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Books Censorship Hardware Hacking Build

Amazon Uses DMCA To Restrict Ebook Purchases 409

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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  • How dare anyone attempt to enable users to do as they please with Amazon's personal property! Kindles and all their associated contents are the intellectual property of Amazon in perpetuity and just because you paid money for one and are in personal possession of it, that does not entitle you to do with it as you please.

    I mean, where would we be if people could do as they liked with the things they buy?

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:30PM (#27171563)
    The number of books I would have to buy to make the Kindle worth buying makes me sad. Its a nifty device, but there's no way I'd ever get one.
  • by Kazoo the Clown ( 644526 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:31PM (#27171573)
    It's not about the Kindle's usefullness to the user, it's about the Kindle's usefullnes to amazon. The Kindle is not where Amazon makes their money, it's on the sale of the ebooks-- if people are buying them from elsewhere, Amazon is not getting their profit, and in fact it may be costing them money-- the Kindle is essentially subsidised by their ebooks.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:32PM (#27171577)
    It takes a lot of balls to ask someone to pay almost $400 for the privilege of buying stuff exclusively from you, and then tell them that modifying the software to do anything BUT buy stuff from you is illegal.
  • Irony? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fastest fascist ( 1086001 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:32PM (#27171597)

    Ironically, the purpose of the script is to make the Kindle more useful to its users.

    Nothing ironic about it. Amazon doesn't want the Kindle to be more useful than they've designed it to be. They've spent a great deal of money and effort making this platform, they don't want to have to compete with other people selling books for the thing.

  • by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:32PM (#27171599) Journal

    I thought the same thing about ebook readers, but then I enrolled in an online degree program (from a real school). Since it's CS, most of the professors are rather clueful and the lecture notes (which tend to be even more complete than the textbooks) are all in PDFs.

    Not having to have my laptop with me at all times to study made it worth it to get a PRS-505 (and it's a tax deduction since there's nothing else on it!)

    Fuck the Kindle though.

  • Ironically, the purpose of the script is to make the Kindle more useful to its users

    From the relatively low cost of the device and the fact that access to Sprint's EV-DO network is free, I would assume that the kindle is a loss-leader for Amazon.

    They're counting on making their money back and more selling the e-books over that network. And that only works if Kindle users get their books exclusively from Amazon. So clearly it's in their interest to limit the Kindle's capabilities in this way.

    Having said that, it's not clear that the DMCA actually applies in this case. Though since the law is written so that large IP holders can bludgeon smaller entities, I'd say it seems to be working perfectly.

  • Consoles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jgtg32a ( 1173373 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:35PM (#27171641)
    Isn't this the business model of the Console?
  • by tritonman ( 998572 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:35PM (#27171645)
    Kindle is probably like the playstation, they don't make money on selling the unit, they make money on you buying books for it.
  • Whoops (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hordeking ( 1237940 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:38PM (#27171683)

    From the article:

    The funny part is that many people like me will never have even heard of the script until Amazon made a fuss about it. I found it with a simple google search. Same with how-to instructions.

    Hi, Amazon. I'd like for you to meet a very dear friend of mine, the Streisand Effect. You two are going to really get familiar with each other.

  • Screw that (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Murpster ( 1274988 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:38PM (#27171705)
    I've only gotten one DMCA take down request, I wrote back and told the copyright owner which of my body parts he could orally copulate with and never heard back. If this web site thought the law was vague and that they were in the right, they should've told Amazon something similar and left the script up. Stupid laws like this only survive because people crumble in the face of silly threats.
  • by Ibag ( 101144 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:41PM (#27171751)

    Just because you run and hide from a pack of wolves doesn't mean you are a sheep. While you might wish them to martyr themselves for your principles, if they don't have the resources to fight, or if a win would not accomplish anything for anybody else, why shouldn't they act in their own best interests?

  • Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Man On Pink Corner ( 1089867 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:41PM (#27171755)

    Sony's got to be kicking themselves, wondering where they went wrong. When they released a portable digital Walkman without native support for .MP3s, people just laughed at them.

    Yet when Amazon releases a portable reader without native support for .PDFs, people trample their own mothers to get in line to buy one.

    Can you imagine the derision people would have for Apple if you had to email your .MP3s to convert@apple.com to put them on your iPod or iPhone?

  • by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:41PM (#27171761)

    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.

  • by qoncept ( 599709 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:50PM (#27171903) Homepage
    This comparison doesn't work because 1) everyone in the world makes DVD players (so you could just buy someone else's) and 2) their cost isn't subsidized.
  • by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:53PM (#27171939) Homepage

    Or printers/ink or razors/blades. The big difference with e-books is that you have to create a shortage of product while it's a natural side-effect for ink or razors. You can't just download new razors.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:53PM (#27171949)

    The Kindle 2 is $360. Is that really a subsidized price?

  • by Demonantis ( 1340557 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:54PM (#27171967)
    Amazon isn't the only one that does this. Apple does this with their products. A lot of printing companies do this with ink cartridges. Car companies often control the supply of replacement parts. Secondary purchases are a huge economy everywhere. I don't like that use of the DMCA, though. Its implications really scare me. What if I modified my car then release the notes on a web page. Could the manufacture DMCA it down? Should this be an acceptable use of the DMCA? I think that DMCA notices should really come with a danger to misuse. If there isn't companies could DMCA their way out of webpages that attack their product. It would really make the company think about it be before it brought down it's huge club of injustice on an individual.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:57PM (#27172015)

    Surely you mean "Where would technology be if there were a financial motive to make it widely available and useful for the masses?"

    You've got the cart leading the horse. Their lock-in marketing artificially shrinks the market for the device which makes mass manufacture and sale less profitable and more expensive because they can't take advantage of any larger scale production.

    The Kindle, in principle, is a pretty simple device from a modern perspective; a cell phone with a very large screen and a very restricted calling plan. Amazon is coming at this from the perspective that they don't want to be the T-Mobile (one among many content/functionality providers with subsidized and unsubsidized hardware provided by various entities) of the e-book market, they want to be the XM Sirius of the e-books.

    Sirius isn't doing so well, emulating them can't be a good plan.

  • Re:Whoops (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hordeking ( 1237940 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:01PM (#27172075)

    Yep. I'd never heard of it either. Now I've got a copy, in case anyone I know ever wants it. Thanks, Amazon.

    It's a good thing DMCA takedown notices aren't applied with gag orders like "National Security" Letters.

    I got the distinct impression these guys wanted exactly what happened to happen, and wanted to disavow responsibility for legal reasons. "It's not here, so don't ask". Nothing about "don't look elsewhere for it, or ask elsewhere."

  • by porcupine8 ( 816071 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:05PM (#27172135) Journal
    There's a big difference between a company fighting back by making the hacked item obsolete, and the company claiming that what you did is illegal and going after you in court. Companies are welcome to do whatever they want to try and design and market their products in such a way that they can only be used in the way the company wishes - the government doing it for them is not cool.
  • Re:Progress (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:19PM (#27172329)

    Blank Reg: This is a network linker. It's a bit out of your league, idn'it, Paula?
    Paula: So, whatch'll you trade for it? ... What's that?
    Blank Reg: It's a book!
    Paula: Well, what's that?
    Blank Reg: It's a non-volatile storage medium. It's very rare. You should 'ave one.
    Paula: Stuff it!

