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Amazon Uses DMCA To Restrict Ebook Purchases 409

Posted by timothy
from the do-not-read-this-dept-line dept.
InlawBiker writes "Today, Amazon invoked the DMCA to force removal of a python script and instructions from the mobileread web site. The script is used to identify the Kindle's internal ID number, which can be used to enable non-Amazon purchased books to work on the Kindle. '...this week we received a DMCA take-down notice from Amazon requesting the removal of the tool kindlepid.py and instructions for it. Although we never hosted this tool (contrary to their claim), nor believe that this tool is used to remove technological measures (contrary to their claim), we decided, due to the vagueness of the DMCA law and our intention to remain in good relation with Amazon, to voluntarily follow their request and remove links and detailed instructions related to it.' Ironically, the purpose of the script is to make the Kindle more useful to its users."
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Amazon Uses DMCA To Restrict Ebook Purchases

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  • by vanyel (28049) * on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:37PM (#27171673) Journal

    I have no problem putting books I buy elsewhere on my kindle, because none of the 200+ ebooks I have are DRM'd. If Amazon wants me to buy books from them, they'll drop DRM too.

  • Re:First Sale My Ass (Score:1, Interesting)

    by qoncept (599709) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:38PM (#27171711) Homepage

    where would we be

    Either paying a whole lot more (than the currently subsized price of the Kindle) or not having the option to buy it at all, since Amazon would have realized up front that developing it wasn't going to be profitable.

    A better question would be, "Where would technology be if there were no financial motive for its advancement?"

  • by ProteusQ (665382) <dontbother@nowhe ... Nom minus author> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:45PM (#27171815) Journal

    What are the best open ebook reader options out there?

  • Re:First Sale My Ass (Score:3, Interesting)

    by snowraver1 (1052510) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:57PM (#27172019)
    Remember the XBOX? It was hacked wide open and no longer was profitable (Technically it was never profitable) so they abandoned it and went with the xbox360, which has been much more resistant to hacking.

    Just like you feel you have the right to do whatever you want to stuff you buy, businesses feel that they have the right to protect their business model. They expect to make money not just on the initial sale of the item, but on the ongoing support of the item (through games or ebook sales).

    I understand both sides of the argument. It's a tough call.

    This wouldn't be /. without a poor analagy so here we go: When you go to a flea market and buy fireworks, they are restricted. To (responsibly) use them, they can only be used when the forest fire risk is low enough. You must launch them were there are no flammable materials nearby. You must Never launch at animals or people, etc. These rules are in place to protect people and the ecosystem. With consoles it protects people (from hackers ruining multi games) and the environment (as it helps MS/Nintendo/Sony prevent pirated games thus extending the consoles life).
  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:28PM (#27172487)

    They're counting on making their money back and more selling the e-books over that network

    If Amazon would like to try this approach, that's fine. But our personal right to do what we will with our property trumps Amazon's business model. If Amazon's business model won't work in a free society, it has no business working at all.

    That's a neat theory. But the courts will likely disagree with you, and they have the police to force your obedience.

    I think most people on /. would be willing to tell the government to get stuffed regarding the DMCA. However, few or none of us are willing to suffer the consequences.

  • by Eil (82413) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:30PM (#27172529) Homepage Journal

    If Amazon would like to try this approach, that's fine. But our personal right to do what we will with our property trumps Amazon's business model. If Amazon's business model won't work in a free society, it has no business working at all.

    I really wish that were the case, but the congress critters who passed the DMCA, and the president who signed it, didn't see it that way.

  • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Interesting)

    by maynard (3337) <j@maynard@gelinas.gmail@com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:43PM (#27172759) Journal

    When I read a PDF I need quality image support for interpreting graphs and other types of visual data. The Kindle doesn't come close. Yes, Amazon offers a PDF "conversion" service. In the process, formatting and image support is either lost or horribly mangled.

    Never mind the total lack of touch support for eink annotations makes the thing worthless for serious use. Fine if you want to spend $350 for a device to read novels on the train. But if you want to read technical papers and annotate in math, the Kindle doesn't come close to being a useful device.

