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Stallman: eBooks Are Attacking Our Freedoms 510

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-really-what-isn't dept.
Barence submitted note of a paper written by RMS called The Danger of eBooks saying "Free software guru Richard Stallman claims consumers should reject eBooks until they 'respect our freedoms.' He highlights the DRM embedded in eBooks sold by Amazon as an example of such restrictions, citing the infamous case of Amazon wiping copies of George Orwell's 1984 from users' Kindles without permission. He also rails against Amazon for forcing people to identify themselves before buying eBooks. His suggested remedy? Distributing tax funds to authors based on their popularity, or 'designing players so users can send authors anonymous voluntary payments.'"
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Stallman: eBooks Are Attacking Our Freedoms

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  • I sort of agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jack Malmostoso (899729) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @08:56AM (#36373612)

    While generally I don't share the same extreme views of RMS I must say that I am finding very hard to warm up to ebooks.
    I've been considering a Kindle for a while now, but the idea of not being able to *really* own my book is holding me back.
    Additionally, I suppose one could accept the restrictive terms of ebooks if the price was substantially lower than their dead tree counterparts, but this does not seem to be the case.
    If I'm going to spend my hard earned cash, I prefer to have the physical book mine to read, re-read, share and lend.

    • Re:I sort of agree (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @09:11AM (#36373770) Journal
      As is often the case, RMS is being sufficiently blunt, and proposing a set of possibly-unworkable solutions sufficiently far from the status quo, that he gives off that "extreme" vibe.

      As is also often the case, it is pretty hard to argue with his thesis: Your traditional B&M bookstores, while hardly bastions of cypherpunk anonymity, were perfectly happy to take cash for whatever you felt like buying, and had neither the time nor the margins to use their cameras for anything other than trying to deter shoplifters.

      Your online booksellers, Amazon etc, up the ante a bit by tracking your browsing of their inventory quite closely, and by virtue of the fact that(while this isn't impossible to get around, prepaid debit cards, and the like) the basic coin of the realm is credit/debit cards, generally establish an excellent correlation between buying history and buyer ID.

      Ebooks up it still further, since they are tied directly to an account, and a CC, and frequently use(sometimes weak; but illegal in the US to break) DRM to control what you can and cannot do with what you 'own'.

      Ebook readers up it still further, in that they can, and are known to, track not only your inspection of the inventory and eventual purchase; but your reading habits. The ones with location capabilities(such as all whispernet kindles), are known to report user location data to the mothership as well.

      Obviously, most of these measures are somewhat slackly implemented, and a dedicated privacy-enthused individual with some time and technical skill can likely circumvent at least some of them; but that doesn't really change the fact that there has been an overwhelming increase(largely private sector and ebook driven) in the amount of transparency and control exercised over the population of readers. That simply cannot be usefully denied.
      • Re:I sort of agree (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) <(ten.3dlrow) (ta) (ojom)> on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @09:51AM (#36374244) Homepage

        I wouldn't say his idea of the government collecting and distributing money to authors based on popularity is particularly extreme. That is basically what the music industry bodies who collect royalties do, only they make it so you have to join their little club to be eligible to receive. In Canada the government taxes blank CDs and pays the money to the artists via the industry body, so all RMS is saying is that we should cut out the corrupt middle man and just pay people for their work directly.

        That seems like the only reasonable solution to me. Make all electronic mediums free and compensate from taxes. People can still sell physical copies, and trying to sell pirate material would still be illegal, but copying for private use would no longer be copyright infringement. Using any sane estimation of "lost" sales per pirate copy the tax would be pretty low.

        • Re:I sort of agree (Score:4, Insightful)

          by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @10:26AM (#36374696) Homepage

          I wouldn't say his idea of the government collecting and distributing money to authors based on popularity is particularly extreme.

          No, but it's still stupid in that all you do is pay people according to their popularity, and give no consideration to what works are actually being read by specific people.

