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Why Amazon's Kindle Should Use Open Standards 315

Posted by Soulskill
from the yay-open-book-puns dept.
Tim O'Reilly wrote in Forbes a while back that he thinks the Kindle only has another two or three years of life left, unless Amazon wises up and embraces open standards. He came to this conclusion, in part, because of his experience deciding how to publish documents on the web back in the mid-1990s. "You see, I'd recently been approached by the folks at the Microsoft Network. They'd identified O'Reilly as an interesting specialty publisher, just the kind of target that they hoped would embrace the Microsoft Network (or MSN, as it came to be called). The offer was simple: Pay Microsoft a $50,000 fee plus a share of any revenue, and in return it would provide this great platform for publishing, with proprietary publishing tools and file formats that would restrict our content to users of the Microsoft platform. The only problem was we'd already embraced the alternative: We had downloaded free Web server software and published documents using an open standards format. That meant anyone could read them using a free browser. While MSN had better tools and interfaces than the primitive World Wide Web, it was clear to us that the Web's low barriers to entry would help it to evolve more quickly, would bring in more competition and innovation, and would eventually win the day."
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Why Amazon's Kindle Should Use Open Standards

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  • by drmemnoch (142036) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:28PM (#28589391)

    No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free. I create for my own profit, not your entertainment. Once the Internet community stops (I know it isn't everyone but it is enough to be a major problem) stealing content created by artists for profit, we will finally be able to embrace the open standards we all truly want. Until then DRM will live one in some for or other.

    • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:32PM (#28589415) Homepage Journal

      Heh, ya actually think the DRM on the kindle works?

      But you make a good point. Amazon has to at least pretend they are making an effort to "protect" the content.. it doesn't really matter that its trivial to defeat, the publishers don't know the difference and the authors obviously don't either.

      • by davester666 (731373) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @07:04PM (#28589583) Journal

        They also 'helpfully' keep 70+% of the price end-users pay.

        Maybe if authors made a bigger stink about getting the shaft from Amazon, they just might get more sales.
        Maybe if authors didn't bitch and moan about how they should get paid extra because a machine converted text to speech, they just might get more sales.

        The world has changed, maybe consider doing something new instead of trying to stuff the genie back in the bottle.

      • by Tokerat (150341)

        But you make a good point. Amazon has to at least pretend they are making an effort to "protect" the content.. it doesn't really matter that its trivial to defeat, the publishers don't know the difference and the authors obviously don't either.

        I'm sure they're all fully aware of the capabilities of the Kindle's DRM. Since the United States has the DMCA on the books, they can just lock up anyone who breaks it for "stealing".

      • by Mista2 (1093071) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @09:32PM (#28590301)

        All the DRM does on the kindle is make it harder to move the same book to another device, not impossible. Bus as to only a few years left? Well Talk to Apple about a propietary locked down format for content that can be easily pirated. They won eventually because the device was easy to use, and the content was available WORLD WIDE. Wize up Amazon and the whole publishing industry. E-books have no borders or regions, just like digital music. I live in NZ and would love to get my hands on ebooks from amazons catalog, and I would buy them too, but it is restricted to US only regions, and locked to the Kindle, so I'll keep on pirating the content to get it in a format I can use. Thanks Amazon. You just keep on protecting that content 8)

        • by sribe (304414) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @10:58PM (#28590723)

          Well Talk to Apple about a propietary locked down format for content that can be easily pirated.

          Uhmmmm. No! Apple supported that format (AAC + Fairplay) in addition to the worldwide unprotected (MP3) format. In fact, they supported the unprotected format first and only added the DRM-encumbered format later as necessary to strike deals with the music-distribution cartel.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by icknay (96963)
        Wow, Slashdot has a bit of a focus problem when DRM comes up .. EPub -- you know, the standard discussed in the article -- has DRM! Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPUB [wikipedia.org] The amount that DRM sucks is dwarfed by the tremendous, earth-killing suck that is proprietary/closed formats. That's what the article says and that's why you should should avoid all things Kindle.
    • by dattaway (3088) * on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:38PM (#28589447) Homepage Journal

      If you keep your work as the internet's best kept secret, that's great by me!

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:43PM (#28589467)
      ...Then chances are you aren't a decent enough writer and you will just add to the pile of crap which are most books. Seriously, unless you are writing a technical manual of some sort (then usually you have a company paying you and give up all rights to the book in the first place) and won't write for any other reason other than to make a profit, your book will be crap. I don't know of a single really good author who writes primarily for profit. Sure, there are some really good authors who write and make a profit, but most have some other drive to write, especially for fiction writers. If you won't publish it, fine. I'm sure the world will be better off.
      • Mod parent up (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @07:01PM (#28589569)
        The Parent poster is right, Art is not something which really works under the model that the GP suggests. There is an element of truth in that being paid to create art provides one with the ability to do so without having to work all day and improves the energy and time available to create the work.

        But it comes at a cost that can be quite high. As soon as you start having to worry about being paid, one has to worry about whether or not the piece is going to be marketable and that is a terribly damaging environment under which to create innovative work. It's not really much of a surprise that most of the masters were doing portraits, working for patrons or downright broke when they were turning out works that would later sell for millions. It's rare to say the least to be able to be a professional artist without putting a muzzle on ones own creativity.

