Archives for category: Copyright

In 1717 a French slave ship was captured by the English pirate Blackbeard. He renamed it “Queen Anne’s Revenge” and started using it as his flagship. It had 40 cannons and a crew of 300 jolly men, and would sail around the Caribbean and up the eastern coast of the America colonies. But in 1718 it ran aground just a mile off Beaufort, N.C. and sank.

Blackbeard’s pirate career seems to have lasted just a couple of years and his reputation for violence (and success) to have been somewhat exaggerated. In particular there seems to be no justification for the tale that he’d go into battle with his pigtails on fire which in this picture he seems to be doing just for fun.

In 1996 the sunken vessel was discovered by marine salvage company Intersal, Inc. Under federal and state law the remains of sunken vessels belong to the state, and the state commissioned Intersal to recover the ship. The company hired Frederick Allen to make a video record of the operation. Mr Allen would register copyright as he went along. The State of North Carolina began publishing photos of Mr Allen’s work on its website, and when he objected, made a settlement in 2013 with him of $15,000 for one such copyright infringement, but continued to make similar uses of his work. Ultimately Mr Allen sued the state in Federal Court. The Supreme Court of the United States just decided that states remain immune from prosecution for copyright infringement. Naturally the case isn’t as straightforward as that, and you may read more detail at NPR‘s story by the inestimable Nina Totenberg.

But the long and short of it appears to be that you cannot sue a state for copyright infringement, though Congress does appear to have made some efforts to allow this, and I suppose may try again sometime in the future if it ever has the time.

The Scholarly Kitchen has a useful discussion of the state of play on the vexed question of whether a work produced by a computer can be protected by copyright. Thus far the thin red line is being held, and only works created by human beings can be copyrighted: animals, plants and machines are out of luck. After all if every possible combination of words were to be copyrightable, this would seem to mean the end of copyright, since anyone (merely human) writing anything would have to acknowledge that it could theoretically already have been written by some busy AI program.*

Of course we don’t yet have our Library of Babel, and until a “work” is recorded in some tangible form, it can’t be copyright — so if you are composing a magnificent verse epic in your head as you do your ten-mile runs, write the damn thing down before some machine beats you to it. Verse seems to be the area in which AI is currently performing best: lots of associative adjectives, and an ability to disguise a lack of logical argument. (See also Robot writer.) However I did write last year about Springer’s publishing of a machine generated survey of recent research. It’s not clear from the accounts about this volume whether Springer, or an “author”, is claiming copyright in this work. Probably not too important as this is not the sort of stuff you’d want to pirate.

I bet what’ll happen will be that machines will busily write away and some person or other will step forward to claim that they in fact wrote the book, for which they’ll then take out copyright. After all, even today your computer provides you will spellcheck and word prompts. Nobody thinks that these things represents a diminution of authorial creativity, so why not the next step, and then the next step, and so on. As long as you claim you wrote it yourself not your iPhone, who’s to know any better?

Of course come to think of it, in a Library of Babel world where everything is already available what is the value of something called copyright whose main job is to encourage writing?


* This puts me in mind of the recent story about a couple of guys who have written down every melody there could ever be.

Many musicians have been sued to the tune of millions of dollars, over melodies they wrote which courts have decided originated in a previous song. Damien Riehl and Noah Rubin have programmed up a way to make every melody ever written, or not yet written, available in the public domain. It’s all just mathematics after all: there’s a finite number of possible combinations of eight notes, and maybe creating a melody is nothing more than spiritually accessing a pre-exisiting database of all possible melodies.

If you don’t see a video here, please click on the title of this post in order to view it in your browser. Thanks to David Crotty at The Scholarly Kitchen for the link.

But will this work? Chris Meadows at TeleRead doubts it. Of course, as Mr Riehl admits copyright suits can be about more than just melodies, but some have been about melody alone, and to the extent that his hard drive does represent a copyrightable work it may reduce legal traffic. But does the collection of melodies not fail because of the ruling that only works created by humans may be copyrighted? Takes a law suit to discover what’s legal.


I did a post last September about the lawsuit being brought by the Association of American Publishers against Audible because of its desire to use the text, generated by AI from their audio stream, as a sort of subtitle track to its audiobooks. The publishers argued that the text represents a copyright item not covered by the sublease of the audio rights. Now the lawsuit has been settled in the publishers’ favor says Publishing Perspectives.

