LJNDawson.com, Consulting to the Book Publishing Industry
Book Publishing Industry Consultant

Are you buying or leasing ebooks?

Via Peter Brantley, an examination on Gizmodo:

If you buy a regular old book, CD or DVD, you can turn around and loan it to a friend, or sell it again. The right to pass it along is called the "first sale" doctrine. Digital books, music and movies are a different story though. Four students at Columbia Law School's Science and Technology Law Review looked at the particular issue of reselling and copying e-books downloaded to Amazon's Kindle or the Sony Reader, and came up with answers to a fundamental question: Are you buying a crippled license to intellectual property when you download, or are you buying an honest-to-God book?

Good question. And the answer appears to be, you're buying a license to the content. You can resell your physical device, with all the content loaded on it - but the doctrine of first sale seems only to apply to content embedded in physical media:

You'd have to sell the physical media where the "original" download is stored?a hard drive or the actual Kindle or Sony Reader.

Yet another instance where law has to catch up to technology.
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