Archive for the ‘Copyright’ Category

Round up #274: the adventure of the standing ruling, infringer down

November 5, 2014

Round up #274: the adventure of the standing ruling, infringer down

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Infringing site taken down

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that a site was reproducing all of the posts in this blog…every day..verbatim…without permission.

One of my readers, Clint Bradford, suggested I use

http://www.whois.com/

to find out who the host was, to report the infringement.

That didn’t work exactly, because the company it said was hosting it wasn’t actually the right one.  It identified GoDaddy, and that company was nice enough to give me the accurate name, lunarpages.

After informing lunarpages, within days, the site was down.

To me, this is a story about the good in the world.

The website was infringing…that’s not good, although it could have been done out of ignorance.

I first notified Google AdSense, and they apparently pulled their ads…thanks, Google!

Then Clint helped me…thanks, Clint!

Then GoDaddy helped me…thanks, GoDaddy! They weren’t under any obligation to do that.

Then lunarpages helped me…thanks, lunarpages!

On balance, there was a lot more good in this sequence than bad…and that’s the assessment I generally make of the world. :)

Fire TV $15 off

I use our

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

every day, and it’s on sale right now for $84 instead of $99. They’ve been putting it on sale on and off, and there may be more sales before the holidays…although I don’t think this specific sale will be continuous until then.

You can get that one right away, unlike the

Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which is currently expected to arrive for consumers placing new orders after January 16, 2015. I’m glad I recommended that people jump on the chance to buy it…and lots of people did do so!

These two devices will work well with the new Prime benefit announced today in this

press release

With Prime photos, Prime members get unlimited Cloud storage of their photos…and can view them easily on many devices.

That is a really nice additional benefit: we now have shipping; Prime video; Prime music; the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library; and early access to Lightning deals.

U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Sherlock Holmes case

I’ve written before about a legal fight going on over the copyright status of Sherlock Holmes.

It’s a bit tricky. In the USA, most of the original Holmes stories are clearly in the public domain. There are a few stories, though, that are not. The estate essentially argued that, when people write fiction about Holmes, it is likely influenced (and some cases, specifically so) by those still under protection works…so that new unauthorized may be infringing.

The Supreme Court declined to review a lower court ruling saying that wasn’t the case…making it okay to write new Holmes works without obtaining permission or paying royalties, but keeps the ten stories which were under protection in that condition.

In other words, you can go ahead and write a new Holmes story…

Fun image

EBOOK FRIENDLY is especially good at finding clever e-book related images, and I thank them for the heads up on this one:

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/132996995221820561/

Star Libraries

This is a fascinating

Library Journal article by Ray Lyons & Keith Curry Lance

It analyzes libraries in some very intriguing ways. One thing is that people are now trying to measure the impact a given library has on the community…the article says specifically:

Outcomes are an entirely different matter. They are changes experienced by library users—changes in knowledge, skills, attitude, behavior, status, or condition.

One of the stats they give us is circulation per capita…and the library listed with the highest is in Avalon, New Jersey, with a very high 121.6. The next one only has 95.5, so you can see it is a stand-out.

Why your favorite author’s next book isn’t finished

This

Buzzfeed article by Arianna Rebolini

reports on a survey of authors by Stop Procrastinating about what distracts them from writing.

23% said “videos of animal internet celebrities”, while 4% said…sex.

Hm… ;)

What do you think? If you are a writer, what keeps you from writing? I hope reading is on that list! After all, that’s probably one of the best fuels for the literary engine. Are you satisfied with the outcome of the infringing site being taken down…or do you think that was too harsh or not harsh enough? Do you think libraries should be measured by their impacts…or should they simply stand as a public good with no performance evaluation? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Last day to submit petitions for copyright exemptions

November 2, 2014

Last day to submit petitions for copyright exemptions

Monday, November 3rd, is the last day to submit petitions (you can upload them) for “Exemptions to Prohibition Against Circumvention of Technological Measures Protecting Copyrighted Works”.

The details are here:

http://copyright.gov/1201/

This is the triennial review of technological blocking of features and full works for copyrighted works.

This review is mandated under the Digital  Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

I’m not a lawyer (if you are an intellectual property lawyer, I’d welcome your comment on this post getting more technical), but here’s the basic situation as it pertains to e-books.

Publishers can insert code into an e-book file that prevents copying it or from doing certain other things to it. Using that code is often referred to as DRM (Digital Rights Management), although that’s actually a broader term.

It is generally illegal under the DMCA to “strip the DRM” so you can get around the publisher’s intended use policies.

Under certain circumstances, though, it is legal.

This review looks at changes to those exemptions…and could hypothetically add additional exemptions.

The first case that comes to mind for me, as regular readers of this blog know, would be blocking text-to-speech access.

Currently, a publisher can insert code into an e-book file which prevents text-to-speech software from accessing that text and reading it out loud.

My understanding of it, as an interested layperson, is that it is not illegal to use text-to-speech (since it does not create a copy, but it does streaming), nor is it illegal for a publisher to block the access…provided (in the latter case) that an accessible version for people with print disabilities is also available.

In other words, a publisher can block text-to-speech in the Kindle store version for most people, if a version where TTS works is available to those who can certify a disability.

I feel that TTS is not an infringing use, and I think the Copyright Office would generally agree. Let’s say, as an analogy, that publishers blocked increasing the text size to make it easier to read (I’m sure that would be technologically possible…PDFs presented as image files can’t be read by typical TTS software, for example).

Increasing the text size is a non-infringing use.

Would it be legal for the publishers to block text size increase?

Probably…but doing so couldn’t prevent the specific population of those who need larger text size to be able to access the book in some way.

Many people thought an exemption would be granted for TTS in previous “rulemakings”, and some argued that it had been (but that was, at the least, not unambiguous).

I explained that one of the rulings that led to people thinking the exemption had been granted here:

Flash! Hacking Kindle TTS still not legal

I did think that the case was just not as well presented as it could have been.

This time, the bar is lower:

“Unlike in previous rulemakings, the Office is not requesting the submission of complete legal and factual support for such proposals at the initial stage of the proceeding. Instead, in the first step of the process, parties seeking an exemption may submit a petition setting forth specified elements of the proposed exemption, as explained in the notice.”

So, you could submit a petition explaining why it should be legal to circumvent (get around) TTS blocking code, even without citing all the precedent.