This video demonstrates what Audible Captions looks like.

If you don’t see a video here please click on the title of this post in order to view it in your browser.

The case has been decided out of court, and under the terms of the settlement Audible agrees to obtain permission from the publisher (if that publisher is a member of the AAP) before applying the Captions feature to audiobooks. Amazon, owners of Audible, has agreed to extend the agreement to cover books published by any publisher, member of AAP or not — as reported by The Digital Reader. This means that if you see Captions when you are “reading” your Audible audiobook you can rest assured that, if it’s a copyright work, permission will have been granted by the publisher and that this will mean that some sort of payment has doubtless been made to the author.

This whole shebang may not constitute a massive advantage for the reading public. If you really want the text would you not be reading the book? If you want the audio, do you really need the stress of trying to keep up with the printed words? Obviously some will want to attend to both, but I wonder how many. No harm, of course, in such a service being available, as long as it’s being done within the limits of the copyright law. If you really want it, now you’ve got it, though there seems to be uncertainty about how much Audible’s going to use the feature. Reports suggest that Captions may actually only appear on books already in the public domain. Which may in itself be a comment on the actual value of this feature.

Golden Goose Publishing brings us the poems of Donald J. Trump, compiled from presidential tweets — literary productions which surely secure the place of our first gentleman (!) as our first poet. As the publisher describes the work:

“Combining the measured contentiousness of Thoreau, the terse poignancy of Hemingway, and the incisive social commentary of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Toni Morrison, Donald J. Trump has emerged as one of the leading poets of his generation. Together with contemporaries such as Rupi Kaur and Haruki Murakami, Trump has helped bring about a revolution in twenty-first-century literary expression. Considered one of the most inventive poets in a digital world, Trump masterfully uses technology and the written word to reflect and shape the hearts and minds of his culture.

His words, at times inspirational, often fractious, always display a brilliant creative mind for linguistic inventiveness. His work continues to challenge the boundaries of what language is — as well as what it is capable of. 

This collection sheds light on the depth of his creative genius as well as the breadth of his mastery of a wide range of topics and his ability to deftly communicate across the emotional spectrum. We, the collectors of this volume, humbly present this collection of works in hope that it may move you, enlighten you, inspire you, and — above all — that you will appreciate the poetical genius of our time, Donald J. Trump.”

$39 (+ freight) required to obtain your own a copy.

We owe knowledge of this important addition to our nation’s literary heritage to Book Patrol. (A search of Amazon reveals that there are a couple of other publishers who have already had the same idea.)

In a related creative adaptation of presidential tweets, we acknowledge President Supervillain (@PresVillain on Twitter) a melding of the president’s actual words into pre-exisitng comic book artwork: e.g.:

Now publishing a selection of someone’s tweets rearranged into verse form might seem to raise a question of copyright. Are Golden Goose laying themselves open to a law suit from our tippy-topmost litigator over copyright infringement? Government communications are not copyrighted, but of course many (most/all? I don’t study this) of the author’s tweets are coming from his personal account. While the consensus seems to be that tweets are not copyrightable, the opinion rests on their brevity and specific subject matter, which it seems to me might not be directly relevant here. WIPO Magazine has a short description of the situation. The trouble of course is that new technologies come up with new ways of creating content, some of which cannot of necessity be covered by copyright law, having been no more than a gleam in someone’s eye when the law was complied. A revision of copyright law will obviously address this, and lots of other, issues.

One might argue that President Supervillain gets by on the basis of parody, an exemption to the need for permission under our current copyright law. Maybe Golden Goose can argue the same. The trouble, as ever, with copyright law exemptions is that you’ll never know whether you are right or not until you’ve been sued.

Photo: Center for the study of the public domain

Duke University School of Law’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain celebrates the beginning of another year of public domain conversions. So off you go, you can now start your retranslation of The Magic Mountain full of confidence that nobody’ll sue you — and you can keep humming “Rhapsody in blue” as you type no matter who overhears you.