  • by RickyMaveety ( 1499157 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:30PM (#27172521)
    You are right, that is a poor analogy. A better one would be a consumer purchasing a television set and then being told that he/she can only watch television shows on which that manufacturer advertises, or can only watch stations that pay the manufacturer a license fee. Amazon is using DRM to force people who purchase a Kindle from only obtaining content from them. Thus, they dictate what books the user can or cannot read on the device, regardless of the fact that the user has paid for a digital book, unless they have paid Amazon, they may not read the book on the device.
  • by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:38PM (#27172649)
    -1 is the only way to read /.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:41PM (#27172705)
    They chose to sell it at the price they did, so they can just go cry me an enema. I bought it, mine now. I can do any damned thing I please with it. If that includes wiring in some car battery terminals with an external toast warmer that reads DVDs and washes my feet, so be it.
  • by interval1066 ( 668936 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:44PM (#27172789) Homepage Journal

    @ObsessiveMathsFreak: "I mean, where would we be if people could do as they liked with the things they buy?"

    Indeed. I know this will sound like the same old advice, but in this case its really applicable. Don't buy a kindle. Both the Kindle and the iPod cost what they do because of the brand on their cases. I have better functionality than you get on an iPod with my cheaper mp3 player, and I read ebooks on my palm centro using a little utility that came with my palm software that converts almost any text format to a sort of mini-pdf format. I love it. Stop giving people who would tie you down to their particular brand of poison.

  • My opinion, Iliad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dusty00 ( 1106595 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:44PM (#27172791)
    I personally love my Iliad from IRex. It's the most expensive eReader on the market, but the hardware is the most feature advanced (16 shade grayscale long before the Kindle 2, stylus touch screen).

    On the other hand, what I think will end up being it's biggest strength is currently it's biggest weakness, it's OS is Open Source. Near as I can tell, IRex basically launched the product with only the bare minimum features and is looking to the Open Source community to help polish it off. Though they do have their own staff developers working on features what they currently have doesn't make great use of the Iliad's hardware.

    All the same I'm much happier giving my money to a company that doesn't try to tell me what I can do with the device after I've paid for it.
  • by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:47PM (#27172825)

    I love the sound a new hardcover makes when you open it for the first time; I love being able to take a book camping without worrying that it will be crushed. I love being able to physically browse through everything on my bookshelf and pick something that interests me. Oh, and I love being able to make margin notes and dog-ear pages. I love that I can feel a book's right side become smaller and smaller as I read, and how I can become excited (or nervous) about feeling the ending being near.

    There's just something satisfying about a physical book that I can't replicate with an E-Book. Sure, I'd rather have an E-Book dictionary or cookbook, but you'll pry my narrative paper books from my dead hands.

  • by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:54PM (#27172939)

    There's already a perfectly good legal mechanism to amortize high up-front costs over a product's lifetime: it's called a lease [wikipedia.org]. If a company wants to restrict how a product is used, the company and the customer can sign a lease agreement. Xerox very successfully used that business model for its early photocopies.

    The problem we're seeing today is that companies want to have their cake and eat it too. They want customers to feel like they're making a purchase, but act like they're under the terms of a lease. That's fucking bullshit, and runs counter to personal property rights at the core of Western civilization.

    In short, if you want to tell me how to use your widget, you'd better lease it to me. No way in hell should you be telling me how to use property I've purchased outright without signing any kind of contract with you.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:58PM (#27173005) Homepage

    Amazon sells the Kindle. Fine. Amazon sells eBooks. Fine. Amazon wants to restrict what a Kindle OWNER can do with his own hardware? Not fine.

    Either Amazon should back down on this or they should discontinue the Kindle. They can't really do what they are doing without running afowl of some legal crusader in the near future.

  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:01PM (#27173059) Homepage Journal

    It is the difference between
    the protection of the law which both razors and kindles have,
    and protection "realistic barrier to entry into the marketplace"

    The thing keeping the razor blade model propped up is the design of the connector between handle & blade

    A Gilette Mach XXX* has a very specific design and legally protected-physical connection

    to enter the market/compete against this product requires large capital infusion, on a business level that can easily be knocked down in the court systems

    if anyone could legitimately connect to that- then there would damnfinesure be some competition with generic knockoffs

    Region Free DVD roms' Ebooks, wii's, xbox's jailbroken iphones-- the resources required to do these things are small by comparison

    the fact is, the electrical goods as discussed here (e book files) and elsewhere can be modified on a per piece basis for far less.

