drmfree tag for items on Amazon

David Rothman sez, "Fed up with DRM, Stephen Windwalker and I are tagging our books "drmfree" (no quotes in the actual tag). We're both authors of newspaper-related novels among other works, and in a TeleRead.org post we're encouraging writers of all kinds to do the same at Amazon's Kindle Store and elsewhere. Care to join in, Cory? What's more, we suggest that readers tag DRMless books on their own, when they find them at stores. The suggested tagging standard is 'drmfree' without any hyphen to muck things up. One reason for the tag is to make it harder for Amazon to take away your Kindle books, as happened to a customer who supposedly returned too many NONbook items. With DRM, you simply cannot own books for real. Lessen the threat by buying 'drmfree' books when possible. Again--no quotes on the actual tag."

I'm with David on this -- I wish I understood more about the DRM on the Kindle. I've been trying to find out for weeks, for example, what the story is with the "DRM-free" option for Kindle means -- is there a patent or contractual term that prohibits owners of Kindle DRM-free books from moving them to competing devices, or patents or other claims that prevents competitors from creating readers or converters for these books?

And, what, exactly, what the mechanism by which Amazon removes the "read-aloud" feature to comply with requests from the Authors Guild's members? Is that a firmware update to the device? A flag in the file-format? If the former, can users refuse the updates? If the latter, what other flags are there, and does buying a DRM-free Kindle file mean that they can't be switched on for you?

drmfree tag campaign starts on Amazon: Help identify safer-to-own books and other items! (Thanks, David!)


  1. All books processed from Amazon’s dtp location lack DRM: dtp.amazon.com — unless you put it in specifically.

    All books processed through Mobipocket.com — Amazon’s subsidiary (a legacy ebook provider), have Mobipocket DRM attached.

  2. Would someone please provide a reference for: take away your Kindle books, as happened to a customer who supposedly returned too many NONbook items.?

  3. Does “take away your Kindle books” mean you lose the ability to access previously purchased books if Amazon decides to fire you as a customer? Seems like that one would be a class-action lawsuit waiting to happen if that’s the case.

    Although taking away your ability to obtain new content wouldn’t be much fun either. Without it, your Kindle is a $400 paperweight.

  4. @Joe
    Actually, you can put content on a Kindle without Amazon at all — you can mount a Kindle as a drive and copy content over manually. Of course a large part of the selling point of the Kindle is the greater availability of commercial content over other e-ink readers such as the Sony one, but a Kindle wouldn’t be a “paperweight” even without this ability.

  5. Sounds like Amazon is having some serious transparency issues… This confusing DRM situation and now the whole #amazonfail debacle (in which they are effectively censoring books with “adult” content without any indication why the content is considered “adult” and mis-tagging items as adult in mass).

    Sigh. I hope amazon wises up…

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