Amazon Uses DRM To Turn Kindle Into A Very Expensive Paperweight

from the that's-not-good... dept

Reader Mark points us to a rather disturbing story about Amazon canceling a customer’s account for no clear reason, and in doing so, using DRM to turn his Kindle 2 device into a useless paperweight — such that he couldn’t even read the books he’d purchased. This is troubling on a variety of levels. First, it’s worrisome that Amazon would just cancel this guy’s account with no warning, no full explanation and no method to appeal the decision. Second, it’s quite problematic that, in doing so, it would turn his expensive device into a useless box, while disabling ebooks he’d thought he’d “bought.” Once again, we see how DRM, rather than “enabling business models” as those who support it insist, tends to only serve to harm legitimate customers.

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Companies: amazon

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Comments on “Amazon Uses DRM To Turn Kindle Into A Very Expensive Paperweight”

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96 Comments
Paul Brinker (profile) says:

While im sure we are only geting one side to the story, the fact that Amazon can reach over its network and remove your product you paid for from them is a breach of the Credit card companies policies (I dident get the book I paid for) and cause for charge back.

Fighting it would be easy to, give me my book (that I paid for) or give me my money back, you dont have the right to disable my book after I paid no matter how many EULA’s you put on the product because in a deal bettween a private party vs a company, you cant sign your rights away even if the company says you can.

TheStuipdOne says:

Re: Um...

If you read the article he was apparantly banned for abusing Amazon’s return policy. My guess is that Amazon didn’t like that he returned a few expensive things, even though the returns themselves were apparantly within Amazon’s policies and so they canceled his account. The associated damage is that they took away his access to his purcheses on the kindle and kindle store.

I think that it is fair to assume someone who actually pays for things and returns them in accordance with the companies policies is a legit customer. Sure Amazon doesn’t like it but it’s their own fault for enabling that in the first place.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re: Um...

Sure Amazon doesn’t like it but it’s their own fault for enabling that in the first place.

I get what you’re saying, but retailers can discriminate against people for legal reasons. Can Best Buy refuse to sell you crap because you’re Black? Nope. Can Best Buy refuse to sell to you because of your religion? Nope. Can Best Buy refuse to sell to you because they don’t like you as a customer. Heck yeah.

But instead of kicking you of their store, they’re merely kicking out your account. In the US we have the right to freely associate. If Amazon does not want to associate with you, for legal reasons, they do not have to.

To put it another way, you have no legal right to shop at Amazon, as long as Amazon is following the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Um...

It doesn’t seem like that’s what they did. The person chose to buy DRM’ed Crap. He was leasing it. If he read the fine print that’s pretty much what it says. If he’s not okay with that,(same as if your not okay with that) don’t “buy”. I haven’t bought any DRM’ed products and you know what. I have never had any problems. No one can take my products because i actually do OWN them. All this bitching about DRM isn’t productive. If you have a problem with it don’t buy it. Eventually enough people will stop buying it, or not. Perhaps there will be two competing markets and we can see which is really better. DRM or Open.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Um...

Sure! Because we all have lawyers on retainer sitting next to us at our computers to vet all EULAe and TOS and warranties or return and privacy policies that need reading but yet STILL may not tell you all you need to know prior to downloading a 99 cent song…

Funny, but not really.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Um...

Sure! Because we all have lawyers on retainer sitting next to us at our computers to vet all EULAe and TOS and warranties or return and privacy policies that need reading but yet STILL may not tell you all you need to know prior to downloading a 99 cent song…

Well, if you don’t get have a lawyer look it over first then it’s your own fault. Quit whining about it. And if that 99 cent song includes a legal agreement that you must sign in order to get it then you need to factor in the cost of a legal review with the 99 cents. Suddenly, that song doesn’t look so cheap, now does it?

Now if you do get a lawyer to review it for you and he fails to properly explain the legal consequences then that’s a different story and you should sue the lawyer for malpractice. Otherwise, you need to grow up and take responsibility for your own actions. (That’s why children aren’t generally allowed to enter into contracts.) Finally, if you STILL want to go around signing things without knowing what they mean, then let me know because I can probably come up with some real doozies for ya. I love separating fools from their money.

