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back to article No, Minister. You CAN'T de-Kindle your eBooks!

The government has bungled proposed changes to UK copyright law by claiming the format of eBooks can be legally changed - for example, from the Amazon kindle format to a PDF. The changes were published yesterday as the last debris of the Hargreaves Review to wash up on the statute book. (The rest has either been implemented or …

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Anonymous Coward

And this is what happens when you outsource legislation to a third party. Our elected representatives are left tinkering around the edges, creating confusion, becuase they aren't permitted to craft a new law to replace the cock-up that is existing EU copyright law.

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tinkering?

it looks like it is the tinkering round the edges that is the problem here

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Anonymous Coward

Re: tinkering?

No shit, sherlock.

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Re: tinkering?

They'll need RoHs compliant solder, tho.

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Trollface

Whose laws to use...

Eh.

Just use US parody and copyright law.

You know The Mouse well be running the show anyway, right?

...Cirdan...

(Trolling Cirdan is trolling.)

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Unconstitutional

I think you'll find that we don't have a constitution here and there are several places in our law which stop contract terms overriding general law. Employment law for instance overrides any jibber jabber an employer may add to a contract regardless how well written it may be.

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Re: Unconstitutional

I wanted to comment on the phrase "The stipulation that contracts cannot be enforced is merely one example of creating legislation with two contradictory meanings.".

I call bollocks on that phrase. If you sign a contract with me that says I can harvest your organs when I want, while you are still walking and talking, does that mean I can do it? NO. Other legislation says that I cannot enforce that claim in the contract. Where does the legislation have contradiction? Is there really legislation that says anything written down in a contract overrides all other laws?

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Re: Unconstitutional

I think you'll find you are making it up as you go along - so here's A Very Short Introduction to the British Constitution.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Unconstitutional

No constitution? Is that even constitutional?

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Re: Unconstitutional

"Is there really legislation that says anything written down in a contract overrides all other laws?"

It's actually the complete opposite: contract law is essentially common law, non-statute. Its structure has been sorted out through legal dispute over time.

Legislation is used to trim the enforceability of a contract

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Re: Unconstitutional

I think you'll find that we don't have a constitution here...

Of course we do. The fact that it isn't a single document bound up and labelled "The Constitution" doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Instead it is spread across myriad different acts and in determined part by historical practice and precedence. We've arguably had a constitution of some form going back at least as far as Magna Carta.

Go into any law library and you'll find shelves full of books on British constitutional law - that's an awful lot of coverage for something that doesn't exist.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unconstitutional

If you dig even slightly deeper gerryg you'll see that our constitution is made up of all of our laws, common and statute, there is no one "constitution" and it's certainly not a document or even necessarily written down. You're right that we have one but it includes new laws so by definition anything we pass into law cannot be unconstitutional.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unconstitutional

>No constitution? Is that even constitutional?

I think that would properly be called de-constitutional....

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Happy

Unconstitutional? No Britain will never have a Constitution

The much vaunted US Constitution has been shredded in recent years but it still has utility as toilet paper.

The Canadian Constitution, fought for by the late Pierre Trudeau, is alive, and well, and biting. Anyone observing what can happen if a country adopts a strong Constitution, will use Canada as a fine reason never to do it.

Our Constitution is so strong our version of NSA is complaining they can't spy on Canadians - in or out of the country.

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Re: Unconstitutional: gerryg

Many thanks for the common law link. Wonderful!

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Re: Unconstitutional

@Anonymous Coward - While I'm not sure which point of mine you are riposting, if you dig even deeper still you'll find that all draft legislation is scrutinised for constitutional implications. So yes you're right, all statute law forms part of the constitution, but only in the sense that they're not making it up as they go along.

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Re: Unconstitutional

My first thought as well, before reading the whole article... Unconstitutional? To be unconstitutional, you'd need to have a constitution first...

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Re: Unconstitutional

"As a constitution, it is one that has grown organically in response to changes..."

