Even Amazon can't keep up the "you only license ebooks" shuck


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Obviously terms like “own” or “sale” are legally protected puffery and we can expect modern readers to know their place.


Yeah, this will probably hold up there with “unlimited”


Some one has actually now given me a kindle because they could not believe I just never owned one. I feel sort of guilty about it… like… I guess I should make an effort there. But I am still so completely a creature of libraries (my mother was actually a librarian). I love feeling the book’s pages, I love the smell of paper, and I love OWNING the damned thing even if I have to donate it or give it away because space is tight and furniture is expensive.


Is this the sort of thing that we could file a class action suit for? If so, what’s the first step to making it happen? And keep in mind that Amazon also treats their digital downloads of films in the same way – once they no longer have the license to sell/stream it, they pull all rights to copies you’ve already downloaded to your Kindles so you can no longer watch something you “own.”

No, not it’s not, at least not in the US. You can thank SCotUS and ATT for that.

We each agree that any dispute resolution proceedings will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class, consolidated or representative action. If for any reason a claim proceeds in court rather than in arbitration we each waive any right to a jury trial. We also both agree that you or we may bring suit in court to enjoin infringement or other misuse of intellectual property rights.

As long as Amazon et al have no financial incentive to change their practices, they will keep it up.

I never buy ebooks. It’s paper all the way.


See also the nearly universal use (even by Content Cartel flacks) of the phrase “Own it Now on DVD & Blu-Ray!” in movie promotional materials.

Though Ownshelf is aimed at the bazillion iOS and android devices people use to read, we have a large representation of Kindle users. Ownshelf was made for people to own and share their ebooks. I reckon the fact Calibre is used by non techie kindle users to reformat their ebooks shows that anti-drm is going mainstream.

I kid you not, it’s sometimes cheaper to by the Kindle and Audible versions together than to just buy the Audible version.

The “licensing” practice for ebooks and software is a total scam. In the EU they basically outlawed this practice for software with the UsedSoft v Oracle ruling. I actually started an auction site in the UK that let’s EU citizens resell their used Steam games and iOS/Android apps all of which are “licensed” and supposedly can’t be resold. Fight for you digital rights by reselling your games and apps on halfpricedigital dot com


But you can resell DVDs and Blu-Rays. You can’t resell e-books, which is what this article is about.


First and foremost, copyright owners have no control over the terms Amazon uses to describe the licensing of an ebook. If they want to use “sell” or “buy,” authors/copyright owners cannot stop them even though the correct term is “license.”

Authors/copyright owners license their works to publishers who license them to distributors who license them to readers. Then readers are offended because they don’t own them when no one else but the author does in this process?

According to “The First Sale Doctrine” which was created by the courts and the US Copyright Office, when you buy a paper book, you own the paper, the ink, and the glue, but you don’t own the content. That means you can sell the physical book, but you can’t make a copy of the content to sell, nor can you use it for an audiobook, movie, or any other new source of income.

In other words, the only thing you “lose” by buying a digital book is the physical container. In most cases, the lack of that container makes the book contents cheaper.

And, fuzzyfungus, you own the physical CD, not the contents, so the catchphrase is true in a really sloppy way.

Places where you can share ebooks legally do so under an agreement with the publisher or copyright owner.

For more information on “The First Sale Doctrine,” I suggest you look at my article on the subject and check out the resources at the bottom for more technical info on the subject.


Except the right to use the book indefinitely, without any further approval or cooperation from the publisher or distributor and to transfer it (once, as a whole) to someone else.


How do I use Ownshelf without logging in with Facebook?

I’ve yet to see a kindle version cheaper than the print version.

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In most cases, it is indefinitely. If your provider (Kindle, for example,) does not, then you have the wrong provider.

And, as I said, copyright law prevents the transfer or sale of an ebook. If you don’t like that, talk to your congressman.

Then you are buying the wrong books or buying them before the price goes down after the first rush of sales when the book comes out. Try buying from small press or self-pubbed instead of the big publishers and name authors.

Umm, how are the books I actually want to buy the “wrong books”? Supposing the books I actually want to buy are not small press or self-pubbed – then what?

For most books the e-book version is more expensive than the print version. I’m not about to forgo the books I actually want to buy and buy books I don’t want just for the sake of making your argument valid.


I’d say that copyright law allows the current system and I don’t think anyone seriously doubted that. That doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t allow alternative setups. And yes, of course copyright law is not God-given or set in stone either.