Some would say cooked its own goose, after the flap that is occurring over the forced deletion of a couple of George Orwell books, 1984 and Animal Farm on the Kindle.
The problem, according to Amazon, is that the rights to sell the books had not been properly secured. Oops, megaliths like Amazon, Google, and yes, Microsoft, are not supposed to make these types of mistakes. That is supposedly how they got to be the entities that all else want to emulate, if not for their philosophies, at least for their bottom lines. Yes, when you become huge, you have ostensibly gotten all the kinks worked out of your business plan, and things that are new get fully ‘scienced out’, well before release.
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes put up some thoughts about this, in a column on ZDNet –
I wonder if anyone at Amazon thought it ironic to use the remote wipe feature built into each Kindle device to wipe copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm that users had purchased.
The reason for the mass delete, according to Amazon, was that a third-party had added the books to Amazon but didn’t have the rights to do so. Be that as it may, it doesn’t change the fact that if a third-party had illegally made available a physical book via Amazon, and customers had bought it, Amazon would have no right at all to enter people’s property and burn the book. But thanks to the insidious nature of DRM, right that we have in the real world aren’t being carried forward into the virtual world. Amazon believes that it has both the power and the right to access people’s Kindles remotely and delete content. Sure, users got a refund, but that’s not the point. Amazon took it upon itself to snoop through owner’s Kindles and delete content with no notice or warning, let alone consent.
And this folks, is why DRM sucks.
DRM sucks because users get, at best, an illusion of ownership. Buy a book or CD or a DVD and you have that content until you lose it, damage it or pass it one to someone else. But with virtual DRMed content, you are at best borrowing it. You can lose access to your content in a heartbeat. All it takes if for the company to go out of business, your PC to get wiped or for someone somewhere to make a bone-headed decision and press the remote wipe button and your content is gone in the blink of an eye. If you’re lucky you get your money back, but I know plenty of people who are out of pocket thanks to DRM.
This is one reason why DRM will never prevail, because, though we might not really own anything, we, as humans, really like to think we do, and letting us keep a semblance of that notion is very important.
AKH states that this type of thing won’t happen again, Amazon promises that. I think to myself, there are many, many more people, who will have already said to themselves ‘No kidding’ and then silently making a mental note, to never buy one of those devices, no matter what.
Here in California, the Governator wanted to save money by using this type of device to replace textbooks, in secondary schools, at least. I know I was not for it, and would make my thoughts known in no uncertain terms if this sort of thing was tried. There could become an entire cottage business simply to replace the problems with this scenario, such as the accidental removal of content by any number of means, and then trying to get replacement without hassles. Sort of a ‘dog ate my textbook, so i couldn’t do my homework’ thing.
Before I’ll buy anything like a Kindle, I will have to be assured that I can back up any content to a widely known medium, which is readable by other means. This is one reason why I don’t like the electronic magazine business, as exemplified by Zinio. I used to think it was a good idea, but, unlike some, i don’t always throw away magazines, I either keep them, for future reference, or pass them down to my son or daughter. I’ve been given the “you don’t have the right to view this content” message one too many times to ever fall into that trap again. This was after trying to use their approved method to transfer from one drive to another.
No, Amazon really stepped in it, and we all will remember the smell for quite some time.
starring Jeff Bezos, as your favorite fraternal relation