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WHSmith Putting DRM In EBooks Without Permission From the Authors

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the don't-read-more dept.

DRM 88

sgroyle (author Simon Royle) writes with an excerpt from an article he wrote about discovering that publisher WHSmith has been adding DRM to books without their authors' permission, and against their intent: "DRM had, without my knowledge, been added to my book. I quickly checked my other books; same thing. Then I checked the books of authors who, because of their vocal and public opposition, I know are against DRM – Konrath, Howey, and Doctorow, to name a few – same result. ALL books on WHSmith have DRM in them. Rather than assume WHSmith where at fault, I checked with my distributor, Draft2Digital. They send my books to Kobo, who in turn send my books to WHSmith. D2D assured me the DRM was not being added by them and were distressed to hear that this was the case. Kobo haven't replied to any of the messages in this thread: 'WHSmith putting DRM in books distributed via Kobo'. I'm not holding my breath." Update: 03/22 21:02 GMT by T : Problem resolved. Hanno Liem of the Kobo team wrote with good news that the DRM notices that were appended were done so in error, and since corrected: "The original site has been updated – it was just a bug on our site, and was resolved within a day I think. We're all slashdot readers here at Kobo Operations, and this is kinda painful :p" Thanks, Hanno.

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Hmmm.... (4, Interesting)

Luthair (847766) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233231)

I would have thought a writer would proof read submissions and avoid an error like "WHSmith where at fault"...

Re:Hmmm.... (5, Insightful)

pokoteng (2729771) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233271)

That's a job for editors, not writers.

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43236031)

Yes, but on slashdot it is the responsibility of the writer.

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year and a half ago | (#43236781)

Yes, but on slashdot it is the responsibility of the writer.

No Timothy, it's your job, the editor to proofread and correct any mistakes. Nice try on the Anonymous Coward post though...

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year and a half ago | (#43236761)

That's a job for editors, not writers.

Timothy never proof reads. Not sure how he has this job, tbh.

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43239311)

"Timothy never proof reads. Not sure how he has this job, tbh."

He can't, by law. If someone "moderates" or alters website content that was supplied by somebody else, they become legally liable for that content.

I wouldn't edit it, either.

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

TheRealDevTrash (2849653) | about a year ago | (#43240461)

MOD PARENT UP!

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43243275)

I should amend that comment. By law, he certainly CAN, if he wants. But then he does become legally liable. If I owned a site I wouldn't let moderators do it.

Re:Hmmm.... (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233295)

Why?

That's what proofreaders and copyeditors are for.

Re:Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43236931)

I would have thought a writer would proof read submissions and avoid an error like "WHSmith where at fault"...

I have noticed that British style prefers to refer to entities like companies, teams, etc. in the plural. I don't think this is an error.

Re: Hmmm.... (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | about a year ago | (#43237149)

Since when is "where" the plural firm of "was"?

Although I must say I didn't notice this error until it was pointed out...it's only one extra letter...

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#43237259)

I don't think this is an error.

Plural or not "where" is not the correct word to use; it should be "were/are" if it was written in the British fashion.

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about a year ago | (#43240321)

I love it when grammer nazis' get there pantys in a bunch.

millions of ebooks without DRM (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43233237)

@ http://ebookoid.com/

Re:millions of ebooks without DRM (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year and a half ago | (#43236791)

@ http://ebookoid.com/ [ebookoid.com]

thepiratebay.se has a bunch of NON DRM books also. Plus a price you can't beat.

Re:millions of ebooks without DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43237217)

thepiratebay.se has a bunch of NON DRM books also. Plus a price you can't beat.

ThePirateBay is free if your integrity has no value.

Re:millions of ebooks without DRM (0)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43238007)

thepiratebay.se has a bunch of NON DRM books also. Plus a price you can't beat.

ThePirateBay is free if your integrity has no value.

Integrity? When I buy a book, I want to read it on all of my devices, not just the one that supports whatever DRM the book came with. If I have to run a program of dubious legality to strip the DRM from my book, I may as well just get it from a source that provides it in an unencumbered format in the first place.

There is a lack of integrity on both sides.