Michael B (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Um...

Sorry mate… DRM does NOT mean you lease content, just that you cannot distribute it. Just like Apple cannot legally shut off your iPod to prevent it from playing DRM-encoded content, Amazon cannot either. There is nothing in their agreement that states that content you purchase is still Amazon’s property.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Um...

Sorry mate… DRM does NOT mean you lease content, just that you cannot distribute it.

Sorry buddy, but like many people, you just don’t understand DRM. It certainly can mean that you can loose access in the future.

Just like Apple cannot legally shut off your iPod to prevent it from playing DRM-encoded content, Amazon cannot either.

There you go again. I don’t know where you got that idea, but DRM is not all “just like’ that on the iPod.

There is nothing in their agreement that states that content you purchase is still Amazon’s property.

Except, you’re not purchasing content. You’re purchasing access to content and Amazon can terminate that access at their discretion. Check the agreement.

Cipher-0 says:

Re: Re: Re: Um...

To put it another way, you have no legal right to shop at Amazon, as long as Amazon is following the law.

But what they likely don’t have the right to do is repossess items you’ve already legitimately purchased from them. In this case, it is theft because they’re denying him use of something he owns.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Um...

ok sure, so you aren’t allowed in Best Buy anymore, but can Best Buy come and break your TV? no of course not, he owns the TV.

they made many of his (100% legal) purchases no longer work, they took away access from his ebooks and the use of his kindle therefore they need to refund his money or face charges for violating the agreement they made when money exchanged hands.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Um...

they made many of his (100% legal) purchases no longer work, they took away access from his ebooks and the use of his kindle therefore they need to refund his money or face charges for violating the agreement they made when money exchanged hands.

I thin you’re the one who needs to check the agreement because Amazon is within their legal rights here. DRM and all.

You just don’t want to admit that DRM, per se , is a bad idea, do you?

Boberan Boberstein says:

Re: Re: Um...

@TheStupidOne, dude even if he actually abused their return policy, how is taking items he paid for and did NOT return justified. It is one thing to cancel his account, but another one to have your products designed so that everythign he purchased for the kindle is no longer viable. That statement shows me you are living up to your name.

spaceman spiff says:

No thanks, I don't want any DRM in my coffee!

I refuse to purchase any DRM-encumbered media, though that’s a bit difficult if you want to get a DVD of any sort. I buy a lot of e-books from publishers like Baen that do not encumber their media with DRM cruft. When I do buy a DVD, the first thing I do is rip the CSS and region code and save a backup iso to my local storage array. Then, if I want, I can easily burn a copy. I also purchased a region-0 (unlocked) DVD player that can play NTSC or PAL discs, so I don’t care what format the DVD comes in.

Amazon.com will never get a dime from me for digital media, and I wouldn’t touch a Kindle (or Sony e-reader for that matter) with a 10-ft pole. My Palm TX reads Mobi/Kindle books just fine thanks, and a 1GB SD card (less than $5 USD) can store over a thousand volumes. I just drop the files I’ve downloaded onto the SD card and pop it into the Palm. I don’t even need to sync the device to do that. Also, I have mobi readers for all my systems (laptop, desktop, Linux, XP, whatever) so I can read any of my books whenever/wherever I wish. Vendor lock-in sucks and reduces my range of choice.

So, don’t be a sucker and buy (sic) into DRM-encumbered media.

RD says:

Yes, but

According to the WeirdHarold’s of the world and his scumbag industry cronies, this PERFECTLY OK and JUST. According to them, copyright is ABSOLUTE and you have the right to completely screw someone out of their money, since they do not “own” the content, and content has INTRINISIC VALUE, like gold. DRM is NECESSARY, as content CAN NOT BE and HAS NEVER BEEN created EVER before without it. The consumer has no rights, the consumer will accept what is given and be glad. The consumer is a pirate anyway, so shutting them off from their “leased purchase” is justified. The consumer has no right to complain, no right to redress or review, no right to anything except handing over money and they may or may not get anything in return, for a limited period of time. Hmm, limited period of time. Wonder what else has a limited period of time that its good for? Oh right, copyright. Well that will just have to go away along with any consumer rights, just as soon as the lobby enough congressmen to get the laws changed.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

While I’m certainly not defending DRM and crappy DRM infested products, your assertion that Amazon canceled his “account for no clear reason” is completely contradicted by the very link you provided. Amazon felt he was abusing the company’s return policy. You can’t get much more clear than that. Whether it’s true or not, I have no idea.