A petition, by the way, does not, in this case, mean something with a bunch of signatures…think of it more as a formal request. You don’t need to get a 1,000 people to sign something by Monday to make this work.

I honestly don’t think I’ll get anything submitted this time…but if they don’t rule it as a legitimate exemption this time, I’ll put it on my calendar for three years from now!

I should be clear: people with a certified print disability can use a plug-in with Kindle for PC to make all books TTS accessible, even if the publisher has blocked the access:

Flash! Kindle for PC with Accessibility Plugin makes all books TTS enabled for the print disabled

However, that doesn’t mean you can read it on any Kindle devices. To the dismay of some, the current crop of Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers…non-Fires) don’t have sound at all, so they can’t do TTS, but that plug-in won’t work for Fires, either.

I’d be delighted to see a ruling that just flat out said that, whether you can certify a disability or not, it’s legal to circumvent DRM for the purpose of TTS access.

I would take advantage of it personally (I currently don’t get books that block the access…nor do I knowingly link to them on this blog), but for me, it’s more about other people. Certifying a print disability can be difficult…and it’s logistically much more complicated for a print disabled family member to get an accessible version and other members of the same family have one accessible to sight-reading. The print-disabled accessible versions often don’t come out at the same time, as just one issue.

Many people with print disabilities would love the convenience of using a

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

or other device (I’d linked that one because that’s the one I personally use daily…and regularly for TTS in the car), rather than having to use a PC version or other reader. The HDX has a lot of accessibility features (audible menus, the ability to read aloud what you are touching on the screen), and would be a big plus for that group.

What would happen if they rule that it’s okay for anyone to circumvent for TTS?

I think, right away, we would see apps that could do it…and probably free ones.

Not too long after that, it’s possible the publishers would simply stop blocking it. If the block was ineffective for many people, it might not be worth the costs (it has to cost something to insert the code…and there are public relations costs) to block it.

There won’t be a decision immediately, but virtual fingers crossed…

If you do submit a petition (or have already) and want to share it with me and my readers, feel free to comment on this post. If you have any other thoughts on this (Are there other exemptions which should be in place? Should publishers be able to block TTS to protect audiobook sales?), again, feel free to comment on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

No First Sale doctrine outside the USA?

October 17, 2014

No First Sale doctrine outside the USA?

Update: thank you to several readers who pointed out something I had missed. I’ll comment on that after the original post.**

I finished reading

Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shoppiing*) by Hugh Howey

when I was work today, and had quite a long drive back in front of me.

I decided to listen to

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer (at AmazonSmile*) by John Grisham

with text-to-speech in the car on the way back.

This is a childrens’ book by the famous legal thriller author…my Significant Other read it a while ago, and I figured I’d try it. I as in the mood for something light.

In this case, the TTS actually did read me the rights statement in the beginning of the book.

I do tend to read those (I usually read all the words in a book…acknowledgements, index, and so on).

Something in this one caught my eye…er, ear. ;)

It said:

“Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.”

Penguin says what? ;)

According to this, it sounds like you couldn’t sell your copy (obviously, not of your e-book…I assume they just copied this from the p-book…paperbook) of Theodore Boone in England without first getting permission from the publisher (Puffin, an imprint of Penguin).

Not in a used bookstore…not at a garage sale…and you couldn’t even lend it to somebody in your family, from the way I read it.

I was curious, so I did a search for this book on

http://www.usedbooksearch.co.uk/

Limiting the results to the UK, there were plenty of copies available.

Gee, it must have been hard for all of those people to get permission to sell theirs from Penguin. ;)

Publishers are not allowed to do this in the USA, thanks to something called the “First Sale doctrine”.

It basically dates back to 1908, and a case where Macy’s discounted a book (I’m simplifying things here, legal scholars). The publisher had put a statement in the book that it couldn’t be sold for under a dollar. Macy’s did, and the issue got all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Court essentially said that the copyright only covered the first sale of the copy of the book (in this case, from the publisher to Macy’s), not subsequent sales.

That was codified in 1976.

Section 109 (a) of U.S. copyright law says:

“Notwithstanding the provisions of section (3), the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title, or any person authorized by such owner, is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord.”
http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#109

Without that, you would legally be under the same restrictions as the rights statement I quoted suggests.

With e-books, I’ve seen people up in arms because they can’t resell them.

That’s not a “natural right” that’s always been true (in practice)…it’s a specifically granted right.

It’s possible at some point that it would be taken away, of course. Not likely (it’s survived more than a century), but not impossible.

I wonder if Penguin actually expects anybody to follow this, and if they ever try to enforce it.

People say a lot of things just hoping it scares people into compliance…but they might not want the issue to get into court and have some precedent decided that doesn’t benefit them going forward.

For a birthday, I gave my SO a parachute jump (this was some time back).

My SO is in insurance claims, and laughed at the release they had to sign…and let them know it would never hold up.

One provision was that nobody in your family could sue if something happened to you.

Of course, my SO doesn’t have the authority to sign away my rights! That paper would never have had legal standing to stop me from suing.

However, I would guess it works as intimidation…and to impress upon people how serious the activity is, which is a good thing.

Anyway, if you are outside the USA (and I have readers all over the world), I’m curious: do you have used bookstores? Are you aware of any kind of restriction like this, or an equivalent of  the First Sale doctrine? I’m especially interested in hearing from you if you are an intellectual property lawyer outside the USA. Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

** Thanks to Dragi Raos, Denis, and Harold Delk (so far) ;) who pointed out that I had missed this part of Penguin’s statement: “… in any form of binding or cover other that in which it is published”. I had incorrectly took that as “or in any form of binding or cover…” In other words, I understood it as saying that even if you put it in a different cover it wasn’t okay to resell it, when it actually reads as the injunction being against putting it in that other cover and selling it, not selling the original.  This may be an example of how we process differently when using text-to-speech…I do think I perhaps fill in more gaps with TTS than when sight-reading. That said, this still raises some questions for me. Why is it okay to put it in another cover in the USA, and not in the rest of the world? If you can turn books into art and tsotchkes (which always makes me shudder…do you really want to eat off a serving platter made up of books which have been torn to pieces for that purpose?), what’s wrong with creating your own cover for a book when you resell it? If I understand this correctly, if I put a book into a library type binding (putting a clear, strong layer on the original cover), I might not be able to sell it? Anyway, this is one of those cases where I will openly admit to having been wrong…I misheard what the statement said, and then didn’t re-read it when I put it into the article. Thanks again to the readers who helped make this blog more accurate!