        DRM isn't going to help that situation out much, in fact it's probably going to hurt by eliminating people that are likely to get work that's somewhat out of the ordinary or in other ways unconventional.
        • by tjstork (137384) <todd...bandrowsky@@@gmail...com> on Sunday July 05, 2009 @07:22PM (#28589681) Homepage Journal

          Last time I checked, taking advantage of someone's enjoyment of their work by not paying them is called exploitation. How about, if because you like to program, your employer decided not to pay you.

          Artists work. They deserve to be paid for what they do. If you don't want to have art on your computer, you can choose to not pay for it. But if it is valuable enough that you might be motivated to go out of your way to get some DRM breaking device, chances are, that means it is valuable, even to you. That means, don't steal it.

          The question isn't whether, for example, Paul McCartney made a billion dollars off of his music, or Steven Spielberg made a billion dollars off of his movies. The question is, is a Paul McCartney song worth a $1 to you. If so, then pony up. Otherwise, don't listen to it.

          It's pretty simple, really.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by daath93 (1356187)
            it seems to me though that most "Artists" have an inflated idea of what their "Art" is "worth". If a person enjoys looking at a painting by da Vinci, it doesn't necessarily mean they enjoy paying $10m for the privilege of looking at it. This is why museums were created, and...lets face it, most painters are no da Vinci.

            The same is true on a much smaller scale. Someone may enjoy reading Anne Rice, but will go to a library and read The Mummy for free. This doesnt mean she doesnt like the book, or appreciate
            • Some things... (Score:2, Insightful)

              by tjstork (137384)

              This is why museums were created, and...lets face it, most painters are no da Vinci.

              Actually, most painters today in good art schools are better painters than Da Vinci could ever have hoped to become. We don't study old masters because they were somehow better than the people that came after, but, because they broke new ground and showed the way to do things. Seriously, go walk into a good art school, and you'll find 19 year olds kids painting things that DaVinci could never have even dreamed up, but then

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by maxume (22995)

                One of my parents neighbors walks to the library and reads the paper. I think he even enjoys the exercise.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Anonymous Coward

                Quoth the OP: "Yeah, but those people are stupid. They would pay an easy $10 in gasoline, public transportation and possibly a library membership to go to the library and read the Anne Rice book, when could have just gone to Amazon.com and bought the thing and had it delivered to your doorstep."

                Or just walk there from work, which takes all of 3 minutes each way, and get a stack of books on subjects with many currently out-of-print and unavailable in the commercial market. Plus I get the book immediately and

              • Re:Some things... (Score:5, Insightful)

                by icebraining (1313345) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @08:04PM (#28589895) Homepage

                In my case, I have a free (tax paid, no memberships) public library 15 *walking* minutes from my house that lets me take the book home for one week.
                Amazon takes at least 3 days to get the books to my doorstep, and as I'm never home in the morning when the mailman comes, I have to pick up the books from the post office.

                Libraries clearly win in this case.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by meta-monkey (321000)
                  For you. My library is 30 minutes away. I'm extremely busy and travel a lot for work, but love to read and go through one or two books a week. So, I buy Kindle books for my iPhone for $4-6 bucks a pop. I save myself a trip across town, I always have my books with me, and when I finish a book at 2AM and decide I have to start on the sequel, I press a couple of buttons on my phone and there it is. Does it cost $4-6 more than waiting until I'm back home next week and driving across town to the library? Y
              • by nausea_malvarma (1544887) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @08:38PM (#28590063)

                You pay 10$ in gas to drive to the library? What do you drive? A Hummer h2?

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Ian Alexander (997430)

                Yeah, but those people are stupid. They would pay an easy $10 in gasoline, public transportation and possibly a library membership to go to the library and read the Anne Rice book, when could have just gone to Amazon.com and bought the thing and had it delivered to your doorstep.

                I think your statement is stupid. If I didn't have a bus pass the total cost to me of going to the library would be 75 cents per trip. Since I do have a bus pass it's not even that much; I ride the bus so often that the cost per trip is probably closer to a quarter for me. I don't know about you, but I would be very hard-pressed to find a book whose total cost- including shipping- was 25 cents on Amazon and arrived at my house an hour after I decided I wanted a book. I think it would be pretty difficult to

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by lena_10326 (1100441)
                Ehhh... I've been to art school. Most students couldn't paint a paper bag. I'd consider 10% of those students "good" and maybe 1% "great". I think the rest either get good after working years in a commercial setting or totally wash out and do something else. It's rare you will find modern art as detailed or meaningful as the best work produced by renaissance masters. Of course, the photorealists are an exception with respect to detail, but those artists essentially copy photos of real scenes: not much alleg
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  Plus the understanding of perspective drawing was very poor prior to 1700ish

                  ...and so the current generation builds on the knowledge and experience gathered by their predecessors.