Hurrah (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43233245)

I'm first.... first time ever!

Re:Hurrah (2)

Svartalf (2997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233257)

Not even close... Third...

Re:Hurrah (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year and a half ago | (#43236567)

Not even close

For all your ebook needs (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43233261)

there is http://www.gutenberg.org/ [gutenberg.org]

and its excellent feeder http://pgdp.net/ [pgdp.net]

was it really without their permission? (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233303)

I'm guessing the authors signed some kind of publication contract that authorized WHSmith to make and distribute ebook versions in the first place. Does adding DRM to the ebooks comply with the terms of the contract? Without seeing the contract they signed, I have no real way of knowing what they gave WHSmith permission to do.

Re:was it really without their permission? (2)

dotHectate (975458) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233337)

Yea, the article is very vague other than to say it seems it's going through one company to another, etc. It is claimed that the first party to his publishing indicated that they were not pleased with it either. Undoubtedly someone assumed that "standard contract rules apply" and for one of those companies the standard rules are "DRM protects our rights as an ebook publisher." I'll be interested in seeing how they respond, but the contents of a contract will be of the greatest influence.

Re:was it really without their permission? (1)

srg33 (1095679) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233345)

You MIGHT be correct, but TFS IMPLIES that author Simon Royle contracted with Draft2Digital (his distributor), not WHSmith nor Kobo.

Re:was it really without their permission? (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233459)

Then somewhere along the line, someone still gave away that right, even if their own contract didn't allow them to do so.

It's a contract dispute. It's not WHSmith being evil, someone, somewhere would have agreed to terms that the author wouldn't have agreed to themselves.

Re:was it really without their permission? (3, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233555)

Or maybe somebody added DRM despite contracts prohibiting them from doing so, either by accident or knowingly.
Perhaps it was a technical glitch in their system, ignoring the "do not remove rights" checkbox.

Without even knowing who did what, the "why" is a total guess.

Re:was it really without their permission? (3, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233727)

WHSmith don't have a single ebook in their store without DRM, and deal with lots of the big-names and publishers.

It's highly unlikely they wouldn't just have a standard contract that says they only publish DRM books (because that's ALL they do, and sell their own e-Reader devices because of precisely that). It's going to be someone agreeing to WHSmith's terms and not the other way around.

(Hint: In the UK, WHSmith's is much bigger than you might think. My father-in-law (a well-published author across a variety of subjects from school textbooks - including some used as standard texts - to children's books to books for adults on grammar) was once refused publishing of a book because "WHSmith don't have a category for that". Literally, every agent he tried gave him the same answer for that book (and only that book) and it never got published because of it.

Re:was it really without their permission? (2)

davester666 (731373) | about a year and a half ago | (#43236889)

The unnamed category is, of course, "good".

Re:was it really without their permission? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43244491)

My father-in-law (a well-published author across a variety of subjects from school textbooks - including some used as standard texts - to children's books to books for adults on grammar) was once refused publishing of a book because "WHSmith don't have a category for that".

I find it really surprising that WHSmiths has a non-negigible presence in book selling. The only times I've ever bought books from there have been when I received a gift voucher for them (they do the very sneaky thing, I discovered, of making their gift cards expire, but not putting an expiration date on them, which is probably not legal). Any other time I've considered buying a book there, it's been cheaper in the bookshop across the street (and much cheaper online). The only reason I can think of that they might be important is that they have a branch in pretty much every station, so people wanting to buy books to read on trains are a captive market for them.

Re:was it really without their permission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43234937)

It's not WHSmith being evil [...]

Don't be silly! It involved them using DRM for something other than making a snide point about DRM, so clearly it's objectively evil! It's easier this way, too; no inconvenient philosophical debates or anything! It's a clear-cut, concrete, absolute definition of evil!

Adding DRM makes a derived work, not a copy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43237437)

And you get a different license to CHANGE a work than to PRINT it.

Re:was it really without their permission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43233373)

Without seeing the contract they signed, I have no real way of knowing what they gave WHSmith permission to do.

The contract probably gave WHSmith permission to add DRM to the eBooks.

