An interesting point that was brought up in class last night was the ownership of e-books and downloadable music. This is not something I had actually considered since I am not in the habit of considering legal ownership of the things that I listen to or read. Perhaps this is because it is logically engrained in us that when we take a physical book out of the library it still belongs to the library because it is usually covered in their labels and funny plastic covering. The issue comes when we receive information in different formats from the library or online sources.
Many libraries nowadays are providing e-books and music on CDs. There are several online sites providing downloadable e-books too so what exactly is the ownership of these items?
Let's take the music in libraries first:
There is nothing to stop you from copying your own CD onto your own computer so that you can transfer it onto your iPOD etc. (note the emphasis on 'you'). This is legal since you have purchased the music and you are merely shifting that information from one medium to another and are not creating a new product. If you were burning the CD onto the computer in order to give a copy to someone else then that is illegal.
In libraries, however, if someone takes out a CD and burns it onto their iPOD, computer etc. then they are acting illegally since they have created a new product for which they have not paid.
I do not pretend to understand the legality surrounding this but I think I have accurately covered the basics above...well, enough for me to know that I shouldn't be copying library CDs! I feel that an image of Justin Timberlake as Napster founder, Shawn Fanning is completely justified.
|The Social Network|
What about e-books?
Well, e-books, as with music, are not owned by those who download them but are only licensed to be used by that person. So when someone downloads a book they do not own that book but own the license to read it. The Ikea quote above came about during a discussion concerning a particularly interesting and ironic story from 2009 concerning Amazon's Kindle and Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm. These were made available for download via Amazon by a company who did not have the right to do so and so Amazon remotely removed these e-books from their customers' Kindles. (They had sent out a warning e-mail so it wasn't quite as freaky as it could have been). This highlights the lack of authority the user has over their licensed products and unnerving accessibility of Amazon to your data.
|Not sure how popular Big Brother is over here but it was big in the UK|