Lego robot that strips DRM off Kindle books


The idea that a dominant class would force illiteracy upon its subjects makes me rethink the possibilities for the cessation of Linear B in the Greek Dark Ages.


cf. Plessy v. Ferguson.




Yup, I have decided.

It’s amazingly stupid that we have to have this conversation at all.

It’s layers and layers of madness.

  • Good artists are driven to create
  • Creative people work best when life is safe, stable, and worry-free
  • Good artists want the world to see their work

So instead we have . . starving artists with unstable lives, a world full of people who can’t experience their awesomeness, and constantly interrupted creative processes

This is the OPPOSITE of helping!


I appreciate what you are saying here, but I have to say I have some suspicion of your second bullet point. Creation seems to need something to push back against. Possibly the world will provide that even if your needs are provided for by society, but a soft life seems to result in a soft art. Observationally, anecdotally, at least.

Think of comedy. Which is not so different from the rest of the arts. Would comedy be funny if life did not provide some challenge? Would comedians feel compelled to be funny if they were not working against something not funny in their lives?

This project is great because it exposes how absurd the convoluted rules of this particular commerce have become. It is not so easy to explain. Yet, boom, now you see it. Now you understand the arm-twisting going on at a gut level.

Your desire for a paradise is admirable, even understandable as a motive. The real world is a complicated, contingency-laden, humanly-misunderstood, hall-of-mirrors of an existence that art, comedy, and the other entertainments have evolved, yes really evolved, to help us to cope in ways we don’t even know about. I respect that and would not want to replace it with an intellectual approximation derived by some panel of wise-folks, no matter how well-meaning.

So embrace the chaos and the fury it produces as the engine of change it is. Not a passing trouble, but the other side of the coin of life flipping through space to never land, heads or tails.


I think funny people are good at finding funny things. Sure, some comedians may be stronger in certain arenas, I won’t argue that mixing it up can’t be a good thing, though.

However, I think the artists and creative people themselves should be given the choice.

That’s not actually naive at all, is it? How does somebody stand against that? It’s forcing them to suffer so we can have prettier pictures that’s extreme, right?

You say reality, and of course we do live in the ‘real world’ but I’m not so sure we’re not just talking about an overcomplicated game, one that happens to give the advantage to the worst of us.

So, in that context, offering up other ‘games to play’ would certainly help those who don’t enjoy PKing thrive as well, true? These are problems we’ve solved everywhere BUT in the ‘real world’, and we know enough to bridge that gap with science.


I bet everybody’s glad that they’re not an author. Geeky toy aside, it shows the general view of BB to even have it on the list.


Just make sure you don’t memorize the book. Having a copy inside your head is a clear copyright violation.


Just before coming here to look for replies I was thinking how my own lack of competitiveness has hampered my ability to perform as I would like to, so yes, I would prefer to have a choice. The art world just isn’t listening.

I was alluding to our own individual inability to see clearly past our own biases as well as navigating other peoples errors.

I think that may have been what I was perceiving in your bullet points. An unwillingness to admit personal error in one’s world-view. Evolving a new society would happen inside and out.

My suspicion is that our system, as ugly as it is, has a good deal of real wisdom wrapped up in all the shit and that is just the way it is and will be. Small changes and re-direction are what are needed, not wholesale re-engineering. Many of our problems are with ourselves and I don’t see an acknowledgement of that in your gyre.


I regret to say that I think it may, in fact, be naive. @timquinn brings up a very good point about how much (if not most) of our best art is produced in the face of adverse circumstances, and in fact as an indirect result of adversity. The easy example would be love songs. The good ones are typically not written by those who are lucky in love, and particularly not in the middle of a happy and contented love affair. And comedy is similar in that it seems to flower best in the manure of unhappiness. I’ve had occasion to get to know many comedy writers (and a few comics) through my work, and you’d be surprised how many of them were profoundly dark people who had lived through some truly terrible experiences. Comedy, to them, was a defense mechanism at first that they ended up honing into an artform and a livelihood.

The goal isn’t really to punish our artists by forcing them to live in squalor and misery. But I really believe that some of the best art in the world springs directly from the human attempt to survive, and maybe even transcend that kind of misery. My fear is that if everyone is living in relative comfort and safety and harmoniousness, we’re going to see a pretty profound compression taking place over the amplitude spectrum of art. If there’s no tragedy, there will result in a dearth of comedy. High lows will result in relatively low highs. Sure, give artists the choice. Most people will not consciously choose a life of deep suffering if given the choice. Those few who do may or may not end up producing great art, but I’m pretty confident that the passion to create such work will wither in a lot of artists if they find themselves without something to rail passionately against.


See, I think that’s a matter of perspective. People will find things to complain about, there are things to make fun of that aren’t as soul-chilling as war, true?

That is a risk I am ALL about taking!

How about we solve the real problems first, then if we find new ones, we solve them too?

Sure, if we keep beating our heads against the wall it does feel good when we stop, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t greater pleasures to be had in the non-beating-head-against-wall arena.

I certainly don’t think ‘somebody else not letting other people experience their art’ is a mandatory trauma, or even a useful one.


But the absurdity also derives directly from the only way the law allows the process to occur.


Boingers are welcome to join us at where there are a number of implementations of scanners that exploit the analog hole in printed books to digitise them. Two programs particularly that have been developed by forum members are scantailor, a tool that trims, rotates and cleans photographed book images and Homer, a tool that collates, OCR and compresses the output with PDFbeads. There is plenty more work going on with linux builds and the hackerspace scanner by Daniel Reetz, featured previously on BoingBoing.


Is there solid 99% reliable legal evidence that there indeed is a legally defensible analog hole to be exploited here?


I wonder if this violates the terms of your agreement with Lego in some way.


Agree that this seems to be a legitimate route around the DRM legal language.

Also agree that copyright remains in effect. Making a copy for yourself is probably fair use. Exposing/distributing that copy to others probably isn’t. Distributing the copy to others who prove that they have a legitimate DRM’d copy – just to save having to run their copy through the same process – is an interesting grey area; that’s going to depend in part on whether the publisher hid any nasty “smoking guns” in the text to track individual copies.


No where in my invitation do I state anything about the legalities. I am describing a technical process. Legality in 2013 is still geographic and geo-political.


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