TheStuipdOne says:

Re: Re: Re:

So if I buy a few things online and I don’t like them, but the company allows returns so I return them, then I’ve abused the return policy? Isn’t that the entire reason there is a return policy?

Now abuse would be if I bought 100 TVs and returned them immediately becasue Amazon pissed me off and I wanted them to be out all the shipping charges.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So if I buy a few things online and I don’t like them, but the company allows returns so I return them, then I’ve abused the return policy?

Under the law retailers have to honor their return polices. In this instance Amazon did honor their return policies.

Under the law you have no right to shop at Amazon. To put it another way, Amazon has a right to deny you service at any time, as long as Amazon is not illegal discriminating against you. Amazon can deny you service because you’re annoying. Amazon cannot deny you service merely because of your religion.

Now abuse would be if I bought 100 TVs and returned them immediately…

That would be your definition of abuse. But it’s not a legal definition of abuse. And as I said above, Amazon can kick your account anytime it wants, for any reason, as long as it’s not illegal discrimination.

Think of it this way. You have a store. And the same annoying customer comes in week after week. Eventually you tell him to get the frick out. That’s your right. That’s Amazon’s right too.

mATT says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

obviously you don’t understand the right to refuse service.

This means you can refuse to take a customers money. It doesn’t mean you can take away the things they purchased. They can refuse to take your money and discriminate in doing so at the same time, and get away with it 100% of the time actually.

DRM is not the same, DRM is saying “well, you rented it not bought it, so we can refuse the rental at any time we like”. Meanwhile people are paying full price, which is stupid. This is not the same as refusal of service.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

And I love this part: The former customer “denied abusing the company’s return policy although he admitted to three high-priced returns.”

According to the guy, the products he returned were all defective. He didn’t just return them because he changed his mind or something. In fact, he first tried to get them replaced with good ones. However, Amazon sent defective replacements as well.

Apparently Amazon doesn’t want the kind of customers that don’t accept defective products. I guess they expect people to just bend over and take it up the old keister when they get defective products. And if they won’t do that then Amazon doesn’t want to do business with them. Sounds like just the kind of company that would love DRM, doesn’t it?

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

He obviously fell afoul of some automated flagging routine on Amazon’s computers. He had his account reinstated a day later, so Amazon couldn’t have been too upset with him. Still, I agree that the cancellation was heavy-handed on Amazon’s part – the automated flag should have generated a review by a real live person, rather than an automatic suspension.

And despite Mike’s headline and the claims of the article he’s commenting on, none of the customer’s problems had *anything* to do with DRM at all. He would have had all of his same issues even if the Kindle and Amazon’s e-books didn’t use any DRM at all. If there’s any bitching to be done as a result of this story, it should be directed at Amazon’s return policy and auto-cancellation bots, not their DRM

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

your assertion that Amazon canceled his “account for no clear reason” is completely contradicted by the very link you provided. Amazon felt he was abusing the company’s return policy. You can’t get much more clear than that. Whether it’s true or not, I have no idea.

No, it said it *implied* that was the reason, but didn’t go into any details.

That’s certainly not a “clear reason.”

Steve R. (profile) says:

Poster Child

The potential that companies can simply shut you down by pressing a “kill switch” has been languishing around for several years now. Unfortunately, to get some sort of action on this, we will need a sacrificial poster child who “died” or otherwise suffered as a result of a “kill switch” being pressed for some trivial “offense”.