                  [sarcasm]Great thing we now have "Intellectual Property" and virtually unlimited copyright, DRM, DMCA ... to drive innovation[/sarcasm]

            • by abigsmurf (919188) on Monday July 06, 2009 @01:07AM (#28591483)
              Most of Da Vinci's great works were commissioned or sold. He would not have been able to live like he did if he wasn't very well paid for his work.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by rolfwind (528248)

                Imagine that, commissioned or sold? Are you saying he didn't retain lifelong copyright on his works and they could have been freely imitated without recieving royalities? That means he would have to keep on working rather than resting easy after the Mona Lisa and making the next project?

                I find it 100x more disgusting that his descendents don't recieve their due royalties as copyright obviously should be artist's life + 9999999999999999999999 years.

          • by icebraining (1313345) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @08:07PM (#28589907) Homepage

            Paulo Coelho is not the literary world's most active Web aficionado, but he's certainly its most prominent. The Brazilian author has sold more than 100 million books, which include 14 short story collections and the novel "The Alchemist." He has been a fan of the Internet since the early 1990s. He spends at least three hours a day online, writing e-mails back and forth with his readers and posting photos on Flickr, MySpace and a blog.

            Coelho's online activities also include a somewhat nefarious one: he likes to promote pirated copies of his own books. At the recent Digital, Life, Design Conference in Munich, Coelho told a gathering of tech company CEOs, artists and designers that since 2005 he's been directing his readers to an online site where they can download his books, in languages from German to Japanese, for free. "I always thought that when, at the beginning of your career, you strive to be read, you can't change your mind later and become greedy about it," he said.

            Tell that to his publisher, HarperCollins. When reached by NEWSWEEK, a HarperCollins spokeswoman, Patricia Rose, said the publisher knew nothing about Coelho's online activities.

            With his announcement Coelho is turning up the heat on an issue that's been simmering in the book publishing industry for years. In supplementing traditional promotional strategies, such as book signings and reviews, with free downloads, Coelho is championing a model that's gaining momentum among his fellow, albeit lesser-known, authors. Writers of technical manuals, academic books and fiction authors, like science fiction writer Cory Doctorow, have been putting their entire books online for free, with the consent of their publishers. Some authors claim that online publishing increases book sales by stimulating word of mouth. Publishers, for the most part, have been reluctant to endorse the practice for fear that it will undermine their sales and contracts for foreign rights and distribution. The trouble is, nobody really knows what effect free online publishing has on book sales, because there's almost no data to go on. "I think the Internet, for [publishers], is a very strange world, still," says Coelho's agent, Monica Antunes, from her office in Barcelona. "They can't make up their minds whether it's good or not good."

            Whereas most authors who have embraced online publishing have done so openly, Coelho had been deftly hiding behind the anonymity provided in the digital world. His site, Piratecoelho, culls pirated versions of his books on sites like BitTorrent and eMule. He pays 10 fans scattered across France, Spain, Brazil, Russia and Turkey to find new pipelines for him to gather versions of his books onto the site. Visitors to his blog can click on an image of Coelho, resplendent in a neatly trimmed white beard, scarf and eye patch (he resembles an affable buccaneer in real life as well), and continue on to the site.

            Coelho believes his online activities have only increased his already healthy sales. When he first came across a pirated edition of one of his books, in Russian, on the Internet in 1999, he put the link on his site, and the impact was immediate. Bookstore sales in Russia, a market in which Coelho was having distribution problems and where he had sold only 1,000 books, rocketed to 10,000 in 2001. He has since sold 10 million copies of his books, his agent says. His fans have downloaded complete editions of his books, in languages ranging from Spanish to Swedish, more than 20 million times in the past seven years. By publishing online, he says, "you give the reader the possibility of reading books and choosing whether to buy it or not."

            • by tjstork (137384) <todd...bandrowsky@@@gmail...com> on Sunday July 05, 2009 @08:27PM (#28589997) Homepage Journal

              . By publishing online, he says, "you give the reader the possibility of reading books and choosing whether to buy it or not."

              That's good for Coehlo, but the issue here is that the work is his. Like it or not, the US and the rest of the world has adopted the French model of copyright and in that model the artist reigns absolutely supreme first. If Coehlo wants to give his work away to promote himself, that's fine. But, that is his choice to make and not something that should be imposed on him - unless you want to change the law.

              • by JPLemme (106723) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @09:48PM (#28590397)
                I think the situation would be improved if the artist reigned absolutely supreme. Unfortunately the copyright owner reigns supreme, and that seems to be the root cause of a lot of the current unhappiness with the situation. Frankly, Lars Ulrich may have been a dick, but it's hard to argue that he didn't have the moral right to complain that a recording that he had created got released without his consent. But when Sony argues that they're defending the "rights of the artists" whilst taking 100% of the artist's royalties until promotional bills are paid in full (thus forcing the artist to pay for the production and promotion of the recording, but without actually giving the artist control over the budget for production or promotion), it's hard to be sympathetic.
          • by civilizedINTENSITY (45686) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @08:49PM (#28590107)
            First, beautiful definition: "taking advantage of someone's enjoyment of their work by not paying them is called exploitation".