    The only thing out there that does meet that need is:

    The IREX Digital Reader 1000:

    https://www.irexshop.com/product_info.php?cPath=22_35&products_id=69 [irexshop.com]

    That is the first device to come on the market which exceeds the eReader feature set available on the Apple's old Newton MP2x00 from 1998.

    Pathetic.

  • Re:First Sale My Ass (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nahdude812 (88157) * on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:43PM (#27172767) Homepage

    I'd gladly pay retail price for my phone if it meant no contract. I'm highly allergic to service contracts in general, I will pay more up front to avoid them subsidizing me with tie-ins. When there's a service contract, they have no motivation to provide good service past the contract signing.

    Before I got an iPhone, I was on Verizon Wireless for quite a few years. Once my initial contract expired, I started getting frequent calls from VZW which went something like:

    "The plan you're on right now is no longer offered, but we can grandfather you in if you'll agree to a renewed contract."

    "What happens if I don't agree to the new contract?" said I.

    "You'll continue with the same features, at the same rate as you're paying now, but it won't be part of a plan," was the response.

    "What's the advantage of being on a plan if I get the same features for the same price without being on a plan?" I countered.

    "Without a plan, you... I'm not... well you would be planless! You would not be on a plan!"

    "So what reason would I have to renew my contract, if I could avoid renewing my contract and get exactly the same thing?"

    "I really suppose there's no reason you would want to do that," was the actual response one person gave me. I hope she didn't get in trouble, but I sincerely appreciated her candor.

    These calls happened weekly, and each time they got more aggressive. One person suggested that I would lose my service if I didn't agree to a new contract. When I asked her in direct terms, "Is it true that if I do not re-up my contract, I will continue with the same features as I have now, at the same price, and that there is no reason to suspect this would change any time in the foreseeable future?" she responded, "No sir, your service will be cut off." I said, "Then please disconnect my service as of tomorrow, I will go out this afternoon and find a new carrier." It turns out this was a third party company who was only authorized to renew my contract, not cancel my service.

    Previously when I had asked them to stop calling me about this, they had assured me they would.

    After this most recent interaction where I was threatened with disconnection if I didn't re-up, I called Verizon Wireless customer service directly. I asked to cancel my service, and I was transferred to the cancellation department. I told them that if I received even one more call about renewing my contract, I would cancel my service immediately. They said something about "30 business days to process that request," (keep in mind, I had been getting the calls weekly). I repeated, "I don't care how long you're told to tell me that it takes to get me off that list, if I get such a call in even five minutes, I'm calling you back immediately to cancel. If you guys can get me off the list before the next time your contracted company gets to my number, then you will keep me as a customer; if you can't, then you lose me."

    I never got another such call, and had service with them for probably three more years.

    Now bear in mind whatever subsidization of initial costs they required had already been covered. I had made no indication that I wanted to stop my service with them, and fully expected to continue my service indefinitely, but here they were trying to pressure me into a commitment with absolutely no benefit to myself. If I had kept them happily for ten years, and they had called me again for this purpose after all that time, I would have fulfilled my promise and canceled my account immediately.

    So, sorry for the long anecdote, but I'm one of those people who detests service contracts; I'll definitely cover any subsidization costs myself in order to avoid them.

  • Re:Exactly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:55PM (#27172951) Journal

    The only thing out there that does meet that need is The IREX Digital Reader 1000:

    This is true, but more so because of its larger screen. Reading PDFs on a 600x800 screen of Kindle is not a good idea regardless of software features.

    Also, iRex costs twice as much as Kindle and other readers with similar screen (Sony, Hanlin).

  • Re:Progress (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nextekcarl (1402899) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:00PM (#27173033)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosetta_Stone [wikipedia.org]

    Okay, it isn't a book, and it sure isn't intact, but I'd be willing to bet no ebook file bought today will be readable at all in over 2000 years (not sure how you'd collect on that bet). The more portable and convenient we make information, the easier it is to lose it. It seems the way we combat this is to make many copies and put them all around, but that defeats at least part of the purpose of make it take up so little room.

    But I suppose when a large amount of the information created is like http://www.timecube.com/ [timecube.com] I guess it is okay if we lose most of it. ;^)

  • Very nice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:14PM (#27173305) Journal

    Well said. You get a complimentary lawyer cap for the day.