I’m also somewhat bemused that Obama’s international DRM embarrassment hasn’t made the news here. Brown’s DVD Gift From Obama Wrong Format

Obama is busy hiring lawyers working for the likes of the RIAA who want to restrict your ability to use content. Well Obama has now become a beneficiary of DRM in that he gave the PM of England DVDs that won’t work in England because of regional encoding!!! This is a clear example of how DRM frustrates the ability of users to use the products they paid for and are entitled to use. It also points to clueless lawmakers who don’t realize what they are approving.

grayputer says:

errors

There are several issues with the article. I own a kindle, I CAN use non amazon e-books (mobi) not just amazon books. If amazon killed his account, he may not be able to RESEND books to his kindle but it is unlikely that would block access to previously downloaded material. Admittedly some people delete things from their kindle and rely on Amazon as their ‘backup’ that is bad planning if your account is deleted. You can (and I do) backup to a PC, download non amazon material (mobi/prc format) from other locations etc. I guess it is theoretically possible that Amazon could ‘brick’ your device by downloading bad firmware. I haven’t heard of that happening, and you do not need to leave the wireless access on (mine is usually off to save battery time).

I expect this has little to do with DRM and LOTS to do with a failed backup plan.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Yep-

I suspect you’re right as to what happened – Amazon didn’t remotely “brick” this guy’s Kindle or erase purchased content stored on it, he just lost access to the “backup” copies of his purchased books that resided on Amazon’s servers as a consequence of having his account closed.

Since even the built-in memory on my first-gen Kindle holds hundreds of books, never mind what I can fit on an SD card (or my computer’ hard drive), there’s no reason for the *sole* copy of my purchased content to be the one on the Amazon server. Like you said, that’s just poor planning.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Yep-

That all depends. The Kindle has a wireless card that runs off of the cell towers. This enables the Kindle to download new books without connecting to a PC nor using your WiFi connection. This can potentially allow the DRM to phone home every time it’s used. I don’t know how the DRM works, but if it checks every time it opens then it can be bricked remotely.

TheStuipdOne says:

DRM and Theft

I’m really enjoying the irony here.

People claim that DRM is needed to prevent downloaders from stealing from the content providers. However even if you accept the assumption that every download is a lost sale, the content provider still can sell it to other people. They don’t loose the content.

In this example, Amazon stole the content from the paying customer. The customer payed for something and now Amazon took away his ability to access it, I think that is the very definition of stealing. No different than if Amazon entered his house and took all of his books off of his bookshelf.

TheStuipdOne says:

Re: DRM and Theft

PS … Here is Amazon’s return policy
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=15015711

I don’t see anything in there to indicate that Amazon will cut you off if you return lots of expensive things. Now if he returned things against that policy (opened items, after 30 days, whatever) then Amazon is well within its rights to not give the guy a refund

Yohann says:

What's next?

So what happens next? A refrigerator with DRM in its code? You put in the wrong type of butter, and they come to your house to shut off your fridge? Or you wash a load of whites on the color cycle? They remotely shut it down and you can’t use them anymore?

I don’t buy any software or hardware that contains DRM. I’ll download it. If I like it and it doesn’t contain DRM, then I would buy that first. I have never, don’t now, and never will, support or pay for any sort of device, software, or product that contains DRM.

C.T. says:

The real problem with DRM

I think DRM does have the potential to open up new business models. The problem, though, is that companies using the technology have tended to be less than forthright with their customers. It is deplorable that a company can bury information in extremely long and difficult to decipher terms of services… that 99% of people do not read. This certainly appears to be the case here.

On the other hand, I think that there are legitimate uses of the technology. Take a service like Rhapsody, for example. It is extremely clear to anyone who uses Rhapsody that if they cancel their subscription that they will be unable to access the music they have downloaded. Moreover, this is reflected in the price. To me, this seems fair.

It is unfortunate that the vast majority of companies using DRM utilize it in a misleading manner, or so it seems.

Of course, there are also other problems associated with DRM as it relates to fair use. But that is a topic for another day….

hegemon13 says:

Re: The real problem with DRM

“It is unfortunate that the vast majority of companies using DRM utilize it in a misleading manner, or so it seems.”

There is a reason for that. DRM gives the seller absolute control over the user’s access to the content they purchased. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Thus, DRM will always lead to abuse of the customer and will be most loved by the least trustworthy of companies.

R. Miles says:

How can anyone feel sorry for this guy...

… or anyone who purchases items with DRM?

