Adobe Unsafely Gathering eBook Readers’ Data (via @digibookworld)

Well we all know my stance on DRM, and because DRM needs a server somewhere to check that you’re not a criminal for buying legal content, it also allows the DRM provider (in this case Adobe) to do whatever it feels like, really.

From the article:

Adobe confirms some details of recent reports by The Digital Reader and Ars Technica that Adobe Digital Editions 4, the latest version of the widely used ebook platform, is gathering extensive data on its users’ ebook reading habits.

According Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader, “Adobe is gathering data on the ebooks that have been opened, which pages were read, and in what order.”

But that’s ok, your private informatio is being passed back across the internet, totally unencrypted:

Adobe acknowledges that transmitting unencrypted data could pose a security risk: “In terms of the transmission of the data collected, Adobe is in the process of working on an update to address this issue.” Adobe says further that more information on when that update will be in place and of what it will consist is forthcoming.


Y’know, because securely passing your victims’ usage data wasn’t a top priority when this system was put in place years ago, apparently.

I guess it’s not an issue unless you read the same sex scene in Plains of Passage over and over again, and who would do that, right?

Once again, the only ‘customers’ not adversely affected by DRM are the pirates.

Read it here:

Why I Canceled My Amazon Prime Account (Following Amazon’s Spamming of My Inbox) (via @HuffPostBooks, HT: @katengh)

I almost don’t have to add any commentary to this, because I also have cranky-faced opinions about Amazon, mostly revolving around their DRM and author-exclusivity contracts, neither of which are of any benefit to anyone except Amazon’s attempts to become a publishing monopsony.

Brooke Warner says:

For those of you who follow publishing news, or who are KDP authors, you know that on August 9, Amazon sent a very bizarre email to all of its KDP customers, which has been dissected best, in my opinion, here and here.

You can read the full email here, but this post is really about why I canceled my Amazon Prime account the next day.

Read her account and reasoning here:

Adobe to Require New Epub DRM in July, Expects to Abandon Existing Users (via @TomRennie, HT: Tim_Coronel)

The article should be titled, ‘Adobe tells Readers to Eat Shit and Die’.

The tl;dr version is that Adobe is going to start pushing for ebook vendors to provide support for [their] new DRM in March, and when July rolls Adobe is going to force the ebook vendors to stop supporting [their] older DRM. (Hadrien GardeurPaul Durrant, and Martyn Daniels concur on this interpretation.)

Look, I’m known for my resistance to DRM, so I am really not trying to say, ‘I told you so’, but I fucking well told you so. DRM is a failure for everyone except the companies selling the DRM tools and here is just more evidence.

One thing Adobe seems to have missed is that there are tens of millions of ebook readers on the market that support the older DRM but will probably never be upgraded to the new DRM. Sony and Pocketbook, for example, have released a number of models over the past 5 or so years, most of which have since been discontinued.

Your lesson today is: just stop buying DRM’d ebooks. Yes, this is a problem if you buy from Amazon and iTunes. Tough. Fucking. Shit.

Just stop it. Stop it and they will eventually stop, too.

Read it and weep:

How Copyright Made Mid-Century Books Vanish (via @theatlantic, HT: jenny8lee)

I believe there are serious problems with modern copyright laws, problems that have been exacerbated by an inability to keep legislation up to date with modern technology.

This report by Rebecca Rosen, however, discusses another effect of copyright:

[Paul J. Heald at the University of Illinois] has now finalized his research […]: “Copyright correlates significantly with the disappearance of works rather than with their availability,” Heald writes. “Shortly after works are created and proprietized, they tend to disappear from public view only to reappear in significantly increased numbers when they fall into the public domain and lose their owners.”

Read the whole article here, it’s quite interesting (and disappointing and not entirely surprising):

And while we’re on the topic, here is a discussion from the Columbia Journalism Review about whether copyright law works at all, with an interesting research finding:

In one experiment, [a] group of subjects write three-line haikus, to be entered in a contest with a prize of $50. These authors had the option of selling their poems (and the chance to win $50) to another group, the bidders. Both the authors and the bidders were asked to value how much a particular haiku was worth.

