eBook Bill of Rights

If you follow a lot of library news, you might already know about the eBook news that shook the library community last Friday.  In a nutshell, libraries’ primary eBook vendor, Overdrive, made an agreement with publisher Harper Collins that libraries may only lend Harper Collins titles 26 times before having to repurchase the content.

I’m hoping this will be the catalyst for those of us who have a vested interest in the future of eBooks to organize and step up to the advocacy plate.  This weekend, Sarah Houghton-Jan (Librarian in Black) and Andy Woodworth wrote this eBook User’s Bill of Rights, which I found by way of David Lee King.  I love it!  What do you think?


The eBook User’s Bill of Rights is a statement of the basic freedoms that should be granted to all eBook users.

The eBook User’s Bill of Rights

Every eBook user should have the following rights:

  • the right to use eBooks under guidelines that favor access over proprietary limitations
  • the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software the user chooses
  • the right to annotate, quote passages, print, and share eBook content within the spirit of fair use and copyright
  • the right of the first-sale doctrine extended to digital content, allowing the eBook owner the right to retain, archive, share, and re-sell purchased eBooks

I believe in the free market of information and ideas.

I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can flourish when their works are readily available on the widest range of media. I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can thrive when readers are given the maximum amount of freedom to access, annotate, and share with other readers, helping this content find new audiences and markets. I believe that eBook purchasers should enjoy the rights of the first-sale doctrine because eBooks are part of the greater cultural cornerstone of literacy, education, and information access.

Digital Rights Management (DRM), like a tariff, acts as a mechanism to inhibit this free exchange of ideas, literature, and information. Likewise, the current licensing arrangements mean that readers never possess ultimate control over their own personal reading material. These are not acceptable conditions for eBooks.

I am a reader. As a customer, I am entitled to be treated with respect and not as a potential criminal. As a consumer, I am entitled to make my own decisions about the eBooks that I buy or borrow.

I am concerned about the future of access to literature and information in eBooks. I ask readers, authors, publishers, retailers, librarians, software developers, and device manufacturers to support these eBook users’ rights.

These rights are yours. Now it is your turn to take a stand. To help spread the word, copy this entire post, add your own comments, remix it, and distribute it to others. Blog it, Tweet it (#ebookrights), Facebook it, email it, and post it on a telephone pole.

To the extent possible under law, the person who associated CC0 with this work has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.

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2 thoughts on “eBook Bill of Rights

  1. doesn’t give libraries much incentive to embrace ebooks does it? i agree with you – once i purchase a book it should be mine to do whatever i want with it!

    • It will be interesting to watch this issue as it unfolds! My big takeaway is that we still have a long way to go to figure out how copyright needs to work for digital content. I’ll keep you posted on any big developments : )

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