18 July 2009

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree

Another day, another round of bad media coverage for the Amazon Kindle.

The story as originally reported: Publisher changes mind about having an e-book edition of George Orwell’s books. Amazon remotely deletes them and refunds the purchase price.

What actually happened: A third party illegally published editions of George Orwell’s books, which they did not have the right to publish. Amazon remotely deleted those illegal copies and refunded the purchase price.

Of course, Pogue’s speculations are now half way around the planet as fact. Thanks, mainstream media.

The only thing that’s new here is the discovery that Amazon can remotely remove DRM-protected books from the Kindle. That enables them to recall illegal product. Previously, in the world of physical goods, stores who discovered that they had sold illegal products would request that customers return them for refunds, but they were not able to force the issue.

Now, it can certainly be argued that the ability to recall illegally-sold product is a misfeature, but of course nobody has to buy DRM-encumbered books, even if they want to read them on Kindle. Nobody has to keep the wireless connection to Amazon enabled, even. Nevertheless this story has led all the usual FUD to resurface, so I refer back to my previous articles about the device.

Still, the continuous bad press might have the positive effect of making Amazon open up and support open standards better, right? It would certainly be nice to see Open eBook support in the next firmware revision.

© mathew 2017