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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Is Sony's New E-Reader Ushering in a World with No Copyright?

Sony recently announced their Kindle-Killer, the Sony Reader Daily
Edition. Why do I think this is the beginning of the end for copyright in the world? Well, honestly, I don't, but effectively, that's what the new RDE will do--whether industry will accept it or not is not up to me.

See, while Sony's new e-reader allows you to do everything the Kindle can do, book-wise anyway (there's no browser), it also allows you to take out library books. That's right. Library books--you "take them out" by downloading them wirelessly to your RDE. They expire after a given time, fulfilling the "returning your library book" part of the traditional equation without you having to do a thing--but right there is the part where copyright breaks down.

Unlike a real book, this is an an e-book--a digital copy of a book--there's no need for you to return it so someone else can check it out. This means that you can just take it out again and again. Effectively, you own the e-book without actually paying for it.

Sure, the library could apply rules that would determine how many times in a row you could check a book out, but since it's digital this is literally a creation of artificial scarcity. Sony's technology has jumped the capitalist shark and can provide unlimited copies of any book in any library that's part of it's network. So, why ever buy books again?

Now, I'm not really saying this is the end of copyright, but I am saying it might as well be. Once libraries start making their multimedia collections available for digital download (which they'll do eventually), that'll pretty much be it.

For me, this is just a replay of every argument against technology since the Church went after Galileo. Eventually science won out because it could prove that the Earth was not the center of the universe. The same loss hit the MPAA when VHS proved to be a technology Hollywood could actually work with.

Now it's just up to the Entertainment Industry to work out a new business model that will allow them to peacefully co-exist with this technology before they are out-evolved by it.

Adapt or die, folks...

Read more about Sony Reader Daily Edition on or in an article at

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