Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy »

Have you ever noticed that you can’t really “buy” an ebook? Sure, when you click that “Buy Now” button on your ereader, tablet, or phone, it feels like a complete, seamless transaction. But the minute you try to treat your ebook like a physical book – say by sharing it with a friend, selling it to someone else, donating it to a school library, or sometimes even reading it offline, reality sets in. You can’t do any of those things.

With most ebooks, even if you think you “own” them, the publisher or platform you bought them from will say otherwise. Publishers and platforms insist that you only buy a license to access the books, not the rights to do anything else with them.