Home » Copyright/Intellectual Property, Ebook Resale, Non-US » Dutch court lets ebook reseller stay online

Dutch court lets ebook reseller stay online

22 July 2014

From PC World:

Dutch publishers have failed in their efforts to immediately close down ebook reselling site Tom Kabinet.

The Amsterdam District Court ruled Monday that the reseller can stay in business, after the Dutch Publishers Association (DPA) filed a preliminary case at the beginning of July to urgently close the site for copyright infringement.

Tom Kabinet offers a platform that it says lets users legally sell used ebooks. Sellers have to declare they obtained their copies legally and agree to delete their versions when a sale is made. While the service has no way to verify whether a copy is legal or whether copies were deleted by their original owners, it does add a water mark to the ebook before it is sold in order to track down possible illegal distribution.

Tom Kabinet argued that its activities are legal under a 2012 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that permitted the trading of “used” software licenses.

Link to the rest at PC World

Copyright/Intellectual Property, Ebook Resale, Non-US

5 Comments to “Dutch court lets ebook reseller stay online”

  1. This is the only development on the horizon that really worries me. I cannot run certain software that I purchased when XP was the standard on Windows 7 or 8 (Adobe CS 3 for example). Software ages and also has a support element with it, including security updates. Software also has a relatively robust subscription model in place that only provides access as long as you continue to subscribe.

    Like music, books don’t age, a book you read today provides the same utility a hundred years from now. They are not the same as software and whatever precedent has been set for software licenses should not apply. People scream bloody murder about the decline of culture and literature specifically and the need for government intervention. This truly is one area where intervention is needed ASAP by Congress (I know this is DK) passing a law that the first sale rule does not apply to books, movies or music. (And software, IMO, too – but there is room to separate it (other than games and entertainment software which is more akin to books/movies but with the updates component that software has, so a hybrid.)

    • I agree completely. In fact, the future may be troubled for self-published authors. We don’t have the funds to sue to protect out copyright.

  2. I’m not convinced this is a problem.

    True, an ebook will still be just as readable a hundred years from now as it is today. But tell me: if there is TRULY no difference, why do people spend $10-30 on a brand new book, when the store across the street is selling used books for a dime each?

    Why do people pay $10-20 for a new music album, when you can download pretty much every bit of classical music ever written for free, even legally?

    Why do people pay $3-10 to buy new ebooks, when Project Gutenburg has tens of thousands of classical works of literature for free?

    The answer is pretty clear: books (and music) are NOT widgets. There is a difference between a new book and an old one. New works frankly have more value simply because they are more connected. They are more tied into the NOW – more tied into culture as it exists today. People have a hard time relating to works just a few decades old.

    We are headed toward a future where resale of ebooks is probably going to end up legal first in the EU, and then in the USA as well. I don’t know that it is inevitable, but it’s likely. I think that will hurt writers, and publishers, of all sizes somewhat.

    But I don’t know that it will hurt anyone all that much. I think that the folks who like buying a new book when it is new, will continue to do so. And those who shop for the dime-bin used books? They were never going to buy your book at full price anyway.

  3. There’s a considerable difference between a used print book and a “used” ebook. So it’s not the difference between buying a spanking new hardcover for $30 versus going across the street and picking up a hardcover on its fifth read for $10. There is absolutely no material change in the ebook on the 1000th read versus the first and if someone is selling a “used” copy of my ebook for 10 cents, after the first 500 or so I sell, how am I ever going to sell another copy of that ebook for more than 10 cents? The digital nature of books, movies and music are completely unaltered in form regardless of how many separate times the copy is consumed, whereas software (in terms of compatibility with new hardware and operating systems) and physical product deteriorate with age.

    So if the first sale rule is applied to digital copies of books, music, games and movies, it absolutely will have a massive impact on the viability of creating content for a living and distributing it digitally. I can refuse to opt in to a subscription model and still have a low production cost product that I sell digitally. I cannot opt out of the first sale rule if it comes to pass. I can choose to only sell physical product, but I will have much higher unit costs and be competing against effectively free.

    I know I already am competing against free and doing quite well, but the scope of free will significantly increase unless most other content creators follow suit. And as much of a blow as the first sale rule applying to ebooks would be, it pales in comparison to movies and video games and, to a lesser extent, music, because the production costs are so much higher. So those companies will have to wholly retreat from digital goods (unless they can find another way to monetize their content that makes producing it viable) so that there is no e-version to sale and anything appearing on a resale market is pirated from the physical version.

    I just hope Congress and the courts have a better sense of this than large segments of the public because the “they were never going to pay full price anyway” argument is irrelevant in this scenario.

  4. I would also add (yeah, I’m a bit concerned :D) that if the re-sale of a “used” ebook is permissible, what is to stop me from either selling it for $0.00 or $0.01 OR an exchange of goods. I.e. I will sell you my “used” ebook of Foucault’s Pendulum for your “used” ebook of Name of the Rose?

    While the generic definition of “sell” / “sale” references only money, the legal definition is: To transfer possession and ownership of goods or other property for money or something of equivalent value. So, the $0.00 doesn’t equal selling, but the 0.01 and the barter does.

    And thus ends effective copyright in digital goods.

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