I do recall compost heaps from St Piran's School garden.

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Re: Unconstitutional

Maybe that's part of the problem. The EU isn't going to be attined to Common Law ststems as other than UK ( + Irelnd, Cyprus, ?Malta ) they use Civil Law

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Re: Unconstitutional

You're not wrong in the sense that the UK is held to have a constitution. But the word is also used in the sense of a founding or 'basic' law which can not be arbitrarily changed by the legislature. That is not the case for the UK constitution.

But it is not written down any one place, some of it is not written down at all, and all of it is subject to revision in the ordinary way by statute or legal interpretation. It shares these characteristics with some other realms, for example NZ where the (so-called) Bill of Rights Act cannot override statute. Furthermore, the entrenching provisions are not themselves entrenched.

This is not the case for the US where originalism and strict constructionism are live doctrines. While the US (still) determines the interpretation of such IP laws, through multilateral treaties and otherwise, the impact on actual US citizens living within its borders is lessened by the constitutional protections which are much stronger than UK or EU law.

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Pointless wrangling

I would only buy an ebook if I knew for certain that I can strip it clean of DRM. No matter what the legislation says.

If there were still any non-bent politicians surviving somewhere they'd have made all DRMs simply illegal for consumer markets. Remove the uncertainty, stimulate the business.

However, it is not going to happen, so the IP laws will continue to be routinely broken and when you have to break one law your respect to the rest of them diminishes too...

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Re: Pointless wrangling

"I would only buy an ebook if I knew for certain that I can strip it clean of DRM. No matter what the legislation says."

This. I want my book to last longer than one company, tyvm. Hence a Kobo and a copy of WINE for Adobe's Digital Editions and some Python. Win.

There was some fuss about Adobe forcing a quick-march upgrade on the publishers to a version that didn't WINE. VirtualBox would be required then I suppose.

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Re: Pointless wrangling

The whole point of that new version was that the python script wouldn't work any more but would also mean that every ereader ever released wouldn't be able to read the book either. They're going to dual run it for a while and I guess Adobe hopes manufactures include compatible programs in new readers. then at some point they'll force the switch over.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pointless wrangling

I've mentioned this before but its worth pointing to again.

I think the best and easiest way to De-DRM ebooks is to use Calibre, which is available for Apple, Linux, and Windows, and use an unofficial add-in which is available in a set of tools maintained by several people and provided by Apprentice Alf.

Other forums I frequent don't allow direct links to such things but if you search for Apprentice Alf's blog you should hit the right spot.

Calibre is OK and can be found at http://calibre-ebook.com/

No need for that nasty Adobe rubbish at all. The tools work with Kindle books too.

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Anonymous Coward

Alf DRM Removal

The requiem tool no longer works with apple ebooks though. Sadly

Unless anyone knows otherwise? The code is out there so perhaps it coukd be updated?

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Thumb Up

Re: Pointless wrangling

...Calibre, which is available for Apple, Linux, and Windows, and use an unofficial add-in which is available in a set of tools maintained by several people and provided by Apprentice Alf.

Thanks for the useful tip!

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Unacceptable

I've owned a Kindle for several years now and have a sizeable e-book collection. More recently, I also acquired a Nook as it was dirt cheap and had an illuminated display. I will not accept restrictions on my ability to move books between these devices (and any others I might subsequently purchase), nor will I do business with any publisher that prosecutes anybody for doing this. If I end up with Project Gutenberg as the sole supplier of my reading material, so be it.

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Re: Unacceptable

Lord (er, or Lady, as the case may be :-) ) Tromos

May I, at the risk of opening the usual brushfire of 'oh, that's all cr*p and garbage because <insert reason-du-joure here>', suggest you look at the Independent Publishing market?

Many Independent e-book Publishers have a rather more, um, reader-friendly attitude to DRM. I could cite at least one of my Publishers, who not only doesn't put DRM on their books, but who when you buy sends you the book in four different file formats (including PDF) at no extra cost. They even allow you to download it twice, in case you lose it! :-).