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Google takes action on infringement?

October 16, 2014

Google takes action on infringement?

I’ve run into situations before where someone has infringed on my copyright.

About three years ago, after an alert and kind reader let me know about running into some of my work in a book purchased in the Kindle store (not one of my books), I let Amazon know and the book was removed:

Infringement, plagiarism, and Amazon to the rescue

As I said then, “…I’m not a big person for punishment, public shame, or revenge.  I usually just want the situation fixed.  :)”

I mentioned recently that my posts (in their entirety…and every one of them in sequence, at least the latest ones) were appearing on a site without my authorization.

I named the site then, because I couldn’t see any way to contact them…and I figured, hey, if they are publishing my material, they are probably reading it. :)

I gave them a couple of days to remedy the situation (and a way to contact me privately, if they wanted to arrange permission…I have allowed some things before, even without compensation).

That didn’t happen.

I saw that they had ads (making this a commercial enterprise), powered by Google’s AdSense.

I clicked the link for AdSense, and they nicely had a specific way for me to report the infringement…it even automatically linked back to the website. I stated I was the copyright holder: I am…I obviously don’t register the copyright before I publish these posts, but copyright in the USA is automatic. You don’t need to register it to have protection, although registering it gives you more options. I have registered some copyrights in the past.

Google said, in part in this short excerpt: “We will promptly review this website to ensure that it complies with our policies and, if necessary, take the appropriate action.”

Well, I’m pleased to report that while the infringement is still happening at this point, the ads are gone from the site.

Hopefully, this will get them to remove my material, or contact me for permission. Since they aren’t profiting from it via the Google ads any more, and they’ve been informed of the infringement (I think the vast majority of infringers are simply ignorant of the relevant law), I’m hoping  the situation is fixed soon.

I’d really rather not take additional action…that’s no fun for anybody.

I see at least one post from someone else I (virtually) know on there…I’ll alert that person, although, of course I’m only assuming that they didn’t get permission.

I’m quite confident that Google removed the ads…thanks, Google!

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Copyright law: inherently unequal?

October 11, 2014

Copyright law: inherently unequal?

Copyright law matters to you as a reader.

It has a huge effect on what is available to you.

Books that are not under copyright protection, that are in the “public domain” (owned by the public), are often available free as e-books. No one needs to be paid for the rights to publish those, and with the advent of e-books (and in particular, the exemplary and valuable work of Project Gutenberg), an effort has been made to take advantage of the low costs of production and distribution to let readers read them.

For books under copyright protection, it is that law which largely makes it possible for authors to make a living as writers.

By setting the rules under which books can be reproduced, the government creates a structure of compensation.

Certainly, it is possible to distribute works without regard to copyright, and to simply ask for people to pay for them, if they want. It is a stretch to see that generating the kinds of income we see through licensing of works, though. You could also have individual contracts to allow the reading of the books, but that would be unduly cumbersome.

So, copyright is important: and the fairness of the ability to use that copyright to make money from your intellectual property is important.

In the USA (and in many other countries), that opportunity is unequal.

Why?

The copyright terms are based on the life of the author plus a certain number of years (in the USA, it’s Life+70).

The intent here, presumably, is that the author and the author’s children (if any) can benefit from the creation of the book…and after that, the government removes their right to control the work, and it falls into the public domain (effectively eliminating its value as a way to generate income).

I’ve wondered before if the idea of a copyright term like that is a good idea in and of itself. See what is perhaps my most controversial post:

Should copyright be permanent?

There are those who simply don’t believe in copyright…if you create something, they argue that the society should have unencumbered (and uncompensated) access to it. I assume they also think it is okay to go into a stranger’s house and eat the food in their refrigerator, or to drive away with someone else’s car without their permission. ;)

Let’s leave off the extremes of permanent copyright and no copyright, and just look at the issue of Life+a certain number of years: what’s wrong with that?

You want to know what’s wrong with that? Mortality.

Suppose a fifty year old writes and publishes a book. Let’s just say that, on average, that book is going to generate royalties of a thousand dollars a year.

We’ll further say that the author can be expected to live to be age 100.

That book will generate $120,000 for the creator and the estate: one thousand dollars each year of the author’s remaining life,then a thousand dollars a years for each of the subsequent seventy years.

Now let’s do that math with a twenty year old author.

Again, assuming they live to be 100, there are eighty+seventy years of copyright protection: that’s a lifetime value of $150,000. That’s $30,000  (25%) more.

Given the statistical probabilities of life expectancy, the older author won’t earn as much as the younger author for the same thing…and that’s unequal protection under the law, and should be illegal under the Constitution.

The “equal protection” of the Fourteenth Amendment actually only applies to the states, as I understand it, but in Bolling v. Sharpe, the Supreme Court basically said the Federal government shouldn’t have a lesser responsibility than the states, and so “equal protection” is sort of covered by “due process”. I’m not a lawyer, but that’s how I read it.

I’m surprised this hasn’t been successfully legally challenged, but given that Life+x years is a widely used copyright term in other countries as well, I assume there are treaties involved. That complicates things.

I also don’t like Life+, because it makes it much harder to figure out when something goes into the public domain! Just knowing when something was first published in the USA doesn’t do it (if the publication is after 1977), since you have to know when the last surviving author died. For famous authors, that’s not that hard to find…but not all authors are famous. With something like half a million independently published books a year now (I’ve seen that estimate), it’s going to be very difficult to figure out.

You often don’t even know the author’s real name…there is no requirement that they put that on a published work, and copyright exists even without registration (although it’s more difficult to go after infringers if you don’t register it).

Do I think a challenge to the Supreme Court could change Life+ to a finite term? I do think it could be successful, but I really don’t expect it to happen.

We will simply continue to institutionally disadvantage older authors as a group.

That is, unless there is really major overhaul of copyright, which I would like to see.

I still find the idea of permanent copyright, in exchange for greater Fair Use provisions, to be an intriguing idea. I’m not advocating for it, and it doesn’t seem to be what copyright was intended to do (the Constitution specifically calls for “limited times”), but things have massively changed in terms of content consumption in the past couple of hundred years.