Re:was it really without their permission? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43244521)

Which contract? They have my first book available in both ePub and PDF formats, and my contract with my publisher specifically has a clause which prevents them from distributing it in a DRM-encumbered format. If they have added DRM, then someone in the supply chain is in breach of contract.

They're also incredibly expensive. They're charging £29.51 for the PDF and £26.03 for the ePub, which works out at $44.85 or $39.56 in US money. In contrast, if you buy it from InformIT (which is owned by my publisher), then it costs $35.19 and you get PDF, ePub and MOBI formats, all included.

Re:was it really without their permission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43233489)

That probably depends on how you define "permission". In the legal sense it may well have been hidden in a contract somewhere and so they may have given permission. In the commonly used sense of "did you ask them and they knowingly said yes", then its obvious they didn't.

Re: was it really without their permission? (1)

kiite (1700846) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233683)

It doesn't, actually. The definition of "permission" with respect to contracts has a well-established (legal) definition that is not vague in the slightest.

Re:was it really without their permission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43233629)

If a publisher changed the file to remove DRM, it would be considered as altering the book. Wouldn't adding DRM also be considered an alteration? Was WHSmith given permission to alter the books?

Re:was it really without their permission? (2)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233713)

If a publisher changed the file to remove DRM, it would be considered as altering the book. Wouldn't adding DRM also be considered an alteration? Was WHSmith given permission to alter the books?

That's a pretty good point. If removing a lock without permission is illegal, then adding a lock without permission should be just as illegal.

I wouldn't be too happy to come home to find the city put an extra lock on my house, not providing me a key, because I didn't explicitly tell them not to do it. Of course, as others pointed out, it depends on the terms of the contacts. If electric company gave the city permission to put an extra lock on my door, I still wouldn't be happy, but if I gave the electric company the rights to do that, then I'm at fault for not reading the contract.

Re:was it really without their permission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43233781)

LOL. Should be just as illegal is a joke.

Here's your extra lock on your car.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheel_clamp [wikipedia.org]

Re:was it really without their permission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43234079)

And where might your car be parked, if adding an extra lock is not per your interpretation not illegal?

Re:was it really without their permission? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about a year and a half ago | (#43234375)

Wheel clamping is illegal in the UK. I'm not entirely sure about Northern Ireland, but it has always been illegal in Scotland, and was made illegal in England and Wales a couple of years ago.

Re:was it really without their permission? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year ago | (#43240393)

That's news to me. I haven't lived in the UK for many years, but I remember my car being clamped on a few occasions. It never bothered me much, though. I used to be a blacksmith in another age, and I still have my tools. I just treated the clamps as a scrap metal donation. ;)

Re:was it really without their permission? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about a year and a half ago | (#43245401)

It was made illegal on 1 Oct 2012.

Re:was it really without their permission? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43234443)

yes, the government gives itselve the right to do lots of things a normal person/company can't do such as:

- take money by force, when an individual does it it's called robbery, when a goverment does it it is called taxation
- forcebly take people away, when an individual does it it's called kidnapping, when a governemnt does it is called arrest
- keep people in a cage, when an individual does it's called wrongfull emprisonment, when a governemnt does it's assumed to be right
- when a governement gets money from a first of investors, then pays those back by getting money from a 2nd group of investors, pays the second group back with money from a 3th group, etc it's called government debt, when an individual does that it's called ponzi fraude
- forcebly taking goods is robbery when an individual does it it's called eminent domain or civil forfeiture, or impoundment when a government does it

etc, etc, etc

Is it morally right? HELL NO. But the reality is that for governments might makes right.

Re:was it really without their permission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43234297)

Maybe... but Cory is dead against it and has not used publishers that insist on adding it to his books. He is vocal about it on BoingBoing. He also goes so far as releasing every book free on his website [craphound.com] in epub, pdf, html, etc. on in drm-free.

Re:was it really without their permission? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year and a half ago | (#43236973)

I guess Cory Doctorow made the mistake of using a Creative Commons license [creativecommons.org] .

Next time, he should just release his books under GPL3.