    Demand is not a factor-- ease of modification is.

  • by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:07PM (#27173181)

    Thanks for the anecdote. It illuminates why laissez-faire capitalism fails again and again: market capitalism works flawlessly in theory. This theory, however, rests on the assumption that all market participants are rational actors, and that these participants have access to all the information they need. This assumption does not hold in real life.

    In real life, even relatively intelligent people only have 24 hours a day in which to make decisions, and nobody has the time to obtain all the information he needs to make rational decisions about everything. Most people will not have the skepticism or the presence of mind to question the service representative the way you did. Slick marketing exploits this weakness by pushing incorrect information that average people, pressed for time, will take as fact. Neither will most people use the courts to have contracts like this canceled, even if they become aware they were cheated: a lack of time again neuters the tools that capitalism in theory gives us to counter these abuses.

    This is why we need explicit market regulation: to compensate for human inefficiency and weakness in the market. Cell phone contracts should be made illegal outright, the way they are in parts of Europe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:07PM (#27173185)
    Um, I think he knows that. He's asking for an alternative because he is going to "vote with his wallet."
  • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:26PM (#27173491) Homepage

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

    Then Kindle isn't for you.

    For actual, serious e-book reading, PDF is an inferior format. Period. What you're doing sounds like it involves reading scanned technical manuals or other documentation. For that purpose, you probably want something with higher resolution, and even better, colour. Either way, Kindle isn't the best choice. I'd suggest something along the lines of a tablet PC.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:28PM (#27173527) Homepage Journal

    Becasue even fighting it loudly could casuse Amazon to back down. Best case, Amazon loks like a bully, and people hate that.
    IT also loudly shows the problems with the DMCA.

    And if you make your fight in the arean of public opinion, you have strong allies. Based on cost, you qwould probably end up needing to do that.

    Personally, I would post the letter on a blog. Pay a few hundred dollars to get a lawyer to draft a response.

    The rest acan eb a public fight, for little cost.

    So, while running and hiding from something you can't defeat is on thing, running and hiding when you ahve other cation to take is being a sheep.

    You let the fear of the person with the stick cause you to run like everyone else.

    This behavior should be avoided whenever possible because you can have all the rights in the world, but if you refuse to defend them, then really you have no rights at all.

  • Re:The ECM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:46PM (#27173795) Homepage Journal

    But I can get another one for my car where I control the software.
    Clearly I void the warranty, but that's where the manufactures influence stops, they don't try and put me in jail.

  • Re:Exactly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dissy ( 172727 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:51PM (#27173867)

    If you're buying your books elsewhere, Amazon's going to take a loss on the whole shebang, and that's most likely what they're trying to prevent (while counting on the fact that you can't get non-drm'd copies of most books such as in .txt, .pdf, or .htm format).

    I still don't see why you or ANYONE can claim this is an OK thing

    Amazon has no right to spew libel AND slander towards anyone by claiming they broke laws that clearly they didn't.

    Seriously, a DMCA take down? the DMCA protects EXACTLY THIS!

    What will it take for you people to see this as bad??

    Amazon issuing "We claim you are a murderer and demand you take down a webpage or we turn you in!"

    This guy clearly did not commit murder anymore than he violated the DMCA.. When does this excusing amazon for lies stop?

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:58PM (#27173973) Homepage

    The big deal is corporate oppressive behavior. They are abusing the DMCA trying to tell people what they can and can't do with the hardware they own. That would be like buying a car in the U.S. and the car maker trying to tell you that you cannot fix it yourself or rig it to be a hybrid or to use other alternative energy sources or supplements. Or how about Dell telling you that you cannot run Linux or they will file some sort of lawsuit against you?