I'd tell you who they are, but that might convict me of the Great Sin of Marketing - so I won't (blush). But it is, in my view both as an author and reader, a mark in their favour.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unacceptable

You seem to have misunderstood. You have not "bought" a book. You have licensed a copy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unacceptable

More specifically, we have bought the license along with the copy. And that license should be transferable from format to format. After all, it's not the format that's enforced by the copyright but the content. Whether it's in a book or an ePub, the book's only as good as the words in it.

Then again, no business likes a one-and-done...

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Re: Unacceptable

"You seem to have misunderstood. You have not "bought" a book. You have licensed a copy."

Perhaps you have misunderstood. You can "buy" a book and have heavily limited rights, or you can "steal" a book and have all the rights in the world.

Hmm, tough choice. While they're arguing over semantics, everyone else is just doing it anyway.

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Re: Unacceptable

There's several major publishers out there that don't allow DRM to be applied even by Amazon or Apple, thank you very much. They'd rather have a happy _repeat_ customer.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Unacceptable

You seem to have misunderstood. You have not "bought" a book. You have licensed a copy.

Has Big Media bought or licensed the laws?

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The need to test copyright laws for real.

Perhaps some country needs to test the copyright waters for real. After all, the copyright holders have more than had it all their own way for the last 128 years--since Berne.

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What's good for the goose...

Excellent news! I presume this means that I can now legally convert my film collection from Bluray and DVD disc format to ISO or MKV for personal use, and all wth the blessings of our kind lords and masters.

No? Didn't think so somehow...

</sarcasm>

(Tagged for those with dodgy sarcasm detectors...)

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Re: What's good for the goose...

Yes, you can... but you may need to complain to the Secretary of State about the DRM if you can't break it.

From the consumer FAQ:

"Is this just about CDs, or can I also copy films, e-books etc?

The exception will apply to any copies you have bought, other than computer programs. .. However, you should note that media, such as DVDs, can still be protected by technology which physically prevents copying.

What if a DVD or other media is protected by copy protection technology?

Media such as DVDs are often protected by anti-copying technology to guard against copyright piracy, and this is protected by law. Copyright owners will still be able to apply this protection. However, if copy

protection is too restrictive, you may raise a complaint with the Secretary of State."

If the DRM stops you doing the format shift you are allowed to do, clearly it is too restrictive.

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Re: What's good for the goose...

It is now legal to rip your CDs into mp3 format, flac, alac or whatever and load them onto your phone or iPod, so why shouldn't you be able to rip DVDs and Blu Rays into mp4 format, mkv or whatever and put them on your iPad or some other device?

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Re: What's good for the goose...

Yes, but in reality you'd need to make a formal complaint to get a DRM-free copy.

Has this ever happened? Will it ever happen?

Someone should do it, and persist. You know if enough people did it, they'd bring out DRM-free copies for the UK market as a norm, simply because it would be cheaper to make one copy.

But that would require a ridiculous amount of pressure.

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Publishers Special Pleading

It is a grotesque piece of special pleading by publishers to claim it is unconstitutional to outlaw unreasonable terms in contracts. There are already many similar examples in other laws, designed to protect consumers.

As to the legality of cracking DRM, the reasonable man would not object to cases pf personal use, whatever UK, EU, and US laws may say.

Think again, Orlowski, especially about the traditional anti-authoritarian rights of a private Englishman.

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Anonymous Coward

Given the amount of practice they've had...

you'd think they'd be able to produce legal code that's a bit less buggy by now.

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Happy

Re: Given the amount of practice they've had...

You'd be foolish not to accept and applaud these essential security updates.

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Re: Given the amount of practice they've had...

Ah you have a problem you see, it's built using a coding language that's already got bugs in it.

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Coat

Re: Given the amount of practice they've had...

"Ah you have a problem you see, it's built using a coding language that's already got bugs in it."