            However, just because someone works hard doesn't mean they deserve to be paid. "Artists work. They deserve to be paid for what they do." A fool who works hard first digging holes, then the next day burying them, doesn't deserve to demand a paycheck "because he works hard all day." Who was he working for?

            If an artist is hired to do work, he deserves to paid for the work he does as per the agreement. If an artist choses to produce art, there is no guarantee of payment. None. Why should there be?

            Agreed: "The question isn't whether, for example, Paul McCartney made a billion dollars off of his music."

            But then, disagreed, because the question is *not*: "is a Paul McCartney song worth a $1 to you".

            A sweet smelling rose bush is worth a $1 to me, for sure. But do you have the right to ask me for $1 to enjoy that rose bush?

            The real question is should we continue to pretend that nonmaterial productions should count as property? Does the societal benefit of such an artifical and arbitrary distinction outweigh the cost? That is the real question.
            • A sweet smelling rose bush is worth a $1 to me, for sure. But do you have the right to ask me for $1 to enjoy that rose bush?

              If it is my bush, I do. Otherwise, grow your own.

              The real question is should we continue to pretend that nonmaterial productions should count as property

              Or, you might say, how long do we pretend that just because something doesn't have a mass, it doesn't mean its free. People invest in, create, store, protect, and attempt to trade digital works just as much as any physical work. Of

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            The question is, is a Paul McCartney song worth a $1 to you. If so, then pony up. Otherwise, don't listen to it.

            You seem to have completely failed to grasp the supply half of supply and demand economics. Where did this magical $1 figure come from which you must pay or else not listen to the music? If going to a movie isn't worth the $10 the big theatres charge to me, am I not allowed to go see it in the second run theatre for $2? If I go perform music in the street can I then insist that everyone who enjoys it has to pay me? Just because you produce something doesn't mean you have some intrinsic right to make mon

          • by Maudib (223520) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @09:36PM (#28590329)

            Actually if an "artist" is a member of a guild or union that pushes legislation the end result of which is to steal from the commons, then I make sure that I not only don't pay for it, but I will help other people take it without paying as well.

            Until the Copyright Term Extension Act is rescinded, I consider all media produced by "artists" affiliated with the companies/guilds/unions that bought the law, to be free. Furthermore the act of refusing to pay for their work while actively distributing it to others for free is not only ethical, but an important bit of civil disobedience. Those who pay for works created by said artists are in fact the real transgressors.

            It really is unfortunate that so many people end up buying these works simply for the sake of convenience.

      • "I don't know of a single really good author who writes primarily for profit."

        Heinlein did.

      • by Fizzol (598030)
        "Only a fool ever wrote for anything but money." -- Dr. Samuel Johnson
        • The one true measure of success in writing is money. Not some babbling reviewer from Publisher Weakly. But cold hard cash. It's a measure of how popular and respected your work is.

    • by selven (1556643) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:47PM (#28589489)

      I create for my own profit, not your entertainment

      Good luck profiting or entertaining with that mindset.

      Once the Internet community stops (I know it isn't everyone but it is enough to be a major problem) stealing content created by artists for profit

      This statement, especially with the word "once" in it (implying that it's inevitable) is the epitome of the "goodluckwiththat" tag.

      we will finally be able to embrace the open standards we all truly want

      We will be able to embrace open standards only when the entire internet agrees to do things your way. Nice.

      Until then DRM will live one in some for or other.

      Given that file sharing is not going to vountarily go away, this statement becomes "information will continue to be locked down until the entire internet is locked down", which is probably true. We can't stop DRM any more than you can stop piracy.

      • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @07:06PM (#28589597)

        Given that file sharing is not going to vountarily go away, this statement becomes "information will continue to be locked down until the entire internet is locked down", which is probably true. We can't stop DRM any more than you can stop piracy.

        That's not quite true, pirates are much more likely to win than that. It's a matter of will, and if you get enough people cracking the protection schemes quickly enough at launch, DRM will eventually go away. DRM is about control and profit, if the schemes are broken fast enough there's definitely a question of why spend many thousands of dollars locking something down that'll be cracked within a few weeks. Sure it does help with sales initially, but you're typically having to sell a hell of a lot of copies in order to break even and it does put one at a competitive disadvantage to those that don't need to sell those extra copies.

        Not to mention the fact that there's a surprising number of people that don't pirate software that doesn't have DRM incorporated into it.

        • by QuantumG (50515) *

          DRM is about control and profit, if the schemes are broken fast enough there's definitely a question of why spend many thousands of dollars locking something down that'll be cracked within a few weeks. Sure it does help with sales initially

          Umm.. you just hit the nail on the head. The argument is that the most money is made in the first few weeks of release. If your copy protection is any good (say, online activation using strong cryptography and hard to reverse engineer code obfuscation) you can price gouge for months before a crack is released. Then you can lower your price to capture the "its easier to buy than to crack" crowd.

