[d at DCC] HarperCollins's decision to limit to 26 loans for eBooks
russell at flora.ca
Mon Mar 14 12:50:43 EDT 2011
I'm forwarding this letter I wrote to the head librarian of the
Ottawa Public Library who was interviewed by CBC this morning on the
radio. I'll leave people to search the news archives if they hadn't
heard about this issue yet.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: HarperCollins's decision to limit to 26 loans for eBooks
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 12:47:07 -0400
From: Russell McOrmond
Dear Barbara Clubb,
City Librarian and CEO
Copy to CBC's Ottawa Morning show.
I listened with interest to the interview this morning about the
decision by Harper Collins to only allow 26 loans for an eBook. I
believe it would be useful to discuss the wider implications of the
While this specific decision may have been made by the publisher, the
longer-term decision making power rests with the entity which manages
the keys to the relevant digital locks. In this instance that entity is
OverDrive, not the publishers.
Last Tuesday I was a witness in front of the Legislative Committee on
Bill C-32, where I described the technology in detail. (Links to
audio/video at http://BillC32.ca/5293 - transcripts available soon. My
speaking notes are attached at http://BillC32.ca/5278 )
These technologies make use of two digital locks, not one.
The lock on the content is there to ensure that the digital file can
only be accessed with the specific brands of access technology which
have been granted the keys necessary to unlock the content.
There is then a lock placed on the hardware and/or software where the
owner of the hardware is very specifically denied keys. The purpose of
this technology is to treat the owner as a threat, and to lock them out
of what they own.
The ability to unlock the locked content is tied to non-owner locked
There are many people who are unwilling and/or unable to use this
non-owner locked hardware/software. Electronic book borrowing is then
denied to these people from a growing list of libraries which do not
offer technology neutral versions of the content to patrons. As more
and more books are only made available electronically, more books will
be unavailable to these patrons.
While I am glad that the OPL has made note of this issue, the issue
isn't with the number 26. This is a symptom of the problem, not the
underlying problem. The problem is that technical measures alleging to
protect copyright are being abused to rewrite or replace existing laws
including contract, competition, consumer protection, copyright,
e-commerce, privacy, property and trade law.
You have noticed a specific contractual obligation that you don't
agree with, but unless we fight back against this radical change in law
we (authors, publishers, libraries, library patrons and other book
readers) may not be in a negotiating position to have any influence on
these types of decisions in the future.
I am willing to speak with you on this issue in more detail. I can
give the same presentation I did at committee, or you can watch the
archived recording and then ask me in more detail how this issue affects
the various stakeholders including libraries and library patrons.
[other details removed -- cut and pasted from
Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>
Please help us tell the Canadian Parliament to protect our property
rights as owners of Information Technology. Sign the petition!
"The government, lobbied by legacy copyright holders and hardware
manufacturers, can pry my camcorder, computer, home theatre, or
portable media player from my cold dead hands!"
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