As the Center’s website points out (see the links at the right hand side) the public domain is really valuable, but remains under threat. The threat of course comes mainly from corporations: see for example Mickey Mouse, as well as this Hyperallergic story about Getty Images suing a photographer for displaying one of her own photos on her website. She had made it, and 19,000 others of her photographs, freely available as public domain works, and the company grabbed them and started charging people for their use.* “But, because of term extensions, we’ve had to wait almost a century before copyrighted works enter the public domain (in 2020, works from 1924 are finally freely available). Under current copyright terms – life plus 70 years for natural authors, and 95 years from publication for works of corporate authorship – you’re unlikely to see any works created in your lifetime enter the public domain. This imposes great (and in many cases unnecessary) costs on creativity, on libraries and archives, on education and on scholarship. More broadly, it imposes costs on our collective culture. Even for the works that are still commercially available, the shrinking public domain increases costs to citizens and limits creative reuse. But at least those works are available. Unfortunately, much of our cultural heritage, perhaps the majority of the culture of the last 80 years, consists of the orphan works† . . . works that have no identifiable or locatable copyright holder. Though no one is benefiting from the copyright, they are nevertheless presumptively off limits.”

The Center for the Study of the Public Domain website has links to  a decade of previous years’ announcements of the works crossing the public domain finishing line.


* Now of course in a way this sort of behavior is not too different from publishers printing up copies of the Mueller Report and charging people for them. Or even selling reprints of Wuthering Heights. There’s an argument about convenience, which Getty Images might well make, though to my non-legal mind it does seem relevant that the “author” is alive, and wants the work to be available free of charge. However such sentimentality is not recognized by the law as a legal claim: Ms Highsmith’s suit was dismissed on the grounds that having signed away her copyright she had no grounds for bringing suit. Seems she has take her own picture down or pay the $120 fee. Is this really justice?

† See also Orphanage.

Everyone who understands the book business would think, I’d assume, that this was a pretty open and shut case. Publishers have objected to the Captions feature which has been introduced by Audible, an audiobook company owned by Amazon. The Association of American Publishers has filed a lawsuit. The Audible Captions system is “designed to transcribe and display the text of narrated performances as an audiobook’s sound plays—much as you might see subtitles on a film, but with the text being machine-generated in real time”.* Publishing Perspectives, via Book Business Insight, has the story.

The way in which the text is generated by the audiobook is irrelevant. Just because it’s converted back into words from the audio stream spoken by Audible’s reader, it can’t slide past the fact that the work is copyright. Audible has obtained a license merely to create an audio version of the book. This can not be deemed to include the full text running as a subtitle track. If you want a book, buy a book. One might as well argue that a publisher who had acquired paperback rights to a book could legitimately rebind some of their paperbacks as hardbacks: after all they didn’t print a hardback they printed a paperback which then almost magically ended up in hard covers. Unfortunately for such arguments copyright in the work exists — it exists by virtue of the works existence in tangible form regardless of whether it’s been published or not — and that copyright is owned by the author not Audible. Audible have licensed one of the rights under that copyright: the right to make an audio version of the work — not the right to make an audio version accompanied by a full text version. They’d have as much justification in claiming that their license should permit them to make a movie version to accompany their narration as to say it permits them to reproduce the text in type form. Even if the back-transcription of the words spoken by Audible’s book reader should include the odd slip-up made along the way thus changing some words, this does not amount to a derivative work or create a new copyright. If you copied out a copyright work by hand, copyright in your manuscript version would still belong to the original author, even if you did make one or two spelling errors.

Audible has delayed the roll-out of their Captions, and anti-publishing commentary predictably deplores this: big business once again stomps on innovation. (Inconsistency rampant: how many publishing companies would you need to add together to add up to the size of Amazon?) Commentary tends to focus somewhat irrelevantly on the mistakes made by the music industry at the end of the last century when they set their faces against Napster-style streaming. The Passive Voice of course weighs in, willfully disingenuous in his innocent-sounding claim “Setting aside copyright arguments. . .”. But no; THIS IS ALL ABOUT COPYRIGHT. These commentariatchiks will wield their axes in any which way. Here they ignore the fact that it is the author whose income is being misappropriated while they heartily bash greedy “Big Publishing”. On another day they are of course quick to leap to the defense of poor authors who are always seen as being defrauded by rapacious publishers.

Be it noted that most companies are now taking a pretty hands-off stance toward potentially copyrighted music. After I have copied a music track (which as as purchaser of a CD is your legal right) onto my computer Apple won’t let me move it to iCloud, which decision seems to arise from an excess of caution as to whether this second copy might represent an infringement of copyright. (It’s also true they’d like to charge me for the privilege.) I can’t really see how transcribing an audio version would be less problematic than that.