          Of course, if your copy protection sucks as, 99% of them do, you're just gunna piss off your customers, who will

    • by Dare nMc (468959)

      as you post content for free? /sarcasm
      Basically enough people realize when you create value, and realize they want to contribute $ to it's creation, that as long as you appeal to those people their will be a way to make money with or without copy protection. Their are a bunch of people who will do anything to avoid paying anything, if they can avoid it, sorry they will get your work for free, or some (lower quality?) similar content. Then again freeloaders co mingle with non-free loaders, so avoiding them

    • by Lachlan Hunt (1021263) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:52PM (#28589527) Homepage

      DRM, and other artificial restrictions (e.g. regional restrictions on sales) are some of the major reasons why "piracy" persists. Drop the DRM and offer products and services for a fair price using innovative business models and you'll find that the issue of piracy will be of little concern.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:56PM (#28589551)
      No it isn't, and I wish people would stop suggesting that piracy is killing services off. Because it's not. Show me a platform that was killed by piracy and I'll show you a platform that was horribly managed. More often than not the DRM just limits the number of sales and raises the number of copies necessary to break even.

      The problem is that customer service stinks and there's a belief in the entitlement to profit. Trust me there isn't one, and as soon as people start to acknowledge that the cost of an item is going to approach the marginal cost of another one, there's going to be no effort that effectively stops the piracy.

      Worse still is the fact that piracy goes way up when one has to pirate in order to use the content as one wishes. You have the right to control the distribution of the copies of your work, not what people do with those copies, and as such DRM is a pretty egregious violation of ones rights. I have the right to sell any copies I've bought provided that I don't create any additional copies to sell.

      I'm also sorry that you're so terribly misinformed about copyright law, copyright isn't there so that you can profit. It's there to maximize the amount of work being created, any profits you make are purely as a side effect of that goal. Fighting consumers to prevent them from using it on the platform of their choosing in whatever way they wish to is an egregious abuse of that right.
      • Amazing actually. I ordered some gifts for a friend then found out they'd moved while the order was in route to their old address.
        I informed Amazon of this and they refunded my money before the packages arrived at the wrong address. I've now reordered them and they are on their way to the new address. I was pretty shocked they'd do this.

    • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:57PM (#28589555) Homepage

      No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free. I create for my own profit, not your entertainment. Once the Internet community stops (I know it isn't everyone but it is enough to be a major problem) stealing content created by artists for profit, we will finally be able to embrace the open standards we all truly want. Until then DRM will live one in some for or other.

      You're free to make that choice. But:

      (1) There are other strategies that may be more to your economic benefit. I write science textbooks and science fiction. In the areas that I'm familiar with, one good example of a highly successful alternative strategy is the Baen Free Library [baen.com] of science fiction books. A couple of other very talented professional SF writers who make their work available for free online are Cory Doctorow [craphound.com] and Benjamin Rosenbaum [benjaminrosenbaum.com]. For a few hundred other (mostly nonfiction) examples, see my sig. (I'm not a particularly well known SF author, but here [lightandmatter.com] is where I've done the same thing with my fiction. My nonfiction is free online here [lightandmatter.com].)

      (2) History has shown that DRM doesn't work. Back in the 1980s we went through the whole DRM fiasco before. Back then it was called "copy protection." You would buy software on a 5-inch floppy disk, and it would have various formatting trickery that made it hard to copy. Users hated it. For one thing, they couldn't back up their software properly, so as soon as the disk wore out, they had lost their investment. Users voted with their feet, refusing to buy copy-protected software. The result was that copy protection disappeared. Since then, various people have kept insisting on relearning the same lessons over and over. The outcome is always the same. DRM doesn't work, users hate it, and because users hate it, it ends up being a failure in economic terms.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Vectronic (1221470)

        (Somewhat) Obligatory Don't Copy That Floppy [wikipedia.org], and the Video [youtube.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by swillden (191260)

        No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free. I create for my own profit, not your entertainment. Once the Internet community stops (I know it isn't everyone but it is enough to be a major problem) stealing content created by artists for profit, we will finally be able to embrace the open standards we all truly want. Until then DRM will live one in some for or other.

        You're free to make that choice. But:

        (1) There are other strategies that may be more to your economic benefit. [...]

        (2) History has shown that DRM doesn't work.

        And don't forget:

        (3) You'll be competing with millions of people who are willing to create something to have it passed around the Internet. Through all but the last tiny slice of history, pretty much all creative works were produced for the joy of creativity, and to share ideas and expressions with others.

        In the 21st century, there are a *lot* of people in the world, and lots of them have time on their hands and some of them have creative talent. You could write a Drake-type equation calculating the i

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by stms (1132653)
      You must have missed the whole argument against DRM (if not allow me to remind you). It doesn't decrease piracy it only stops end-users from storing in the desired format.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I have the gut feeling that you are doing it wrong. See I have a bunch of O'Reilly books in my bookshelf and I will probably increase that number. I really doubt I will ever get one of your books in my hand, or for that matter books written by folks of your mentality. The simple truth is, that the O'Reilly people give me a good reason to by, because they produce good books and they have a moral philosophy that I feel comfortable with. I'm actually totally happy when I buy something from them. Also DRM an
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) *

      No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free.

