The eBook User’s Bill of Rights

This is from Sarah Houghton-Jan and Andy Woodworth – take a peek (I’m guessing this will be all over the librarian parts of the web very soon).

They have crafted an eBook User’s Bill of Rights, and it’s good. Honestly, the only thing I’m not sure about here (and I might talk more about it later) is the right of first sale thing – that’s a hold-over from actually owning a physical object … and in the digital content world … well, you don’t actually own anything physical.

Otherwise, Sarah and Andy did a great job. in my mind, this Bill of Rights works for librarians AND authors – the idea of sharing and distribution is inherent in this document.

Does it work for publishers? I think it does. And it’s certainly a good place to start the conversation. What do you think?


The eBook User’s Bill of Rights is a statement of the basic freedoms that should be granted to all eBook users.

The eBook User’s Bill of Rights

Every eBook user should have the following rights:

  • the right to use eBooks under guidelines that favor access over proprietary limitations
  • the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software the user chooses
  • the right to annotate, quote passages, print, and share eBook content within the spirit of fair use and copyright
  • the right of the first-sale doctrine extended to digital content, allowing the eBook owner the right to retain, archive, share, and re-sell purchased eBooks

I believe in the free market of information and ideas.

I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can flourish when their works are readily available on the widest range of media. I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can thrive when readers are given the maximum amount of freedom to access, annotate, and share with other readers, helping this content find new audiences and markets. I believe that eBook purchasers should enjoy the rights of the first-sale doctrine because eBooks are part of the greater cultural cornerstone of literacy, education, and information access.

Digital Rights Management (DRM), like a tariff, acts as a mechanism to inhibit this free exchange of ideas, literature, and information. Likewise, the current licensing arrangements mean that readers never possess ultimate control over their own personal reading material. These are not acceptable conditions for eBooks.

I am a reader. As a customer, I am entitled to be treated with respect and not as a potential criminal. As a consumer, I am entitled to make my own decisions about the eBooks that I buy or borrow.

I am concerned about the future of access to literature and information in eBooks. I ask readers, authors, publishers, retailers, librarians, software developers, and device manufacturers to support these eBook users’ rights.

These rights are yours. Now it is your turn to take a stand. To help spread the word, copy this entire post, add your own comments, remix it, and distribute it to others. Blog it, Tweet it (#ebookrights), Facebook it, email it, and post it on a telephone pole.

To the extent possible under law, the person who associated CC0 with this work has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work

Questions that Need Answers

So, I’ve been reading the tweets, and talking to some people about the OverDrive/HarperCollins fiasco with ebooks – and it looks like there are quite a few questions that need to be answered. Here they are (please add the ones I’m missing):

  • HarperCollins: Why 26 checkouts/uses?
  • HarperCollins: Did you talk to libraries to come up worn that number? If so, which ones?
  • HarperCollins: Did you talk to any of your authors about this change? What did they say?
  • OverDrive: Why the secrecy in your letter? Why were you hiding HarperCollins’ name?
  • OverDrive: are there other publishers jumping at the bit to do this? If so, when will that hit?
  • OverDrive: Did you argue against this? Because you surely knew that libraries wouldn’t be fond of this idea.
  • OverDrive: My understanding is that this announcement went out as a PDF file to OverDrive partners. How come you didn’t publish this as a press release on your website? Again – shy the secrecy?

So – what other questions need answers here?

Let’s Play Rent-A-Book!

Imagine this, for a sec. What if a publisher … oh, heck – let’s just say HarperCollins … suddenly decided that yes, they were still going to let your library get books from them … but there was suddenly a catch. If too many library customers checked the book out, you’d need to pay more money! In essence, you’d need to actually pay for a single book … more than once.

“Well, David – that’s just silly talk” you might say.

Check this out – Overdrive sent out a Library Partner Update (link via the awesome Librarian by Day blog) to their “OverDrive Library Partners.” Here’s part of what it says:

“To provide you with the best options, we have been required to accept and accommodate new terms for eBook lending as established by certain publishers. Next week, OverDrive will communicate a licensing change from a publisher [update – it’s HarperCollins, according to Library Journal]  that, while still operating under the one-copy/one-user model, will include a checkout limit for each eBook licensed. Under this publisher’s requirement, for every new eBook licensed, the library (and the OverDrive platform) will make the eBook available to one customer at a time until the total number of permitted checkouts is reached [according to Library Journal, it’s 26 checkouts]. This eBook lending condition will be required of all eBook vendors or distributors offering this publisher’s titles for library lending (not just OverDrive).”

Then, from Library Journal – HarperCollins said this in a statement: “HarperCollins is committed to the library channel. We believe this change balances the value libraries get from our titles with the need to protect our authors and ensure a presence in public libraries and the communities they serve for years to come.”

So … HarperCollins is giving us a mere 26 checkouts per ebook … to protect its authors from … um … readers. Nice. Translation = we want more money.

But then, it gets even stranger. OverDrive continues:

“In addition, our publishing partners have expressed concerns regarding the card issuance policies and qualification of patrons who have access to OverDrive supplied digital content. Addressing these concerns will require OverDrive and our library partners to cooperate to honor geographic and territorial rights for digital book lending, as well as to review and audit policies regarding an eBook borrower’s relationship to the library (i.e. customer lives, works, attends school in service area, etc.). I can assure you OverDrive is not interested in managing or having any say in your library policies and issues. Select publisher terms and conditions require us to work toward their comfort that the library eBook lending is in compliance with publisher requirements on these topics.”

OK… So … you want to look at them, but not do anything with them? I’m missing something here, I think.

HarperCollins – what changed? We already have your print books in our libraries. To date, they have checked out WAY MORE than your ebooks (I’m sure this will eventually change, but still). But you have never attempted to do this silly rental thing with those books. Or asked us about our card issuance policies (which, for most of us, are readily available online – apparently a new concept for HarperCollins – assuming this was also a lovely HarperCollins initiative).

I get that OverDrive and individual publishers need to look to new funding models, or will need to eventually. But this? Well – it just seems weird to me.

What do you guys think?

Update – Further reading:

pic by Alex E. Proimos

5 Tips for Editing Videos

This is the third video in WebJunction’s three-part series of tips on how libraries can create better videos. Michael Porter and I host the series.

Make sure to visit WebJunction’s Video Group and add to the conversation and resources there.

This video provides 5 tips on editing videos:

  1. you already have editing software
  2. buy some entry level editing software
  3. make sure to pause
  4. talk to the camera
  5. better sound is huge

So go watch the video for some great entry-level tips on making video, and make sure to comment, too – either comment on this post, or (even better) go visit the WebJunction page for this video, and start a discussion there!

i-Microphone for the iPhone

**warning** the first part of this video is very quiet, and the last part is LOUD – don’t scare your office-mates!

I occasionally shoot video with my iPhone, and have noticed that the internal iPhone microphone really isn’t all that great. Which is one reason I don’t use the iPhone video feature more often – the audio it records for video varies pretty wildly. For me, anyway!

So when I saw a link to Amazon for the i-Microphone, I clicked and read. And bought.

It’s cheap – it’s listed at $25.99 at Amazon right now. And it’s LOUD. The manufacturer’s website claims the i-Microphone boosts the audio level “up to 12 dB louder” – and I believe them!

Check out the video I made (embedded in this post). For the first part of the video, I’m using the built-in iPhone mic. Then I plug in the i-Microphone … and you can suddenly hear me. There is a HUGE difference in levels. HUGE.

So – if you like to shoot videos (or record audio) with your iPhone (or pretty much any device that can use a headphone jack plugin for audio) – you might find the i-Microphone pretty darn useful.