Re:was it really without their permission? (5, Informative)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year ago | (#43237047)

His blog has been updated. It was just a mistake.

Thank you for contacting Kobo Writing Life.
There is a known error on the WHSmith website that is showing DRM-Free books as DRM ePubs. They’re working on fixing this issue when they update their website in May.
Even though your books appear as DRM ePub’s, any customers that want to purchase your book from WHSmith are directed to our site to make the purchase. On our site your book is correctly listed as DRM-Free.
I’m sorry for the inconvenience that this may cause and hope that this has clarified things for you.
Sincerely,
The Kobo Team

Due diligence (5, Interesting)

abigsmurf (919188) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233375)

Did the author, or the distributors make it clear that they cannot put DRM on the books when supplying to WHSmiths or Kobo?

Sure WHSmiths may suck for including DRM on all their books but, providing they didn't break any agreements or contract terms, it's frankly the author or the publisher to blame for blindly making their books available to them without checking.

You can't sell your books to a company that only sells DRM encoded books then act outraged when your books feature DRM.

Re:Due diligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43238189)

Why don't you read the original post, it was a simple mistake and will be fixed. Get down from your fucking high horse and save the sanctimonious bullshit for when you've bothered to RTFA!

Abraham Lincoln freed the Black Slaves (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43233419)

Abraham Lincoln a Republican President freed the Black Slaves of America along with the rest of the Republicans that fought for the North. The Democrats were for continuing the blacks as slaves even the Democrats that lived in the Northern states. It was the Confederacy that susceeded from the Union and started the Civil War when Lincoln won the election because they knew Lincoln would push Congress to abolish Slavery in the USA. Lincoln was the first Republican President. The Republicans have always been against slavery and for human rights for all races and still are.

Theodore Roosevelt a Republican bought the Panama Canal zone from the French and built the Panama Canal. Teddy also started the National Park system of the USA and the first National Park in the whole world, was Yellow Stone National Park. Teddy gave Yellow Stone Park to all citizens of the USA. Now many countries all over the world have started National Parks. Republicans were the first party for the environment starting with Teddy. Teddy also delivered the "Square Deal and regulation of industry". Which helped the working classes. BTW it was crazy and stupid Jimmy Carter a Democrat President that gave away the Panama Canal zone for nothing.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson a Democrat President led America into WWI. Warren G. Harding a Republican President led us from WWI into "nomalcy". President Harding led the country away from Wilsons socialistic views and returned it to the Capitalistic systems and freedom we all love, with the greatest landslide Presidential election victory in USA history.

Franklin D. Roosevelt a Democrat President led the USA into WWII. Dwight D. Eisenhower a Republican President as General and Commander of all the Armed forces of the USA led the USA to victory over Germany and Japan so America could keep the freedom we now have. Roosevelt died before WWII ended but Eisenhower won the war anyways.

Harry S. Truman a Democrat President was vice-President under FDR and took over the Presidency when FDR died in office. Truman gave away most of Eastern Europe to Russia at the end of WWII. The USA won the war but Truman was too soft and inexperienced (sounds like Obama doesn't it, that's what happens facing Communist countries like Russia with soft Presidents), so Truman faced an international crisis at the end of WWII, he couldn't handle it and he lost most of Eastern Europe to Russia in negotiations, which started the cold war with Russia. Then just a few years later Truman led the USA into the Korean War. "The war remained a frustrating stalemate for two years, with over 30,000 Americans killed, until a peace agreement restored borders and ended the conflict.[127] In the interim, the difficulties in Korea and the popular outcry against Truman's sacking of MacArthur helped to make the president so unpopular that Democrats started turning to other candidates." wikipedia.org

Lyndon B. Johnson a Democrat President led the USA into the Vietnam War. Richard Nixon a Republican President led the USA out of Vietnam and ended the Draft. Nixon also opened the doors to trading with China.

