Amazon Kindle DRM Strikes Again: You Don't Really Own Your eBooks

from the know-what-you're-buying dept

We’ve pointed out a few times that, no matter how cool a device the Amazon Kindle may be, it’s got some serious DRM problems, highlighting that, unlike with a real book, you don’t actually “own” the books on your Kindle. Yet another example of why is getting some attention this week. Consumerist points us to a guy who suddenly was having trouble redownloading ebooks he had bought, despite the fact that Amazon supposedly allows you to download the books again and again. At first, he was told that some publishers put a secret-hidden-nobody-can-tell-you limit on how many times you could download, but then after multiple confusing discussions with multiple different Amazon customer service reps, the guy thinks the real issue is actually that some publishers can put a secret-hidden-nobody-can-tell-you limit on how many devices you can download the books to.

While the “updated” version isn’t as bad as the original, it’s still pretty bad. These are secret limitations on what people bought that were not clearly laid out at all — and, in fact, which seem to contradict what customers have been told about the ability to do multiple downloads of a purchased book. Furthermore, the fact that you would need multiple customer service reps — many of whom provided the wrong info — to try to figure out why you can’t access a book you purchased legally means you’ve got a problem. Every time you think that content providers have learned that DRM is a bad thing that does nothing but harm customer value, it crops up again, with someone believing that it actually has some sort of benefit.

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Companies: amazon

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Comments on “Amazon Kindle DRM Strikes Again: You Don't Really Own Your eBooks”

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38 Comments
Ima Fish (profile) says:

no matter how cool a device the Amazon Kindle may be

A hideous piece of hardware, filled to the brim with DRM, with a 1980’s black and white screen, which is way too big to fit in your pocket, which costs a whopping 400 bucks, which does nothing unless you pay for it, which has a “limited” web browser, which is in search of a problem that does not exist (books are already portable and you can already read e-books on your multipurpose netbook, which costs only $250!)…

I could go on and on. Exactly how could the Kindle be considered a “cool device”? I’m really confused on this one.

FUD Haters says:

Re: Re:

“A hideous piece of hardware, filled to the brim with DRM, with a 1980’s black and white screen, which is way too big to fit in your pocket, which costs a whopping 400 bucks, which does nothing unless you pay for it, which has a “limited” web browser, which is in search of a problem that does not exist (books are already portable and you can already read e-books on your multipurpose netbook, which costs only $250!)…”

Unreal. Are your paperback novels in color? No? Then stfu. Can you shove a copy of harry potter into your shirt pocket? No? Then stfu. The Kindle and DX can do a shitload of things without paying a dime for a book, you moron. It’s called Whispernet…which provides INTERNET ACCESS for free. You can download MILLIONS of free books over this ALWAYS-ON INTERNET CONNECTION.

Have you tried reading a novel on your netbook for more than 15mins? That headache you start to feel is the result of staring at that shitty LCD screen. With e-ink, you can literally read for hours…days…weeks at a time.

Slam the Kindle and DX for being expensive, for poor button placement, or other REAL issues…spreading this FUD just makes you look the fool.

FUD Haters - The Sequel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Have you tried reading a novel on your netbook for more than 15mins? That headache you start to feel is the result of staring at that shitty LCD screen. With e-ink, you can literally read for hours…days…weeks at a time.”

Hmm. I’ve read several hundred ebooks between my current WinMo smartphone, my Clie, my Palm color and my Palm B&W. Oh, and one or two books on a Nokia flip-phone. Took me about 12 years. Vision’s still 20/15.

The readability of an LCD really varies a lot from one person to another. Now, I do get eye-strain when I read a CRT for 4-30 hours straight. But, thanks to cheap LCD monitors, I don’t have to do that so much anymore.

I miss the old DOS Populous. That and Civ II/III are the only games I’ve ever enjoyed playing straight on for more than a few hours at a stretch.

wizened (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Amen

And I might add to this, that no one is making you buy books from Amazon. The device works just fine with any of the several million free etexts and pdf files that are already out there for free. The electronic ink screen is easy on the eye in the brightest sun and on the corner of my sofa before bed. The device and the content are 2 different things. I’m not a fan of DRM but I do enjoy the Kindle. For those of you that I just disagreed with, enjoy your tantrum.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Are your paperback novels in color?

But why should the kindle be limited to only what a book currently does? That makes no fricken sense. A book already does what a book does, it’s cheap, it’s portable, and the technology has been around for centuries.

My little discussion is about whether the kindle is cool. If you think a $400 book mimicking device is cool, you’re an idiot. I think that if the Kindle is ever cool, it has to offer more than merely mimicking exactly what a book already does, at an exorbitant price.

Can you shove a copy of harry potter into your shirt pocket?

No, but I can shove it in my short’s pocket. Portability problem solved. Are you a retard or what?

Have you tried reading a novel on your netbook for more than 15mins? That headache you start to feel is the result of staring at that shitty LCD screen.

Have you considered those headaches might be caused by a something else, like maybe a brain tumor. That could explain your inability to make any sort of rational argument.

spreading this FUD just makes you look the fool.

Exactly what fear, uncertainty, and doubt did I spread? That is what FUD stands for. Apparently you didn’t know that because your accusation makes no fricken sense.

All I did was point out that the Kindle is not cool. The only cool thing you came up with is piracy. I guess that could be considered cool, but you don’t need to spend $400 bucks on a piece of crap hardware to do it.

Tagbert (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Be cool

Ima,

Yes, the Kindle is cool. I find that I read a lot more now that I have one. The reading experience is just so much better for me than a book. Books are heavy, bulky, clumsy, and dead.