The market value of Sherlock Holmes is arguably much bigger now than it was when the copyright term first expired, for example. One could argue that that is in part due to it having gone into the public domain (for the most part…some of the original stories are still under copyright in some parts of the world), allowing for more experimentation with the character (and perhaps more nimbly adapting to changing audience tastes).

I also have people say that they don’t like that it would be corporations owning the rights a hundred years after the author died, not the author and their descendants.

That point, though, may be changing. As independent publishing becomes increasingly viable, more authors will retain their rights…and could have something to pass on to generations of descendants.

The other argument I get from people is about “cultural ownership”. Shouldn’t Shakespeare and Mark Twain’s works belong to everybody equally? I’m not quite sure why. If you can take the rights away from the family 100 years after it was written, why not 99? Then why not fifty? Then why not after one week? I just haven’t quite understood the logic of that, and I’d be happy to have someone explain it to me. :)

What do you think? Is the copyright concept of Life+ unfair? It doesn’t matter how old you, the rule is the same…it’s just that we know that, statistically, the result won’t be: is that okay? Copyright terms have continued to get longer since they were introduced (in the USA) at fourteen years, renewable once (if the author was still alive…not a certainty, given life expectancy in the 1700s, and the age at which someone might publish back then)…do you think that will continue to be the case? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

 

Round up #263: parody legal in the UK, Kindle case for those with grip issues

August 3, 2014

Round up #263: parody legal in the UK, Kindle case for those with grip issues

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Kindle case for those with grip issues

I have a sibling with a medical condition that makes it hard to hold on to things…lots of things get dropped.

We happened to be visiting today, and my sibling told me about a Kindle case which had been recommended in a class…and which really worked very well:

MarBlue Atlas (new) for Kindle Case, Purple (Fits Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle and Kindle Touch) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You can’t see it at all well in the product pictures, but it has a broad strap on it…roughly the size of a deck of cards (well, an almost two dimensional deck of cards).

My sibling is able to slip a hand in there, and then can even turn the Kindle upside down without dropping it.

It could be useful for a lot of people who want to make sure they can hold on to a Kindle (even in the bath, for example).

It’s $24.99 for basic colors at time of writing, and is also available with a customizable design (which could be good for gifts, or if the person is in a group living situation).

One other thing: we don’t use leather, and this one is all synthetics.

My Fire Phone tells me where to go

No, it wasn’t insulting me. ;)

I’m liking my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

more as I use it more.

Today was the first time I tested it out for navigation (using the native Maps app).

It worked fine. :)

I liked the timing of it…with my S4, I sometimes wouldn’t get the upcoming directions at the right time…too soon or too late. One test isn’t enough, of course, but the timing seemed quite good. It didn’t announce the next move way ahead (once I was on the right path), which meant it was less “chatty”. Oh, and if it had to re-route (because I went a different way), there was just a little chirrupy sound, and it seemed to re-route very quickly…within half a block, I’d say.

I’ve also been playing

Planet Puzzles (at AmazonSmile*)

which came on my phone. It’s a puzzle game: you have a Rubik’s Cube looking thing, and there will be two squares of the same color on it. There might be several pairs. All you have to do is “connect the dots”, coloring the squares in between, say, blue and blue.

That sounds easy…it very quickly became quite a challenging puzzle!

It has the dynamic perspective, the sort of 3D effect.

I had a New Millennial (born roughly between 1980 and 2000) relative try it (and play around with the phone). The response was good. :)

August Kindle First books

The

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

books are out for August, and this time, I had an easy choice.

Prime members can choose one of these pre-release titles…not to borrow, but to own.

The choices this time are:

  • Fantasy: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
  • Mystery: A Cold and Broken Hallelujah by Tyler Dilts
  • Historical Fiction: Portrait of a Girl by Dörthe Binkert (translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo)
  • Romantic Suspense: Crazy for Her by Sandra Owens

I went with The Paper Magician…

If you wait until they are released (in September), you should be able to read them through Kindle Unlimited, and borrow them through the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library).

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Public Domain Detective

I haven’t reported on this one yet, but the U.S. Supreme Court, according to this

BBC article

and other sources, declined to hear an emergency appeal by the Conan Doyle estate, effectively ending (at least for now) a legal battle over the copyright status of Sherlock Holmes.

It’s a bit of a tricky case, but very interesting and potentially with sweeping implications (including for fan fiction, in my opinion).

It goes like this:

A lot of the Sherlock Holmes stories are in the public domain in the USA. That means that the public owns them: they are not under copyright protection. Anybody can publish them, distribute them, profit off them, and make media adaptations of them without first getting permission.

Ten of the stories, however, are not.

The estate argued that a new work which is “informed” (my term, not theirs) by the last ten stories would infringe upon their rights if unauthorized.

The suggestion was that a new work with Sherlock Holmes as a character might infringe their copyright…because those last ten stories were under protection.

The declination to rule clears the way for new Holmes works…although not, of course, for reproduction of the last ten, without permission.

In a related story, the British House of Lords has just okayed the use of parody there, according to this

The Drum article by Angela Haggerty

and other sources.

I think most Americans don’t realize our relatively freedom to parody works (which I’ve done many times in this blog).

When you parody something, you can use the original characters (even the names) if what you are doing is critiquing that work. In the USA, we see it all the time…Saturday Night Live, Mad Magazine, and so on.

That hit me years ago as the explanation for a mystery: why are so many comedians (including ones on SNL) working in the USA Canadians? John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, Eugene Levy…the epiphany was that Canada doesn’t specifically have parody as a defence in copyright cases. In order to make parodies, it makes sense for them to come to the USA to practice their art. That’s not the only reason, I’m sure, but I would guess it is a contributing factor.

Another way that the UK is updating copyright laws is to make format shifting legal of items you legally own, when you do it for your own use:

Intellectual Property Office PDF

I’ve been saying for some time that the USA needs to make this explicit change as well.

Currently, it isn’t clear that it is legal for you to digitize a p-book (paperbook) you own, if it is not in the public domain…even for your own use.

Oh, the odds are that no one would come after you, of course, but you can’t judge morality and legality just on whether or not you will get caught (at least, I don’t).

The hard thing in the USA is that it might be legal…this is one of those fuzzy areas that the Copyright Office often has.

I’d like to just see a straightforward statement: format shifting for your own use of legal items (just like it is now in the UK) is legal.

