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« Judiciary Committee To Discuss Induce Act Thursday | Main | What You See Is Where You Are »

July 20, 2004

Audible - Do Not Distribute, Alter or Edit Audio of 9/11 Hearings

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Audible, the audio e-books site, is making the 9-11 Commission hearings available for download, free. Go Audible. I'd link to the specific page, but you can't.

In order to download the files you have to register with Audible. Okay. Understandable, sell your personal information for Audible's bandwidth. You also have to download Audible's proprietary file organizer. Again, understandable. These requirements are not particularly admirable, but Audible is a business. Even more strange, however, is that in order to download these public domain hearings, you have to agree to Audible's terms and conditions (which I can't provide a direct link to either):

When you "clickout" or otherwise "purchase" (referred to herein, collectively as "Purchase") Audible Content from the Audible Service, Audible grants you a limited, revocable, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to download or stream such Audible Content to your computer and/or your Device(s) solely for your personal non-commercial use. You shall not copy, reproduce, distribute or use the Audible Content in any other manner. You shall not sell, transfer, lease, modify, distribute or publicly perform the Audible Content in any manner and you shall not exploit it commercially. Do not (A) decompile, disassemble, or reverse engineer the Audible Content or attempt to do so; or (B) modify the Audible Content or create any derivative works therefrom. [emphasis in original]
Gosh how I love the way some companies claim dominion over the public domain.

Bonus: The White House provides the President's weekly radio address in Real format so that you can't download it (White House Radio).

via MacSlash

Comments (9) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse


1. Elizabeth Townsend on July 20, 2004 2:41 PM writes...

So what kind of legal standing doese this create? Does access and formatting allow those legal qualifications under contract law, even though it is public domain? Does one ignore it, in the sense that quoting directly from the document sans audible would be ok? This is similar to lexis and westlaw, both of what put restrictions on public domain government documents.

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2. Terry Steichen on July 21, 2004 10:42 AM writes...

As distasteful as this conclusioin is to me, I suspect that if a person obtains public domain recordings via a (presumably) enforceable terms of use, they are bound by those terms of use, no matter what their intrinsic rights to the underlying content might be.

I notice a lot of news sites seek in a similar way to apply restrictive terms of service to content that probably enjoys no copyright protection (such as headlines).

Love to hear some arguments that terms of service don't trump intrinsic rights. Any takers?

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3. Jon Lech Johansen on July 21, 2004 5:38 PM writes...

If you download the hearings from the iTunes Music Store instead you'll get DRM'ed MPEG4 AAC files which can be decrypted with DeDRMS.

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4. Elizabeth Townsend on July 21, 2004 8:56 PM writes...

Interesting. My mom sent me an excerpt from Salon today on a site that has an online
storehouse of D.C. documents on the public record.

I think an argument can be made a public document with mulitple access points is a public document, and can be used in any way one wants, regardless of what some may want. This is a thought for the afternoon.

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5. Eli on July 21, 2004 11:40 PM writes...

Happily, some (though not all) of the 9/11 commission hearings are archived online by radio station KPFA, with streaming and download (in MP3 format) for some of the files.

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6. Terry Steichen on July 22, 2004 7:36 PM writes...

Elizabeth Townsend (above) says: "I think an argument can be made a public document with mulitple access points is a public document, and can be used in any way one wants, regardless of what some may want."

My point - which her response doesn't appear to address - is, if you obtain a public document in a manner that, arguably, commits you to certain terms of use, are you not bound by those terms of use, even if other sources of the same document are available that do not impose such terms?

In other words, would it be prudent advise people to be *very* careful as to precisely how they get public information?

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7. Rolo Timassie on July 22, 2004 8:48 PM writes...

You guys want Audible to write a whole new set of terms and conditions just for this one file? Do you know how much that costs?

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8. Elizabeth Townsend on July 23, 2004 4:32 PM writes...

I guess the question becomes why shoudl the public be very careful how we get public domain documents? That seems crazy and not really legal in some way, unless one is specifically talking about acess restraints. But once something is in the public domain, the public is free to do with it what they want.

As to the second comment by Rolo Timassie, it would if Audible would include in their terms and conditions that public domain works do not fall under the restraints, even if they appear on their site, that it is a public service they are providing. That wouldn't take much time and expense, but would cover the problem nicely,don't you think?

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9. Terry Steichen on July 29, 2004 11:41 AM writes...

Elizabeth Townsend said: "I guess the question becomes why shoudl the public be very careful how we get public domain documents? That seems crazy and not really legal in some way, unless one is specifically talking about acess restraints. But once something is in the public domain, the public is free to do with it what they want."

Again, it seems to me that if a person enters into an arguably binding contract (as a condition for access to a document or whatever), they are bound by those conditions even if they later find another way to get the same document (because, for example, it's really in the public domain).

Sure, it seems dumb (and might be dumb). But the existance of other (completely free) methods to obtain the document don't remove the obligations incurred. So, as always, caveat emptor.

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