Reagan and George Bush both Republican Presidents won the cold war against Russia and freed Eastern Europe, that truman gave away to Russia, without firing a shot. They built the "big stick" which included the Military Machine we have today including the Stealth Bombers and fighters, again so we Americans can all be free instead of bowing to a Communist Dictator like Castro or Stalin. Reagan and George Bush also improved the economy to great and new heigths that was totally destroyed under Jimmy Carter's, a Democrat President,with Carter's extremely high taxes and the running of the printing presses that caused run away inflation. (This is why many see Barack Hussein Obama as another Jimmy Carter, it has already been tried in the USA and failed miserably. This is not change nor nothing new. It is just a return to the failed policies of Jimmy Carter)

George Bush also won the Gulf war against Iraq and Sadam Hussein. Freeing Kuwait. But did not enter Iraq.

George W. Bush a Republican President has won the war over Sadam Hussein, toppled his radical dictatorship, stopped the terrorism that Sadam's Regime trained and financed with Al Queda in Iraq. George W Bush has won that war with the "Surge" and has placed a new Iraq Democracy in the Middle East with hopes to grow that democracy in other countries, thereby ending the Radical Muslim strongholds of Al Queda and others, and bring freedom to the good Muslims that live there. The Economy was great under George W Bush for his first six years with only 6% unemployed (BTW it's only about 6% unemployed even now amongst all this market melt down), but then the Democrats took over Congress and the Senate the last two years, and the economy has gone into the tank under the Democrats leadership with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Ried along with Barny Frank that have destoyed it. The market melt down all started with subprime loans that Obama and Acorn and Bill Clinton all democrats thought were a good idea. So Bill Clinton, a Democrat President deregulated the banking system so they would make loans to people who couldn't qualify nor pay the payments. And Obama with Acorn pressured those banks to make those subprime loans that caused this market melt down.

In summary: Did you noticed that it was the Democrats: Wilson that led us into WWI, FDR that led us into WWII, Truman that led us into the Korean War, and LBJ that led us into Vietnam, and all those wars were fought with huge losses of drafted American Soldiers lives. It was the Republicans that led us out of and won the wars the Democrats put us into and also ended the draft. The two Bushes won both of their wars with almost no human lossses in comparison.

Re:Abraham Lincoln freed the Black Slaves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43233553)

Herp derp

Re:Abraham Lincoln freed the Black Slaves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43233857)

Richard Nixon a Republican President led the USA out of Vietnam

led us out? He kept us in the war for 5 more years, killing 50,000 US soldiers. To protect a small piece of jungle, on the other side of the world.

Also, because of his policies, we lost that war. Embarrassingly so.

My post (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233443)

I just posted on the original site but I doubt it will pass moderation so:

Not being funny, but why go public without just complaining to your agent/publisher/whatever first? I mean, as far as I can see, this is a contract dispute. Someone, somewhere has a contract with you that says whether or not they can add DRM to your book. Youâ(TM)ve signed it, or not. It might say either way is permitted or nothing at all about DRM. But presumably that person has signed something with another person who has signed something and, eventually, thereâ(TM)s a line in there somewhere that says they can or canâ(TM)t do this. Whoever signed that line and didnâ(TM)t pass it back down the contracts is in breach of something. I highly doubt that WHSmith does not have a contract that says âoeWe will add DRMâ in some manner, itâ(TM)s just a question of who signed it and gave away more rights to the work than they were allowed to.

And given that itâ(TM)s your copyright (presumably), then bundling that content in any way you donâ(TM)t like is a copyright violation. Thatâ(TM)s NOT the format you provided it to them in, and no different to them selling it with a modified front cover, or with the words in Chapter 2 altered. So just contact your agent/publisher and get them to have a word â" there should be no walls of silence on that chain, because youâ(TM)re all contracted to do your jobs. Itâ(TM)s not like an end-consumer where you have to hope to get through to the right person at customer services.

Whatâ(TM)s happened is no different to not selling the electronic rights to someone and then finding that your publisher has published it electronically (actually happened to a friend of mine who writes childrenâ(TM)s books â" hell, theyâ(TM)ve even had a book that they sent to their agent published without their knowledge, and they only found out when they found it in a second-hand bookshop, complete with their name and cover!). And itâ(TM)s a contract dispute. And you either signed a contract that allowed it, or not. As such, you just get your agent/publisher to look into it, give it a month to sort out, and then just issue a nasty legal letter to pull it. Posting online about it and in forum posts just seems amateur and likely to backfire in terms of NDA clauses etc. in contracts along the way.