    When companies can dictate how you use your own stuff, soon they will be telling you what you can and cannot buy... can and cannot own. That path leads to some very ugly places.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:08PM (#27174103) Homepage

    Threatening legal action against people who want to use their own property in any way they like is not oppressive? The DMCA notices are just the beginning stages before they start filing lawsuits. This makes me wonder if I am actually feeding the troll...

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:08PM (#27174105) Journal

    Which is why I don't see how Amazon plans to build a market for this thing. Let's look at it from a business perspective: First you are trying to sell a kinda pricey device to what all would agree is a very limited market. And THEN you go out of your way to piss off the purchasers by screwing them from using anything but your overpriced content AFTER they just handed you money? Yeah, good luck ith that.

    I can buy a Netbook for the same price or less than a Kindle, and do whatever I WANT to do with it, including reading .txt,.pdf,.html, whatever, and NOT get hamstringed by some corp trying to push overpriced content on me. Why would I want to give you my money for a Kindle now, Amazon?

    I predict this time next year the Kindle will be just as dead as those proprietary ebook readers companies tried to sell during the last dotbomb. you have to know your market and more importantly, know your competition. By screwing their paying customers Amazon just made their product that much more worthless compared to the Netbook. Just not a good move in this economy IMHO.

  • Re:Exactly (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:27PM (#27174351)

    Is there any hope with netbooks? I would think that their bigger screens and better processing power would be advantageous.

    I agree with all your lamentations!
    I have the same desiderata for a portable reader for technical document content.
    I've been horribly disappointed already at the uselessness of Windows Mobile based PDAs for this service -- hearing that they had a PDF reader version (from adobe even), and available VGA resolution screens, I thought they'd be just the thing to use. As it is the mobile reader software is HORRIBLE in functionality and indeed Adobe's own software crashed my PDA so badly that I had to hard reset it and lose all data -- no other software crash has ever been nearly so bad on my PDA before or since that time.

    Frankly now I say to hell with them all and I place the blame on idiotic content creators (and Adobe, et. al.) that they'd even INFLICT the ills of PDF format or other "office document" / "ebook" formats on the world.

    What SHOULD be done is to use a high level markup e.g. "semantic web" style to encode not only the content's literal data (e.g. plain ASCII / XML text passages for the basic content) and also metadata about its semantic meaning (e.g. explicitly categorize and dictionary / bibliography index place names, person names, product names, special symbols, logos, ..., functional and presentation MathML for equations, et. al. Include all the hinting you want about layout / presentation / style / typeface attributes, but NONE of that hinting / presentation metadata should be even remotely required for proper display so that you could easily present the content say audibly or on a kindle / PDA screen or whatever (ignoring much of the layout style sheet intended for standard desktop use) and still have the result look nice and be as readable / usable as possible on any size / type of display device given local preferences for layout styles / formatting.

    It is (should be) the same with web sites. Encode the meaning of the data you want displayed and leave it to the user's own browser to determine HOW to layout / present the information well on whatever resolution / format screen they may have.

    Of course that'd facilitate SEARCH too which is another reason I detest PDF / eBook formats. They're next to impossible to index / search well except in the most rudimentary ways, whereas if they were in some well chosen sort of XML / SGML the situation would be MUCH better. Especially on a mobile reader you need effective search tools to avoid going through hundreds of documents with hundreds of pages each looking for this or that fact / passage altogether too manually.

    I'd VERY much like to never buy another "text book" or copy of a technical journal again and instead get a superior experience (annotation, RICH bookmarking!!!, mashups, portability, SEARCH!!!, ...) with electronic forms but pathetically, deplorably, detestably, idiotically the electronic versions are often FAR worse to use than even a printed copy. If only people would just abandon PDF / DOC / ebook formats and just switch to RDF / DC / XML with rich schemas and metadata.

    captcha: effigy -- and I can think of some voodoo-doll like effigies of Adobe / publisher types I could do some interesting things to right now....

