Despite Awful Customer Service, Woman Felt Forced To Buy Another Sony eBook Reader... Thanks To DRM

from the drm-lock-in dept

We were just discussing the DRM tax on a Kindle, which is the "price" of having to rebuy any ebooks you want to keep later on if you decide to switch to another platform. Some of the commenters on that post scoffed at the idea, and insisted that "in the future" this wouldn't be an issue, because most likely there would be ways to take your ebooks with you to other readers. Of course, that's little comfort to people today. Reader Mark sends in this story of how Sony initially refused to fix a Sony eBook Reader that only broke because of an update that Sony pushed the woman to install (oddly, they required her to send them the reader). So, effectively, Sony contacts her, tells her to send in her working eBook Reader, then they send it back and it's broken. And they refuse to fix it because it's out of warranty. Nice.

But here's the kicker. After all of this, she went out and bought another Sony ebook reader. She noted that she would have gladly purchased a competing product "but would have lost access to the library she's spent hundreds of dollars building up." And there it is. The DRM tax at work creating serious lock-in and consumer problems. At least in this case, due to the publicity from Consumerist, Sony agreed to reimburse the woman, but you shouldn't have to get a major publication to tell your story first to get that kind of resolution.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 12:20pm

    I would have to say that this woman's story fails the stink test.

    If Sony took a working product, damaged it, and didn't want to fix it afterwords, that would be more than enough reason to go hit the media. It certainly wouldn't be time to buy another (potentially defective) product.

    She is also facing the "early adopter dilemma" (I know you love these Mike). Eary adopters often get products that are not complete, or have to work with processes that are not fully developed. They often purchase the products without realizing the restrictions that exist with them. Some of those restrictions (like product to product movement of DRM content) is something that isn't ready for prime time yet.

    I can't help but thinking that there is much more to this story.

     

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  2.  
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    Dementia (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 12:24pm

    And what electronic gadget has been released recently that didn't end up needing a firmware or software update of some sort. I don't think its the woman's case that fails the stink test.

     

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  3.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 12:26pm

    Re:

    I think there is some concern. This is a "connected" device, and most connected devices can have their firmware or software updated online. After all, the books didn't just magically appear there, they got there somehow, so there is a connection.

    I can't help but think that there was an issue with the product before she sent it in.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 12:31pm

    Re:

    "She is also facing the "early adopter dilemma""

    That should be SONY's problem, not her problem. If Sony sells a product claiming it will do X and it does not because Sony released the product too early that's SONY'S fault.

    "I can't help but thinking that there is much more to this story."

    Sounds like wishful thinking to me. Translation: You can't help but HOPE that there is much more to this story.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re:

    "I can't help but think that there was an issue with the product before she sent it in."

    Well, if she bought it defected then that's also Sony's problem as well.

     

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  6.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Re:

    "I can't help but think that there was an issue with the product before she sent it in."

    God help me, but I'd actually agree with you....

    ....if it were anyone but Sony....

     

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  7.  
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    Nate the great, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re:

    The Sony PRS-500 is most certainly _not_ a connected device. And she had to send it in to get the recent firmware update; Sony wouldn't release it.

     

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  8.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So Nate, how do the books get into the reader?

     

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  9.  
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    nate_the_greatest (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry, I thought you meant it had Wifi or wireless (which it does not). Books are transferred over a USB cable.

    Yes, in most cases you can download the firmware update and do it your self, but the fact remains that Sony didn't release this firmware update into the wild.

     

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  10.  
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    Not Sony, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 12:52pm

    Re:

    The Anti-Mike fails the Stink Test.
    His comment left above is as worthless as the Sony product and their customer service.

    DRM is for lockin, nothing else.

     

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  11.  
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    Bi, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 12:54pm

    Not the point

    How typical of Anti-Mike to try to hijack the tread when he can't come up with a rebuttal.
    The point here is not whether Sony screwed up the update, or whether it was defective in the first place.
    The real thrust of the article is that the woman in question had to buy another Sony reader (not a Kindle or a Nook or anything else she might have liked) because the DRM system on the books she'd already bought was incompatible with other manufacturers.
    Again, it boils down to the fact that DRM reduces consumer options and is solely a sop to the corporations.

     

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  12.  
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    The Anti-Mike, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 12:55pm

    I failed the stink test because I forgot to study. Now even my mom will not be my facebook friend :(

     

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  13.  
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    Not Sony, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 12:59pm

    So, let's see here.
    1) reader was working just fine
    2) Sony asks for it to be returned for update
    3) Customer complies (possible mistake)
    4) Sony does somethingand returns reader to customer
    5) Customer receives a reader that does not work

    How, exactly is this the customers problem?
    Sony obviously feels some sort of responsibility, they replaced it - no?