I’m sorry, but this clearly screams “A fool and his money are soon parted!”.

I get the gist of the topic’s scope, but in truth, it’s rather old. People won’t stop buying DRM encoded crap. Then to turn and whine about it?

Please. There are plenty of alternatives which don’t have DRM.

It’s ironic to see how “innovative” the Kindle has been only to be newsworthy of how non-innovative its software is.

By the way: Love the quote “Reading is stealing!”. How damn true that is anymore.

Ariel says:

greyputer...

Is correct. Had this guy backed up his purchases off his Kindle, he would still have access to them.

It’s the same thing anyone should do, in the event of Amazon being down, hacked, whatever.

Anyone who really trusts the “cloud” to store their data is fooling themselves.

To say again: If he’d had copies of all his Kindle books on his computer, he could have loaded them right back on his Kindle. Amazon simply removed his access to WhisperNet.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yeah – that would be horrible. I’d be limited to only reading the content I’ve already purchased and stored locally, plus the hundreds of thousands of books out there in other formats that the Kindle can read.

Seriously, there’s nothing in the article that says that Amazon disabled this guy’s Kindle or kept him from opening content that was already on his Kindle or stored on his computer – he just lost access to Whispernet and the copies of his purchased books that existed solely on Amazon’s servers.

I don’t think the Kindle store is like a subscription music service where you lose the ability to play all of your songs if the service is ever discontinued. I suspect that if the Kindle store ever goes away, we won’t be able to purchase any new content, but the content we’ve already purchased will continue to work fine, as long as we had enough foresight to keep a copy of it on the Kindle itself or at least on our computer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“…he just lost access to Whispernet and the copies of his purchased books that existed solely on Amazon’s servers.”

“I don’t think the Kindle store is like a subscription music service where you lose the ability to play all of your songs if the service is ever discontinued.”

So, you state as fact what you have assumed based on what you think? Wow. And people complain that Mike doesn’t back up his claims.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well excuuuuuuse me for not jumping on the “Oh noes – Amazon’s gunna brick R Kindlez” bandwagon like Mike and the author of the original article seem to have done.

Re-read the original article, and tell me if there’s anything there that says that the guys lost access to content that was already on his Kindle/computer. Or find anything anywhere that says that the DRM on purchased Kindle books enables Amazon to deny you the use of books that are stored locally on the Kindle or on your computer.

The simplest scenario that fits all of the facts in the article is that this guy just lost his Amazon account and his access to his purchased book that were stored in the Amazon “cloud”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Re-read the original article, and tell me if there’s anything there that says that the guys lost access to content that was already on his Kindle/computer.

Well, first there’s the title: Returning Product To Amazon Could Brick Your Kindle. You do know what “brick” means, don’t you?

Then, further down, they say “When this user’s Amazon account was closed, he also lost access to all the books he had purchased, as well as the ability to shop for new material.” Notice that they said “all”. Not just those in the Amazon “cloud”.

Seems pretty clear to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Seriously, there’s nothing in the article that says that Amazon disabled this guy’s Kindle or kept him from opening content that was already on his Kindle or stored on his computer – he just lost access to Whispernet and the copies of his purchased books that existed solely on Amazon’s servers.

Seriously, there’s nothing in the article that says anything about Whispernet.

grayputer says:

Re: Re:

Laugh away, 90% of the stuff on my kindle has no DRM. You can buy a kindle and use it with non-DRM books and documents. The two are NOT linked (as much as the anti-DRM crowd would like you to believe). Buy a Kindle, download and Mobipocket book that does not have DRM, copy to Kindle, enjoy. Try Baen.com, manybooks.net, fictionwise.com, … Download anything in PDF format and use mobipocket creator (free) to convert to mobi format.

Second if Amazon stops supporting it tomorrow, I’d still have even book I’ve purchased AND access to more (see above).

So everyone take a Valium and separate the device from the content. I don’t see any of you refusing to use computers/iPods/… because some audio files have DRM.

Dave says:

good points

Interesting article, and I can understand various points of view on whether Amazon has the right to do this or not.