          That is basically what the music industry bodies who collect royalties do, only they make it so you have to join their little club to be eligible to receive. In Canada the government taxes blank CDs and pays the money to the artists via the industry body, so all RMS is saying is that we should cut out the corrupt middle man and just pay people for their work directly.

          Again, they're paying that out based on 'popularity' and what essentially amounts to record sales reports ... so, all of the money goes to Lady GaGa and Justin Bieber.

          If I'm not listening to either of them, the levy amounts to a subsidy of successful artists in proportion to their success ... to me, that makes no sense. I explicitly don't listen to those artists who are going to benefit from this formula.

          Hell, the formula provided by the corrupt middle-men, so why should I trust them?

          That seems like the only reasonable solution to me. Make all electronic mediums free and compensate from taxes. People can still sell physical copies, and trying to sell pirate material would still be illegal, but copying for private use would no longer be copyright infringement. Using any sane estimation of "lost" sales per pirate copy the tax would be pretty low.

          How is this reasonable? You tax me on the assumption I'm ripping you off, and then compensate random people based on a formula of how successful they have been and assume that they are being 'ripped off' in proportion to all of the moneys collected.

          In the case of the 'tax' on blank media ... what if I'm not using the blank media for anything but backing up my own legal, digital information? WTF am I doing paying a tax to support artists if the media isn't being used to copy their stuff?

          I support the artists I like by buying their fucking albums ... why should my money go to support some band I can't stand? Because some stupid formula says that that artist deserves 3% of the net revenues of all music because they accounted for 3% of sales in stores? And if you're taking it out of any other tax pool ... why should my parents, who don't buy music, be subsidizing artists?

          I just don't get the logic behind this "compensate the most popular ones" ... it's stupid when the music industry proposes it, and it's stupid to do it for books.

        • I think that some subset of the American media market has compulsory licensing and a collecting agency(ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) as well, it covers 'public performance' or such if memory serves.

          The general issue that seems to crop up with these collecting entities is that they are efficient and enthusiastic when it comes to extraction(whether it be shaking people down directly, lobbying for taxes on recording media, or whatever); but suddenly find themselves strangely helpless when it comes to paying out to tho
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by The0retical (307064)

      I travel a lot and I read a lot so I've also been eyeing an ereader for quite some time. Until recently I've pretty much refused to buy one because I send paperbacks back and forth with my father after one of us gets done with the book and the idea of DRM offends me on pretty much every level. I also read quite a bit of sci-fi, specifically from the publisher Baen, and was unable to find any of that specific publishers books on Amazon or BN. After some searching I found that Baen does offer Ebooks for a cou

      • Baen are fantastic if you like that kind of thing. They're also republishing the whole of Poul Anderson's Technic Series, both in print and as eBooks. If you like that kind of thing, I'd highly recommend buying them.

        I bought an eReader for exactly your reasons -- I travel a lot for work. It's much nicer carrying something that weighs less than 250g around with me and has a few hundred books on it, than it is carrying around five or ten paperbacks.

        • In addition to Baen, there are a fair number of stores online that sell ebooks without any DRM. (For at least some of their catalog.) My favorite is Fictionwise [fictionwise.com]. (Look for 'Multiformat Ebooks'.)

          I think Stallman would have been better to highlight and point out those stores, and encourage people to use them.

    • by xtracto (837672)

      Solution:
      1. Buy eBook in a restricted format
      2. Download "free" format from here [library.nu]
      3. Profit

      eBooks is a technology and can be used to improve the status quo. But of course it also can be missused to restrict consumer's freedom

      • Re:I sort of agree (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @09:26AM (#36373928) Homepage

        That's a vote for DRM though.

        1. Can't find eBook in a non-restricted format
        2. Download for free
        3. Profit

        It doesn't matter if the industry reacts by piling on more DRM though. Someone who isn't me, i.e. the consumers who accept DRM get screwed, and I get a superior free product.
        Zero tolerance on DRM!

