Wednesday, December 23, 2009

One Hacker Aims to "Unswindle" the Kindle

Hardly a day goes by anymore without some interesting news about e-book readers and the companies that produce them. Today it is about the Amazon Kindle and how at least two hackers have broken the code that keeps purchasers of Kindle books from reading those books on devices sold by other companies such as Sony or Barnes & Noble.

CIO Today offers the details:
Internet retailer Amazon.com had all the luck in getting its family of proprietary Kindle e-book readers into the hands of consumers while its rivals were faced with delays, but its luck may have turned. The Kindle's copyright protection Relevant Products/Services has been hacked.

An Israeli hacker who goes by the name Labba says he has been able to break the Kindle's digital-rights management protection, allowing its electronic books to be viewed on non-Kindle devices.

A U.S. hacker has also reportedly created a program called Unswindle that converts books stored in the free Kindle for PC application into other formats.
[...]
Amazon may close the door on the DRM hack, but other hackers will likely attempt a hack again, observers say.

Eventually, Amazon may follow Apple's lead. After launching its iTunes Store, a hacker broke Apple's DRM protection. As a result, Apple closed the security Relevant Products/Services hole, only to be hacked again. Apple now offers DRM-free music on iTunes
[...]
Amazon may close the door on the DRM hack, but other hackers will likely attempt a hack again, observers say.

Eventually, Amazon may follow Apple's lead. After launching its iTunes Store, a hacker broke Apple's DRM protection. As a result, Apple closed the security Relevant Products/Services hole, only to be hacked again. Apple now offers DRM-free music on iTunes
Personally, I hate the idea of DRM because when I buy a record album or a book I believe I have the right to copy it and enjoy it on other compatible devices I may own. I understand the potential copyright violations me having that ability implies but, since I am not a pirate wanting to steal my original copy of the work or to sell it to others, I refuse to purchase digital content that limits how I use it. That is why I will never own a Kindle and why, until Apple stopped that kind of foolishness, I refused to buy music via Apple's iTunes store. Who really believes that first-time Kindle buyers will remain content to own a Kindle forever? When better hardware comes along, why shouldn't Amazon customers be able to move their books to a different device?

This is exactly what drove me to purchase my second Sony Reader a few weeks ago. Thank you, Sony Corporation for having the sense to choose a customer friendly business model.

2 comments:

  1. I can see how the argument could be made that Amazon is just trying to protect publishers and authors from unfair sharing, but I don't for a second buy this. If Amazon was so concerned about publishers and authors, they wouldn't offer their Amazon Marketplace program which lets people sell used copies of books online. From what I can tell the lack of sharing through Kindle is just to try and discourage users from using non-Amazon devices to read books.

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  2. I think you have them figured out, Alissa. Exactly right...

    I have seen to many devices come and go to believe that the Kindle is here forever and I can't imagine anything worse than owning a slew of useless e-books that can only be reade on my PC or certain phones.

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