It might indeed be a salable idea to include a subtitle track in audiobooks, in which case permission to do so should be sought from the author or their agent/publisher. As The Passive Voice suggests, such a version might be useful in language learning.

I wrote about audiobooks and Audible a few years back. (I see that back then audiobook was still two words.)


* Lest this subtitles comparison cloud the issue in one or two minds, I should point out that the subtitle track in a movie is not the text of the book on which the film may be based, but an entirely new text, derived mainly from the film script, to create which the movie company did indeed have a license. I’m not sure whether a subtitle text is subject to copyright in its own right, but I’d assume it was until I was told no. Who owns copyright in the film script? Would it not have to be the original author who gave the license to create it? Maybe exceptions may be negotiated in individual licenses?

Beware: the book you just bought from Amazon may not be what you expected.

On the face of it getting a screwed-up book like this doesn’t seem too much of a likelihood to a publishing person: of course if you want a proper version of George Orwell’s 1984 you should get it from the correct publisher. But of course most people aren’t tuned in to who publishes what: they just want a book, and it’s hardly surprising that most chose the cheapest one they can find. As this New York Times story by David Streitfeld tells us this means that, at Amazon, the customer is quite likely to be getting a pile of garbage. (Link via Jose Afonso Furtado.) Of course the main loser is the author, who isn’t getting any royalty from these counterfeit books.

One rather feels that Amazon maybe should be doing something about this. (Though remember that they were heavily criticized in 2009 when they removed copies of 1984 from Kindles because of a similar copyright issue.) It’s all well and good for these media behemoths to claim that they are merely conduits between provider and consumer, but if you went into a bricks-and-mortar bookshop you could expect that someone would have made sure that the text of the book you pick up would indeed be contained between the covers in your hands, and not some gobbledygook or other. Of course you would be paying full price, but still, I do think if you’re going to set up as a bookseller you need to behave responsibly. Just how this is to be achieved is beyond me, but these guys claim to be smart. Amazon has taken down a couple of the Indian editions the author of the article told them about, but they have no real overall solution as far as I can tell. They recently issued a statement saying “Today, there is no single source of truth for the copyright status of every book in every country that retailers could use to check copyright status. Retailers are dependent on rights holders to tell them where they have the rights for each title and for how long”!

Of course Amazon may in this area be laboring under the conceptual difficulty that when you “buy” a Kindle book, you don’t actually buy a book, you buy access to a file of a book. This might be seen as putting Amazon in a different relationship to its customers than a regular bookshop or publisher is when they sell physical objects. I wonder, the law being what it is, if this makes a difference in their duties to purchasers. But just because the ebook’s status may be different doesn’t mean you can just let the copyright issue in print books slide by too. No doubt this is a complicated problem, and, one assumes, a problem they’ve been working on for ten tears already: but they’re the ones making the money — let them work it out.

The Passive Voice’s story has a link to a Publishing Perspectives piece, which points out one way in which Amazon is actually exacerbating the problem by blurring the distinction between different editions of a book. They indicate that Mr Streitfeld writes  “Amazon sometimes bundles all the reviews of a title together, regardless of which edition they were written for. That means an unauthorized edition of Animal Farm can have thousands of positive reviews, signaling to a customer it is a valid edition.” The Passive Voice, ever anti-publisher and rabidly pro-ebook, suggests it’s the publishers with their “massive” profits who need to sort this. However as Michael Cader, quoted in that same PP post, points out, Amazon has created the problem and their response to criticism has basically been that of a naughty child: it’s hard; everyone does it; it’s your fault anyway and you should fix it.

Publishing Perspectives has a piece on the new European Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market covering the use of copyright material online, and so does The Guardian (and doubtless Uncle Tom Cobley and All — so count me in). Wikipedia has a very full account of the whole business.

I suppose we should rejoice that the EU has introduced such regulation, giving member states a couple of years to provide legislation of their own to carry out the intention — if only because all the big tech companies appear to be strongly against it! The intention is to protect the earning ability of copyright owners by regulating the unreimbursed use of copyrighted material online. However, I wonder if this law, although targeted at the big fish, will end up applying to minnows like this one. It does seek to prohibit uploading copyright material without permission, which is probably exactly what I’m doing with the three links in paragraph one. No doubt nobody will notice even if what I am doing is wrong. But if a European government did object, I don’t see how I could prevent someone in Europe accessing this post, and I can’t see The Guardian being happy fielding regular requests from me for permission to quote.

The two “problem” clauses are Article 11 (now in the redraft actually Article 15) “sometimes called the ‘link tax,’ which will require companies such as Google to hold licenses for linking to publishers. Article 13 (now #17) meanwhile requires that Internet companies such as Reddit police their platforms for any copyright infringement uploaded to them, filtering out any offending content.” I guess I’m keeping fingers crossed that nobody is going to think Making Book is a company, and especially a company like Google or Reddit! Nevertheless there does appear to be room for concern: Cory Doctorow has written in a piece linked to in the Publishing Perspectives article “Worse, the final draft of Article 11 has no exceptions to protect small and noncommercial services, including Wikipedia but also your personal blog.” I dare say the intention of the law is not to penalize the personal blog, but laws have ways of spreading out form their original intent. The Directive does contain exemptions for “legitimate private and non-commercial use of press publications by individual users”. Let us hope that individual nations will make note of such exemptions when the directive is finalized by being passed into law in all member countries over the next two years.

This Wired video, created before the final vote, goes some way to explaining things.

If you don’t see a video here, please click on the title of this post in order to view it in your browser.

There are definite earning and usage limits to which companies are covered by the law, but these may not be sufficient on their own to make your blog exempt.

“The protection provided through fair dealing legislation” (from Hugh Stevens Blog) is what I end up relying on, though I have to admit that that phrase sounds a lot better than the vague reality of an almost offhand clause in U.S. Copyright law.  But any claim that Making Book is all about education, criticism, review, parody, or any other transformative technique is surely rather dubious. In the end I tend to console myself with the thought that Making Book is not about making money, indeed does not make any money and has no mechanisms for doing so. I tell myself the ultimate fallback is that if any copyright owner comes after me I’ll just apologize and take down the “offending” piece. Whether this is an adequate legal response I doubt, but fingers crossed. Keith Houston at Shady Characters is a bit more thorough than me, but his is a more formal, business-like blog.

I’m not sure what to think of a court decision that embedding a Tweet can amount to copyright infringement. I’m not even sure what exactly constitutes embedding a Tweet, though I suspect I’ve done it on occasion. I’ll certainly not be including any pictures of Tom Brady, even if his working for a Boston team didn’t already preclude any such thing. I do bear in the back of my mind the need not to include recognizable representations of people in any of my photos I may be using. I know professionals spend time tracking down such individuals and getting their permission. Much of the concern around copyright and the web has to do with the big guys and the content aggregators, sites which (may) make money by copying and pasting or simply linking to content produced by others: the trouble is the cure may affect others too. Let’s hope not.

See also That’s not fair on the subject of fair use.

You occasionally see the author’s moral right being asserted on the imprints page of a book in English. This is something which happens more with British books than with their US editions. For example I’m sitting looking at both the UK paperback and the US paperback of Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending (don’t ask!) — the UK version tells us on the copyright page, that “Julian Barnes has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work”. The US edition, described as the international edition, doesn’t mess about with any of that stuff. I have another book from a Penguin imprint which just says “The moral right of the authors has been asserted”, which isn’t giving much away. No doubt that Act says you’ve got to say something, without exactly specifying what. Oxford University Press, in a book originating in Britain, Jeremy Mynott’s Birds in the Ancient World, goes a tiny bit further by saying “The moral rights of the author have been asserted”. The reasons for differences in approach are buried in the different developmental histories of legal systems based upon common law as opposed to civil law. This legal concern with moral issues, which originated in 16th century France, was no doubt a factor in the decision of some Leave voters: they didn’t like Brussels telling them to do anything, even if it was the right thing.

When the USA signed up for the Berne Convention in 1989 it took on the obligation to protect an author’s moral rights. U.S. Copyright law tends to regard such matters as adequately protected by other laws, though some states have indeed introduced different sorts of moral right laws. According to the Register of Copyrights (the Director of the U.S. Copyright Office) “the term ‘moral rights’ generally refers to certain non-economic rights that are considered personal to an author. Central to the idea of moral rights is the idea that a creative work, such as a song or book, actually expresses the personality of the author”.

