The copyright controversy transposes into the world of digital books

World - Digital reading devices are flooding the market. So users are increasingly starting to feel the restrictions imposed by copyright and digital rights management. These restrictions could even delay the use of digital books in education.

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World - Digital reading devices are flooding the market. So users are increasingly starting to feel the restrictions imposed by copyright and digital rights management. These restrictions could even delay the use of digital books in education.

Here is an example to illustrate the present situation. If you decide to purchase a Kindle digital reader (marketed by Amazon), your books, to be compatible with your device, will need to be purchased from

You may, by chance, decide that ultimately you would like to have a Nook (digital player marketed by Barnes & Noble).

Will you be able to transfer your digital books from Amazon to your new Nook? Can you lend your friends the books you downloaded to your computer? The answer to these questions is: no.

“Having books on a reader and not having access to them if you change readers is a problem. It is also a major problem in the market now, ”explained Jay Diskey, general manager of the school division of Association of American Publishers (AAP).

Comparing what can and cannot be done with certain readers can be daunting. Still, the rules are simple: If you buy a player other than the iPad fromApple, you are closing doors, at least for now.

Kindle users should purchase their eBooks from Amazon, Nook's from Barnes & Noble, and eBooks from Sony Reader on Sony's digital bookstore. Either way, once you've purchased an eBook from one of these three bookstores, you can't read it on a competing reader.

IPad users, however, have access to Kindle books by downloading the app that Amazon created to read its books on iPhones and iPod touch. Obviously, books purchased from Apple's digital bookstore are not compatible with Kindle, Nook and Sony Reader.

According to a recent post on the official Barnes & Noble blog by Paul Hochman, head of content and social media, the company is in the process of developing an application for the iPad.

Digital rights management
According to Anne-Marie Deitering, teacher at Oregon State University, digital rights management (DRM) is a major problem in the digital book market. “It is unthinkable to provide this kind of content without fighting DRM issues,” she explains.

A pilot project started last summer at this university. The institution bought six Kindle. Due to the popularity of the Kindle, and also because the students wanted to try them all, the University decided that the Kindle was going to be the perfect device for the project. Following the purchase of the six Kindles, the bookstore immediately had 60 requests for use. The University now has 12 Kindle, which it lends to students, which contain over 100 digital books.

The use of digital readers is problematic in the education world because publishers are reluctant to make their textbooks available on a digital platform, according to Ms. Deitering.

“Part of the rationale for the pilot was to understand how to handle this content given the restrictions in Amazon's DRM policy,” she says. She added that “the University did not want to stick with just one reader in order to accommodate students who already had, or who were planning to purchase, another digital reader. The objective was to have a bookstore containing various formats of digital books ”.

Pace University was one of the many schools that tried out the Kindle DX last fall. “The general impression of the students is that DRM is a limiting factor. That's one of the reasons they wouldn't buy a Kindle (now that the trial is over), ”said James Stenerson, communications teacher at Pace University.

Cushing Academy, a private boarding school in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, made headlines last year when several of the books in its library were replaced with electronic versions. The school purchased 68 Kindle, 8 Sony Reader and 101 iRiver Story for the students. The last two are able to read the ePub format (standardized open format for electronic books). However, this is not the case for the Kindle.

Thomas Corbett, managing director of the Fisher-Watkins library, believes that the limits imposed by digital rights management are "an inherent risk in our approach." "Sometimes we have to buy the same content twice, once to replace the book with an electronic version and a second time so that it can be used by one of our 'non-Kindle users'," he notes. . He adds, however, that the school is trying to "minimize this double purchase by encouraging young people to use the Kindle for fun and other media for content related to the program."

Whose fault is it?
According to David Pogue, techno columnist for the New York Times, the problem of digital rights management mirrors the controversy surrounding the downloading of music.

The problems with copying have not changed. Publishers are terrified of piracy. David Pogue, himself an author, admits to being terrified of piracy too. “I can't imagine my books, which are my main source of income, published on hacking sites and available for free,” Pogue wrote recently.

According to the Association of American Publishers, it is not the publishers' fault. “Publishers are the intermediary between copyright owners and users,” says Jay Diskey. “For example, let's say you're a publisher and you have a collection of children's books that includes a hundred authors who have their own copyright. It is not because these books are transformed into an electronic version that the holders of copyrights waive these rights, ”he concludes.

As the editor suggests Mcgraw-hill, the conditions for sharing and transferring digital books to the various readers are not the result of requests from publishers or authors. Rather, it is the creators of readers who make the policies. They have a financial advantage in keeping consumers at a distance from their competitors.

Corynne McSherry, from Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), argues that digital rights management "puts the power in the hands of the companies that control standards rather than those of authors and publishers."

The more readers multiply, the more users are forced to make a difficult choice, which can have long-term consequences. Luckily, there are new things on the market that help alleviate the problem like the iPad.

“The iPad is much more than a digital player. We chose it strategically and we no longer have to plan to switch from reader to reader, ”says Kary L. Coleman, director of media relations at Seton Hill University.

Google will launch a digital bookstore called Google Éditions this summer. Books purchased by users can be read on any platform connected to the Internet. The digital books will be compatible with the Kindle and the ePub format.

Translation and adaptation of the article eBook restrictions vex users published on May 11, 2010 on the eSchoolNews website.

By Marie-Christine Leblanc

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École branchée
The École branchée, a non-profit organization, is your professional development partner in connection with digital competence in education. We believe that education must be able to benefit from current educational and technological advances to better meet the increasingly diverse needs of learners and promote their success, today and for the rest of their lives. We work there through our professional information services, continuing education and the creation of educational tools.

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