And I reckon youâ(TM)ll find that one of the contracts you signed either says they can do this or, somewhere along the way, someone has a gap between the contracts they receive and the contracts they sign that allows this to slip through until â" as youâ(TM)ve done â" someone objects.

Stop messing about with open letters, hearsay, and forum posts and ask your publisher for an explanation in a nice recorded-delivery letter from your local legal representative.

Re:My post (1)

sgroyle (2036440) | about a year and a half ago | (#43234859)

I just posted on the original site but I doubt it will pass moderation so:

It passed moderation.

Re:My post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43235833)

Because the publisher really wouldn't care. Publishers treat writers like shit.
One of my professors said that advertisers get paid more than he does per book sold. They don't even bother to hide it either, he was told how much money he'd get if he put the ad on his website and it was more than he gets as an author for a book being sold.
Publishers ARE the really evil here.

Re:My post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43236639)

why go public without just complaining to your agent/publisher/whatever first?

To get free publicity.

Impossible to read (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year and a half ago | (#43236719)

I don't know if I should blame the poster, Slashdot, IE8, or all three, but after the tenth Ã(TM)s, I gave up reading.

Maybe it is a DRM side effect.

Re:My post (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year ago | (#43240535)

but why go public without just complaining to your agent/publisher/whatever first?

I don't know if this is what happened here, but the normal process is to email or phone the agent/publisher/whatever, and you get absolutely no response. Rather than wait for them to (maybe) consider returning a call, I might go public. Then someone at the agency/publisher/whatever says "oh fuck!" and then makes a conciliatory response. By that time, of course, it's too late, but whose fault is that?

Did they just legalize e-readers? (3, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233463)

If this is true, and if the author did not assign copyright to the publisher (so that the publisher is now the copyright holder), and if they didn't tell the publisher to do this in some fine print that they didn't read, and if .. probably something else I didn't think of .. ;-) Er, my point is that if this happened without "the authority of the copyright owner" (to exactly quote DMCA) then the publisher just spoiled that DRM scheme. It's not prohibited for people to remove that DRM, and better yet, it's legal to manufacture, sell, traffick in, offer to the public etc, tools that are primarily intended to crack that DRM, marketed as being for removing that DRM, etc

Pretty neat, huh? Whenever DRM exists without the authority of the copyright holder, beating it isn't "circumvention" under DMCA. If the DRM scheme happens to be a widely used one, then could open up competition for e-readers, removing the legal barrier to innovation, reader sales, usage of the reader, etc.

Re:Did they just legalize e-readers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43233581)

DMCA is a US only law, you might as well be quoting housing association rules in this story from the UK

maybe some Belgians on this site will quote some of their laws too, just as applicable

Re:Did they just legalize e-readers? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43234029)

Slashdot is a US-centric site. It always has been. If you don't like it, you're welcome to leave. The door is that way.

Re:Did they just legalize e-readers? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43234547)

Missed the point dimwit. Re-read?

Re:Did they just legalize e-readers? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about a year and a half ago | (#43234421)

The applicable law in the UK is the EU Copyright Directive, which applies to Belgium as well.

Re:Did they just legalize e-readers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43236363)

EU directives are not law. You cannot be prosecuted for breaking an EU directive.

Member states are required to pass legislation to implement each directive, but the laws can actually be quite different between EU countries. The EU can complain and eventually fine states that wildly diverge from a directive, but this doesn't happen often.

tldr: UK law is no guide to Belgian law.

Re:Did they just legalize e-readers? (1)

Trogre (513942) | about a year and a half ago | (#43242607)

Fair enough, but you must realise that the DMCA is just the USA's ratification of the WIPO Copyright Treaty, to which the UK is also a signatory.

And Belgium.

