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Ebooks under fire by BREIN and Google

That the book market is struggling, is well known by now. In the battle between paper and ereader, things are getting tough. Publishers actually consider digital reading a form of theft. Are you allowed to cut up, lend, give away, resell and burn a bought paper book apart from reading it, with an ebook you are not allowed to do any of that.

Last week, it was announced that Dutch publishers will monitor their customers' reading behaviour via digital watermarks. Through one of the many loopholes in privacy laws, they are allowed to keep that data (what do you read, where do you read, who reads along, what else do you buy, do you ever copy?) for two years.

Worse, they may also pass that data on to the private security firm BREIN, which may proceed with prosecution in case of observed violation of the reading licence.

If the connection between BREIN and the Dutch booksellers is already serious, it is even worse when you are at the mercy of the private search company Google. That company likes to stay friends with the whole world, and that's tricky when part of that world is dictatorship, or does not do business with Google (the latter they really mind).

Singapore appears to be a state with a bad relationship with Google: you can't buy books through the Google Play Bookstore. And if you arrive in Singapore with an iPad or ereader full of legally purchased books, Google erases all your books from your tablet.

This kind of behaviour will be perpetuated for some time to come, as publishers and internet giants prefer to focus on stopping abuse rather than making it easier to use. Preliminary you can, via a proxy, amply fulfilling your literary needs.

Until Brein, Google or someone else demands the right to search further into your computer for your hidden cultural desires.

Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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