      That is fair and I'm certain you are voicing a very popular opinion among editors, artists, writers, etc. As O'Reilly mentions, though, Apple seems to have balanced this both with music (MP3s are pretty "open" to play on anything). I think what the article means by "open" is that it would be nice to be able to read this through multiple devices and not just the kindle. Your username starts with DRM and, although insanely flawed, there are ways to implement it so that numerous devices and programs can use

    • by fooslacker (961470) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @07:15PM (#28589651)
      That's an interesting viewpoint. Let me share another with you. I own a Kindle2 and loved it from day one. I'm totally willing to buy books for it. In fact I don't really have an issue with the prices Amazon charges given the current market but I would expect them to fall as the user base grows.

      All of that said, I have decided to stop buying books from one publisher and a specific author due to unreasonable (IMO) DRM restrictions placed on the book when I bought it. Specifically it was a Doubleday book called House of Cards that opened my eyes to how restrictive the Amazon DRM can be. As a result of that experience and the fact that there was no way to know what the restrictions were prior to purchasing, I have started looking for free books and converting various third party books.

      I will still occasionally buy books from a known author that I "must" read but I do this with the full realization that Amazon could rip the content away from me at a moments notice. I don't buy unknown authors or books I may want to keep or reread any more on my Kindle. Instead I go to the library or borrow the books from a friend until I'm sure I want to follow that author. I used to just buy everything and anything I was interested in but now I'm much more careful and have started finding ways to read the books for free if I'm not interested in keeping them or they're not a favorite author. So if you're a favorite author of mine your viewpoint works but you certainly won't break into the market at least for me while your works are DRM crippled.

      Perhaps piracy is a greater problem that growing your audience for you and if so then good luck with your battle against it but for most authors I suspect growing your audience is the greater problem and at least for me DRM is a non-starter when trying to get me to buy an unknown author or a book I want to keep for multiple reads which leaves me only purchasing stuff that I know I like but don't want to keep and reread over and over again. It has really limited what I buy on my Kindle to just escapist writing that I read for recreation.
      • by demonlapin (527802) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @08:38PM (#28590059) Homepage Journal
        You can rip the protection from any .azw book on your Kindle. Google mobidedrm.py for more. Sadly, no crack is available for Topaz (.tpz) files - at least, not that I can find. Some online booksellers sell DRMed Mobipocket books that can be stripped of protection in the same way.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by fooslacker (961470)

          You can rip the protection from any .azw book on your Kindle. Google mobidedrm.py for more. Sadly, no crack is available for Topaz (.tpz) files - at least, not that I can find. Some online booksellers sell DRMed Mobipocket books that can be stripped of protection in the same way.

          To be honest I haven't looked into the details of cracking it because I'm lazy and have plenty of other stuff to do these days but my main philosophical argument is that I shouldn't have to crack it to use content I paid for in a legit manner (i.e. I want to consume it on either of my devices capable of reading it).

          The primary issue I had with the DRM is that they had the download limit set to 1. Hence once I downloaded it to my Kindle2 I could not read it on my iPhone or another Kindle (such as the DX

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by registrar (1220876)

      drmemnoch... a creator of something I actually want, and therefore someone whose opinion I care about? Or are you just some self-important writer of doggerel who wants to restrict my rights, without benefiting either you or me?

      I'm a content creator too. I do it because I enjoy it and it makes me good money. My content is paid for by government and commercial contract (mostly commercial). I have absolutely no pretension to creating content for your entertainment.

      The key difference between you and me i

    • by russotto (537200)

      No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free. I create for my own profit, not your entertainment.

      A 100% share of nothing is still nothing. And that's about what DRM will get you. If you manage to succeed in selling despite the DRM... you'll be pirated anyway.

    • Anyone who chooses the solution that fails to balance the need for open and the need to make money has got it wrong. A device like the kindle should support both free and paid-for content. The real issue at stake is that of format. The book is a universal format and all you need is a press to make one, and a bit of effort to copy. An electronic device works on using specific data formats, and if you aren't careful risks locking you in to one solution.

      The Kindle might be the first true electronic book reader

    • by bursch-X (458146) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @07:53PM (#28589841)
      This from the not so new news: Apple offering DRM-free Music in the iTunes Music Store. Have they positioned themselves avgainst the poor artitsts, or does it simply make business sense to give users what they want and not treat your customers like criminals?
    • by mrmeval (662166)

      http://www.geocities.jp/takascience/lego/fabs_en.html [geocities.jp]
      http://www.boingboing.net/2009/04/20/howo-make-a-300-high.html [boingboing.net]

      You will have to be good enough that fans will send you money or buy something physical such as a book from you.

    • by fractoid (1076465) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @08:16PM (#28589951) Homepage

      No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free. I create for my own profit, not your entertainment.

      And that's why I've heard of David Wong and Cory Doctrow, and would buy books by either of them in hardcopy if I spotted one in a book shop, but I still have no idea who you are.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "I create for my own profit, not your entertainment."

      Seems obvious to me that you can't achieve the former until *after* you've achieved the latter.
    • You would still turn a profit even if you were using an open standard. You would just have to charge for things like printed copies -- I paid for a printed copy of a book recently, simply because a printed copy is easier to read than a digitized copy. No need for batteries, charges, or whatnot -- just an easy way to access information.

      Seriously, why are you so worried about people who trade files? This is a minority of people, and they are probably people who would not have purchased your book anyway,
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228)

      Nice troll BTW, but you kinda miss one little problem with this. Here, I will give an example-Steamboat Willie is STILL under copyright. The man has been dead for nearly half a century, and yet one of his first works, when planes were made of cloth and antibiotics were just a dream, is STILL under copyright.

      Do you think Zombie Walt is cashing his checks? Nope, because copyrights no longer have jack shit to do with "creators" and EVERYTHING to do with blood sucking leach middlemen and multi national corpora

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cervo (626632)
      Well that's why you are an absolute idiot my friend. You see there are people who photocopy books today and copy software/music. The more you lock it down with DRM the more people will break that DRM eventually. Then the break will be distributed. Even in the itunes store, often apple would recommend cracking its songs (by burning a CD and then ripping the mp3) in certain situations. Even the DVD format was cracked. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. There will always be a DVD Jon to cra
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jgs (245596)

      Did you RTFA? The point that O'Reilly (and others like Cory Doctorow) is making is essentially that according to his data (and he does have data), people who publish on closed platforms using DRM make less profit than people who publish on open platforms.

      Yes, it's counter-intuitive. But so far, the people who use actual evidence in making their arguments seem to be showing that's how it is.

      If you resent unpaid use of your work so much that you are willing to make less profit in exchange for preventing it,

  • Use ODF (Score:2, Insightful)

    They should make it support ODF. But I guess its all about profit to them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm all for open standards; but it isn't at all obvious that ODF is anything like the right one. ODF has a great deal of complexity, not a virtue in embedded devices, because it is designed to cope with the (fairly intricate and evolved) needs of office suites. Something like EPUB, which is designed for ebook purposes, or even a subset of HTML seems like it would be a great deal more suitable.
  • iPod and iTunes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaRat (678130) * on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:34PM (#28589431)
    The Kindle does support the Mobipocket format. Docs in that format can be distributed freely and without copy protection. The tools are available for free.

    A better analogue is the iPod and the iTunes Store. The iPod became the dominant mp3 player not because it supported proprietary and non proprietary formats. It became successful because it made the process of acquiring and transferring content (ripped and purchased) seamless and easy. The Kindle has something very similar in its ease with which you can purchase books and put them onto your Kindle.

    • The Kindle has something very similar in its ease with which you can purchase books and put them onto your Kindle.

      True. So does my netbook.

      • Re:iPod and iTunes (Score:4, Informative)

        by demonlapin (527802) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @08:51PM (#28590119) Homepage Journal
        Ever actually used a Kindle? It's nothing like reading a book on a computer, which I've done a few times. It's like reading a real book - no eyestrain, easy viewing, no need to be plugged in if you'll be more than a couple of hours.

        I get that it's not everyone's cup of tea, and yes, it is really expensive. But if you have the money - and I do, so all you folks out there who depend on early adopters should thank me - it's just an amazing device. I bought my wife a K2 for our anniversary, and liked it so much that I went out and bought a K1, used, not a month later. (The price was too good to turn down.)
    • Re:iPod and iTunes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:47PM (#28589491)
      ...No, the iPod became dominant because it was A) affordable B) had a decent enough UI once you got used to it C) had enough features and D) the competition was crap. Sure, today you can find better MP3 players than the iPod if all you want to do is listen to music, but back when the first iPod came out, it was the smallest player with the highest capacity and attractive design. And now the iPod continues its dominance via the applications on the iPod touch/iPhone plus all the DRM'd music others have bought and don't want to spend $100 reconverting it and prefer to instead pay $75 more to upgrade their player to the latest iPod.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by revlayle (964221)
        iPod = affordable?

        I would call the iPod a lot of positive words/descriptors. "Affordable" would not be one of those. I love my current iPod, but you pay a premium for quality/capabilities of such a device.
      • Lame (Score:4, Funny)

        by commodoresloat (172735) * on Sunday July 05, 2009 @08:09PM (#28589915)

        when the first iPod came out, it was the smallest player with the highest capacity

        Not true at all. It had less space than a Nomad!

        And no wireless!!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dare nMc (468959)

      The article did recognize that, and also explained why that didn't work for O'reily (lack of features.) Really it didn't seam the article cared as much about the hardware, as about the publisher side. I also think this open format discussion was also more about letting it be developed and improved by some community, than leaving it locked to being developed by a single group of developers.
      It seams the only way to meet this definition of open is to make the kindle platform open to developers, it was uncl

  • Commercialism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Techmeology (1426095) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:36PM (#28589439) Homepage
    The trouble with today's society is commercialism driven technology. Just as art is hollow when the artist cares only about money, truly creative science and technology cannot take place when its primary purpose is to line the pockets of some corporation. It's this care and passion for creation that makes open standards superior. Yes. We all know Microsoft can pump marketable features out, but ultimately, Microsoft technology exists to serve Microsoft, not us. As an added side effect, most DRM schemes rely on security through obfuscation. Hence a piece of technology based on open standards ought to be free of DRM. Even if open source DRM could be constructed, most people passionate enough about a scientific community would be very anti-DRM. Conclusion: unless you like being Microsoft's pawn, open standards FTW!
  • by Lysol (11150) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:47PM (#28589487)

    But instead... I got a Sony PRS-700. And I love it. Sure the screen could be bigger, but it supports PDF natively and a lot of the tech books I get (probably not going to be the case with most other books - yet) are in epub format, which is at least an open format. I know the Kindle DX supports native PDF, but I actually like the epub format now as it seems to render better on my PRS-700. The PRS-700 also has touch screen and a SD slot; so I can just download the epub's, copy them over to the sd, and then they show up on my 'bookshelf' on the reader. Exactly the amount of control I wanted.

