Amazon's just bought audiobook provider Audible, the exclusive provider of audiobooks to iTunes, Amazon's rival for audio downloads. Even though Apple says it prefers that its suppliers deliver non-DRM media (and even though Audible's DRM does nothing to prevent piracy), Audible has a mandatory DRM policy for the books it sells. That is to say, even if they author doesn't want DRM on his or her books, Audible will only deliver those books with DRM on them. As part of the deal, an Amazon spokesman said:
Audible's audio books are wrapped in a layer of DRM, which Amazon does not plan to remove unless customers start to complain.
Mike adds, "Audible audio books are the last source of media I purchase that includes DRM I can't easily bypass. Books, of all things, should be open and protected. I shouldn't have to wear special glasses to read a particular novel - nor should I need a special player to listen to a particular novel. What do people recommend we do to show Amazon the advantage of releasing audiobooks without DRM?"
It's a good question. I'm an audiobook junkie -- I've spent thousands of dollars on Audible books over the years, hoping that the problem of DRM would never bite me in the ass. Of course, it did -- when I switched away from iTunes, I had to spend a solid month, running two Powerbooks, full time, to get the DRM off my Audible audiobooks by playing them back in realtime while capturing the audio with Audio Hijack Pro. Since then, I've learned my lesson: I order my audiobooks on CD and rip them manually, which is a huge pain in the ass, but way more future-proof than Audible's products.
Let's hope that Amazon does the right thing here, following the DRM-free ethos in its music store -- and the DRM-free ethos in the CD audiobooks it sells (I've diverted all the money I used to spent on Audible audiobooks to buying audiobooks on CD from Amazon anyway).
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Earlier this month, I gave the afternoon keynote at the Internet Archive’s Decentralized Web Summit, and my talk was about how the people who founded the web with the idea of having an open, decentralized system ended up building a system that is increasingly monopolized by a few companies — and how we can prevent the same things from happening next time.
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