     

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  14.  
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    nate_the_greatest (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Not the point

    She didn't, actually. Sony recently converted its store to Epub, and that means any of the ebook readers that support Adobe DE could have read the books she bought. All she had to do was download them again.

    This is a case of a customer who should have done some research.

     

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  15.  
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    Shawn (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:03pm

    I think the problem at the moment is not enough consumers are aware of what we are now calling the "DRM Tax" when it comes to electronic books.

    It is a fairly widely accepted fact that if My Xbox 360 dies I will need to pony up another $200 for another one. Sure I may want to purchased a competing product but then I would have "lost access to the library she's spent hundreds of dollars building up." I cant play those titles on my Computer, or in a Playstation or a Wii. I am FULLY aware of that fact and am not really complaining because this is just an analogy. The point is that it is accepted general knowledge that an 'Xbox game' only 'plays on an xbox'

    Maybe if the drm'd files were named for the specific platform they work on it would help but that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why drm'd ebooks suck :)

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:15pm

    Are you telling me that if I move from my HP running Windows 7 to a MAC I will have to buy new software, thus losing all of my investment in Windows-compliant software?

     

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  17.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:16pm

    Samsung did the same thing with one of their Blu-ray players. As anyone with a Blu-ray player knows, Sony comes out with new DRM about ever month. So you're constantly updating the firmware to be able to play new movies. But what happens when the latest firmware bricks your Blu-ray player. According to Samsung, you're out of luck.

    Blu-ray's current DRM scheme forces you to upgrade firmware to watch new movies, but leaves you with worthless equipment when something goes wrong. Do we really want to give manufacturers incentives to brick what he buy and force us to buy new?

    That's the world we live in. And we owe it all to DRM!

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Re: Not the point

    How is it that the customer is now obligated to study a subject they may not understand well enough to know where to start, when the company breaks something that is supposed to just work?
    If Pontiac were to demand you bring your car in for service and then put sugar in your gas tank, would you know you could drain it, wash it with water, clear the water, and refill it with new gasoline? If you couldn't figure out what they did to make your car fail to start, would you consider it your responsibility to buy a new car? Would you know whether or not you could move your seats and floor mats to the new car?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:20pm

    Re:

    That's why I think it's a good idea to avoid new technologies. I remember when DVD burners came out I was unaware that there was single layered and dual layered DVD burners. Ever since that I just stay away from new technologies until all of the relevant information that I should know becomes commonly known.

     

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  20.  
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    JC, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:23pm

    Re: HP running Windows

    No, I'm telling you that if you move from an HP running Windows 7 to a MAC then you won't be able to open any of your text documents.

     

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  21.  
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    Not Sony, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:26pm

    Re:

    In your analogy, did MS ask you to return the xbox for an update and return a non functioning xbox to you? Or did you miss that part of the story?

     

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  22.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:28pm

    Re:

    That's a flawed analogy, Shawn. Part of the reason people buy one video game console over another is the types of games that console has exclusive rights to. The Wii and the Xbox 360 have very few cross platform titles, and while the PS3 and Xbox do have many cross platform titles, there are still a number of exclusive titles for each system. I don't think Sony gets exclusive rights to "Going Rouge" or that Amazon, say, has the exclusive ebook rights to "Super Freakonomics." Maybe someday that will start happening, but if it does, it will only be for a limited period of time.

     

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  23.  
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    Not BluRay, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:30pm

    Re:

    And some people wonder why BluRay is not selling like they thought it would. Go figure

     

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  24.  
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    Not Sony, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:32pm

    Re:

    R U igno rant?

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:34pm

    if you switch to sprint you wont get to keep all your iphone apps. switch to kindle you wont get your sony books (books apps.. same difference) i dont see the problem here

     

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  26.  
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    Travis, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:36pm

    Re:

    She bought a 2nd reader so that she could access her library. Sony reimbursed her AFTER the woman got national media attention.

     

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  27.  
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    Your Choice - research it first, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:39pm

    Re:

    Interoperability is a desirable goal, but not all corporations want to participate, so vote with your money

     

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  28.  
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    NullOp, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:46pm

    Bottom Line

    This is why everyone who is capable should be working to break any sort of encryption meant to keep you from what you've paid for! Personally, I am absolutely sick to death of proprietary file formats and limitations. Businesses need to focus on attracting customers because of the features and services they offer instead of capturing customers with DRM and such BS!

     

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  29.  
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    Shawn (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Re:

    no that cause of failure is irrelevant. the point is the content is locked to the device.