It turned out that, perhaps not surprisingly, the creators of these tiny works of art valued them more than the people who were thinking of buying them. “Our data revealed that Authors valued their work more than twice as high as Bidders ($20.05 versus $9.21),” Buccafusco and Sprigman wrote.

That doesn’t surprise me at all, especially when we look at early eBook prices compared to what readers said they would pay for them.

The takeaway, for Buccafusco and Sprigman, is that markets for creative work are not nearly as efficient as IP law assumes—and that the argument that more protection is needed to ensure innovation might not be quite right. “The work I do with Chris suggests that we don’t know as much about IP as we think we do,” says Sprigman. “It’s been a faith-based policy for a long time. A lot of people in my field are trying to uncover what IP laws actually do and what they don’t.”

The takeaway for me is summarised here:

Part of what empirical research can show is how finer-tuned laws might work better. Not all creative industries work the same way—making a major motion picture requires more up-front investment than writing a poem; computer software might have a shorter shelf-life than a bestselling book.

Read that article in full here:

Piracy News (on account of International Talk Like a Pirate Day) (via @torrentfreak, HT: @idealaw)

A piratical link for you today. Warner Bros (back in June) said that pirates showed them what consumers want. No surprises there, really.

“Generally speaking, we view piracy as a proxy of consumer demand,” Kaplan notes.

“Accordingly, enforcement related efforts are balanced with looking at ways to adjust or develop business models to take advantage of that demand by offering fans what they are looking for when they are looking for it.”

The above shows that Warner Bros. has started to treat movie pirates as a market signal and an indication that legal offerings are not yet up to par. Or to put it differently, the movie studio believes that they can beat piracy by competing with it and providing a better user experience.

The book industry seems to be adapting much more rapidly to the notion that legal, easy and affordable access to content is the solution to unauthorised content sharing. Having said that, the indisputable market leader Amazon is increasingly putting exclusivity constraints on its new services. For readers who don’t want to buy into Amazon’s service (eg. me) this creates an artificial market demand, which is always met through piracy. Until it becomes possible to buy content in the format you need, piracy will continue to be a problem.

Read the original article here:

DRM = Discrimination (via @visfic, HT: @stuffedO)

The good news is that modern technology helps readers with a vision disability:

Luckily, we live in an era of technology where the world of literature should be easily accessible. People are able to read electronic text with the assistance of text-to-speech technology. This is a pretty basic aspect of life with a print disability in the 21st century. There are many varied programs available from those on your desktop or laptop, to your mp3 player and phone. These programs fit a range of needs and the world of reading is at everyone’s fingertips. Thank goodness we live in the future.

As you’ve guessed from the title, though, restrictive anti-consumer media locks hurt these readers the most.

The vast majority of ebooks available for purchase, however, have DRM enabled. Amazon is the biggest culprit and disappointment in my life. There are so many books now available in electronic format taunting me from the Amazon store.

Do read on here:

DRM for e-books – Repeating history instead of learning from it (via @MyFDL)

Look. It’s possible that I will never stop yelling at people about how DRM is expensive and doesn’t work, which is basically the business definition of ‘waste of time’. Until that time, I will continue to present you with evidence.

User ‘danps’ (sorry, I tried but couldn’t easily find any more attribution information), discusses how the publishing industry seemingly hasn’t learned anything from other media industries (this argument extends to the movie industry too, but that’s the same argument for another day):

Listeners hated DRM because it restricted their ability to enjoy the music they paid for. Towards the end of the last decade businesses began to realize that DRM could be a headache for them as well, so eventually they wised up. By the end of 2011 all the major music stores were DRM free.

Short version: It was a hassle and there were some growing pains, but in the end the industry figured out how to deliver its product in a way consumers were happy to pay for. Lessons learned, all’s well, hooray!


The lessons haven’t been learned as widely as some of us hoped; the book industry seems to have spent the last fifteen years in a state of suspended animation. It is in the process of making exactly the same kinds of mistakes the music industry was making a decade ago.

Danps describes his recent experience with a Barry Eisler sale on Amazon and comments:

The book industry isn’t there yet; it’s at odds with its customers. Readers want to be able to read the books they buy, publishers want locked down exclusives, and creators (even forward thinking ones like Eisler) are left to navigate those waters as best they can.

Read the rest here: