#1 By: Cory Doctorow, October 11th, 2013 14:00
#2 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, October 11th, 2013 14:14
If I weren't so young and pure of heart, I might suspect that Amazon knows that they have the biggest walled garden in the business for etexts, and would prefer to take full advantage of that, and everyone in it.
I'm sure that it's just Amazon helpfully protecting publishers from evil pirates, though. Just their good customer service at work!
#3 By: Sarge Misfit, October 11th, 2013 14:33
Gives me one more reason to NOT purchase a Kindle (I'm pretty much decided on Kobo). This also has me striking Amazon off of my list of ebook vendors.
#4 By: Lion, October 11th, 2013 14:40
Kobo just sells your personal information far and wide.
I'd go with a kindle, but DeDRM the books.
#5 By: TheGlitchEcliptic, October 11th, 2013 14:52
Remember: Any time someone puts a lock on something of yours and won't
give you the key, that lock is not there for your benefit.
Unless you're a danger to yourself or others, that is.
#6 By: Sarge Misfit, October 11th, 2013 14:55
Kindle is so closely tied to Amazon is why I choose the lesser of two evils, the Kobo. Now, if anyone knows of an e-reader that is similar in price and is DRM-free, give-away-my-info free, please let me know.
#7 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, October 11th, 2013 15:05
One consideration: It is strongly suspected that Amazon isn't clearing much profit on their hardware (and it is good hardware), so if such is your style, you might want to see what the state of the Kindle jailbreak/alternate ROM scene is these days (I haven't checked recently).
Amazon, as ebook purveyors, are evil bastards; but (if it is still reasonably doable to crack a Kindle and get it playing nice with normal formats, I haven't checked in several model generations), it doesn't necessarily hurt to let them labor to provide you with cut-price, generally well regarded, hardware.
#8 By: Sarge Misfit, October 11th, 2013 15:22
True and very good points, fuzzyfungus. One more factor I will have to look into in that regard, though. Being Canadian, our laws are likely different than US when it comes to jailbreaking.
#9 By: Anthony Vicari, October 11th, 2013 16:13
If you're buying DRM-free books, you could always convert to PDF or a few other formats and read on a Kindle anyway, if you really liked the device.
#10 By: Jeff Atwood, October 11th, 2013 16:45
Isn't it pretty easy to strip Kindle DRM? (citation needed)
I'm fine with protection that is fairly easy to remove for those that are mildly technical, sort of like what we ended up with DVDs.
#11 By: greggman, October 11th, 2013 17:08
Yes it is easy. Though I'm still torn with supporting them at all.
The thing I find most annoying is there is no way to copy even a small excerpt from an Amazon ebook (I'm sure it's the same on Nook and iBooks). So, I'm reading some self help book and want to copy a list or form out so I can fill it out. Nope, not allowed, not even on their web based reader. Want to copy a recipe ingredient list to your shopping list? Nope. Not allowed.
I suppose I could DeDRM everything right after I buy it and use some other software to read.
#12 By: bwv812, October 11th, 2013 18:19
The first two comments at the linked piece are worth reading, and I would tend to agree with them. Having a default position in standard contracts is typical, and the language requiring mutual consent doesn't necessarily indicate that Amazon is, in practice, hostile to DRM. If they really are hostile to DRM there should be plenty of authors complaining about how Amazon refused to let them publish DRM-free, and this (in conjunction with the contract language) would provide better evidence of Amazon's policy towards DRM.
#13 By: Jeff Atwood, October 11th, 2013 18:21
Oh man, you're right, I always forget how draconian Amazon's restrictions are on copy and paste. You can't even copy anything from the web based Kindle reader much less the various Kindle apps on every platform. It's so annoying.
Several times I've wanted to quote an interesting sentence from a book on Twitter, and I have to manually type in the text every time. Sometimes I do screenshots if it's a longer passage.
#14 By: Tom Teshima, October 11th, 2013 18:46
That's why I refuse to buy anything Kindle related. Get a nook instead. It's cheaper, and can use mobi or any epub files. Only buy non drm books. Screw amazon.
#15 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, October 11th, 2013 19:08
Arguably, that's almost worse (and may actually be worse): Consider the DVD example.
Merely by existing, CSS (despite being pitifully broken) puts considerable leverage in the hands of the DVD CCA. Sure, hackers can distribute libdecss under the radar and mostly not get sued; anyone who sticks their head up enough to be worth hitting still has the features of their product dictated by contract with the CCA (and generally pays a cut for the privilege). Why can virtually anything with an optical drive and software rip CDs; but nothing Joe Clueless User can actually buy (short of enormously expensive pro home theatre gear that very, very, carefully toes the line) rip DVDs, despite the fact that owning a small portable device capable of playing videos is about as common as owning an MP3 player used to be? Because DVDs are DRMed, and it doesn't have to be unbreakable, just present, to quash that entire market. Same reason why DVD players still enforce the unskippable trailers and FBI warnings (sometimes with a nod, wink 'bug' that allows you to get past them); because the CCA says so, and their rules are the rules for as long as the 'hook IP' patents last pretty much worldwide, and more or less in perpetuity in countries with DMCA-style legislation.
Since the DRM is breakable, they get the benefit of something similar to 'price discrimination' (in that, if it were unbreakable, anybody for whom the DRM was unacceptable would not buy; but since it is, some people will use whatever hackarounds exist, while the clueless users will still endure the restrictions).
Even when the DRM is weak, or ends up having a weak link, it can also have unpleasant effects of allowing less tractable DRM features to be mandated and burned into parts of the system that are less easy to modify: again, with DVDs, CSS is broken to hell and back. DVD-ROM drives that enforce region coding in firmware? That varies markedly by model and revision, with some having cracked firmware available, and some, 5 changes over the drive's life, period. Devices being tivoized as a condition of having a supported client for DRMed services seems to be another fad, bypassable with varying degrees of success.
#16 By: Jeff Atwood, October 11th, 2013 19:17
Yeah, but what are you proposing? No DRM on anything, ever? How is that tenable?
It is interesting and encouraging that MP3 audio eventually got to a no-DRM state. I'm continually amazed that happened, but skeptical that attitude will make it to movies, or books.
(Although books are much more amenable to no-DRM than movies, in my opinion.)
#17 By: John Ridley, October 11th, 2013 19:19
FWIW, you can buy a Kindle and never buy a single book from Amazon. I have a Paperwhite and hardly anything on it is from Amazon. IMO it's the best reader on the market. Don't shortchange yourself just to "teach Amazon a lesson."
Look into Calibre.
Also in Calibre, remove all the DRM. I don't buy anything if I can't get the DRM off of it.
@tteshima188The nook can read DRM files so by that logic it's evil too. The Kindle can read non-drm files - just use Calibre to convert them to MOBI, the same as you'd have to use Calibre to convert a Lib to an epub to use on the Nook, if a lib was what you had.
#18 By: John Ridley, October 11th, 2013 19:21
You don't have to load Amazon content just because it's a Kindle. Especially if you're buying DRM free stuff, it's trivial to load it on the Kindle. Just because the Kindle CAN read Amazon DRM'd stuff doesn't mean it MUST.
It also doesn't give away your info if you're doing that.
I'm unaware of any readers that don't support some kind of DRM'd media, including the Kobo. You just couldn't sell the thing.
#19 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, October 11th, 2013 19:32
I suspect that it isn't tenable; but I have the unpleasant suspicion that easy DRM is a lousy equilibrium state because it allows the DRM-owners to have most of the best of both worlds: by virtue of having some DRM, they get every inch of legal control accorded to DRM systems (and that's a lot), which allows them to crush anything remotely commercial or high profile that depends on circumvention (and, if history tells us anything, it's that content industries don't have a clue, even when talking about technologies that end up making them a zillion dollars, like the VCR, never mind technologies that might actually threaten their bottom line, so giving them control seems like a terrible plan); but they also capture a decent slice of the 'grey zone' revenue from customers hacking around, buying things that would otherwise be unacceptable because they can be modified, clandestinely, and so on.
Maybe I'm taking Chernyshevsky a little far; but I like to see DRM that hurts. That reminds both buyers and sellers what the real costs of their desire for control are. I enjoyed watching the various 'Playsforsure/WMDRM' vendors shut their authentication servers down, one by one. Watching the ongoing clusterfuck that is "Ultraviolet" is pleasing. Having Microsoft sent home crying when they proposed the Xbox One Bold New DRM system was excellent fun.
Weak DRM gives people an out, buyers and sellers both, in the same way that selective enforcement lets bad laws stay on the books. I want to see failure, frustration, customers shafted by broken DRM systems, vendors swamped with support calls and dragged through the mud by angry users.
#20 By: adonai, October 11th, 2013 20:14
Eh, I view Kindle DRM as more of a irritating placebo - it's so trivially easy to break and calibre can basically convert the resulting mobi file to whatever you want. It's like CSS in that way - the publishers and their shareholders can feel that they're doing what needs doing to stamp out the evils of piracy, but anyone with a modicum of Google-savvy can get around it and use their product freely.
For those wanting to avoid the Kindle hardware, it's still a damn fine e-reader, and as others have said, you never need to actually purchase DRM'd books. Manage it with calibre and you'll be fine.
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