This statute was developed in order to protect and limit the use of copyrighted digital material. I am particularly interested in the e-books domain. My observation is:

  • If I buy a physical book, it is my property. I can do with it whatever I choose (lend it to a friend, donate it, resell it online, etc.)
  • If I buy a digital book, it is my psuedo-property. I am limited in my options of what I do with it (cannot lend it, cannot redistribute it) even though I paid the same amount of money for it as a physical book.

Does this law give publishers the sole authority of who can distribute books and how they do it?

i.e. Joe can open a corner bookshop and purchase inventory and re-sell that inventory. However, Joe can't open an online book shop and sell e-books without permission.


1 Answer 1


You may have noticed that it is rare for books being copied and copies given away, or the book given away and the copies kept. For CDs however, that was quite common (nowadays you can't give CDs away anymore). And I could technically give you a copy of my lifetime's collection of music; just takes a few hours and a hard drive. Even more so for eBooks, audio books and so on.

Copyright law makes it illegal to make unauthorised copies. The part of the DMCA that is about copy protection makes it illegal to circumvent copy protection. So if the store can sell ebooks without copying them, and especially without circumventing any copy protection, they are fine. Good luck with that.

But copyright law absolutely allows the copyright holder to control who can make copies, who can sell copies and under which terms. Control is gone after the original sale, but controlling who can make copies is absolutely under control of the copyright holder.

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