Read: [next] [previous] message

Re: [d@DCC] Copyright, eBooks & Public Domain Sources

From: Russell McOrmond <russell _-at-_>
To: "General Copyright Discussions (questions, organizing, etc)" <discuss (at)>
Date: Thu, 6 Oct 2016 08:07:09 -0300
References: <> <> <> <> <>

On Tue, Oct 4, 2016 at 1:32 PM, Ron Koster <> wrote:

> Is that what you meant by "reseller"?


So, for instance, I could never be a customer of yours.  I don't purchase
text content that only works on a few devices I own (Amazon) and of course
won't purchase content that only works on devices I would never own (Apple
-- I consider them to be my greatest political opponent, not a legitimate
vendor options).

  It is hard for you to gauge interest from potential customers in your
product if they first have to be customers of someone else.  These aren't
simply retailers where it really doesn't matter where people purchase from,
but part of a locked-down ecosystem which people have to buy into.  If they
don't like the ecosystem (as I said, there is nothing any author/creator on
the planet can do to convince me to be an Apple customer), then that makes
your offerings effectively unavailable to them.

  Picking a locked-in electronic content delivery platform isn't like
choosing a brand of paper for printing.

  There are authors who set up their own websites, use paypal and its
competitors for collecting money, and offer people DRM-free PDF files.
That may be an option open to you, and may be an option that would reduce
barriers to people purchasing from you.

Oh, THIS I'm definitely curious about, what you mean. How has DRM had a
> negative impact? I do understand that anyone can learn how to "crack
> open" an ebook with DRM and then see the code inside anyway (although I
> don't know how, myself -- but I'm sure that's just a simple search
> away), but in what way is does DRM "lower the value" (and have that
> "negative impact")?

  This is the issue that was why I started this site -- to respond to the
"anti-circumvention" aspects of a bill being proposed in Canada.

  I've written many articles about it over the years, and most of my blog
postings on this site are about this topic.

Coles notes version:

  * "copy control" is a marketing term, not a real technology.
  * content alone (digitally encoded or otherwise) cannot come alive and
"make decisions", so there is nothing that can be done to content alone to
restrict what people can do with it.
  * encrypted media ties the ability to access encrypted content to a
specific subset of devices which restrict the rights of the owners of those
devices to control what those devices do -- the manufacturers restrict what
software can run on the devices, and treat the owner as the attacker.
  * Reducing the number of devices that content can be accessed on reduces
the value of the content to potential audiences, and thus reduces the value
of the content and the revenue that the copyright holder can receive.
  * Anyone with a basic knowledge of cryptography knows that if you give
encrypted content along with the decryption keys (embedded in every
"authorized" device) to a technically sophisticated person they can unlock
the content.  Once that is done the content can be shared as if the
encryption didn't exist. There has
been no credible evidence to prove that "DRM" reduces copyright
infringement, and considerable anecdotal evidence that it provides
incentives for people to infringe.
  * Given the above, DRM only impacts paying customers and not infringers.
For paying customers it only provides a disincentive to access your content
given the limits DRM imposes
  * DRM is hugely beneficial for the content delivery platform suppliers
who can leverage your work to build loyal (locked in) customer base for
their platform, but I've yet to see evidence that is is beneficial to
copyright holders.

All the ebooks that I've published so far I've checked that box to "Add
> DRM" while uploading them to iTunes -- you have me wondering now if I
> should change that.

  Understanding what encrypted media is, and thinking about its real impact
on your marketplace (rather than the perspective of the vendor who has an
obvious conflict of interest) is always helpful.   I obviously have my own
opinion, but prefer people start from a science-based understanding of the
technology and then most often come to the same conclusions on their own.

  One of the first authors I met back in 2001 who was pro-DRM at the
microphone in only a few years flipped positions to considering DRM to be
Orwellian and something all authors should be opposed to.