    • "but the idea of not being able to *really* own my book is holding me back."

      I really own my kindle books, but that's because I have a USB cable, a basic understanding of filesystems, and an immunity to the ridiculous paranoia that runs around places like Slashdot.

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      Additionally, I suppose one could accept the restrictive terms of ebooks if the price was substantially lower than their dead tree counterparts, but this does not seem to be the case.

      This is it in a nutshell for me. I can buy most major books in mass-market paperback form for $7-8 after they've been out a short while, and printing cost is a huge portion of that price.

      If their profit margin is $3-4 on a paper copy, there's no way I'm going to spend $10 on a digital copy that will likely not be around nearly as long (AND requires a $100+ investment in hardware just to use them). I'm personally willing to spend $2 to $3 on an ebook. Anything more and I'm not going to bother. I tend to

    • by Kjella (173770)

      I guess it turns out for me the answer is "it depends". I've found that there's little fiction that is so good I actually want to read it twice, it's mystery and trying to guess how the plot turns that is interesting. What I like about the paperbacks is that they can be treated roughly - by the time I'm done reading one most are pretty beaten up. Since I have the space they went into a big shelf, but I realized when my parents moved recently that they were exactly the same way. They had tons and tons of boo

    • While generally I don't share the same extreme views of RMS I must say that I am finding very hard to warm up to ebooks. I've been considering a Kindle for a while now, but the idea of not being able to *really* own my book is holding me back.

      Then don't get a Kindle. Go for one of the other e-readers that support the more open formats (ePub) and find a store that sells you books without DRM (such as Webscription or Fictionwise). Or buy from a store where the DRM is easily removed with a 3rd party progr
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      I don't agree.

      "Distributing tax funds to authors based on their popularity" - Isn't that what Canada already does with singers? Well it has not worked. Only the 'approved' singers that are members of RIAA get the tax handouts, while independent non-corporate-owned singers get the shaft.

      No I think we need to allow the free market to work. We've already seen the cost of music plummet from $18 a just released CD to $9 at discounters. Or if you prefer singles, instead of spending $3.50 for a cassette-single

  • Respecting freedom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @08:56AM (#36373614)

    In a way, this is a very ironic post. I think that respecting freedoms involves me respecting others' right to give up their freedom if they feel like they want to in exchange for having the cool new device.

    Some subsets of humanity, perhaps indeed the largest subset, only learns by experience. It might take them losing all their books, down the road, or having to buy an entirely new device to keep "owning" what they already "own" before they learn. This is a new technology. We can't get upset yet that the general public doesn't get it. They have to get their knuckles rapped before they will realize.

    Our job is not to legislate their choices for them, it's to support and sustain better alternatives so they will come over when they see the light.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think that respecting freedoms involves me respecting others' right to give up their freedom

      Your argument applies just as poorly to something to like debt bondage.

    • He's not forcing anything, he's just making suggestions. His suggestions are a little over the top though. I suggest just making the eBooks cheaper. Then the whole sharing point becomes kind of moot if it's cheaper for you to buy a copy for your friends than it would have been to buy the book and then lend it to all of them (in which case, let's face it, you'd probably not get it back anyway after a couple of lends). Cheap app store pricing models have shown to be pretty damn successful.

      Perhaps stupidly, I'

      • by Hijacked Public (999535) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @09:07AM (#36373724)
        If he is advocating tax funds be distributed to authors, he is certainly advocating the forcing of something.
        • He's suggesting replacing the government giving away our liberties with the government giving away our money, and only giving our money away if we need to and only to the extent that we need to to support authors. It's a compromise, but it's in the direction of more freedom and less forcing.
          • by cpu6502 (1960974)

            >>>It's a compromise, but it's in the direction of more freedom and less forcing.

            You live in a strange world if you believe Government taking a vacuum cleaner to my wallet (and handing the cash to strangers) is "more free" than my choice to simply not buy e-books from amazon.

            I call the latter maximum freedom, because the choice is in MY hands, where it belongs, not in the hands of some corporate-bribed politician.

      • by Moryath (553296)

        I just really like reading on a tablet though - so much better than having a real book.

        Please, pray tell, what is "so much better" about it?

        Every ebook screen I've seen, unless the book was specifically designed for it, either displays far less data per page (say, 1-2 paragraphs at most) or comes out fuzzy on the text. None of them can render illustrations worth a damn.

        Battery life, from every one I've seen reviewed, is atrocious. So is page memory - I don't want to lose my place in a book just because I fo

      • by Smallpond (221300)

        I suggest just making the eBooks cheaper

        Yes. That will work. In the same way that cable rates have gotten cheaper due to economies of scale. Oh wait. Only the costs have gone down -- the rates have doubled everywhere that competition has been eliminated. But as publishing of paper books falls and prices rise I'm sure eBooks won't follow the same path as cable. After all, its not like Amazon is trying to take over the book market, is it?

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @09:04AM (#36373698)

      If there was a right to give up freedom, shouldn't you be advocating for voluntary slavery?

      The problem with allowing people give up some of their rights is that it not only effects them, but it will be passed down to their kids. In this case, a legacy of proprietary e-book libraries may have a very real effect.

      Once, government was once seen as a protector of freedoms of the general public, and not just the bailer-out of large, well-connected banks and car companies/union. I would like to see a return of that role.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Once, government was once seen as a protector of freedoms of the general public, and not just the bailer-out of large, well-connected banks and car companies/union.

        Err, when was that? About the only times I can really think of where a truly free country threatened to form in the US were (a) during the 1870's, but Ulysses Grant put a quick end to that idea, and (b) the 1780's, where a few of the states were experimenting with really going forward with that Bill of Rights business.

        • by rolfwind (528248)

          I would say around Teddy Roosevelt was the closest, with his trust busting and what not.

          What are you referencing in the 1870s? I'm rather curious as I'm no US History expert.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Once, government was once seen as a protector of freedoms of the general public, and not just the bailer-out of large, well-connected banks and car companies/union

        You're wrong. Government has always operated for the interests of the most powerful. Protecting the general public is nothing but a cover story.

        Diderot famously said, "Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." This should be updated as follows:

        s/king/politician/
        s/priest/corporate executive/

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Preventing publishers from screwing around with my personal property rights is not "depriving" them of anything.

    • Our job is not to legislate their choices for them, it's to support and sustain better alternatives so they will come over when they see the light.

      Part of the problem is that ebooks are not a simple 2-party issue. As a society we all have a stake in how the market works -- if we didn't have such a stake there would be no justification for copyright law in the first place. So, given that books are part of our the way they are handled is a question for all of us to decide, not just the individual buyer and seller.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      In a way, this is a very ironic post. I think that respecting freedoms involves me respecting others' right to give up their freedom if they feel like they want to in exchange for having the cool new device.

      Some subsets of humanity, perhaps indeed the largest subset, only learns by experience. It might take them losing all their books, down the road, or having to buy an entirely new device to keep "owning" what they already "own" before they learn. This is a new technology. We can't get upset yet that the general public doesn't get it. They have to get their knuckles rapped before they will realize.

      Our job is not to legislate their choices for them, it's to support and sustain better alternatives so they will come over when they see the light.

      You bring a very good point here, and another way of looking at true freedom. However, the real issue I see is our fight for a true alternative, especially one that contains any semblance of true anonymity, is rapidly becoming a non-option these days, under the guise (read lame-ass-excuse) of everyone is assumed to be a potential terrorist, in an attempt to justify to such things as the "Patriot" act, which isn't about safety anymore. It's about control over the masses.

      I grow rather tired of trying to cho

    • by bmo (77928)

      >I think that respecting freedoms involves me respecting others' right to give up their freedom

      You advocate a dog-eat-dog world.

