Monday, March 05, 2012


I've been a fan of Pragmatic Programmers and their books for a long time. I buy their books directly, both to maximize their revenue, and to get eBooks without DRM.

Recently I noticed this at the bottom of one of my order emails. (I'm not sure how long they've been including it.)
Please don't put these eBooks on the 'net or on file-sharing networks. Sometimes folks do this accidentally by downloading into a shared directory.
I don't have any problem with the "don't post these eBooks on the 'net" part. But I really question the file-sharing part - not the legality of it, since I'm no expert on that, but the "morality" of it. Even the 'net part needs to be more specific - I put my books on the "net" - into Dropbox so I can access them from various devices and locations, but they're not public. Of course, maybe that's not "legal" either.

If I bought a paper copy of the book, and put it on the bookshelf in our company coffee room, I don't think I'd be breaking any laws. But I'm not supposed to do the same thing with a digital copy.

Potentially, multiple people could simultaneously read the digital copy. But I have trouble getting anyone to read any books. The chances of multiple people reading the same book at the same time is slim to nil.

Note: If my staff needs regular access to a book, I have no problem with buying extra copies.

I always thought Prag Prog were more "enlightened" than this. But obviously someone there couldn't resist the urge to "wag their finger" at us.

In some ways, Amazon, despite their DRM, is more flexible. I could buy Kindle books on a company account, and set up multiple Kindle readers (either devices or software) associated with that account. I don't know if Amazon would regard that as entirely legitimate, but they allow it. (Albeit, intended for "families".)

Publishers want to have their cake and eat it too - they want the benefits of digital - no printing, no inventory, no shipping, and at the same time, they want to take away all the traditional rights we had with paper books to share and lend. Some eBooks are now more expensive than the hardcover - what's the story with that? Who are the pirates now?

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