    The woman in the story was actually comped back by sony after the fact for the money that she shelled out for the now e-reader They should have solved her problem without all the hoopla.

    http://consumerist.com/2009/12/sony-replaces-customers-broken-reader.html

     

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  30.  
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    Not Sony, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I agree that the point is about lockin via DRM, however - they broke her reader and tried to say TS

     

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  31.  
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    Shawn (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re:

    I here you but in real life my copies of Call Of Duty 4, Call Of Duty WAW , Call Of Duty MW2, Halflife, Fallout 3 and a couple hundred dollars worth of other tiltes are not platform exclusive. I did not buy my 360 for platform exclusives, there where other reasons but the platform content exclusives was not even on the list

     

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  32.  
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    Shawn (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    which was way wrong. I dont think they would have 'made it right' if it were not for the publicity

     

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  33.  
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    Krusty, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Not the point

    STOP making sense!

    We need DRM to protect the industry against those terrible pirate and thieves that will bankrupt SONY and their ilk.

     

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  34.  
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    ervserver (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    promoting piracy

    Sony promotes piracy ... really when you think about it all they are doing is promoting piracy of ebooks.

     

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  35.  
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    diabolic, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 2:28pm

    Sony has poor products and even worse customer service. Why anyone would buy anything from Sony at this point is beyond me. ES&D Sony.

     

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  36.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 2:49pm

    Caught you Mike!

    I thought I smelled something cooking, and sure enough, I caught you bootstrapping!

    Kate's bad experience story was initially run on the 28th. Your "DRM tax" story ran on the 30th. I have a feeling you may have parked this story for a couple of days (using the followup story rather than the initial story) just so you could bootstrap in the idea of a "DRM tax".

    You even state it as "near fact":

    We were just discussing the DRM tax on a Kindle

    You say that like there is ACTUALLY a DRM tax, which is not the case. The concept of a "tax" is a scare word technique to put down the concept of DRM.

    WTG Mike, last day of 2009, and you get caught out. You should have at least waited a couple of days to try such a blatant bootstrap.

     

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  37.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Caught you Mike!

    Kate's bad experience story was initially run on the 28th. Your "DRM tax" story ran on the 30th. I have a feeling you may have parked this story for a couple of days (using the followup story rather than the initial story) just so you could bootstrap in the idea of a "DRM tax".

    You really need to put down the tinfoil hat. This post was submitted by Mark well after the DRM tax post was put up.


    You say that like there is ACTUALLY a DRM tax, which is not the case. The concept of a "tax" is a scare word technique to put down the concept of DRM.


    It is a tax. It's a fact. I don't see how you can deny it other than through pure blatant willful desire to say that I am wrong. It is a "cost" that is added to any product that uses DRM. Anyone buying one needs to consider that cost.

     

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  38.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    Mike, you and I both know it isn't a tax, it's a cost.

    For the stories, well, let's just say it's a pretty obvious bootstrap. Trying to get "drm tax" as a search term on Google?

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 4:00pm

    Re:

    No, the ebook reader problem is akin to you replacing your HP Windows 7 PC with a Dell Windows 7 PC and not being able to transfer all of your Windows compliant software.

    Get it now?

     

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  40.  
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    Peggy Marton, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 4:11pm

    readers

    This is the very reason I have not gotten a reader. I have a lot of ebooks on my pc and I do have a kindle for pc. There are a lot of readers. I really would like one reader for all my books but some books come only for a certain reader. It is the same old thing propriatary software. They want to own you instead of you owning the product. When are they going to stop doing that. Wake up. One phone, one computer, much software. Please.

     

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  41.  
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    Tamara, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 4:24pm

    Re:

    Shawn your post makes no sense at all. The books can easily work on other readers. They're all the same format. It's just the DRM they add that stop them being read in other book readers. Games are totally different. Even without DRM the games wouldn't work on other consoles as they use totally different platforms and methods to create the games. The book situation is the same as buying DRM'ed music files that can only be played with 1 particular MP3 player.

     

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  42.  
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    The Anti-Mike, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    Repeat after me, TAM, this is your alternate self speaking: I am a shill. I am a troll. I am a delusional, shilling troll. And your alternate self won't leave you alone until you leave this site. Permanently.

     

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  43.  
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    Not Sony, Dec 31st, 2009 @ 5:25pm

    Re: Re:

    yep.
    Sony is not a company that I would choose to do business with

     

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  44.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 7:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    I hope you have a lot of time, moron.

    Mike, please fix your website. It is broken.

     

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  45.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 7:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    I do have to add this:

    As someone has pointed out in the original post, Kindle isn't a "tax" because the books you buy aren't device dependant, and they aren't lost if your device is broken or replaced. You have bought a license, and Amazon maintains the material in a manner that you can access it and update your new Kindle or other Amazon ebook format readers / software.

    So there is no Kindle "tax", just a made up term attempting to scare people once again. WTG, ending 2009 on a high note.

     

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  46.  
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    Chucklebutte (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 11:31pm

    Sounds familar...