Legit arguments aside, I will not buy this thing even though I’m a longstanding Amazon customer. I don’t want any proprietary DRM crap, so that’s automatically a deal-breaker.

And for today’s ad hominem attack – “Kindle” is such a stupid, wimpy name.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Completely different animals, although to my knowledge, Apple has never remotely “bricked” an iPhone, either – firmware/software updates that are incompatible with “jailbroken” or otherwise hacked iPhones don’t count.

But the Kindle never needs to “phone home” to Amazon to work. In fact, other than the initial setup when you first buy it, you can turn the wireless capability off and never use it again, and continue to buy books from the Kindle Store. Having the wireless turned off just means that when you buy a book, you have to download it to your computer instead of the Kindle. Then you mount the Kindle on your desktop like an external drive and copy the book over. You can even be disconnected from the internet when you do the transfer, so no “phoning home” is required at this step, either.

The Cenobyte says:

don't buy DRM

I don’t know why people buy stuff from Amazon’s Kindle store, or Apples iTunes, or any other place that has DRM. Why give control to someone else for something you already paid for? Amazon’s cost for buying a book for the kindle is much more than most of the books cost used somewhere (Even Amazon a lot of the time) and iTunes sells you songs at a markup over what buying the single or whole CD would cost you (And if you have a used record store much much less). Then they add DRM. Just amazes me how stupid people are really.

Overcast says:

I was going to buy a book with Kindle – but then I found out it could only be used on that device – no PC alternative – that I easily found.

I may have looked into it more – but amazon controlling what I buy, after I buy it?

Not.

I passed and Listen to this amazon – I went to a USED book store and found the book I was looking for, along with buying about 5 more while I was there.

You know – it REKINDLED an interest on my part to visit a REAL bookstore, you may have lost a decent amount of business there. Not only am I turned off from Kindle completely now, but I may not even buy physical books from Amazon now…

So is that where the name comes from? it’s a device to ‘re-kindle’ my interest in brick and mortar bookstores? Odd, if not – because that’s just what it did.

Overcast says:

Isn’t it a bit of a jump to assume this guy was a legitimate customer?

Maybe in his case, who knows – but look at my above post.. So yes – they lost at least one legit sale I made, and perhaps – many, many more.

I was surprised at the prices at the book store – a lot cheaper than I had thought they were. I guess perhaps they also have ‘kindled’ some competition?

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Mike -

Mike, do you even read the articles first before adding your commentary?

From your commentary:

“First, it’s worrisome that Amazon would just cancel this guy’s account with no warning, no full explanation and no method to appeal the decision.”

From the original article:

“Ultimately, the user appealed to Amazon and it reinstated his account…”

Where exactly did you come up with “no method to appeal the decision”?

Michael B (profile) says:

Re: Mike -

Other stories on this subject indicate that other customers have suffered the same plight from Amazon and were unable to appeal the decision. There should be nothing to appeal… first, if you purchased a Kindle, then you legally can buy content and if you buy content, Amazon has no right to turn it off. If they do, they should be liable to refund the full price of the device and any purchased content. If not, as the article states, it becomes a $350 doorstop.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yep this sort of DRM abuse is theft. It’s one thing if they limit your ability to buy new things and return them but to brick a device that they have the sole control of is stealing.

People with this sort of problem should take Amazon to small claims court and force them to refund the price paid for the device and all books purchased for it.

It is a good bet Amazon’s shysters won’t turn up. And you win. Then blog the hell out of it.

The infamous Joe says:

Re: Yeah, there's an App for That...

I like the e-ink display on my Cybook Gen3 over my iphone. It’s easier on the eyes. Reading on the iphone also drains the battery more than is feasable, if only because I read for hours at a time. I don’t have that problem with my Cybook, as it has a battery life of about 8,000 page turns, or so they tell me. (I’ve never counted.)

I hope that clears things up for you.

Anonymous Coward says:

simple rule of thumb,

DONT BUY ANYTHING WITH DRM!

If you do and this happens, your own fault for buying into the BULLSHIT that DRM is not RENTAL MEDIA, YOU DO NOT AND WILL NOT EVER OWN ANYTHING YOU BUY THAT INCLUDES DRM. PERIOD.