Is that unreasonable? (1)

raburton (1281780) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233471)

Putting aside the fact that everyone here hates DRM (me included), is what WHSmith did unreasonable? I assume it's their standard practise to add this protection to what they sell. While we might object on a number of ground (efficacy being one of them) I'm sure they see DRM as a sensible thing to do to protect the material they sell from piracy. Would you expect a retailer to check this "anti-theft" measure to be ok with the publisher first? Do they normally check before they fit those RFID type tags to products to stop them being stolen from a store? I know there is a difference in the end product for the consumer between these two, but probably WHSmith don't realise that (and actually neither will most of their customers). While I agree they shouldn't do it if the publisher doesn't want it, I doubt that was ever communicated to them and I wouldn't expect them to check that first. Should they check you aren't a raging environmentalist before they offer the customer a carrier bag to take your book home in?

Re:Is that unreasonable? (1)

RDW (41497) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233631)

'While we might object on a number of grounds (efficacy being one of them) I'm sure they see DRM as a sensible thing to do to protect their business model by locking purchasers into their ecosystem.'

FTFY :-)

To be fair, I think Kobo uses Adobe DRM, which probably means there's some cross compatibility (but not with, e.g., Kindle, unless you strip the DRM).

Re:Is that unreasonable? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about a year and a half ago | (#43234491)

The big difference is that DRM prevents people from reading the book on anything other than a WH Smith approved device, either their own e-book reader, or iDevice/Android app if they have one. RFID tags on shop merchandise get deactivated when you pay for the product, and don't affect your ability to use the product.

Now that music downloads are DRM free, I can go to lots of different stores and find out which one is selling the track I want at the cheapest price. That is not possible with ebooks or video download purchases.

Re:Is that unreasonable? (1)

LihTox (754597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43234813)

I wonder if you could consider adding DRM to be "creating a derivative work", since it no longer functions in the same way as the author intended?

Somethign smells (4, Informative)

Nate the greatest (2261802) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233477)

This is a bogus complaint. First, WHSmith can't add DRM. Their ebookstore is provided by and run by Kobo. Second, that label has been changed in less than a day. The ebooks no longer say that they have DRM, and that suggests this was just a website bug: http://www.whsmith.co.uk/EProducts/Bangkok-Burn-Bangkok-Series-1+eBook+KB00106286902 [whsmith.co.uk]

Re:Somethign smells (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233607)

Thought it was odd when it first came up on the fire hose and had a definition of DRM as Digital Restriction Managment :o

Re:Somethign smells (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year and a half ago | (#43234173)

That is the definition of DRM. People can use the 'rights' in there, but it's incorrect. DRM restricts you, it doesn't manage your rights.

Re:Somethign smells (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43235021)

That is the definition of DRM. People can use the 'rights' in there, but it's incorrect. DRM restricts you, it doesn't manage your rights.

No. Wrong. Stop editorializing acronyms. It makes you just as immature as the "Micro$oft", "crApple", or "LinSUX" crowd, and no better than the people who make acronyms, product names, and government plans with feel-good weasel words (such as "rights" in this case) in the first place. Just stop.

Re:Somethign smells (1)

lxs (131946) | about a year and a half ago | (#43235129)

True, but writing it that way is only a small step up from writing things like "Micro$oft".

Re:Somethign smells (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43235769)

More like writing "copyright violation" instead of "piracy".

Copyright violation and digital restrictions being the correct term for what it actually is, with digital rights management and piracy being marketing terms.

WHSmith website glitch. It's DRM free (5, Informative)

gbesta (1417267) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233503)

Just read through the forum that is linked to on the blog. It appears that it is a glitch on the WHSmith website. Everything is listed as having DRM, even if it doesn't have DRM. When you click the link it goes to Kobo to make the purchase, and the book is listed as DRM free.

Re:WHSmith website glitch. It's DRM free (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | about a year and a half ago | (#43236313)

And yet ...

Everything is listed as having DRM, and for a reasonable percentage of the customer base, affixing a DRM label to an ebook *will* cause lost sales. That's not exactly a harmless error, whether or not DRM is actually present. The author has a legitimate grievance.