    I hope the script writer sees this, as it's a very good response to their takedown.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:16PM (#27173319) Journal

    It's funny, because for me, my ereader (Sony though, not Kindle) has mostly replaced paper books precisely for "narrative" literature, not technical - simply because you really don't need all those fancy extra features such as touchscreen or annotations there, and something simple and relatively cheap, such as PRS-505, does the job very well. And I get to carry my entire library with me, and whenever I'm stuck in a queue or on the bus, decide what I want to read depending on the mood.

    Like it or not, but everything that you've listed is not relevant to the "core" concept of the book, which is really just about text. I fully expect paper books to become luxury items in the next 20-30 years, where you'll have to pay quite a bit of extra for the privilege of "feeling".

  • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:18PM (#27173359) Journal

    It also supports eink annotation and native PDF rendering.

    PDF rendering is supported by virtually all devices on the market, including the more recent Hanlin Jinke models and Sony PRS-505. Annotations are supported in PRS-700 (which has a touchscreen just for that purpose). Really, the only thing that's unique about iRex offerings is the 768x1024 screen - but that is a big deal (and also why it costs so much - from what I heard, those screens are made exclusively for iRex, and not mass-produced as those for Hanlin/Sony/Kindle are).

    Even so, when comparing products, it's always worth to mention all the differences, including price.

  • by langelgjm (860756) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:18PM (#27173361) Journal

    Your analogy to cell phones doesn't work, though, because Kindle users don't (as far as I know) sign any sort of contract with Amazon.

    It would be one thing if you signed a two-year contract with Amazon that guaranteed you the free wireless access so long as you did not purchase books elsewhere. That's not what's happening. Rather, they've tried to use a technical measure to control a related aftermarket, much like Lexmark did with toner cartridges. They're free to do that, but invoking the DMCA to protect the practice shouldn't be allowed, because the issue isn't fundamentally one of copyright.

    Additionally, I still don't understand why U.S. phones are locked and come with a two-year contract. If you've signed the contract and you break it, you have to pay a hefty fee, so why should it matter if you've signed it and decide to use the phone with a different service? Either way, the original company that subsidized the phone gets their money. Is it just to prevent people from fraudulently signing a contract, getting, say, an iPhone, and then disappearing without paying their early termination fee?

  • Re:First Sale My Ass (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spire3661 (1038968) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:21PM (#27173393) Journal

    Your analogy is HORRIBLY flawed. First of all there were a multitude of reasons why the original Xbox was retired early, and the hacking potential was WAY down the list.

    #1 reason why XBOX was retired semi-early is to beat Sony to the market in next-gen.

    #2 the 360 was ALOT easier to hack then the original xbox, jsut flash the DVD drive firmware using a standard sata equipped PC.

  • Re:Exactly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:22PM (#27173423)

    'course, who would want to direct render a PDF on a device like the Kindle in the first place?

    Someone with a metric assload of scanned documents, with formatting that needs to be preserved. That would be me.

  • Re:First Sale My Ass (Score:3, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:13PM (#27174173) Journal

    >>>even relatively intelligent people only have 24 hours a day in which to make decisions.... This is why we need explicit market regulation

    "People are ignorant" is a poor excuse to turn-over the markets to politicians. Politicians are no better at making decisions that the average person - probably less so, because politicians don't give a damn about us; they merely pretend to do so. I can run my OWN life far better than same corrupt suit in D.C.

    Anyone who would give up essential liberty for temporary cellphone bargains, deserve neither. A better solution is to DO RESEARCH prior to purchase, in order to eliminate ignorance as much as possible. I have a cellphone that has no contract commitment whatsoever, because my company prefers to focus on keeping customers through service, rather than chaining them down. I am contract-free and I did it *by myself* rather than rely on a politician.

    If I can do it, run my own life, so too can all other Americans. They only need to put-in the effort. It's called personal maturity & adult responsibility.

  • Re:Exactly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by petermgreen (876956) <plugwashNO@SPAMp10link.net> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @07:54PM (#27175471) Homepage

    I can't say i've encountered this myself though it doesn't surprise me.

    iirc there are libraries for working with pdf ( the name itext springs to mind) so it should be possible to make an app that displays each typeface table and lets you specify how it should map to unicode then uses that info to convert the pdf to text.

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