Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fortress Amazon Breached?

DRM (Digital Rights Management) is both loved and hated but is clearly focused at protecting copyright abuse and infringement. Often it can be transparent and the majority accept it as a necessary precaution. There will always be those that set out to break it in a mission to ‘free content’ or because they can and the more restrictive the restrictions the stronger the will to break it. It doesn’t apply to just content but also to locking devices to networks on an exclusive basis and a classic case of this is the iPhone.

The one thing that is certain in life is that it will be broken, the music, video and games sectors can vouch for that. If you buy an iPhone but don’t wish to use their exclusive network deals then there are a significant number of people queuing up to break it so it can be used elsewhere.

We new read about a breach of Fortress Amazon, which has effectively locked the content to their site, to the network and to their device – the kindle. In other words its exclusive, exclusive, exclusive and exclusive. Mobileread have been served with a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notice which despite contesting they complied with.

Amazon asked an online forum to remove links to software that lets people load ebooks on their Kindles that they have bought from sources other than Amazon. The script enables users to discover their device's personal ID (PID). Armed with their PID, a user can buy an ebook on a site other than Amazon or download one from a public libraray and the book will display on their Kindle.

Alexander Turcic, on MobileRead says, "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." MobileRead has removed the pages.

Whichever side you take over DRM the exclusive restrictions applied by Amazon are crying out to be broken. Amazon makes money if people buy say a Mobibook elsewhere and download it as they own Mobibook. Enabling other resellers to sell ebooks for the Kindle would open up the device and make it more acceptable to many. It is claimed that the program can also enable users can to buy ebooks from Amazon for their iPhones and then transfer them onto readers other than the Kindle. iPhone application users are only allowed to transfer books to Kindles.

Some would suggest that ‘Fortress Amazon’ be it, Booksurge only POD, the the Audible stranglehold on audio market, or the ‘Kindle Only’ digital world is at best naïve and at worst could seriously backfire and damage Amazon’s consumer friendly image that they have built their empire on.

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