  • by EchaniDrgn ( 1039374 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:29PM (#27174407)

    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.

    For some reason I didn't think that $299.00 [sonystyle.com] was much more than $359.00 [amazon.com], but I'm no economist.

    Now, if you're including the lifetime service to Sprint then yeah, I can see some bit of a savings, but if they're charging you for the book download in the first place...

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:30PM (#27174413) Journal

    >>>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.


    Every five-to-six years, the old console is phased-out and a new console introduced. That's the natural cycle that has evolved in videogaming and had nothing to do with hacking. Take the Gamecube as example: It was locked-down and essentially pirate-proof but Nintendo still got rid of it and introduced the new Wii. It was simply time to start the new 2006-2011 generation.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:31PM (#27174431)

    remind me again why I should buy a product that doesn't do what _I_ want???

  • by EllisDees ( 268037 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:33PM (#27174449)

    You own the Kindle. You are not breaking Amazon DRM to put anything on the Kindle. Amazon can sit and spin.

  • by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:34PM (#27174475)

    A better solution is to DO RESEARCH prior to purchase, in order to eliminate ignorance as much as possible.

    You know damn well that most people won't do research no matter how much you yell at them. You know damn well cell phone companies will exploit slick marketing to make people make decisions that aren't in their own interests. You can't change this. It's human nature. Even the best of us are sometimes fooled. We only have 24 hours in each day, and I for one don't want to spend my life doing market research.

    I am contract-free and I did it *by myself* rather than rely on a politician.

    I am too, but I recognize most people won't do the same.

    Now for the meat:

    "People are ignorant" is a poor excuse to turn-over the markets to politicians.

    It's physically impossible for even a very intelligent person to perform the research he needs to make fully-informed decisions in every instance, and so capitalism's underlying assumptions are invalidated. I'm not proposing to put politicians "in charge" of the market. That's a strawman. What politicans can do is:

    • Enact regulations to make the market more transparent. By keeping the market honest, open, and free of collusion, we can approximate what we'd see in a true free market with omniscient supermen participating in it.
    • Make the market take into accounts its externalities. Pollution credits are a perfect example of this principle, and have been very effective.

    Regulation makes the market work better. Regulation interferes with the markets like oil interferes with an engine. Both will grind to a halt and break down if you leave them alone.

  • Re:Ah, Python! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Repton ( 60818 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:52PM (#27174779) Homepage

    The whitespace is present in the source.

    Perhaps more accurately demonstrates why restricted-html web pages as code repositories suck.

  • by Dare nMc ( 468959 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @07:01PM (#27174903)

    It appears the "MOBI ID" of the kindle would also allow the stripping of amazons DRM using the same software that strips DRM from mobi books.
    So while the intended application should be DMCA safe, having the MOBI ID is one step closer to stripping DRM from amazons books. (still not a clear DMCA violation, but I can see some point)

  • by LandDolphin ( 1202876 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @07:12PM (#27175019)

    Of the six books I bought in the past couple months, four of them are now on loan to friends.

    Stealing food from the Authors... Tisk Tisk Tisk... Those were obviously four sales that were going to happen that you took away from them.

  • by lordofthechia ( 598872 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @09:45PM (#27176359)

    Regulation makes the market work better.

    See the standard form that credit card companies have to include with any offer (which displays in a neat table your APR, Yearly Fee, Penalty APR, etc). Why can't we have something like that for phone service? A neat table, monthly plan, minutes, termination fee, contract length, etc.

    Now as has been pointed out by several posters and Consumer Reports, despite the fact that a contract rate is supposed to subsidize the cost of a handset:
    1) providers won't let you buy your own phone and sign up w/o a contract and/or at a lower rate
    2) The rate doesn't change at the end of the contract period.
    3) Despite owning the phone, the consumer is unable to (or has to jump through hoops) in order to use the phone with a different provider (should the other provider use the same network technology).