It seems unlikely that we’ll get that soon, though. We need a major overhaul of copyright: I’ve suggested one possibility would be to go to permanent copyright in exchange for much greater Fair Use provisions for educational and non-profit uses. That may have been my most controversial article to date, even though I didn’t advocate for the idea, just explored it:

Should copyright be permanent?

A great example of the value of Kindle Unlimited

I was working with a physical therapist who recommended a book to me:

Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change your Life (at AmazonSmile*)
by Michael Merzenich
4.3 out of 5 stars, 74 customer reviews

I’m guessing this will be the kind of book I won’t want to re-read.

It’s price in the USA Kindle store right now is $9.95…but I could borrow it for free as part of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

So, this month, I’ve already almost saved enough with KU to pay for itself…with one book. :)

What do you think? Should it be legal to format shift books? Will the US make any major changes to copyright in the near future? If so, what would you like to see? If you are on the trial of KU, will you pay for it when that trial is up? Which Kindle First book did you pick? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Kindle’s 10 most wanted: July 5, 2014

July 6, 2014

Kindle’s 10 most wanted: July 5, 2014

When I last wrote about this, back in August of 2010, the situation on “backlist titles” being in the Kindle store was quite different.

The backlist books are typically books that are at least a year old, although that’s a bit of a fluid definition. I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager. We would get catalogs (yes, on paper) of books from publishers.

The front of the catalog would be the new titles…often with the splashiest ones first. A new Stephen King, for example, would be in the very front.

The older titles (which still sold) would be in the back of the catalog…they were the “backlist”.

Four years ago, there were about 650,000 titles in the USA Kindle store: now there are 2,663,833.

The books that I listed as being most discussed as wanted (based on my impressions of what I saw in the forums?

So, all three of those are available.

Here are the ones I listed as most wanted back then, based on the list at

eReaderIQ

which I consider the most valuable resource on the web for Kindleers:

  • Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina by Robert Graves: available
  • And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmeyer: not available
  • The Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny: while that particular omnibus is not available, several Zelazny Amber books are
  • Sarum: The Novel of England by Edward Rutheford: available
  • Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart: not available
  • Night Train to Memphis by Elizabeth Peters: available
  • Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman: available
  • Crimes Against Liberty by David Limbaugh: available
  • When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman: available
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: not available

As you can see, great progress has been made. Only three out of those ten are really not available (legally through the USA Kindle store), and then we have the Zelazny Amber situation…which I think we can consider to be unavailable, since I don’t think the ones available are the ones in that omnibus.

What are the top ten most wanted now?

#10: The Neverending Story
by Michael Ende

#9: Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart (repeat from above)

#8: The Belgariad, Volume 1 by David Eddings: the first one of the three books in this series is available…and can be borrowed through the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library). The other two are not

#7: Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey: a number of other Pern books are available

#6: A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

#5: The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye

#4: Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKindley

#3: Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy: these books were available (under the title “Legacy” at one point, but don’t appear to me now)

#2: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

#1: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (hasn’t dropped in rank since I checked in 2010)

Some of you may be thinking that some of these are “classics” and should be out of copyright protection. That’s not the case. If they were, you can bet that there would be versions legally available in the Kindle store. When something is in “the public domain”, the public owns it: anybody can publish it without getting permission.

Eventually, all books (under the current rules) will fall into the public domain, but it could be a while. That’s especially true for authors who are still living…the current basic term is Life+70 years, at least for books first published in the USA since March 1, 1989. That can be stretched back to 1978, provided that the book had a proper copyright notice (I think we may be the only country with copyright rules which are this convoluted).

The Crystal Cave, for example, was published in 1970…if it followed all the rules (and it will have), it would fall into the public domain on January 1st of 2066, I think.

That doesn’t mean we will have to wait that long, though. :)

As you can see from the number which have been Kindleized since the 2010 list, deals do get made.

That’s the key thing.

Authors retain rights which they haven’t licensed.

If they haven’t explicitly licensed the e-book rights to somebody, no one can legally publish the book as an e-book (except the author)…even if they have licensed other rights.

That’s why you’ll see audiobooks of some of the “missing” title above…the audiobooks were negotiated, the e-books were not.

Prior to about 2005, it wasn’t common to license e-book rights. In the case of The Crystal Cave, it would have been very unlikely for anyone to license the rights back in 1970 for a medium which didn’t really exist yet. :)

In that case, a publisher would need to go to the author (or the author’s estate) and negotiate the rights…and often, negotiate them separately for different markets (although I do believe that global rights sales are becoming more common).

As you can imagine, that can be complex.

Under the current situation, we’ll get a bunch of books falling into the public domain in 2019 (books published in 1923…earlier books are already in the public domain).

However, you can count on there being a push to extend copyrights again.

Now that there is a market for older works (that really wasn’t true until we had media which could both store those works and make retrieval commercially viable), the rightsholders will want to be able to keep control of them.

Copyright terms have only gotten longer over the years…again, in part, I think, because of the improvements in technology.

Works published fifty years ago (1964) have a lot of commercial value still (think of a number of the Beatles’ songs, for example).

In 1964, how much commercial value was there for works published in 1914? Some, but the percentage of popular works from 1914 in 1964 is much lower than the popularity of 1964 works now in 2014.

In one of my most controversial posts, I explored the idea of making copyright permanent, in exchange for a considerable expansion of Fair Use rights:

Should copyright be permanent?

Non-commercial uses, such as academic use in a classroom, would become much easier, while commercial rights would tend to stay out of the public domain.

I have to say, I think many of my readers hated the idea. ;)

Back to the list of the books that are the “most wanted” (to be Kindleized).

You can go to eReaderIQ and start a “watch list”. They’ll send you a free e-mail letting you know if a book you have listed has been Kindleized. There is no charge for that.

I’m not connected to that site except as a user, although we have had some correspondence…

What do you think? Are there any books you are particularly waiting to see Kindleized? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #259: read to your kids, Prince of Tides

June 25, 2014

Round up #259: read to your kids, Prince of Tides

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

KDD: Prince of Tides

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deals (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is

The Prince of Tides (at AmazonSmile)
by Pat Conroy
4.5 stars out of 5, 501 customer reviews
$1.99 at time of writing

Very successful and made into a movie, this is a good one for your guest Kindle, or just for a read for you. :) It’s almost thirty years old at this point: I’m sure some people wonder why a “classic” like this isn’t available legally free on line. ;)

Supreme Court rules against Aereo

According to this

The Guardian article by Dominic Rushe

and other sources (I have the TV on in the other room while I write this, so I can listen to CNN), the Supreme Court has just ruled against “rebroadcaster” Aereo.

