Round up #311: Orwell, Open Road

Round up #311: Orwell, Open Road

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

Getting comfortable with the 7″ Fire tablet

I’ve had the

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $49.99

for about a week now, and I feel like I have a pretty good sense of it.

I would describe the device itself as serviceable, and the Fire OS 5 (which will come to some older models) as superior.

I certainly miss having dictation for the keyboard, and trace typing (like Swype…you drag your finger around to make words). I use both of those a lot on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7 (which is still what I’ve been using most of the time.

The biggest problem I’ve had with it, and I called Kindle Support to check it with them (no almost instant onscreen Mayday help), is that I can’t use it as a nightstand clock.

My Kindle Fire HDX is my nightstand clock. I have it (unplugged, just running on battery) next to the bed. The native clock app has a nightstand mode. The numbers are red, it’s dim, and it stays on all night. It takes about half the battery charge, which is fine…it charges up quickly enough in the morning.

With the new Fire, the clock app has a Night Mode…but it doesn’t override the autosleep timing! In other words, when I’m sleeping, it’s sleeping, too: no display. I don’t know about you, but I want to be able wake up groggily in the middle of the night, glance over, see what time it is….and decide if it’s appropriate to wake up the rest of the way and get out of bed. I don’t want to have to wake up the tablet to decide that.

One issue is that you can’t set the autosleep on the device to “Never”, which is my preferred setting. I’ll put my devices to sleep when I choose. 🙂

It’s a minor irritation, and I’m still using my KFHDX7 next to the bed.

Outside of that, it’s pretty good. I’d feel fine with having it for a guest or in  doctor’s waiting room. We don’t call them that any more, by the way…it’s a negative connotation.. They probably say you are “in the lobby”, in the “reception area”, or just “out front”. I loved a cartoon that I saw years ago which has a patient saying to the doctor, “If you want me to be more active, why have I been sitting in your waiting room for forty-five minutes?” 😉

Jane Friedman sounds like someone I would like to know

Jane Friedman is the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Open Road Media.

That’s been one of the best publishers for e-books. They typically publish backlist titles (older titles…the books that aren’t in the front of the catalog), and they secured the e-book rights for those when the bigger tradpubs (traditional publishers) were still hadn’t really awakened to the need.

In this

The Bookseller post by Porter Anderson

Friedman talks about the philosophy of the company.

I agree with a lot of it!

It’s definitely worth a read: this is a company that is still “…chasing profitability”. It has a clear-eyed view of the glory of resurrecting p-books (paperbooks) for the digital era. Plus, the good-humored CEO has close to 10,000 p-books at home…I can empathize. 😉

Orwell again

One of the most infamous incidents for Amazon and the Kindle was when they removed copies of a certain edition of George Orwell from customers’ Kindles.

No doubt, the irony of it being George Orwell added to the coverage of it.

Amazon apologized, compensated customers, and even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos called it “stupid”. They said they wouldn’t do the same thing in the same circumstances again, and to my knowledge, they haven’t.

Now, my understanding is that what happened was that a publisher had this book in the Kindle store, but specifically for the Australian market where the books are in the public domain (no longer under copyright protection, so no permission is needed). Amazon apparently accidentally made them available in the USA, where they were (again as I understand it, unintentionally on the publisher’s part) infringing on the rights of the estate.

In trying to rectify that, Amazon reached into customer’s devices, and deleted the unauthorized file.

Possessing that file on your Kindle, by the way, was not illegal. In

Dowling v United States

the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. found that possession of infringing copies of a copyrighted work was not the same as possession of stolen goods (despite people commonly conflating the terms “theft” and “infringement”, they are different…that’s not to say that one is less “bad” than the other, but they aren’t the same).

One of my first posts, more than six years ago, was a parody about this situation:

All’s Well That Orwells

Well, recently, there’s been another story involving Orwell’s works and alleged infringement.

In this

TorrentFreak post by Ernesto

it’s reported that “internet radio host Josh Hadley” had some designed removed from an online retailer (one I’ve used) because of a complaint supposedly from the Orwell estate.

The design had the number 1984 prominently, and I think most people would see it as a clear allusion to the Orwell book.

However, allusions are not illegal…and you can’t copyright a title.

You can trademark it, but that doesn’t seem to me to be what’s being suggested here.