    My family wants to add another line to the 3 we currently have with ATT, on top of that we want to renew our 3 lines with 2 year contracts cause we are that nice. Well we go into the store and look at the garbage err I mean phones and let me tell you they are all garbage! ATT has 1 phone its the iPhone, and we dont want that! The rest of the phones are laughable at best which leaves us with the "other" non touch screen "smartphones" granted there is 1-2 driod/google phones but they were low end at best, we decided on 4 blackberry curve 8900's nice gui, decent specs, no touch screen but will do. Well ATT has this nice lame new policy with any phones with a QWERTY keyboard requires a $30 a month data plan, no way around it... We dont want a data plan! We want a powerful useful phone with a full robust keyboard! All ATT has to offer that fit our needs are the blackberrys! So frustrating! So either we cough up another $120 a month with 4 blackberry's or switch providers which none has coverage in the mountain community in which we live, the only one that has coverage here is ATT talk about being boned! We have been with ATT for longer than I have been alive, my family has been blindly a faithful ATT customer for over 30 years, good going ATT for twisting our arm!

     

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  47.  
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    Dan, Jan 1st, 2010 @ 1:34am

    How green are you?

    Suddenly those dead trees are a pretty good idea. These things would be more properly called efucks.

     

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  48.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Jan 1st, 2010 @ 3:03am

    And the same to you with knobs on!

    I would have to say that this woman's story fails the stink test.

    As does every posting of yours, so what? You still keep pestering people with half-baked rebuttals to Mike which you keep losing.

     

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  49.  
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    :), Jan 1st, 2010 @ 4:02am

    Go illegal!

    Don't buy DRM this story is the why people go the illegal way and not the store way.

    ps: Anyone buying sony is buying problems just like anyone who patrons the music and movie industries are throwing money at people who don't deserve a penny.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 1st, 2010 @ 11:22am

    didnt Sony convert their entire store to DRM-free epub format this month?

    Problem with the story itself is that nobody simply gets contacted by sony to send their device for firmware update... she would have to had complained about some issue for them to tell her to send the unit in.

     

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  51.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 1st, 2010 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    I actually agree that I don't love the use of the word "tax" here - but your sudden obsession with "bootstrapping" and having "caught" Mike is so amusing (like a baboon trying to put on skinny jeans) that I forgot all about it...

     

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  52.  
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    The Anti-Troll, Jan 1st, 2010 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    I see nothing broken on this website.
    What's the problem?

     

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  53.  
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    The Anti-Troll, Jan 1st, 2010 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    "You have bought a license, and Amazon maintains the material in a manner that you can access it and update your new Kindle or other Amazon ebook format readers / software."

    Oh - I see, you are locked-in to the "amazon format".
    Don't try to load the license you bought onto any reader other than one bought from amazon ... right?
    How many different incompatible formats are there today?
    Funny how you refuse to acknowledge this as a problem.
    You probably wonder why government agencies are interested in using a standard format for the many documents they generate. The Anti-Mike would wonder - "what's the problem? As there is no Microsoft tax, it is a fee that you pay everytime Microsoft goes thru one of their famous forced upgrades." I expect that amazon will soon have a forced upgrade of their own, thus forcing every amazon ebook license holder to "upgrade". I wonder how much it will cost .....

     

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  54.  
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    Sneeje (profile), Jan 1st, 2010 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If you use that thing that many others have discovered called "Google" you might have found out the Sony request was legit.

    https://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId= 10151&langId=-1&categoryId=8198552921644683012&N=4294953907p://

     

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  55.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 1st, 2010 @ 3:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    Mike bootstraps all the time. He gently introduces a concept with a post like the one putting forth the idea of a "tax", which is his non-opinion on an opinion piece. So far it's all opinion, right?

    After a little while (days to weeks) he starts to bootstrap. He links to stories like this with terms like:

    We were just discussing the DRM tax on a Kindle, which is the "price" of having to rebuy any ebooks you want to keep

    Notice he doesn't refer to it as an opinion anymore. Now the DRM tax IS something. It isn't someone's opinion anymore, it is a Techduh-fact.

    A couple of weeks from now, something else will come up, and Mike will use a link like "such as the woman who was forced to pay a DRM tax because of Sony" or something similar.

    Now, Mike will come along and say "everyone know the original is an opinion", but over time, and over multiple steps up the bootstrap pyramid, people lose track of the source of the original concept, and start to accept the term or the idea as a fact.

    That's bootstrapping.

    There is no DRM tax. The federal government has no DRM tax, the state governments have no DRM tax, and local governments have no DRM tax. There is no DRM tax.

    6 months from now, the term "DRM tax" will be used freely on techdirt, as a put down to the concept of DRm in the same manner that a "paywall" is used only to put down suscription based websites.