This is a copyright issue at heart, and I think a lot of people generally expect those to go in the direction of more access in the future…but this one didn’t.

For example, my guess is that it is legal to digitize a p-book (paperbook) you own to turn in into a digital file for your own use (sort of like using a DVR to record a broadcast program), but to my knowledge, that has not been established. I’ve been thinking that it will be solidly established at some point, and nobody is hunting anybody down at this point, but it hasn’t happened yet.

This is a bit different, though, because Aereo is a commercial enterprise.

Aereo uses antennae to pick up over the air signals, and then stream them to subscribers.

They argued that they were an antennae company, not a streaming company…at least, that’s my understanding. Picking up the signals by antenna is legal, of course: it’s the way they got to consumers that was in question.

This could impact literary content, at some point, as hardware becomes more capable of digitizing things. That ability will be one of things I test early on my Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)…on something in the public domain.

13 single issues of magazines, $0.99 each

I do read magazines on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

both from the Kindle store, and from Zinio.

I often mention the roughly ten thousand paperbooks I have on shelves in  our home…but I also have quite a few old magazines.

Many years ago, there was a store going out of business (I think) in my town, and I bought a wooden magazine shelf…I think I paid $5 for it.

I’m sure we’ve paid more than that in gas hauling it around when we’ve moved over the years. ;)

It’s about a person tall and a couple of people wide, and has a lot of horizontal slots…you can put maybe ten issues of a magazine in one, and still see the top one to see what title it is.

My intuition, though, is that some people haven’t even tried magazines on their Kindle Fires.

One reason for that is that the experience on a non-Fire Kindle just didn’t approach that of paper.

For me, the Fire’s experience of reading a glossy magazine often exceeds paper.

Yes, one reason is the “digital extras” you may get. I’ve been an

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY (at AmazonSmile)

for a very long time. I’m not usually big on watching the trailers they include, but I do listen to song samples sometimes. They also may include a video interview, and that can be quite an enhancement.

Pictures look great, and while not all magazines give you the text + pictures mode of

National Geographic (at AmazonSmile)

I’ve been able to zoom photos and have used that to show off the Fire’s screen. On the HDX, you can triple tap pretty much any screen (not videos) to magnify it, then use two fingers together to drag it around.

Why don’t more people read magazines on their Fires?

While you can get a 14-day free trial (or thirty day, in some cases), those renew automatically…and I think it concerns people. A year-long subscription is a lot more than most people pay for an e-book.

Amazon is having a

Ninety-nine cent single issue sale (at AmazonSmile)

for one week only.

I’ve bought a couple of single issues of magazines and newspapers from the Kindle store over the years. There was something specific in them that I wanted, but I didn’t really want a subscription.

Well, if you want to try out reading a magazine without worrying about a renewal, you may want to get one of these during the sale:

  • Eating Well
  • More
  • Do it Yourself
  • Family Circle
  • Better Homes and Gardens
  • Every Day with Rachel Ray
  • Fitness
  • Traditional Home
  • allrecipes
  • FamilyFun
  • Midwest Living
  • Parents
  • Wood – by Better Homes & Gardens (um…it may be a good thing they included the subtitle…) ;)

Michael Hart, The Grandfather of E-Books

This is a nice

Bidness Etc. article by Zoe Jacobson

about Michael Hart, who created Project Gutenberg…which is the reason we have so many free classics legally available to us today.

The article also talks about e-books generally.

I recommend it, although you may need to sign-up to be able to read the whole thing.

AAP recommends reading to your child

I used to work for The American Academy of Pediatrics, so I should mention that first.

According to this

NPR piece with Audie Cornish…transcript and audio

the AAP is specifically recommending reading to children, even infants, every day.

Absolutely.

Not every adult serious reader was read to as a child, but many of us were…and I do think it matters.

They are talking about linguistic development for one thing. Let me give you some of my thoughts on that part of it.

When we read we use many words we might not otherwise use…it’s why so many of us appear to be British when we write, when we may never have been there. ;)

Also, when we read to a child, we are speaking steadily for a period of time. The focus is on words: the words on the page for us, but the words in our mouths for the child. How many people have a “conversation” with a pre-verbal child that lasts as long as

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (at AmazonSmile)

With older children, you are really modeling the act of reading, in addition to other positive elements. When you see the adults in your life reading as, say, a five-year old, you want to read, too. One great thing is that when kids are trying to establish themselves as separate from their intellectual guardians, I don’t think they tend to do that by becoming non-readers…they just read different things. Once you are a reader, you tend to stay a reader, I believe. Reading is like interacting with another person…just time delayed. ;) Not very many people stop talking to other people…

What do you think? Is digitizing a book for your own use legal? Do you read magazines on a tablet…or perhaps on an non-Fire Kindle? Do you haul old issues of magazines around with you from house to house…and if so, do you ever pull them out and read them again (I do)? Were you the first serious reader in your family? If so, what got you started? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Round up #248: write your way to a Kindle Fire, “me-colored glasses”

April 4, 2014

Round up #248: write your way to a Kindle Fire, “me-colored glasses”

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

“I’m not at Liberty to pay…”

“‘By reducing our preferred position and eliminating some of our related rights, Barnes & Noble will gain greater flexibility to accomplish their strategic objectives,’ Mr. Maffei said in a statement.”
–quoted in a New York Times article by Michael J. De La Merced and Julie Bosman

Flexibility? Yes. Capability? No.

Yes, I’m sure all that money you were giving them was reducing their choices. It’s like a parent saying, “You don’t like my rules? Fine. Then you can just get an apartment on your own and live your own rules. Of course, you might have trouble finding someone who will rent to a ten-year old…”

I don’t really see how to spin this and make it a good thing for B&N, and neither can the stock market…following the announcement, B&N’s stock took a more  precipitous  dive than an Acapulco cliff diver. ;)

CNNMoney graph

That doesn’t mean that they won’t recover…but I would be very interested to hear what people think does mean that Barnes & Noble is going to get back to robust health.

I think this does make the continued existence of Barnes & Noble bookstores as we know them today less likely (and I’m speaking as a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore).