      You are advocating feudalism.

      You are advocating slavery.

      All with that one phrase.

      Unconscionable contract terms are unconscionable. There is a long tradition that says you cannot sign away your first born or your rights. Such things are not allowed in a civilized society. You want absolute freedom to do as you want, to subjugate others? Go back to Somalia and start your own g

  • I can't help but be on the fence with this issue. On one hand, this is a work which took effort and time to create, and the author deserves compensation for their time if their work is used. On the other, I can't help but think that the time spent creating such works is finite, and once complete no further time or resources are spent, and considering the infinite resources provided by digital distribution, the cost per unit is extremely difficult to decide upon.

    It will take people more intelligent than mys
    • Not really that hard of a problem, since public and academic libraries have provided books for free for a long time. If you have sufficient disposable income you'll buy books and ebooks, if you don't; you wont. Since buying books is essentially a form of patronage, why support those who are trying to dick you around with DRM?

    • "On the other, I can't help but think that the time spent creating such works is finite, and once complete no further time or resources are spent"

      Speaking as a published author from a family of published authors, not only is this not true, but it completely misses the point.

      Why would anyone write the books if they didn't receive a benefit? It takes *years*.

      If you steal, you reduce the impetus for people to create. Simple as pie.

      Helps you understand why indie game studios die, doesn't it? (Also speaking as the owner of an indie studio whose contract was pulled because of changing piracy rates during development.)

      Maybe just stop trying to come up with excuses that it's okay for you to take things without paying for them. It isn't.

  • I remember (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @09:03AM (#36373684)

    I remember when my dad was going to be sent to the gulag in Siberia for a typewriter he possessed. I was a kid and the KGB raided our house. I don't remember the exact details of why but they let him go. I do know the typewriter had the letters removed so it wasn't exactly illegal. He was copying a book that the government considered illegal/immoral. It was something about the Communist party and the mass murders; information that is now public.

    With ebooks the copy part is easy these days. It can be distributed within minutes all over the world. Someone will break the encryption and publish it. I don't think we should reject ebooks, just not pay for ones with DRM in them. I doubt a lot of controversial books will have DRM in them anyway. If the information they contain is THAT good, someone will copy it by hand if necessary and distribute it. If you're worried about some cheesy novel and that amazon tracks you, find a warez copy. Information will be free, it'll just be a little harder to find than googling it.

  • While I agree with Stallman that eBook and eBook DRM have really destroyed our freedoms with respect to books, I am having a lot of trouble understanding his tax fund proposal.

    Doesn't distributing a tax fund to authors by popularity mean that I, as a person, lost the freedom to vote with my pocketbook not to pay certain authors? I have no desire for my tax dollars to go to the author of the Twilight books when I would much rather get my money to a deserving less known author who puts out a much superior wor

    • What might happen if there was a tax fund for free open source software. And people could make a living coding FOSS. That could change the world...

      But Just think about the hornets nest in the lobbyist hallway. lol. To bad! FOSS is the way to go.
    • by danlip (737336)

      Not to mention that if it is funded by taxes then the government has the power to censor things it doesn't like by withholding the money.

    • Agreed, Stallman is way off base with that proposal. It's just the opposite, intellectual works with a low popular appeal, if any, would be the ones deserving of tax dollars. Surely twilight could get by with a couple of acne cream product placements or something.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      As Cory Doctorow has pointed out, nobody ever went broke from piracy, but many artists have starved because of obscurity. That's why he posts all his books on his website in ebook form for free. He credits his status as a NYT best seller to that. There's no need to give tax money to authors and artists, if the work is good people will buy it despite being able to get it for free.

