September 5th, 2009

Sony reader

eBooks are international

Amazon's 1984 goof (deleting copies of books from Kindles without advance notice) illustrates one way technology moves faster than law. In a lot of countries, George Orwell's books are no longer protected by copyright. Apparently, the retailer who loaded 1984 and Brave New World into the Kindle store was in one of those countries. Thanks to Disney's excellent lawyers and lobbying efforts, copyright in the US lasts a lot longer than in the rest of the world.

Variable copyright is easier to enforce in selling printed books. International borders matter a lot less when selling a product that is downloaded than when selling one that is shipped or snail mailed. Right now Kindles only work in the US, but this will be interesting once Kindles and Sony Readers are downloading books wirelessly to many places in the world. If it's Amazon UK doing the selling, presumably UK copyright law will apply, and so on.

Life is about to get more interesting (or just plain complicated) for ebook sellers.

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