    It's the techduh way... ;)

     

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  56.  
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    Reader Kindle, Jan 1st, 2010 @ 4:37pm

    Consumer Choice

    This is not good. Consumers should always be given a choice, and once you start taking out this basic need, you as a vendor or service provider will surely pay a high prize sooner than you think.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    colin seeger, Jan 1st, 2010 @ 6:21pm

    e-books

    Simple fix: refuse to buy the bloody things until there's an established migration and save option. Till then, paper works a treat (can always burn it if times get tough....).

     

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  58.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 2nd, 2010 @ 9:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    Right, just like how infringement is "theft", fair use is "only a defense", file sharing "hurts artists", the music and movie industries are "dying", and patents are "the measure of innovation"....

    I agree that I'm not sold on the term "DRM tax" - but there is a war of words underway, and I don't really think Mike is the one committing war crimes.

     

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  59.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 2nd, 2010 @ 4:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    Oh noes! Let's not make PDFs, let's not write anything in someone else's computer language! Batten down the hatches and lock the doors, otherwise you might get locked into a format.

    Talk about trolling... sheesh!

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    The Anti-Troll, Jan 2nd, 2010 @ 8:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    TAM -> "Oh noes! Let's not make PDFs"

    I was not aware ebooks were PDFs .... hmmm lets have a look

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_formats
    http://www.ebookmall.com/choose-f ormat/
    http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2009/08/14/format-war-clouds-e-book-horizon/

    Well, what do you know - there are lots of different formats and I wonder how many of them are compatible.

    Sheesh. I take it you are not a fan of interoperability. Seems you like the idea of being locked in to some obscure format for what should be just text.

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Boot Strap Bill, Jan 2nd, 2010 @ 8:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    Part of the crew, part of the ship!

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2010 @ 9:43pm

    Re:

    Shawn,
    There is a huge difference between a physical product like a game disc and a non physical (for the consumer) product like an ebook. In your example of video games there are valid reasons why an xbox game won't play on a wii. This is a physical product, if there wasn't DRM in place 3rd parties would be free to create platforms that would play several types of games. there are often significant differences between the versions of a game released on multiple platforms. We aren't saying that every company has to use the same format, we would like for it to be legal to convert from one format to another.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2010 @ 9:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    very similar to "I'm obviously loosing this debate" (again) "Look at this shiny object"

     

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  64.  
    icon
    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 2nd, 2010 @ 9:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    He isn't committing a war crime, he is just attempting to take a nasty slight at the idea of DRM and turn it into a "fact" where as it is just an opinion (and one with plenty of holes in it).

    By linking back to other posts, and linking them as it they were fact rather than opinion, he creates the impression of fact. When he links to this story, he will say something like "we have shown where people are forced to pay DRM tax", completing the cycle that turns opinion (and a catchy scare term) into "techduh fact #317".

    You have to go back and look over techdirt for the last couple of years to see how this is done, it is impressive. Heck, Mike's public presentations are predicated on it. The fast slide technique basically is similar in nature, toss so much stuff out there so fast, that nobody has any way to check it or argue with it. Slowed down without the flashy slides, there is much that is speculative, especially around the foundations of the ideas.

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2010 @ 9:58pm

    Re: Go illegal!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    The Anti-Troll, Jan 3rd, 2010 @ 7:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    The Anti-Mike,

    Seems you have gone off the deep end. You may find instructions on the following website to be useful.

    Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie
    http://zapatopi.net/afdb/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 3rd, 2010 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    AM, I do understand what you are getting it, and I do see what you are saying it is that Mike does. It's just that I don't really see anything nefarious there - Mike develops new language over time to help discuss themes and topics that keep re-emerging. Am I being tooaccepting? I don't really think so, but maybe. You, on the other hand, are definitely being too paranoid.

     

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  68.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 3rd, 2010 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    As the joke goes, it isn't paranoia if they are actually trying to get you.

    If it is just a case of attempting to define new language, I never have a problem. For the most part, Mike doesn't use it to define terms just to make things easier to talk about, but to create negative spin where needed like this "DRM tax". Mike knows that only the government(s) can impose taxes, this isn't a tax. It's a normal cost of buying anything that is format restricted (like your VHS or Beta VCR, example, or having a car that uses only premium gas).

    There is no DRM tax.

    Further, the comments in this story also go to show how Mike missed some of the important stuff, like apparently that Sony has moved to an inter-operable format, EPUB. He also fails to mention that the Sony device does support things like PDF and other formats. With the Sony store being in epub format, she could have bought any epub reader to read her Sony stuff, which pretty much kills the idea of the DRM tax.

    While the story mentions it, he didn't mention that Sony did fix her reader for free in the end. That too wouldn't play well in the whole deal, would it.

    So in the end, Sony has moved to a more universal format, the woman got her reader fixed, and she isn't restricted to only Sony readers in the future.