  • by boristhespider (1678416) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @09:07AM (#36373720)

    which is surprising in its simplicity: don't buy from Amazon if you don't want their DRM. There are places that sell eBooks without DRM at all (Baen is one of the ones that comes to mind and would appeal to a lot of people on /.), and then there are the other places -- almost the entire market other than Amazon -- who use ePub with Adobe's ADEPT DRM. ADEPT is relatively flexible. It's also, if one is so inclined to do it, very easy to unlock. I tend to view the unlocking of DRM on a book that someone's purchased a bit less dodgy than going onto torrent sites and finding some scanned and OCR'd ruin of a PDF. You get the publisher's version of the book, *and* you've paid the author (although yes, the publishers as well).

    What I would like to see though with eBooks:

    sane pricing -- no-one will ever convince me that it should cost more to buy an electronic copy than it does to buy a paperback even if I do see the argument that the author, the editor, the type-setters and all the marketing and promotion cost money so it can't be given away *too* cheaply

    the dropping of DRM completely -- seriously, if they're happy to use ADEPT then they're basically happy to not use DRM in the slightest, it's so easily broken

    standardisation around a set format -- Amazon are the hold-outs here, sticking with Mobipocket formats while everyone else (even Sony) settled on ePub

    quality control from the publishers -- I bought "Glue" by Irvine Welsh, and it's so riddled with scanning errors that I may as well have downloaded a dodgy scan and OCR copy. The amount of times "um" became "urn" was quite surprising. Even worse, one of the characters is called "Gally". That became "Gaily" almost every time he was mentioned. For all I know, he was actually "Gaily" and it became "Gally". "Glue" isn't the only eBook I've bought from a publisher that clearly doesn't give a shit, but it's probably the most absurd. If they're going to charge on the basis of the eBook being edited, they should at least fucking edit it.

    • by Carik (205890)

      quality control from the publishers -- I bought "Glue" by Irvine Welsh, and it's so riddled with scanning errors that I may as well have downloaded a dodgy scan and OCR copy. The amount of times "um" became "urn" was quite surprising. Even worse, one of the characters is called "Gally". That became "Gaily" almost every time he was mentioned. For all I know, he was actually "Gaily" and it became "Gally". "Glue" isn't the only eBook I've bought from a publisher that clearly doesn't give a shit, but it's proba

      • Exactly. It's really not that hard to pull out the original master, which will be in some typesetter's format or other -- or it shouldn't be.

    • by Evtim (1022085)

      Do these alternatives still track what are you reading? Can they remove content remotely? Do they require you to provide personal data before purchase? If yes on any of those questions, then no, thanks!

  • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @09:07AM (#36373722) Homepage Journal
    If, something that is now in public domain, is wiped off of my device by the decision of some corporate whores somewhere, that is an open attack against my freedoms.
  • RMS is just being a clueless idiot again. Amazon doesn't force anything. Hook the kindle to a USB port and drag a PDF onto it. Not deletable, not identified, not tracked.

    You can do that on a Kindle without ever giving it a user account.

    As usual, RMS has no idea what he's talking about, and just wants attention for somehow being an advocate for the people, even though nobody can ever explain how this actually benefits the people in a way that holds up to even minor scrutiny.

    Cue the fanboy downvotes and th

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > RMS is just being a clueless idiot again. Amazon doesn't force anything. Hook the kindle to a USB port and drag a PDF onto it. Not deletable, not identified, not tracked.

      Good luck finding the PDF to begin with.

      THAT is the problem he's complaining about. You are just engaging in filmflam and misdirection.

      • (Looks through his O'reilly book collection, consisting of a variety of formats including PDF, or grown-up big boy DRM free ebooks)

        (Browses project gutenberg for a while)

        Yep. Damn near impossible to find. Real needle in a haystack.

        The Amazon 1984 case is overblown.

  • RMS has fully devoured his own tail.
  • I buy ebooks from www.webscription.net no DRM, and a number of different formats. including HTML

  • I agree with him in so far as the Kindle store is concerned. Being able to effectively "un-sell" a book as happened with 1984 is basically wrong.