Maybe some of these companies will get the message that DRM is not acceptable, and for those whom don’t , enjoy bancruptcy

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re:

How many people were really left with DIVX discs they couldn’t play? The way I remember it, when the DIVX standard died in 1999, all of the discs that had already been sold were “opened up” permanently, and people that had bought a player before a certain date received a $100 refund.

Of course, when their DIVX players eventually die, they’ll be out of luck, but the same is true of any older format that’s become obsolete. If you needed to buy a Betamax or laserdisc player today, you’d probably face the same problems.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Hello, my little DRM apologist friend.

How many people were really left with DIVX discs they couldn’t play?

All of them.

The way I remember it, when the DIVX standard died in 1999,…

Err, DIVX was never a standard. It was proprietary.

…all of the discs that had already been sold were “opened up” permanently,…

You seem to have a, how shall I say it, “conveniently creative” memory. That did not happen.

…and people that had bought a player before a certain date received a $100 refund.

On a now useless player that had originally cost several hundred dollars. What a deal.

Just say no to DRM.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: DIVX

First, stop being pedantic – DIVX was never an “open standard”, but it was still a “standard” in the sense that it was a prescribed method of encoding data onto medium.

Second, I didn’t have a DIVX player, but I believe I got the story straight. I found several articles from the period when DIVX was discontinued that confirmed that DIVX discs that users had upgraded to “silver” status to allow unlimited plays still worked after the format was discontinued. Of course, you couldn’t do the $4.99 “rental” thing with DIVX discs after the discontinuation, but that makes sense, since no one was renting the discs after that point anyway.

Also, the DIVX players at the time were fairly close in price to regular DVD players, usually within $50-100. The DIVX players could play regular DVDs just fine, so the $100 rebate was essentially compensation for the DIVX players out there being only useful as regular DVD players. The players weren’t rendered “useless” when DIVX was discontinued.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 DIVX

First, stop being pedantic

Not pedantic, just truthful. Something you seem to have a problem with.

DIVX was never an “open standard”, but it was still a “standard” in the sense that it was a prescribed method of encoding data onto medium.

DIVX was never a standard issued by ANY generally recognized standards body. So to call it a “standard” is dishonest.

I found several articles from the period when DIVX was discontinued that confirmed that DIVX discs that users had upgraded to “silver” status to allow unlimited plays still worked after the format was discontinued.

Unlimited plays until June 30, 2001, that is, which is NOT “permanently”, as you claimed. Unless you can can show that that June 30, 2001 was “forever” because time stopped on that date. Good luck with that one.

Also, the DIVX players at the time were fairly close in price to regular DVD players, usually within $50-100.

When thy came out they were more like $100-200 more than DVD players, and DVD players were selling for $200-300 at the time. So someone could have easily paid $300-500 for a DIVX player.

The DIVX players could play regular DVDs just fine, so the $100 rebate was essentially compensation for the DIVX players out there being only useful as regular DVD players. The players weren’t rendered “useless” when DIVX was discontinued.

That would seem to depend on the model. I knew someone who bought one and it would only play DIVX discs. And there was a time after DIVX was discontinued that you practically couldn’t give a DIVX player away, yet people were buying DVD players left and right. Why do you think no one wanted a DIVX player if it was such a great DVD player?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 DIVX

And there was a time after DIVX was discontinued that you practically couldn’t give a DIVX player away, yet people were buying DVD players left and right. Why do you think no one wanted a DIVX player if it was such a great DVD player?

Heh, I remember when Circuit City stores were trying to rid of those things. DIVX had been such a huge failure and embarrassment for corporate headquarters that they wouldn’t let stores just dump them in the dumpster. The last thing they wanted was for pictures of stacks of unopened players sitting in dumpsters getting out. Instead, stores had to ship the remaining players back to be disposed of “properly” (read: secretly). Now that’s what you call worthless.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Much ado about nothing.

As I suspected, the original article (and Mike’s commentary) are basically just sound and fury, based largely on a poor understanding of how the Kindle works.

If you go on the “Mobileread” forum or the Amazon Kindle forum, you can find out more about the subject’s story (his username is “Ian”.

