European DMCA

David O'Callaghan davidoc at
Wed Aug 8 16:21:53 UTC 2001

From: "Alessandro Rubini" <rubini at>
> Claus:
> > Huh? Reading a book is typically none of the author's exclusive
> > rights, you I don't need a license to read it.
> Because someone got a license to publish it. Distribution of the work
> is an exclusive right of the author (who can sell that right). So if
> Adobe is the copyright owner they can control who can read the book.

They lock an ebook to a particular computer, but this is not a right
based on copyright. In theory, the owner of an eBook should be allowed
to lend a book (possibly temporarily disabling the copy on their computer).
They should be able to extract and print sections for research, etc.

> Similarly, the publisher of a printed book controls who can read the
> book by selling copies. While I agree there are differences, I don't
> see your point as sound.

They do not control who can read the book. When I buy a book from a
bookshop I do so anonymously. I can then give the book to one of
my friends as a gift. They might then lend it to another friend
or sell it to a second-hand bookshop. From there it might get browsed
by a few shoppers before one decides to pay for it and take it home.
Then they lend it to their friend, and so on.

Once the publisher makes the first sale, they have no control over
who uses the book, and this is as it should be.

The current owner of the book is not allowed to make full copies,

> Ruben:
> > Yes, that is my main problem with this law. The way it is written it's
> > clear if a GPL'd reader is a "circumvention device" or not. In the US
> > judge decided that DeCSS is. I think it's not.=20
> It obviously is. The official software reads but doesn't allow
> writing, and you can't easily change it as it's binary-only. A free
> tool can be modified to write, and the change is trivial. They don't
> care at all that this means you can't read the stuff you lawfully
> bought unless you also meet another set of conditions as a user.

You are saying that a piece of software that COULD be modified to
breach a copyright should not be allowed? Doesn't the 'Hello World'
program in any language come into this category, admittedly requiring
more work (!) on the programmer's part.

> Nick Hockings:
> > Remember we are not here to promote the use of non-free ebooks or
> > If non-free stuff is nasty to use, that's good for freesoftware.
> No, it's not. When most users get used to those non-free tools and
> probably depend on them, we have lost. We'll show them GNU and they
> will refuse it because they can't use GNU to read the cartridges they
> own.

Well it should be possible to write, say, an Adobe eBook reader that
does not step on users 'Fair Use' rights. One that doesn't care about
printing, or text extraction restrictions. This could be done in the
(very valid) name of interoperability. There would still be the problem
of encrypted content however, although this might not be a problem
outside of the US.

> When law authorizes such lock-in behaviour, it will soon be extended
> to other tools and other media. We must work to avoid that; not only
> to further free software but also to avoid people's lives to be
> controlled by companies.


> E L Tonkin:
> > Hands up for volunteers to staff the first Free ebook
> > publishing house.
> The point is that we do *not* need anything like that. The whole idea
> of ebook was born to give users less freedom (definitely less than
> they have with conventional books). If you want free information, just
> upload it to the net with a free license. I am the co-author of a free
> book (GNU FDL, available on the bookshelves and on the net), and we
> didn't need all the cruft of ebooks in order to make our information
> available.

This is true. Simple formats like HTML are the best way of ensuring
interoperability. Still, I think it would be a great service to
have, say, an Adobe eBook compatible reader to give users back their
fair use rights.

I never really wanted to visit the US anyway ;) (just kidding)


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