22 May 2008

Of Books, Sharing and the First Sale Doctrine

Here's a short but poignant meditation on the centrality of sharing to the joy of books:

Ultimately, I do not much care whether these books are paper or made of some other less organic substance, whether substrates and electrons, or plastic polymers. Instead what matters is that we are able to share books with each other; in return for the gift of spreading delight, a wait of days and the cost of media rate shipping are very modest penalties.

Whatever digital (ebook) books look like in the future, if they do not embody the right to share, in an unrestricted and platform independent manner, they will be poorer things.

This is called the first sale doctrine. It's part of why people love books -- a love built from sharing. It's what makes libraries possible. A world where content is licensed, and sold with restrictions on use, is a world less full of enthusiastic readers; less full of love.

To any publisher who sees the wisdom of DRM: don't.

(Via The Patry Copyright Blog.)

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