Tag Archives: digital content

Libraries of the Future Lend Kindle Titles and Devices

Library Journal posted an article about the mixed response from Amazon over whether a library can lend a Kindle device with books loaded onto it.  An Amazon sales rep said “yes,” Amazon officials said “no,” but the law may say otherwise.

The first sale doctrine is a copyright defense, codified in 17 USC 109, which basically allows an owner of a lawfully made copy or phonorecord (and other tangible media) to sell or otherwise dispose of it, as well as display it to the public.   This allows purchasers of a video game, DVD, or other medium to sell it on e-Bay or to a GameStop.  Software companies (and others) try to circumvent this defense by describing the purchase of their products as a “license” rather than a “sale” issuing license agreements and terms of use (“LATU”) to prevent resale of an item, but courts have disagreed with their enforceability.

In Amazon’s LATU there are explicit terms about the digital content on the device, but not the physical device itself.  The language from Section 3, Digital Content reads as follows (emphasis added):

Use of Digital Content. Upon your payment of the applicable fees set by Amazon, Amazon grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Device or as authorized by Amazon as part of the Service and solely for your personal, non-commercial use. Digital Content will be deemed licensed to you by Amazon under this Agreement unless otherwise expressly provided by Amazon.

This language speaks to the digital content – not the device.  Amazon understands that the first-sale doctrine clearly prevents them from restricting transfer of the device, but that the gray area of the license agreements allows them some latitude here.  When drafted, Amazon likely sought to prevent a Napster situation, with users trading titles and diluting the market for content.

Now the idea of public libraries owning and lending Kindle devices is a great one.  It has the potential to create a revolution in e-Books and catapult Kindle to the status of an iPod – it can very well be the paradigm shift Amazon is banking on.  In fact, it seems like a win/win for Amazon: more public exposure to Kindle = more sales of device and content, and by putting the devices in libraries Amazon breaks through the tek-elite barrier.  I have yet to purchase or play with a Kindle b/c of the high price point and unavailability despite being an early adopter (when I have the cash for it).

But take it a step further: what if there were ways to ensure that a library could “lend” a Kindle file and then have it “returned” by the borrower?

Amazon would sell catalogs of titles to the 123,000 libraries in the United States (mix of public, school, governmental, etc.).  Those libraries would have tables of Kindle devices set up for public use (more device sales for Amazon).  They would offer file borrowing via library websites or even in the physical building (beaming or loading via docking station).  The file would have copy prevention and device tracking enabled.  It could also work like digital download rentals, which expire after a certain period of time.  If a person wanted to prevent expiration they could request an extra period of time with it, but longer than that they pay a small fee (digital late fees).  A user who likes the book so much can click to purchase from the library.  The library would make money (via the first sale doctrine) on that legally purchased copy, and can automatically order another copy from Amazon to keep their “stock” current.  Not to mention, this would allow Amazon to target users for direct sales based on their borrowing habits. This could be the future – much like the ELF’s idea for “collecting societies” of digital recordings.

Amazon, think about it – do you want to clutch to an old-world model, or do you want to build something better than iTunes?

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Innovation: How Does Your Team Use Share Point

Since becoming a manager for my company in mid-2007 our team has gone through a Share Point revolution.  Early on, we saw the potential for this under-used tool, but had little experience using it.  We found the following uses to be helpful to us as a Content Development Team

Wiki – MS Share Point wiki capabilities pale in comparison to Telligent’s, but still provide a great platform for info sharing.  Here are some examples of what we have done in this space:

  • Team Status Sheets – employees keep a running tally of the projects and releases on their plate, using brief descriptions which can be shared/edited at any time by members of the wiki.  As the manager, I set alerts to tell me when an editor changes something, cutting down on the amount of email that gets generated.  The quick nature of the updates and tools allows us to cut down on chatter that can confuse projects.  And best of all – it is entirely searchable.
  • Team Meeting Agendas – rather than sending an attachment via email, which will need to be revised before the meeting, we found posting these as wiki pages allowed team members to add items at anytime prior to the meeting.  It then serves as the template for notetaking during the meeting (whether live on Live Meeting or posted later), and helps archive our meeting discussions, follow up items, and useful info, which can be turned into a best practice wiki page and linked to directly from the agenda.
  • Evolving Best Practice Pages – we use the wiki to keep a living journal of our best practices rather than keeping this information stored in emails or documentation.  This provides flexibility to edit as we learn better ways of doing things, more robust linking, and a collaborative approach on the team to deciding the best way to work.  By using the Wiki, rather than a shared document, people are less hesitant to make a change b/c they know how easy it is to go back to a prior version if a mistake or practice that the group doesn’t agree with gets entered.  On a shared document, track changes can serve this function, but there is margin for error if the person making the change doesn’t choose track changes or uploads a different version.  Wiki just makes this a simpler task
  •  Projects – we use the wiki as a collaborative space to do project work in.  Rather than have a version on everyone’s desktop, project proposals get entered on the wiki, worked on and tracked in that space, and discussed via email (unfortunately MS Share Point doesn’t support commenting/tagging like Telligent). 

Interdepartmental Document Library Allows Coordination of Tracking Sheets & Info – in Academic publishing we deal with partners in Production, Manufacturing, Marketing, Sales, Fulfillment, and Acquisitions.  While much email is still generated, we have found that tracking sheets and shared information works best when kept in a document library.  To that end, we created separate document libraries on a single share point for each of these departments.  Rather than sending large files via email, we point each other to links in the libraries.  Also, things like Sales Rep Reports and Marketing Intelligence get stored here as well.

What are some of the innovative ways others are using Share Point?

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Intro, Twitterverse, and Virtual Trade Shows

In today’s Twitterverse we want content crunched into 140 characters and updated often; instant feedback preferably through a portable device.   So, it is in that spirit, I keep this post (and others) short & sweet.

As Strunk & White once said: “Rule 17 – omit needless words.”

An article from E-content, the Jan/Feb 2009 issue titled, Virtual Tradeshows: A realistic alternative to business travel? highlights the digital platform as a viable means for exhibiting products and services w/o leaving the comfort of wherever you are.

This is nothing revolutionary – Second Life hosted virtual gatherings for years (Harvard classes have been taught in the digital playground), but I am intrigued to see the potential for virtual events shifting to mainstream business in the current travel-restricted business economy.

The article does not call for an end to the Expo hall, but rallies for a truce between online trade shows wtih brick and morter “meat” experiences, suggesting that balancing the two serves everyone’s interest well.  Nigel Clear, of our own Reed Elsevier, said that meeting attendees at virtual shows is not the same thing as shaking someone’s hand, but it can allow you to reach the largest audience possible – “for every one person who can attend a show (in person), there are 10 who can’t.”

The most sensible answer in the virtual v. meat tradeshow debate echoes that of author David Thomson (Law School 2.0: Legal Education for a Digital Age) in speaking about a similar question in education.  In the paper v. pixelated textbook debate he said, “let print do what print does well and online do what online does well.”  This is good advice for anyone considering going binary: there are things we can do with a digital conference that can’t be done in person and vice versa.

What are your thoughts?

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