"This entire publication copyright © Ron Koster, 2016. No part of this
> document or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any
> form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise)
> without the prior written permission of the author and publisher. Cover
> art and the portrait of Shakespeare are original artwork by Ron Koster.
> Copyright © Ron Koster, 2016."

  Pretty boilerplate, although you may want to think about the "author and
publisher" part.  If you are going through a publisher then it will be
their lawyers and notices that end up on your work.  If you come to the
conclusion that you don't need a publisher, then you don't need to mention

  Many have suggested that it is not the job of the author to educate
people on copyright as part of their notice.  This is a clarification that
for the aspects of the work that is covered by copyright that they need to
communicate with the copyright holder to get permission.   What it doesn't
say is that the things which copyright doesn't cover doesn't need
permission, regardless of what your notice says -- but that isn't your job
to include that in the notice.

As rather disheartening as that latter is, is there any point (or
> legitimacy) to still including a copyright notice with regard to "this
> entire publication," if only for the HTML/CSS coding and overall design
> of it? Or, from what you were saying elsewhere, do I not even have any
> real claim on that, either?

  See above -- it's up to you.   Some people suggest using clarifying words
such as "for any activities regulated by copyright, written permission from
the copyright holder is required" to clarify both that you aren't trying to
lay claim to things you can't (without trying to get into details about
what that is), and that any copyrightable contribution on your part is not
dedicated to the public domain or openly licensed.

  If you aren't going with a Creative Commons style license, keeping it
simple is best.  You'll note that they started with per-country licenses
only to try to create an internationalized license.  Copyright law is
different in each country, even those under the same treaties, so it really
isn't an easy thing to know what copyright does and doesn't regulate for
any specific audience for your work.

If you're curious, if in anyway it would help you to understand what
> I've been doing with this ebook, I'd be happy to send you a copy
> (directly to your email address -- I realize I can't/shouldn't send
> attachments to the whole list, of course). It's about 10 megs in size.

  Thank you for the offer.  I think I have a good sense of what you are
trying to do, and strongly suspect there will be some copyrightable and
some non-copyrightable aspects of the work.   You don't need to have
exclusivity on the whole thing in order to have copyright in parts.  You
just want to have thought about which is which before engaging in any
dispute with someone (legal action, or otherwise).

 From a number of websites that discuss that particular film version
> (i.e. the 1925 Universal one, with Lon Chaney -- not any other, later
> film versions of the story, of course), apparently Universal
> "inexplicably" and "stupidly" let their copyright lapse back in the
> 1950s -- I guess the rules for copyright must have been VERY different
> back then, nothing at all like "life plus 70 years" or anything like
> that -- and thus now anyone can just go out and duplicate/share/sell it
> as they please.

  This is US copyright.  They only joined Bern's life+50 in 1976, and
before that had registration and renewal requirements.

  It's not "inexplicable" or "stupid" to not have renewed.  Copyright
renewal wasn't free, and the reality is that the commercial value of works
are pretty much gone long before copyright expires.  This is the nonsense
of "life plus 70" in the US, where alternatives are far more appropriate.

Many in this forum have suggested a short unregistered term of copyright
(say, 5 or 10 years) and then a registration and renewal process (possibly
every 10 years) for up to 5 renewals would be far more appropriate.  This
would create a database of commercially available works to facilitate
licensing, and clarify that the vast majority of works (amateur, orphan,
etc) are not regulated by copyright.

Thanks so much, once again, Russell! This has all been VERY enlightening
> for me -- regardless of my disappointment! That's not your fault, of
> course (ha ha).

  I've had people try to blame me for copyright not being BIGGER given I'm
an author who has spent decades trying to suggest copyright be more nuanced
and offer control to authors rather than intermediaries.

  I strongly believe that copyright is to creativity like water is to
humans: too little and you dehydrate and die, too much and you drown and

  Unfortunately most intermediaries (collective societies, content delivery
platform owners, etc) want to throw more water at drowning authors, and
kill us off.
Discuss mailing list

Read: [next] [previous] message
List: [newer] [older] articles

You need to subscribe to post to this forum.
XML feed