- Article by: MICHAEL HILTZIK , Los Angeles Times
- Updated: January 8, 2013
But that's the case in this digital age. Many people who unwrapped iPads, Kindles or Nooks over the holidays might not realize how limited their rights are as their books' "owners."
In fact, they won't be owners at all. They'll be licensees. Unlike the owners of a physical tome, they won't have the unlimited right to lend an e-book, give it away, resell it or leave it to their heirs. If it's bought for their iPad, they won't be able to read it on their Kindle. And if Amazon or other sellers don't like what the buyer has done with it, they can take it back, without warning.
All these restrictions "raise obvious questions about what 'ownership' is," said Dan Gillmor, an expert on digital media at Arizona State University. "The companies that license stuff digitally have made it clear that you own nothing."
Typically, e-book buyers have no idea about these complexities. The rules and limitations are embodied in "terms of service" documents that Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and other sellers bury deep in their websites.