The price is well worth the convenience to me. On the other hand, a similarly priced xbox would be overpriced junk for which I have no need.

The Kindle can be filled up with lots of non-DRM books both free and commercial as well as your own documents. Yes, the publisher demand DRM. Most ebook publishers do. This is the same for most ebook readers, not just Amazon’s. I hope that eventually, this phase will pass. If not, I won’t cry over it. There are very few books that I care enough about worry about whether I own it or not. Most of those I still buy in dead tree editions. I don’t know the particulars about the original story here. Like many such stories, the full truth can be a tricky thing.

There are upsides to books and downsides. Same with an ebook. For many of us, the ebook upsides outweigh the downsides. For you, the opposite. That’s OK with me if its OK with you.

jake says:

publishing

i think this is just a temporary state of affairs. when e-ink technology improves and becomes widespread (cheap) “piracy” will take care of rest, just like it did with music. personnally, i am looking forward to being able to read every book ever published in the history of mankind for free. i just hope it wont take decades for publishers/authors to discover the old formula cwf+rtb=$$$

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Didn't we already learn this doesn't work?

Not that DivX. The old one, where you bought a movie on what looked like a DVD or CD, and it would only play for a limited time (or number of plays, I don’t know), after which, it was a coaster… That DivX. It’s not around any more. The DivX encoder / video format is different, and unrelated, except for the name.

Yohann says:

I hear there’s a new type of DRM coming to shelves. You buy the hardware, but don’t actually get the hardware due to DRM. You can buy batteries but they’re not included in the batteries themselves due to DRM. You can buy an adapter plug, but the copper is under DRM so you don’t actually get that. You could actually take the hardware apart but then they’ll get you for breaking about eighty six patent laws. You can solder wires to the recharge circuitry because of no adapter, but that breaks DMCA. If you write your own books and upload them to your hardware, you’re illegally using the DRM’ed memory chips inside, so now you have to pay up. Plus, by writing your own book, you’ve infringed on Webster’s Dictionary for using words in that…

Anonymous Coward says:

I own a Sony E-book reader. It may not be as feature rich as a Kindle, but I love the screen, the buttons are just right for me and I can read on it for hours upon hours without any issue. The Sony reader also doesn’t have any DRM issues like the Kindle does. I mostly download my books and convert them to RTF or PDF and read away.

It’s unfortunate that the Sony line of Ebook readers get so little press in the shadow of the Kindle. I’m not going to say it’s a better product, but it is a hell of a lot cheaper and a much better value for people who know where to find ebooks besides through a DRM laden storefront.

Anonymous Coward says:

How about this? DONT BUY ONE

For other people, who are informed about the negatives of DRM and all, who like the positives, are free to buy one.

I happen to have a Kindle, and it is great. It wont save the whales or make coffee, but for reading books, which I enjoy, it is the best thing for me. The internet connection means I can get (buy) a book when I want it, and I don’t have to reconnect to my PC. The “b/w screen” uses so little power it doesnt need to be charged for weeks at a time with daily use.

Overall, in my opinion, very useful and has already paid for itself. You don’t like it? Don’t buy it.

DJ Science (profile) says:

Reasons....

Reason #256 why I don’t own a Kindle. I have enough trouble finding time to read books, nevermind trying to circumvent DRM and breaking a federal law (DMCA) just to read something I’ve paid decent money for. Feh – I’ll just pay the extra $3.00 and have a paperback I can lend to my friends or donate once I’m done with it.

Has anyone ever actually made the argument that DRM hurts the public because something purchased with DRM can’t be DONATED? I know that when I first starting sampling, I would go to the goodwill and pick up vinyl albums for $1.00 a pop. I felt a little better knowing that my $20.00 here and $10.00 there was going to a good cause. I’m sure book readers who scour the thrift stores of the country know what I’m talking about. However, you can’t donate a Kindle book to charity, afaik….

Bill in NC (profile) says:

Kindle is...OK

I have the Kindle 2.

It is very convenient if you buy a lot books on impulse, or are addicted to NY Times bestsellers ($9.99 each), or must have a major daily newspaper that is not sold locally (e.g. NY Times, LA Times, Financial Times)

For just reading books it’s a very expensive platform.

The contrast of the e-ink display is nowhere near that of a printed page, and needs a strong light source (ideal outdoors, even in full sun)

Graphics are…very muddy and essentially worthless on the display as it is now.

In summary, a convenient platform to hold hundreds of books, but you pay a heck of a price for that convenience.

Ann says:

No device limit

I work for a publisher and provide our products to Amazon for use on the Kindle and can definitively say that there is nothing in the contract about limiting the number of devices to which a user can download their Kindle titles. This is just not an option and I’m surprised only one other person has chimed in to this effect. Perfect example of the internet acting as a rumor-monger.

Joe Schmoe says:

I work for a publisher and provide our products to Amazon for use on the Kindle and can definitively say that there is nothing in the contract about limiting the number of devices to which a user can download their Kindle titles…

Many, I’m sure, would like to believe you [and that is not to say you are lying], it’s just that DRM exists to do exactly just the opposite.

Diane K. says:

Kindle and DRM

I read Kindle books on my iPhone. If the publishers are building in DRM – they will have to do it cross-device and quite frankly, I don’t think they’re that smart. Some of them don’t even have computers in their offices yet!

As an author, I’m using Publish and Market to prepare my book in paper, Kindle, multi-media ebook and .pdf. I plan to have all platforms covered and may the best man win!

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