Seven years ago: outlawed by Amazon DRM


But is “outlawed” the right word?

Seven years ago: outlawed by Amazon DRM /img/amazon-drm-sucks.jpg

Exactly seven years ago M. Bekkelund shared a story of DRM (Digital Rights Management) at its worst”. But maybe he didn’t gave it the best possible title.

The story of Linn

A friend of Bekkelund, Linn, had “purchased” for years a lot of ebooks to read on her Amazon Kindle device.

Then one day, all of a sudden, “her Kindle was wiped and her account was closed”. Amazon provided NO explanation for its actions, except the assertion that they had found Linn’s account to be

“directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies. As such, your account has been closed and any open orders have been cancelled”.

This answer clarified nothing, because Linn had never had any other accounts at Amazon, other than the one that had been working for years.

But Amazon simply refused to give other explanations. Linn, concluded Bekkerlund in 2012, had been simply “outlawed by Amazon”.

The real title of that story

Linn wasn’t outlawed, she was outowned.

The same day Bekkelund shared that story, J. Wikert at O’Reilly ToC correctly observed that it was not “really a DRM problem as much as it is an ownership problem”.

Because, he wrote, we should all know that when we buy ebooks from Amazon, B&N, etc., we don’t really own those products; we’re simply licensing them. As a result, the door is left wide open for the retailer to come back and wipe them out as Amazon did with Linn.

And the solution is the same today as it always was, and should be. In Wikert’s words:

“we need to shift industry thinking from ebook licensing to ebook ownership

Image source: “The Case Against DRM Needs to Be Made Now” (that is, in 2015)

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