On the basis of the limited information in this article, it does appear to have been an overreach…the kind for which Disney has been famous.

The retailer is within their rights (and may be wise) to remove an item when they receive a legitimate looking claim of infringement.

They are under no obligation to carry anything. If they did continue to distribute something after having been told it was infringing, and that did turn out to be the case, they could be liable.

So, irritating as it might be, someone can make a claim of infringement, and most retailers would, I think, remove the item.

I’ve made a claim like that myself to Amazon, and a work (which was infringing) was removed.

I did have to attest that I was the copyright holder, and I had to send them evidence. Amazon could have hypothetically gone after me if I had lied to them (and I didn’t and I don’t). 🙂

Just based on what I’ve seen, Hadley was probably within rights to make the design.

The retailer was within rights not to carry it.

If the estate did not file the complaint in good faith…I’m not sure what the legal ramifications could possibly be. Restraint of trade?

I’ve had the same sort of thing happen to me a couple of times when I was reasonably sure I wasn’t infringing.

One was a t-shirt design where I used a public domain illustration. Somebody complained, I guess, and it doesn’t even have to have been the rightsholder.

I basically shrugged about it.

The other one was more amusing.

We did a t-shirt that said, “Frickin’ panda heads”. Yes, that was a reference to playing on the Wii Fit. I don’t think that’s an infringement…but, oh well.

It might be different if I was designing t-shirts for a living…if my family depended on it. Then, it might be worth fighting for it.

For me, it wasn’t.

Supergirl and Pat Savage

I know some of my readers are fans of Doc Savage, who is one of my fictional heroes. If you are, you might be interested in a piece I recently wrote in The Measured Circle:

Supergirl is a hit! Thanks (again), Doc Savage

What do you think? Should I have fought the takedown notices, in order to defend people who do rely on it? What should retailers do with infringement claims? Do you use a tablet a nightstand clock? Do you have an app you like that overrides the global sleep setting? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands 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.

4 Responses to “Round up #311: Orwell, Open Road”

  1. Karen Says:

    I’m curious Bufo, do you feel the touch on your new Fire is less responsive than your HDX? I have the new HD 8 and can’t get used to the touch. It’s almost like a double click with a mouse. Don’t know if it’s defective or just different. I too love the new OS and can’t wait to get it on my HDX.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karen!

      The responsiveness seems just fine…I haven’t noticed an issue at all. That could vary by device (it seems like the fit of the screen into the frame is imperfect, and thus might be variable), and it can vary for people.

      Yep, I want OS 5 on my HDX…and on my Significant Other’s!

  2. Jason Cox Says:

    This whole Orwell thing and how it was handled by Amazon (combined with what the DOJ and even states are doing to Apple and other large companies) is why I have concern that if/when censorship starts in this country, books that we keep on our devices electronically will be taken off our devices before we know it and without our consent. Amazon would just fold if the DOJ told it to take those books off peoples’ Kindles. (And given the current political climate, 1984 may be one of the first books censored, which is incredibly ironic!)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Jason!

      Amazon has famously fought governments for their customers, so your statement is a bit curious to me.

      For example:

      and Amazon was not one of the internet giants in the NSA PRISM situation.

      That said, I believe they would follow a lawful order from the Department of Justice, so I’m just not quite sure what you are suggesting there.

      If the DoJ gave them an unlawful instruction, history suggests they would appeal.

      What happened with Amazon and the Orwell book didn’t have anything to do with censorship, in my opinion, unless you believe copyright is inherently illegitimate and a form of censorship, which some people do. The book had accidentally been distributed outside of the market where it was in the public domain. Now, Amazon shouldn’t have removed the books from people’s devices: I think we all agree with that, especially Amazon, which has said so explicitly. They should have prevented download from the Cloud and purchase from the store…which I believe is the current policy. If this was involved with censorship, Amazon wouldn’t have given people replacement copies of the same book (just one which had been legitimately licensed for the market).

      That said, censorship has been present in this country from the beginning. While there have been some actions in the past 25 years or so…the 1996 Communications Decency Act comes to mind, but that has been in large part overturned, as I understand it.

      I haven’t seen the pendulum swinging in the direction of censorship…I have seen, perhaps, more culture wars (although not more than, say, the 1950s campaign against comic books), but not more governmental restrictions (which is what I think when I think censorship).

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