The article was generally pretty good, but I doubt the folks at Books-A-Million liked this statement: “…Barnes & Noble, the nation’s last major bookstore chain”.

 Digitizing your paperbooks will be legal…in the UK

America’s copyright system is often relatively complex compared to many other countries’ systems.

I honestly don’t really expect us to lead on this front.

One could argue that it is due, in part, to us being so successful in creating intellectual property. Most countries in the world consume American media, even if we don’t return the favor in equal proportion. You can also see this in the use of our software.

So, I wasn’t surprised the the UK beat us to saying something that I’ve been hoping would get said here in the USA.

Starting 1 June 2014, it is legal to digitize your paperbooks (turn them into e-books) at home for your own purposes in the UK, according to this

Wired.co.uk article by Olivia Solon

This decision wasn’t specifically about p-books to e-books, but it does cover them (it also covers things like “ripping a CD” to digital).

It doesn’t allow you to do that for other people, but that’s fine. If I knew it was legal here, I’d probably start digitizing a lot more of my books (I do public domain ones now…just started on that with my new Xcanex scanner, although I did it with a flatbed for a non-profit).

I don’t think this is much of a threat to the e-book industry. Not very many people are going to scan a book when they can buy one already done and nicely formatted. I think, as would be the case with me, that it would be books that aren’t available otherwise in most cases. Certainly, some hobbyists might scan the books instead of buying them…but it would be a bit like saying that people who build their own computers are a threat to HP. It just isn’t going to be that large a group.

I hope this inspires a similar decision in the USA…

Amazon Fire TV

My Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile) should be here today. I meant to order it with one-day shipping, but apparently, in my haste (I would afraid they would sell out), didn’t click the button to switch it. That’s okay…I probably won’t really get to explore it until Saturday, and I’ll write more about it then.

Of course, many people don’t wait to explore it before they write about it.  :)

I was…intrigued with all of the 1-star reviews that showed up before almost anybody had the device. The vast majority of those were from people who didn’t have it yet.

1-star reviews for the Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile)

A lot of the “reviews” (I don’t believe you can actually “review” something until you have viewed it) had to do it with it missing something the poster wanted.

That just seems very self-centered to me. Its like giving Baskin-Robbins a 1-star review because, out of the 33 flavors of ice cream they have, they don’t have Banana-Coconut-Mango…and that’s your favorite! So, it doesn’t matter if their service is excellent, prices are good, and the vast majority of people who go there like their ice creams…the place sucks! :)

Now, that’s not quite a fair comparison…arguably, at $99, Amazon is not a price leader on this (they are comparable to many other devices in the category, although not the the Google Chromecast). It does seem like a very narrow focus…seeing the world through “me-colored glasses”.

One of the most commonly mentioned ones, and one that Amazon even includes in the comparison chart, is

HBO GO (at AmazonSmile)

That also messes up the analogy, because that’s a popular “channel”…it’s more like Baskin-Robbins not having strawberry ice cream. To me, that wouldn’t mean BR should get a 1-star review…there would still be a lot of good in that place, and a 1-star review is as low as you can go at Amazon.

Notice, though, that I have a link for HBO Go? That’s because you can get it in the Amazon Appstore…for your Kindle Fire.

That means that, if you have both a

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and an

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile)

you will be able to watch HBO GO through the AFTV, since you can mirror the Fire to it (display what’s on the Fire’s screen on your TV). I assume that will be true: I won’t be testing that specifically, since we don’t have HBO.

The app is free, by the way.

Equally worth noting: no reason to suppose the app won’t get added directly to the AFTV at some point.

I expect AFTV’s 3.1 star average to rise considerably in the next week, once the initial flood of negative reviews by people who don’t have it is countered. Don’t know where it will get, don’t know how good the experience is yet…but I think it has been front-loaded with negativity.

If you don’t have and don’t plan to get an AFTV, does this part of this post matter to you?

A bit…it’s making some changes on the Amazon.com site, and possibly pointing to some interesting strategic shifts.

First, the AFTV appears in the Kindle “family stripe”. That’s the thing at the top of a Kindle’s product page which shows you what other Kindles are available.

If you go to a Kindle Fire’s page, you now see the Kindle Fires…then a “show all device types” illustration, which includes a Fire, a Paperwhite…and an Amazon Fire TV.

I have said many times that I wish they hadn’t named the Fire a “Kindle”, since they are such different devices…I wish they had kept “Kindle” for dedicated EBRs (E-Book Readers).

While I had suggested the “Amazon Current”, I would have been much happier with the “Amazon Fire” rather than the “Kindle Fire”.  It has created a great deal of confusion, with people wondering why they can’t read their “new Kindle” in the sun as well.

This family striping seems to be a step away from branding everything as a “Kindle”, which I think may be a good thing.

Similarly, while the links to

Manage Your Kindle (at AmazonSmile)

still work, the page is now branded, “Manage Your Content and Devices”.

Students: write your way to a Kindle Fire

I mentioned this briefly, but wanted to call it out more.

Amazon has a nice

student guide

to

Timebound (The Chronos Files) (at AmazonSmile)

One of the elements there is a contest:

This lesson will allow your students to write an account of an American History event as seen through a CHRONOS historian. Students can submit their work here to enter to win one of 5 autographed editions of Timebound. One lucky student will win a Kindle Fire. Submissions must be received by 12/17/2014. For more information on the content visit: http://www.chronosfiles.com/students.html.

This is, in my opinion, a good academic and creative contest. The rules will require some real research, and I see this as a legitimate school exercise.

What do you think? Should I cover the Amazon Fire TV at all in this blog? I do think I will do it some (not a lot), but I’m interested in your opinion. Will the USA follow the UK in legitimizing format shifting? Should they? What would be the impact? Were you ever given an assignment in school with a prompting question? If so, was it valuable? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round-up #237: Bezos goes to college, stealing from yourself

January 30, 2014

Round-up #237: Bezos goes to college, stealing from yourself

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

J’accuse…moi!

One of my readers gave me a heads-up to this one in a private comment:

Wall St. CheatSheet article by Nathanael Arnold

You know those science fiction stories where a robot or computer decides the best way to serve homo sapiens is to protect it from its biggest threat…itself?

Apparently, a “highly automated” system at Digimarc, working on behalf of HarperCollins, has asked Apple to remove from the iTunes store e-books listed there to which HarperCollins has the rights…and which HarperCollins itself put there!