Re:WHSmith website glitch. It's DRM free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43236965)

What I encountered a few days ago buying a book is that the books are promoted DRM free. However, in order to get the 'DRM free' version you need to register with Adobe and 'register' the book to your account, which can then be read 'DRM free' on your e-device if that e-device is DRM 'free'. In other words, what they mean with 'DRM free' is that it can be read on any device.

Seems like a rant w/o much research (4, Informative)

Ravensfire (209905) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233561)

There was a post on the Kobo boards [kboards.com] where someone contacted Kobo about this. Apparently there was a known problem on the WHSmith website where it would show the books as having DRM. When they'd go to Kobo to actually DL the books it would be DRM free. Just looked at the books on WHSmith's website and getting a different format availability than the OP's blog - Format Availability: epub. Apparently they've fixed the bug.

Re:Seems like a rant w/o much research (1)

Ravensfire (209905) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233619)

And sgroyle, this really just look like a cheap grab at publicity for your books. You seriously need to update your blog with an apology at least to Kobo and probably to WHSmith.

Re:Seems like a rant w/o much research (1)

DadLeopard (1290796) | about a year and a half ago | (#43236847)

But that is the point! I personally would never see the Correct info at the Kobo website since I would never purchase it if it said it was DRMed in the first place! Maybe it makes no difference to some people, but there are many like me that will not buy if is says DRM!

Careful with your claims (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233579)

Just because you think there is DRM, doesn't mean there is DRM. For example, on the App Store, paid-for ePub books always _look_ as if they have DRM to a naive person, even when they don't.

ePub books are basically .zip files. If you have DRM, then there is a file describing the DRM, and a file containing a list of which files are encrypted (so a book could have an unencrypted title page, contents, and sample chapter). On paid-for App Store books without DRM, the DRM-related files are there, but the list of encrypted files is empty, and everything is readable just fine.

A tool that just checks for the presence of the DRM-related files will of course give a false positive. And if you ever make an ePub reader, don't give up just because it says there is DRM; check whether the actually files inside are encrypted or not.

Re:Careful with your claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43233643)

No, that is quite irrelevant - once a potential buyer notices the DRM tag, it's all over.

Nobody is going to buy DRM'd crap to do analysis whether it actually is spoiled goods or not...

Re:Careful with your claims (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year and a half ago | (#43241369)

but why go public without just complaining to your agent/publisher/whatever first?

No, but they might (in my case, do) buy DRM books, strip the DRM and reprocess the publication through Sigil to make sure the formatting is as I like it before I transfer it to my reader device.

Why Don't You Try WHSmiths? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43233709)

I did. They sent me here.

The matter is fairly simple. (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43234735)

If the DRM is unwanted by the authors, then the authors should issue a C&D against WHSmith. WHSMith must either remove DRM from your works before distributing, or, if that approach is incompatible with their preferred distribution model, WHSmith must forfeit their license to create digital copies completely. In the latter case, WHSmith would be entitled a refund of any fees that they paid for such a license. The authors would then have to find an alternative distributor who would not want to put DRM in, or else look into self-publication.

Will Smith? (1)

Gravitron 5000 (1621683) | about a year and a half ago | (#43234847)

I apparently need more coffee, as I read the topic as "Will Smith Putting DRM in EBooks Without Permission From The Authors", which would have been a strange sort of awesome.

Kobo treats authors fairly afaik (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43236201)

I'm a kobo customer, but also against DRM. I also read a lot of sci-fi, and one of the more prominent figures in the sci-fi genre against DRM is BAEN publishing.
A lot of the BAEN authors are present in the Kobo store, and very few, if any, have DRMed books.

My $0.02 of opinion on the matter is that Kobo's not the one pushing for DRM, but the external party is.

Authors are suckers. (0)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about a year ago | (#43237533)

They don't even need "publishers" any more. However, it's comfortable for them, and if they lose control over their work when they send it into the publishing house, this is just part of the bargain.

Authors generally don't control (with paper books) the selection of printer, what is typed on that page with the ISBN number and associated junk, what boxes they are shipped to the stores in, and so forth. If the author desired control over every part of the publication process, he would self-publish be it on paper or electronically.

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