The e-Book User’s Bill of Rights

After last week’s announcement that publisher HarperCollins is putting a cap on the number of times their e-books can be checked out from OverDrive, I’ve been even angrier than I usually am about the way publishers and distributors screw consumers and users of the rights they have with non-digital content. One of the main reasons why I don’t think e-books will make bound books obsolete any time soon is because bound books are so much freer in use than e-books. You can’t use e-books on whatever device you want without using some third-party software (and sometimes circumventing DRM). You can’t lend e-books for however long you’d like. You can’t resell or donate e-books. In many cases, you don’t even really own e-books, you just pay for the licensing to read them.

So I was very happy to read Sarah Houghton-Jan‘s post this morning of an e-book user’s bill of rights she created with Andy Woodward. I don’t think this bill of rights is the end of the discussion, but the beginning. Luckily, she’s released it into the public domain, so I’ll reprint the entire blog post (as she’s asked people to) and hope the discussion continues. Libraries and e-book users can’t just shut up and take what corporations are offering. We have to fight against this money-grubbing insanity.

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.



Why Libraries Kick Ass

I’m writing this to participate in the Louisville Free Public Library blogathon, to raise awareness (and hopefully some money) for the Louisville Free Public Library, which was recently hit with flash floods, dumping over four feet of water into the library and causing over a million dollars in damages.

Why did I donate money to the library? Why should you? It’s not because I’m a librarian. I became a librarian because I think libraries kick ass, not the other way around.

Libraries kick ass because they are a public service, free to all, centered around literacy, information, education and entertainment. Libraries, provide free books, CDs, DVDs, video games, newspapers and magazines, microfiche, databases and other resources to public communities. Libraries provide activities, meeting spaces and internet access to the public. I really believe libraries are essential to a community.

So please, donate as much as you can to the Louisville Free Public Library, either in the name of the Library Society of the World or directly to the Louisville Free Public Library Foundation. But please help out in some way, because we all need our libraries.


Because I am a huge geek, one of my big inspirations for the naming & iconography of the Library Society of the World was a comic book superhero group like the Justice Society of America. But in the real world, we’re not superheroes, we’re just regular people doing our best in life.

Still, there are times when I’m particularly proud to be associated with the LSW, and this is one of those times. My fellow carping nerdboy Steve Lawson has started a drive to collect money to donate to the Louisville Free Public Library, which has recently been hit by disastrous flash flooding. I’m thrilled that Steve has taken the initiative to do this and to do it in the name of the LSW. I’m also thrilled that people have actually been donating. I’ll admit, as a public librarian in Kansas, I don’t exactly have loads of money to throw around, but I did make a small donation.

Please help out the Louisville Free Public Library in any way you can, either by donating through PayPal, sending a check to the Library Society of the World Clubhouse (PO Box 7893, Colorado Springs CO 80933) or sending a check directly to:

The Library Foundation
Attn: Flood
301 York St.
Louisville, KY 40203
(502) 574-1709

I know this is extraordinarily corny to say, but you really don’t have to be a superhero to do good in the world.

Moving and Shaking in Kansas (& Elsewhere)

Congratulations to fellow Kansan David Lee King, who has been named as one of Library Journal‘s Movers and Shakers for 2008. David is doing amazing stuff at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (and inspiring others at the library to do amazing stuff), as well as blogging and speaking nationally about library progress. Thanks for representing Kansas progress in Libraryland, David!

Congratulations to all of the other 2008 Movers and Shakers, including the Lady of the Rebel Yell, Michelle Boule, New Jersey Transformer (more than meets the eye!) Peter Bromberg and LibraryThing mastermind Tim Spalding. Well done, all of you!

Playing the Controversy Card

I’m going to chime in a bit late here to the heated conversation about Orson Scott Card getting this year’s Margaret A. Edwards Award to say this:

1. From what I’ve read of Orson Scott Card’s publicly-stated views, I find his beliefs and opinions reprehensible.

2. I first read Ender’s Game for a class in library school. I thought it sucked.

Other than that, I’m not sure I have any strong feelings about him getting an award from the ALA.