Like music and movies before them books are going digital and each new development is a source of excitement and concern for avid tech-savvy readers. Book fans should indeed be excited because digital books could revolutionize reading making more books more findable and more accessible to more people in a diversity of ways.
But readers should also be concerned because recent events demonstrate that the forces making digital books and digital readers a reality routinely fail to respect the kinds of rights and expectations that have been built and defended over generations of experience with physical books. The first round of mainstream digital book services products and applications -- Google Book Search the Amazon Kindle the Barnes and Noble Nook -- all offer a much riskier way to own and read books compared to our experiences with traditional books.
It will take an informed readership and entrepreneurial leadership in the field to make sure that digital books preserve the rich heritage of intellectual freedom free speech and privacy that we have with physical books today.
EFF Related Content: Digital Books
- “So you might see students who share their textbooks might be on the hook for patent infringement and copyright infringement?” said Julie Samuels, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “That’s not good news.” Not surprisingly, legal scholars are highly skeptical that this patent violates the spirit, if not...
- The EFF says that, in addition to Smashwords, PayPal has issued similar warnings to publishers and booksellers including BookStrand.com. In a letter the EFF intended to send late Wednesday, the group said that PayPal "is holding free speech hostage...
- EFF and other groups including the Authors Guild, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and the Association of American Publishers are planning to send a letter to PayPal on Wednesday asking the company to reverse its policy.
- Digital books and book services can paint an even more detailed picture—including books browsed but not read, particular pages viewed, how long spent on each page, and any electronic notes made by the reader," the EFF said in a statement.