Not to mention being run by development teams that change every three or four years, hate and refuse to communicate with each other, and think they are God's gift despite holding their end users in absolute contempt.

On the other hand it could be worse, project management of the whole thing being run by one technologically-illiterate asshat who insists the whole thing be built using LOLCODE or INTERCAL, and whose response to Helpdesk tickets is to execute the complainant with anti-aircraft artillery. I'm looking at you, North Korea. That's right, you.

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IT Angle

Re: Given the amount of practice they've had...

You'd think so, but actually the economics has gone the other way.

When I write bad code, my paying customers suffer the bugs and whinge a lot and demand that I fix it at my expense or give them their money back.

When lawyers write bad code, their paying customers have to suck it up, or pay yet more money for another lot of equally bad code which might (by chance) have bugs that suit them rather than antagonise them.

Consequently, legal code appears to prefer no punctuation, long and rambling sentences running at times over several pages, and arcane vocabulary. The situation in IT, where the code has to cause the right thing to happen even when a dumb machine is reading (executing) it, strongly favours *lots* of structure (punctuation), short functions, meaningful labels for intermediates and even test cases with expected results where necessary both to ensure clarity of intent and correctness after subsequent modification.

In short, I find it *very* hard to imagine what the legal system would look like if it was implemented according to the almost-infinitely-higher standards that are commonplace in IT. And I'm one of those who don't think IT is yet up to the still-higher standards of mainstream engineering.

Words scarcely do justice to describing how totally fucked up beyond all belief the legal system is.

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"in likelihood unconstitutional"

I do wonder in what sense the statutory instrument itself is constitutional. I know the history of the thing goes back to HenVII, but in the wake of Will&Mary, was the statutory instrument still actually legal?

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Re: "in likelihood unconstitutional"

Statutory instruments are a nasty nasty idea. They're what allowed 2Jags Prescott to rubberstamp changes to the building regs that made it illegal for you to do your own electrical work in your own house.

Which rules, fortunately, are largely ignored.

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FAIL

Re: "in likelihood unconstitutional"

/joke section

I wonder if the any of the guys that wrote this was named Gordon? If so, there was asong about him – hint search for “Jilted John” circa 1978

/joke section off

Seriously, the use of “statutory instruments” is just a very lazy way of making law. There is no oversight or scrutiny before it hits the plebs.

If they want to change a law, repeal the old law and introduce a new Act under Primary Legislation.

/rant off

Just as well these guys aren’t running the country, oh wait……

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Re: "in likelihood unconstitutional"

They're what allowed 2Jags Prescott to rubberstamp changes to the building regs that made it illegal for you to do your own electrical work in your own house.

The really amusing thing is that you can tack an 8 way extension with a sealed plug to the wall and stick it into the two-way already on the wall. Unsafe? Possibly. Messy as hell? Definitely. Legal? Absolutely.

Do the exact same thing but you extend the ring into a new set of sockets and ixnay on the plug? Safer, sure. Neater? Definitely. Overheating? Well duh, 13 amp fused socket on a 30, 40 or more amp ring. Funnily enough, 13 is less than 30 and you have a fusebox with your consumer unit in case you end up dragging that much total current out of the ring by accident.

Legal? Yeah, you're nicked, mate.

Honestly, whilst I know that mains electricity is something to be treated with extreme respect, you'd think this was about messing with the gas mains. One will start a fire and electrocute you at worst. The other will detonate your entire house and send flaming fragments of it into properties all around the street. Your roof will probably land a couple of houses away. You'll probably land three, four, and five houses away in separate pieces. Oh and that's more of a normal-case scenario when gas goes wrong.

The two are not the same, and that law desperately needs un-fucking, preferably just a repeal back to the way it was.

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Funny thing is...

Just yesterday I was interested in buying an ebook, however it was only available on Amazon, I looked into removing the DRM because my ereader uses the epub format, but it is a fuss, upshot was, got another book with no DRM.

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bed

Re: Funny thing is...

Surprisingly, there has been no mention of Calibre, yet.

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