    Once you plow away the negative spin, there isn't much left here. There certainly isn't anyone paying a "DRM tax", now is there?

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    Tyanna, Jan 3rd, 2010 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re: Not the point

    And just think, if she had of been one of those terrible pirates, she could have gotten any other eReader without having to think of all the money she lost.

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    The Anti-Troll, Jan 3rd, 2010 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    "So in the end, Sony has moved to a more universal format, the woman got her reader fixed, and she isn't restricted to only Sony readers in the future."

    ... and sony did all this because they are a very nice bunch of people - the negative publicity had nothing to do with it. I'm sure that sony would have done so all on their own.

    Now, about that bridge you were interested in.

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    Tyanna, Jan 3rd, 2010 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    Only problem I see is that The Anti-Mike hasn't been booted off the site yet.

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    Tyanna, Jan 3rd, 2010 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    The Anti-Mike, if you are so against Mike, his opinions and his postings here on his site, then I invite you to leave. Go find a feed that won't irritate you, or better yet, start your own blog and write your own pieces.

    Looking at the sheer amount of posts you do on every story Mike posts is pretty pathetic. The sheer lengths you go to in trying to disagree with Mike make you out to be more of an idiot than someone trying to offer a debate on the issue.

    I, for one, like Mike's articles, and I also like how he links back, or links to articles that he has read. This allows me to go back to what Mike read/wrote to see where his opinion (and that's what it is) came from. I then, as a rational human being, can make my own opinion on the subject.

    If you are unable to do this, and feel that the only thing you can do in the comments is to bash Mike b/c his opinions don't match your, instead of offering insightful comments to add to the debate, then again I invite you pack up and leave. Please forget about this site and bugger off somewhere.

     

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  73.  
    icon
    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 3rd, 2010 @ 6:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    The Anti-Mike, if you are so against Mike, his opinions and his postings here on his site, then I invite you to leave.

    Have you ever checked out Rush Limbaugh? He calls his fans dittoheads, as in they repeat what he says like parrots. They don't have original thoughts, they just nod and repeat what the master says.

    Standing in a room full of people you agree with is the fast way to learn nothing. Writing comments on a website where you agree with everyone is a formula for becoming more stupid, not better informed.

    My suggestion to you is to open your own eyes, and check out some of those websites that you would think are better for me, and learn from them. Engage them, discuss, and THINK. Expand yourself, don't shrink.

     

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  74.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 4th, 2010 @ 12:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    While the story mentions it, he didn't mention that Sony did fix her reader for free in the end. That too wouldn't play well in the whole deal, would it.

    In the future, before criticizing me, it would help if you actually read the post in question. I did, in fact, mention this fact.

    Once again, TAM gets the basic facts wrong. It's such a common occurrence that it gets amusing after a while.

    As for the whole "bootstrapping" thing, I have no idea what you're talking about. You seem to think I have some master plan. I write stories as I find them. That's it. Nothing else to it. Check the tinfoil hat again, 'cause it ain't working.

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    Meem Arar, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 3:27am

    Sony ebook reader

    To cut a long story short, I am very hesitant to recommed a Sony ebook reader to anybody not living in the US or UK, or even if they do reside in those countries I need to warn them about taking their ebook readers with them if they vacation or relocate to any other countries as a) total rubbish customer support if anything goes wrong with said machine and b) very possibly wont let you connect to the original country where your account and vouchers are held. I bought mine in the US before it was on sale in the UK, and travel abroad and cannot access the US ebook store. The machine which worked before I downloaded the new ePub software now will not recognise the same ebook reader. Contacted Sony Support who said contact customer support in the US . I now have people around me saying Sony couldn't pay the to purchase this product. This is definitely a case of Caveat Emptor!!!!!

     

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  76.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Jan 4th, 2010 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Not the point

    http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/steal_this_comic.png

    you have 2 choices:
    1) buy now, get burned, pirate later.
    2) pirate now, never get burned.

    you're a pirate either way, so why take the risk?

    i suppose you could buy later, if acceptable options exist, but that remains to be seen in the ebook market.

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    The Anti-Troll, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 5:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    LOL - wat ?

    So now Mike is Rush and those who agree with him are dittoheads

    ... And the rest of his comment - Wow.

    The Anti-Mike has again shown his arrogant and irrational side.

     

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  78.  
    icon
    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 4th, 2010 @ 5:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    Mike, geez.

    Your entire story hinges on three things:

    1) Sony is bad, they broke the reader and never fixed it.

    2) DRM TAX!

    3) She had to buy a new unit ONLY from Sony to be able to read her stuff.

    You mention towards the end of the story that Sony did in fact finally repair it (which made the purchase of a new unit meaningless). If that was the thrust of the story, the rest would be meaningless.