    I can see what Amazon is doing here - they're trying to mimic the success of the iTunes music store. I suspect this will work for a while, but at some point, others will come along and force Amazon to open up. Once they do, I might buy a bigger Kindle.

    All in all, I think ebooks have finally arrived and I'm ditching all my paper text manuals and never buying another one again..

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Winckle (870180)

      Yeah, but Apple made the device support plain mp3s and such and then made a store to go with it. Who would have bought an iPod if it couldn't play your mp3s?

  • Kindle Coverage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @07:03PM (#28589575)
    Boy, Kindle is sure getting a lot of coverage on Slashdot lately. You're left to think that somehow the world matters because of it - which it doesn't.

    Google getting into book selling is a much bigger deal. Fictionwise's current meltdown where they apparently can't even report and pay royalties on time or properly is a big deal given their size in the eBook market and number of publishers involved. The fact that you don't even need a Kindle reader to buy and read Kindle books seems seldom mentioned. (A free Kindle reader app is available for iPhone/iPod Touch and there are millions more of those out there than Kindle hardware.)

    Now another pundit tells us that Kindle must change, or die, in 3 years. Kindle is excellent for its intended uses. It's purpose built to provide eBook reading in a thin format with a very readable screen in bright light, weeks' long battery life, limited browsing, multiple formats, bookmarking, annotation, and sharing the book across multiple devices, and no-worries wireless connection. Also, lots of books available for it from the biggest bookseller on the planet. It's hard to see who is going to beat out that combination easily in the near future. I'd just as quickly predict the iPod demise as the end of Kindle.

    Where do I see Kindle in 3 years? Cheaper, if production catches up to sales. Better browsing and better integration of its features into other formats (e.g. annotations on PDFs). Content (e.g. Newspapers) delivered to it by subscription replacing dead tree physical delivery. Or possibly limited to a hardware niche market while their reader software is running on every significant portable device with a screen large enough to read on.

    One way or another "Kindle" survives as a brand as long as Amazon doesn't abandon it themselves and keeps developing the product.

    My personal opinion? That the people predicting Kindle's demise are the ones who hate it in the first place and are trying to talk it away.
  • Serious question as I have tried everything else. I have a desktop, a netbook and a iphone. Each are worthless when reading books. I simply cannot stand having a back-lit screen.

    I can't see myself spending $200+.

  • Apple tablet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ciaohound (118419) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @07:15PM (#28589653)

    I was at a neighborhood party this weekend, which provided something like a random sample of the population. You know, morons. Anyway, someone had a Kindle and they were passing it around a bit, showing it off. At the same time, there were many more people showing each other things on their iPhones. The Kindle didn't hang around for long. Maybe it's just not good at parties. Anyway, it made me think that if and when Apple makes a tablet that does everything an iPhone does AND everything the Kindle does, and costs just a tad more than an iPod Touch, that will hit the ebook reader sweet spot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      In a way, they kinda did that [wikipedia.org] already.

    • Re:Apple tablet (Score:4, Insightful)

      by demonlapin (527802) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @09:11PM (#28590225) Homepage Journal
      The thing is, Kindle = e-Ink + Amazon store.

      e-Ink is really a crucial part of the Kindle experience. If you've never played with it IRL, you can't really appreciate it - it just sounds a bit ridiculous to say "Works in full sunlight!" and "Long battery life!" until you've gone outside in full summer sun and found it easier to read than it was inside, and then gotten through 3 or 4 long books before you have to recharge. If used heavily, the battery STILL lasts a week when wireless is off. No tablet based on currently available tech can touch this, and I know of no tech in the pipeline that will change that.

      And the Kindle has an edge - in some ways, to most people - in that you can shop wherever there is Sprint access. I'm in a 1xRTT area, and though it's slower, it works. So you get the big-buyer power of Amazon opening up the catalog, and the universal access, and it gets a major edge over other readers in some ways - especially if you're in an airport, e.g., that doesn't have free WiFi.
  • I submitted the following to the firehose the other day but it has relevance in this context as well:

    Encoding Effort by headkase
    Within 15 years or so 3D Engines will have reached a point where they are indistinguishable from actual reality. At this time several business models are at risk. Hollywood will see the commoditization of entertainment blockbusters and the infrastructure itself, a 3D engine, will also see standardization. I agree with Richard Stallman in that I do fundementally believe that sof

One possible reason that things aren't going according to plan is that there never was a plan in the first place.

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