Channels ▼
RSS

Digital Books and Your Rights: A Checklist for Readers


What questions should consumers ask before buying a digital book or reader? The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published Digital Books and Your Rights, a checklist for readers considering buying into the digital book marketplace.

Over the last few months, the universe of digital books has expanded dramatically, with products like Amazon's Kindle, Google Books, Internet Archive's Text Archive, Barnes and Noble's Nook, and Apple's upcoming iPad poised to revolutionize reading. But while this digital books revolution could make books more accessible than ever before, there are lingering questions about the future of reader privacy, consumers' rights, and potential censorship.

EFF's checklist outlines eight categories of questions readers should ask as they evaluate new digital book products and services, including:

  • Does the service protect your privacy by limiting tracking of you and your reading?
  • When you pay for a book, do you own the book, or do you just rent or license it?
  • Is the service censorship resistant?

"As these new services roll out, we need to know if they will respect or hamper the traditional rights and expectations of readers. Physical books have many natural protections for readers, and other protections have been created over time by libraries and bookstores," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "These questions will help book lovers decide what they want their digital book future to look like and then vote with their feet to get to that future."

As other ebook readers and reader services develop, a federal judge is considering final approval of a settlement that would pave the way for a huge expansion of Google Books, giving Google the green light to scan and digitize millions of books and allow users to search for and read those books online. Unfortunately, Google's system monitors what books users search for, how much of the books they read, and how long they spend on various pages, and Google refuses to require a warrant before providing that information to the government. EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn will appear before the court at a hearing in New York on February 18, representing a coalition of authors including Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, and many others concerned about reader privacy.

"Our coalition is asking the court to ensure that Google's huge new digital library/bookstore maintains the strong protections for reader privacy that traditional libraries and bookstores have fought for and largely won," said Cohn.


Related Reading


More Insights






Currently we allow the following HTML tags in comments:

Single tags

These tags can be used alone and don't need an ending tag.

<br> Defines a single line break

<hr> Defines a horizontal line

Matching tags

These require an ending tag - e.g. <i>italic text</i>

<a> Defines an anchor

<b> Defines bold text

<big> Defines big text

<blockquote> Defines a long quotation

<caption> Defines a table caption

<cite> Defines a citation

<code> Defines computer code text

<em> Defines emphasized text

<fieldset> Defines a border around elements in a form

<h1> This is heading 1

<h2> This is heading 2

<h3> This is heading 3

<h4> This is heading 4

<h5> This is heading 5

<h6> This is heading 6

<i> Defines italic text

<p> Defines a paragraph

<pre> Defines preformatted text

<q> Defines a short quotation

<samp> Defines sample computer code text

<small> Defines small text

<span> Defines a section in a document

<s> Defines strikethrough text

<strike> Defines strikethrough text

<strong> Defines strong text

<sub> Defines subscripted text

<sup> Defines superscripted text

<u> Defines underlined text

Dr. Dobb's encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Dr. Dobb's moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing or spam. Dr. Dobb's further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

 
Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | View the list of supported HTML tags you can use to style comments. | Please read our commenting policy.
 

Video