    She was not forced to buy specifically a Sony unit, as Sony now supports the E-pub format, a point you were careful NOT to make. She could have bought a cheaper reader from a competitior, example. She was not locked into Sony. Further, with the original unit repaired, the purchased unit may be meaningless. It isn't discussed in the story as to how Sony handled that part of the situation.

    Finally, the question of the "DRM tax". Any time you buy a product with a specific format, you have committed yourself down a certain path. VHS vs BETA, Xbox vs PS, MAC vs PC. It isn't a tax, it's a choice. It is very early days in the e-reader marketplace, and right now we are looking at competing formats that are not entirely settled in yet. Don't confuse format with DRM. I am sure that some reader can or will be able to get books through Sony, Amazon, and other providers, each with their own DRM, without issue. Device locked content is a very unlikely concept, even in the very near term.

    It is very likely that, in the long run, a DRM style system will exist on all commercial content. What is currently lacking is a cohesive system to allow end users to re-use their content over multiple platforms in a simple manner, while still assuring the content creator distribution control.

    Sadly, you are so busy trying to damn DRM and mock it with the "DRM tax" concept, that you aren't thinking about the future, just how to get rid of the dreaded DRM.

     

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  79.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 7:05am

    Can you pass the Turing test?

    > Are you telling me that if I move from my HP running
    > Windows 7 to a MAC I will have to buy new software, thus
    > losing all of my investment in Windows-compliant software?

    So now Books are the same as proprietary software?

    It's as if a wild RMS prediction just came true...

    It's a shame that Microsoft has spend so much effort and so many years trying to confuse end users about the difference between programs and data.

     

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  80.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 7:13am

    The "tax" is not a new idea really...

    The "tax" is not a new idea really. Those of us that apply our anti-monopoly invective towards Microsoft have been referring to the need to pay for forced upgrades and at least one copy of the monopoly product as a "tax" for DECADES.

    Where have you been?

    Would you feel better if we called it a Toll? Would you feel better if we referred to Sony as bridge trolls? They outsource toll road management to private companies so it wouldn't be "terribly innacurate" either.

    All Mike has done is taken some really OLD anti-Microsoft rhetoric and applied it to Amazon and Sony as BOOK vendors. The fact that this can be done at all by any stretch of the imagination should deeply disturb everyone here (even the the libertarian wannabes).

    With incompatable Turing machines you at least have a technical reason and sort of an excuse for things being segregated into mutually incompatable fragmented islands.

    With pure data, there just isn't any excuse really.

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    Tyanna, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Caught you Mike!

    You sir do not have your eyes open. You do not offer a difference of opinion, and you do not offer any insight or anything of value to any idea or debate on this site.

    You are a troll. Pure and simple. You post to stir negative emotions to somehow make yourself feel better.

    If Mike were to post an article saying that the sky was blue, and provide a link you would probably post saying 'NO IT'S NOT!!!' and would come up with some stupid theory to prove that he is wrong.

     

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  82.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 4th, 2010 @ 9:51am

    Re: The "tax" is not a new idea really...

    I had been really curious about this. I didn't know about the common usage of "tax" for this kind of thing - so I could see A-M's point that the particular word was a bit blunt. Of course, I'm not an economist, so I tried to give Mike the benefit of the doubt...

     

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  83.  
    icon
    IrishDaze (profile), Jan 4th, 2010 @ 3:05pm

    Explanation of X-Tax

    (1) Please, just stop feeding the troll, people!

    (2) @ #53 "The Anti-Troll" & #82 "Marcus Carab"

    There are two broad categories of tax, (A) Direct tax & (2) Indirect tax.

    A Direct Tax is a tax the payer pays directly to a payee (such as property taxes). An Indirect tax is the type of tax collected by a third party (such as a retailer collecting Sales Tax). Masnick is using Indirect Taxation as a metaphor for DRM-hidden/sunk/invested costs (in money/time/stress) that are otherwise not plainly revealed (such as price tags on retail goods that don't reflect sales tax). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indirect_tax)

    #67 "Marcus Carab" is correct in that Masnick is using a new-ish word to describe a new-ish concept. In fact, I've listed several versions of X-Tax below that I've heard/used/read over the last few years. It's an off-the-top-of-my-head list, but it is varied. That this article's X-tax reference is not the first one I've encountered, and that I've been reading on the DRM topic for several years is why I referred to Masnick's construction and it's topic as "new-ish" above.

    #53 "The Anti-Troll" is correct on the "Microsoft Tax" history, I've heard the phrase for years. I've also been doing PC work for years. Go figure.

