excellent customer service
  • Innovation, privacy and security

Search on "A reader's bill of rights" and you'll uncover a growing list of concerns with how publishers engage with the individuals and institutions (i.e., libraries) who see digital reading as an opportunity. That tension is the kind of situation that can foster piracy.


Posted by Sue Bartle
Mar 05, 2012  at  02:01 AM

And the tension continues to climb for libraries with the new pricing structure from
Random House.


This one ugly situation with a long path to travel.

Posted by Michael Vagnetti
Mar 05, 2012  at  09:58 AM

Yes. I’m also fond of the checklist that James Bridle put together for publishers and readers, with a view towards developing social reading:


Posted by Brian O'Leary
Mar 05, 2012  at  10:09 AM

Terms of engagement, whether with libraries or individual readers, are being sorted out every day of the week, it seems. No one will be happy with a change, even if it is telegraphed in advance, but it would help if we could get back to first principles with respect to things like access, impact and portability.

Agreement or discussion around those principles is missing right now.  In the absence of what would be perceived as a “fair” agreement, people start to make their own decisions about how they access and pay for content.  I don’t support piracy, but I have described it as “the consequence of a bad API.”  If you include price and portability as part of the user interface (and we should), you start to see that the other side can respond in ways you’d like to avoid.

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