    So essentially the providers are bundling the sale of a handset with your service, just as many computer companies would bundle Windows with the sale of every PC. Now imagine if other businesses started doing this? Comcast requiring you buy a new cable modem each year (or pay for it just the same). This is a wasteful and unfair practice.

    One last thing, though there is a cost for signing up a new customer (which some companies have used as an excuse for requiring contracts of all customers) this is what the activation fee should take care of.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12, 2009 @10:07PM (#27176513)

    > 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.

    Funny, I thought they released it because the old X-Box wouldn't be able to compete with the Wii and PS3...

    Also, I don't think the lack of profit had much to do with how hackable it was. When I compare my X-Box game collection to my GameCube and PS2 game collections... there's not much for the X-Box. I'm probably ~ 90% ps2, 9% gc and 1% xbox. The problem MS had was they weren't seen as a desirable platform for a lot of the big games. (They weren't Japanese, and they were a johnny-come-lately to the console world.) With the 360, MS had two things going.

    1. MS proved by taking a beating with the original xbox and producing another machine, that they were COMMITTED. MS set themselves apart from the makers of the CD-I and 3DO. (Of course Tiger matched them with both the Game.Com and Game.Com Color and SNK with the Neo Geo and Neo Geo Pocket Color, but those second tries didn't have anywhere near the bankroll MS tossed at the 360.)

    2. Sony priced themselves too high. Sure, it might be "worth" it, but a $50 steak at a REALLY good steakhouse might be worth it too. Guess how many times a typical person visits such a steakhouse compared to a lower-end chain that still has a delicious steak, but at a price where you can go again and again? This tossed business to MS and Nintendo. Nintendo has proprietary discs sometimes considered as a scam to get money for the pressing as well as licensing, double-dipping. Nintendo also has an iffy controller. Some love it, some hate it, but it's not best for all games, and you're seriously pressured to use it. (Like the accursed touch screen on the DS. Great for Touch Detective, WTF were they thinking on Zelda?)

    MS *does* have the right to put in barriers to unlocking the machine. They do NOT have the right (ethically) to keep you from opening the machine. With the DMCA they may have a legal right to do so. If they're dumb enough to make a business model based on having to make up for an initial loss, with hardware that's an attractive nuisance hundreds of hackers will want to tear open, they're being silly. Nintendo can make a profit off game consoles, with games as icing. MS and Sony can too. Not doing so is a calculated risk. The DS is from what I've heard hacked open. I haven't heard too much whining about how unprofitable it is.

    MS can do a few things, like add a clickthrough agreement to a license. Still, if you open it up and start disassembling and haven't turned it on and agreed to anything, you're ok.

    As for feeling they have a "right" to continue their business model, they have the right to attempt continuing it. The consumer has the right to decline to buy, to buy and hack (in a legal way) or buy and not hack. Consider the Cuecat barcode scanner. If you didn't ask for one, but got one in the mail, why shouldn't you be allowed to use it for other purposes? Once sent through the mail it's a gift, if it wasn't that would mean they could send it to you and request it back anytime. If they weren't supplying return postage, that means they get to saddle you with debt (not much for 1 cuecat, but if they kept sending them) w/o any say on your part. There is a precedent for this sort of harassment being illegal in the banning of spam faxes (which waste toner and paper).

    What if a fad came out such as the old mac as fishbowl using an 360? Or even if they used it JUST for what it does from the box... If it became cool to buy a 360 for use as a DVD player, this would cost MS horribly as the loss on each one isn't recouped. Should people be forbidden from buying 360s unless they commit to buy at least X games? You can't force a bundle, that's been ruled illegal. (Although GameStop always seem to find a way around it as new consoles are released.)

    As for the fireworks, regulation of those is logical,

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"