Basically, here’s what happened:

1) Ian’s habit of “excessive” returns set off an automated flag on Amazon’s computer, and his account was suspended. As a related consequence, he also couldn’t access Kindle books that were stored in Amazon’s “cloud”.

2) He complained to Amazon using the special customer service email address **that was included in the form email he got from Amazon notifying him of his account cancellation**, and Amazon reinstated his account.

Amazon never “bricked” his Kindle in any real sense of the word. The device still booted up and worked normally (other than not being able to access the Kindle Store), and all the content that was stored locally on his Kindle (even Kindle books) was still accessible. The first customer-service agent he spoke with even pointed out that there were other ways to get content on the Kindle other than buying it from the Kindle Store.

Importantly, there’s still no evidence that the Kindle DRM includes any kind of “poison pill” that allows Amazon to remotely disable a Kindle, or even render purchased books unreadable, as long as you have a copy on your computer or on the Kindle itself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Much ado about nothing.

I think Mikes commentary was based on the original article. If the original was wrong (I’m not saying that it was) then I don’t see that as being Mike’s fault.

And saying something like “If you go on the Mobileread forum or the Amazon Kindle forum…” is kind of like saying “If you go on the Internet…”. That doesn’t exactly cut it for a reference. You need to cite the specific URLs.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Much ado about nothing.

Here’s the link to the MobileRead thread – be warned that it’s over 300 posts, and most of them are just complaining about DRM and/or Amazon’s returns policy:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=44350

And here’s one to a Consumerist thread about the same person:

http://consumerist.com/5213774/amazon-can-ban-you-from-your-kindle-account-whenever-it-likes

Interestingly, Chris Walters (who wrote the commentary at Consumerist) actually seems to know how a Kindle works, and that it’s possible to store copies of purchased books both on the Kindle itself and on your computer, so that you can continue to read them even after your Amazon account’s been canceled.

You can find the other links yourself – I’ve already done *much* more research on this than either Mike or the author of the original article that Mike commented on. I guess being “bloggers” rather than “journalists” absolves them of any responsibility when it comes to fact-checking or research. Instead, all they have to do is come up with the most incendiary headline/commentary possible to keep those ad clicks coming.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Much ado about nothing.

Having read the thread over on MobileRead I see where the “bricked” claim originally came from. It seems that Ian considered it “bricked” for his purposes because it would no longer do what he bought it for. Now many people have pointed out that it would still do other things, like read the books currently on it, prop a door open, hold papers from flying off a desk, etc.. But that isn’t what he bought it for, so he considered it “bricked”.

As far as backing up the books to your own computer is concerned, there’s a problem with that too because of the DRM. You see, the books backed up on your computer would be tied to your specific Kindle with DRM, which would work OK until your Kindle died or got destroyed or lost or stolen or something. At that point you would be at the mercy of Amazon because the only way to regain access to your books would be to replace it and have Amazon transfer your book access to your new device. And if they’ve banned you because you wouldn’t accept defective products or they discontinued the kindle “service” or maybe they just weren’t in the mood to cooperate, they you’d be up the creek. Nice, huh?

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Much ado about nothing.

At least Ian was intellectually honest enough to just refer to his Kindle as a “partial brick”. Read over Mike’s commentary again, as well as the Channelweb blog he’s commenting on, and you’ll see just how many factual errors, omissions and misrepresentations there are in both. (I’m giving the authors the benefit of a doubt and not claiming that they’re lying outright for the sake of a good story). Now that you know more of the story, even the two headlines – “Returning Product to Amazon Could Brick Your Kindle” and “Amazon Uses DRM To Turn Kindle Into A Very Expensive Paperweight” are misleading at best and ludicrous distortions of Ian’s situation at worst.

And while DRM on the Kindle does introduce some potentially-serious problems such as the ones you described, none of them are the problems that Ian had. Even if the Kindle books were completely unprotected .TXT files, Ian still would have lost access to his purchased books that existed solely on Amazon’s computers because he didn’t keep a copy on his Kindle or his computer (both of which are trivially-easy to do). So again, the problem was really with Amazon’s cancellation of his account, not the fact that the e-books had DRM.

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