    Other X-Taxes:
    ---------------------

    Microsoft Tax:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_tax#Licensing_agreements (last two words, third paragraph of anchored section)

    Poverty Tax:
    http://www.brianflemming.org/archives/000962.html

    Stupidity Tax:
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=stupidity%20tax

    Asshole Tax:
    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2006/12/taxi_driver_speaks_an_asshole_1.html

    Laziness Tax:
    http://www.sistahant.com/?p=130

     

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  84.  
    icon
    TW Burger (profile), Jan 4th, 2010 @ 4:47pm

    Technology Woes

    Aside from problems with Sony customer support (I have had many issues with Sony as a technician and customer - not the least of which was that root kit incident)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_CD_copy_protection_scandal

    The core of the problem is not DRM it's the way DRM is handled.

    If I buy a paper based book it's mine. I can read it, lend it to a friend, quote from it in my writing (attributing the source), or leave it on the public transit for someone else to read.

    Digital media should be the same. How about having all of the media in one common format and you can copy to and from any device. There just has to be a DRM code number to enter for the eBook that is registered to you and can be transferred to another user.

    There should also be a way to not allow the seller to delete your cop like Amazon did to Orwell's 1984 on Kindles.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/technology/companies/18amazon.html

     

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  85.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 4th, 2010 @ 10:00pm

    Re: Explanation of X-Tax

    All you are doing is making my point for me.

    The people using those terms are attempting to create a VERY negative image of a situation.

    The "microsoft tax" that you reference on wikipedia is cited from two blogs, and the postings seem very negative towards Microsoft. Could they just be trying to create a negative image?

    The other items you cite again are attempting to create negative images by using a nasty word "tax". In the case of the poverty tax, they are doing what is often the case in the US these days, attempting to blame others rather than addressing the underlying issues.

    In all cases, the term "tax" is used to create a negative image of a situation.

    Following the logic of this article, example, we would have an Xbox360 tax, a PSP tax, a Wii Tax, a VHS tax, a Beta Tax, a Bluray tax, and so on. Any system that has it's own format or tools is, by this standard, a tax regime. This is not the case.

    We are in very early days of the ebook world. Just like the days of beta and vhs, we are still dealing with competing formats and systems, different processes, and various companies and groups attempting to find a balance between the desires of the consumers, the desires of the producers, and the rights of each. To stand today and damn any system that attempts to do this as a tax is a failure, similar to damning your 6 year old because his calculus sucks.

     

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  86.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 9:42am

    Re: The "tax" is not a new idea really...

    "Toll" seems a fun word. I vote for Toll.

    Is DRM the "toll booth"?

     

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  87.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: Explanation of X-Tax

    The Anti-Mike: "The other items you cite again are attempting to create negative images by using a nasty word"

    Ahem...
    "bootstrap"
    "Techduh-fact"
    "dittoheads"

     

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  88.  
    identicon
    Lobar Wilder, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: Explanation of X-Tax

    OK - I can't take TAM's inane parsing anymore. I guess I have to feed the troll a little in order to bring him into the light so we can all see how puny his intellect is:

    "All you are doing is making my point for me."
    - No, she was not. Obviously, I must expound lest you mistake the point (again): She was explaining that as the language morphs over time, and definitions loosen, the concept of referring to indirect, unanticipated, or hidden "costs" as 'taxes' has become an accepted trope in our lexicon. Your claim that she is making your point, when she is in fact not doing so, is an attempt to engage in mock adversarial tones, and is (again) an attempt to steer the debate. Fail.

    "The people using those terms are attempting to create a VERY negative image of a situation."
    - So what? You ascribe implied intention when Mike's choice of topic is plainly advocating critical thinking. I pay my (IRS) taxes, but I still don't enjoy it. To me, they (the IRS) is/are negative, and I seldom speak favorably of the IRS even though I have a good friend who works there.

    "...very negative towards Microsoft...."
    OMFG!! TAM, I too am aghast that anyone would do such a thing. How dare they! Where's my gun?

    "...again are attempting to create negative images by using a nasty word "tax"..."
    Am I detecting a redundant theme here? Previous to those words I was afraid that TAM's grasp of the obvious was in doubt.

    "Following the logic of this article, example, we would have an Xbox360 tax, ... and so on. Any system that has it's own format or tools is, by this standard, a tax regime..."
    - TAM, as this meme evolves, and as users incur mounting product-specific after-purchase costs, is indeed the very case Mike was highlighting with reference to owning a Kindle. That other platforms incur their own after-purchase "costs" (time, money, etc. Don't make me go economist on your ass...) does not nullify or obviate his point. [Though I (obviously) would have chosen a better word than "regime".]

    Thank you Mike for all of your work.
    Bi / Jedidiah / Anti-troll - I concur.
    A. Coward - I love your manifold sarcasm. Brevity is the soul of wit sayeth Polonius.
    Tyanna - heed Irish as I will now do & no longer feed this troll.
    Though I must admit I enjoyed the obloquy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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