In other words, what is most likely happening here is that the system is looking for the books online, but doesn’t know where they are supposed to be.

That is one way to stop piracy! If you could stop a book from being distributed by anybody at any time in any way, there would be no piracy…or legitimate sales, for that matter. ;)

Thanks to the reader for the heads-up! I think you intended that to be private: if not, let me know and I’ll credit you here.

Amazon expands into…

One of \S/uperman’s powers, according to the old opening was (besides bending steel, etc.) was that the Kryptonian could “…change the course of mighty rivers”.

The Amazon, of course, is one of the mightiest rivers…and its e-tailer namesake is constantly changing its course.

In fact, anybody can change the course of a river: drop a rock in right next to the bank, and the river will flow around it, carving out a new spot.

That’s the way Amazon is…oh, it’s very hard to change where it has already been going (you know, except for online auctions) ;) , but it keeps going new places.

This year they may, according to this

Forbes article by Erik Kain

and other sources, release an Android game console for under $300.

“A console…really?” That seems to be what a lot of people are saying, given how much gaming is moving to mobile (phones and tablets).

My guess is that, if this happens, it will be far, far more than a gaming console.

Make it Miracast compatible, and it’s everything your Kindle Fire HDX is…on your big screen.

Videos? Sure. Websites? Absolutely. Your music? Check.

I can already mirror my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

on my TV using the

NETGEAR Push2TV (at AmazonSmile)

and while it isn’t super cheap (it’s around $50), it’s a lot less than $300.

My guess is that an Amazon set-top box would bring more than mirroring. It would likely bring a significantly interesting interface, with a lot of curation (suggesting things for you).

It would have to sync with Amazon, of course, and seamlessly with your Fire.

It could have Mayday on it! That could make it hugely attractive.

With the way Amazon has done things in the past, it’s possible that it would have some desired software ability that would be more exclusive to it originally. For example, I could see it being the way to manage your Collections in your Cloud initially. It could let you drag and drop books from one Collection to another, with the argument being that the big screen makes it more possible somehow.

Yes, some people who didn’t get that would be upset…but they likely wouldn’t lose sales because of it.

Interface would be an interesting question. Would it have gesture detection? Would they make hardware joysticks for it?

Would it do text-to-speech? You know, I haven’t tried that with my Push2TV! If that worked, I would definitely use it with the louder speakers while doing things in the house. I’ll let you know…

Pre-release update (yes, I checked this before I actually published the post): Eureka! I can use my Push2TV to display the text from my Kindle Fire HDX while my TV plays the text-to-speech! Putting the KFHDX into landscape mode makes the print quite large, but it means I can listen while doing things that take my eyes away from the screen. That may sound super-bookwormy to some of you, but I will definitely use this. It also won’t hurt to have some of the images in the books on the big screen…and mirroring allows that. You could pause on a map to take the time to examine it carefully, or a graph in a non-fiction book. Seeing some images more than life-size will also be entertaining. This is the sort of  serendipitous find I make when writing these posts that really makes me smile. :)

Update: this also means that we can read our Kindle Fires hands-free with “autoturn”, something people have wanted for a long time, while, for example, exercising or knitting. We’ve been able to turn down the volume on Kindles with text-to-speech (which “turns the pages”) for some time, but because we have variable speed (which can get quite fast) on the KFHDX, it will work better. This means that I can exercise with my KFHDX mirrored through the TV, the sound turned off, the TTS speed cranked up, and read while I work out…a whole new world! ;)

Amazon is also possibly going to expand into point-of-sales processing, according to this

CNET News article by Desiree Everts DeNunzio

and other sources.

This could actually be a very big deal. It’s not just that it would compete with Square, that little gadget that you see stuck on a cellphone or tablet to process your credit card (although it would do that, too).

I could see this going a lot more than that.

Picture this scenario:

You are shopping in a brick-and-mortar hardware store. A knowledgeable employee has helped you pick the right set of blinds for your guest room. That employee checks you out on a Kindle Fire…right there in the aisle.

Further more, you need some hardware to mount the blinds, and the store is out of it (or just doesn’t carry it). The store orders it from Amazon for you, it will arrive in a day or two (or maybe the same day, in the future, via drone), and the store gets a commission…or Amazon knocks off part of the processing fee for the credit card (which can be significant).

That’s what Amazon could do that other credit card processors can’t: add access to additional products, so the store doesn’t have to have as deep a stock.

That, in turn, could enable Amazon to charge lower processing fees.

Oh, and what if you could choose to pay in the store with your Amazon account? Even if the store doesn’t go through Amazon to fulfill your order, Amazon getting the information about what you are buying (and where) could be a big plus for it…and again, could lower processing fees.

We can already pay with our Amazon accounts at many websites…why not in brick-and-mortars?

There are a lot of interesting possibilities here…

One more potential expansion, which could be really disruptive for a major competitor (at least in one part of Amazon’s many businesses).

According to this

UC Davis News and Information post

the university has entered into a pilot program for students to buy things through Amazon.

University/College sales have been one of the relatively bright areas for Barnes & Noble. If that Amazon river gets diverted into college sales, it could result in a Carthaginian peace for Barnes & Noble and Amazon. ;) A “Carthaginian peace” (at least in the idiom) is basically when you make peace with your enemy…by destroying them. I actually thought the story had gone that a river was diverted to wipe out what was left of Carthage after the war, but I must be conflating mythologies.

At any rate, free delivery with the Amazon Student Prime program could mean that you don’t have to pay $10 for a Post-Its pad while you are in college any more.

This is just a pilot program, but if it works well…it could knock the last sturdy leg out from under Barnes & Noble’s three-legged (retail, digital, college) stool.

Marcus Books fundraiser this Saturday

I’ve written before about attempts to save Marcus Books in San Francisco from closing. It’s an historic bookstore…and there was an effort to get it officially designated as such.

Now, according to this

SF Weekly post by Jessica Nemire

there will be a fundraiser this Saturday, February 1st.

Here is more information about the event:

Keep It Lit’

You can also donate directly through the Marcus Books website:

MarcusBookstores.com

What do you think? Would you buy a set-top box from Amazon, or are you about gadget-ed out? What would it have to have? Are traditional publishers too concerned about piracy? Are bookstores any more entitled to efforts to save them than any other kind of store? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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