The most basic moral rights are the right to be identified as the author (the right of attribution), and the right to prevent prejudicial distortion of the copyrighted work (the right of integrity). Additional moral rights include

  • the right of withdrawal, or droit de repentir, which allows authors to retract works from public circulation that they feel no longer represent them or their views;
  • the right of divulgation, through which an author can control the public disclosure of their work, and which supports the economic right of first publication;
  • the right of the author to have access to the original copy of a work in order to “exercise his author’s rights”;
  • the right to prevent others from associating one’s work with an undesirable “product, service, cause or institution”;
  • the right to pseudonymity or anonymity; and
  • the right of an author to compel the completion of a commissioned work of art.

The Passive Voice, powered by a lawyer, has given us a pretty thorough piece on Moral Rights. As he comments, if you read this piece you will know more about moral rights than 99.99% of the authors in the United States.

It is probably not going too far to suggest that this appeal to a moral right by the French and their neighbors is just the sort of thing we crass Anglo-Saxons like to leave to the workings of the market, or to property rights. More narrowly we could say it is the sort of thing that happens in civil law regimes rather than common law systems. We continue to muddle through.

See also Le droit d’auteur.

I’m not really sure what I think about this scandal, word of which, now that Nora Roberts has become involved, has started to hit our in-boxes. Of course I think copyright should be defended, but . . .

The Digital Reader gives us a good round-up of the facts. Brazilian “author” Cristiane Serruya has apparently been gaily selling 95 (and counting) books which are largely plagiarized. Ms Serruya is described as a “bestselling” writer, but I’ve not managed to discover what that means in terms of books sold and money made. The books she is accused of plagiarizing are listed at Caffeinated Fae. Many authors are frustrated; Ms Serruya has blamed lazy ghostwriters in her employ; and now Ms Roberts is suing.

There is a section of the book-buying public which really goes in for volume. These voracious readers chomp their way through 10 or more ebooks a week, mainly genre fiction like romance. The arrival of self publishing with its low prices has been a god-send to these insatiable customers. I wouldn’t be surprised if whatever it is these readers are seeking when they devour a book may be provided just as well by rereading the same stuff under a different title as reading something for the first time. I don’t know enough about the nature of romance writing, but I suspect that there are in any case a limited number of plots, changes on which are regularly rung. Readers are presumably seeking something beyond pure originality. Ms Serruya is providing a service for nympholectors, and maybe that’s OK. Of course Nora Roberts would like to get paid for her writing, but the truly voracious have probably bought her books already, and remain blissfully ignorant of any repetition in a book by Ms Serruya!

Richard Hershberger writes about this category of super-reader at his 2-part post at Ordinary Times saying “My final anecdatum is from Reading the Romance, a classic sociological study of romance readers by Janice Radway, first published in 1984. Her research included a survey of romance readers’ reading habits. The sheer volume of, um…, volumes is impressive. Over half reported reading between one and four romances a week, and more than a third between five and nine a week. Four readers claimed between fifteen and twenty-five. This seems implausible, and Radway is skeptical, but that isn’t the point. Neither are the absolute numbers, lest we get bogged down in discussions of self-reporting, small sample size, and sample selection. What comes through is that there is a body of readers for whom the word ‘voracious’ exists. These are people whose primary leisure activity is reading, and they read a lot.”

Whether Amazon should be required to stamp out hyper-commercial activity like Ms Serruya’s, as The Digital Reader suggests, seems a bit dubious to me. I’m not sure that there’s any requirement on a regular bookstore to guarantee that every book they stock is clear of plagiarism and any other illegality. Just because we can imagine some sort of AI plagiarism-detection program that could suss out duplication doesn’t mean that we have to build and deploy it. The present situation seems perfectly adequate: a law suit is the way to go. Yes, not all the affected authors can afford to bring a law suit, but then their “losses” are presumably also smaller. And, cynically, “all publicity is good publicity”.

I wondered whether there was any evidence of the number of ebook purchases by top nympholectors, but wasn’t able to find anything. In the physical world, according to The Telegraph Britain’s most avid reader is Louise Brown, aged 91, who has borrowed 25,000 books from the Castle Douglas library over the years. A brief search has failed to turn up information on who holds the record for ebooks consumed. Given that Ms Brown had actually to lug the books to and from the library, her record deserves to be in a category of its own. No doubt had she been born a bit later she would be deep into ebook consumption.