    However that's a product of the Kindle store, not the device. About two-thirds of the books on my kindle have no DRM. Some of these are Project Gutenberg books, others are Pragmatic Programmers ebooks which are sold in DRM free formats.

    There is nothing to stop you from buying a Kindle and then never buying a single ebook from Amazon if you really want.

    As with all these sorts of things, the problems lie in the services and publishers, not with the technology.

  • We got an ebook reader at work (to read papers with and reduce printing).

    It is quite convenient, especially as a replacement for those books that are unwieldy to carry and/or disposable (in the sense that I have no intention of rereading them). But I did not really find any of the books I wanted for sale in DRM-free formats (though there is some good free stuff around, including project guthenberg of course). So the e-book publishing industry has yet to see a single dollar from me.

    It's not just ideolo
  • I was ecstatic about the e-books as technology. I am a book rat, always been and always will be. "There is never enough shelf-space" - I learned that law of L-space very early in life. But I will never, ever go towards e-books until this model is the only choice:

    1. expensive (WTF?!)
    2. registration
    3. tracking and data mining
    4. it can be taken from you and there's nothing to do about it

    The same goes for the cloud thingy, BTW, except point one. That's what I first thought. But at 25 euro per year for the clou

  • Sometimes I wonder if Stallman has anything positive to say about modern computing and technology. Even if he has valid points a lot of the time, a lot of people eventually become tired of his schtick because he's not willing to compromise, and more importantly, even if you try your best to follow similar ideological standards, odds are you'll have compromised somewhere down the line which means (in his mind) you basically shouldn't have bothered despite your best intentions. That's kinda what irritates me

  • by darkwing_bmf (178021) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @09:41AM (#36374128)

    Just buy DRM free ebooks. There are plenty to choose from [mobileread.com]. I especially like Baen Books [webscription.net]. They specialize in Sci-Fi/Fantasy and have a free library [webscription.net] where you can get selected full books from authors for free so you can find out which ones you like the best. Smashwords [smashwords.com] is also good. Their focus is self publishing authors and they sell every genre.

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @09:50AM (#36374232)
    I suppose that when he spends as much time as he does twisting himself into knots to explain some of his positions, that it's possible he doesn't actually mean to sound as Orwellian as he does. But really ... force people to spend part of each day (on pain of imprisonment, if they refuse) working to provide food, rent, and iTunes accounts for writers that they'd never in a million years otherwise choose to support? I don't want to spend part of every day laboring on behalf of a guy writing a book about alien abduction and its impact on the arrival date of the antichrist, or about the personal triumphs of Hugo Chavez, or some pedofilic manifesto.

    And of course Stallman will have to expand on the details a bit ... because how shall we compensate that guy writing a book in a coffee shop in Brussels? Should US tax dollars pay his way through life, too? Or would Amazon have to work with the government in Belgium to tax the people of that country so that people in the US can read the bad Neal Stephenson rip-off the guy's working on? Do US taxpayers also get to pay "writers" who happen to be false personas representing propoganda committees in China, producing books extolling the virtues of censorship in a healthy society?

    Ah. Well, obviously this calls for a single world-wide government to tax one group and provide a living for another group. Not that said government would play favorites or use any sort of capricious policy in deciding which writers get money. Not that anyone would jack up download numbers to skew the how-much-money-should-they-get stats, of course. And if that was a problem, well, all we'd need would be more government monitoring of who's downloading what, right, Richard?

    Why do people even listen to this clown? The fact that he'd even mention such an idea shows what a bunch of toxic and mixed/contradictory premises make up the foundation of his world view.
    • "Well, obviously this calls for a single world-wide government to tax one group and provide a living for another group"

      We already have this, they are called corporations. The names are just different, why aren't corporations privately taxing one group (consumers) and giving it to another group (shareholders) while at the same time denying their customers rights and flouting the law? There is little difference today between giant corporations and government except the name by which one calls them.

"Love your country but never trust its government." -- from a hand-painted road sign in central Pennsylvania

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