Protect your copyrights, boycott DRM-locked platforms

My latest Publishers Weekly column, "Can You Survive a Benevolent Dictatorship?" looks at the competitive risks of selling books, articles and other copyrighted works for iPad-like devices that use DRM to prevent your readers from switching to competing platforms.
Apple will tell you that it needs its DRM lock-in to preserve the iPad's "elegance." But if somewhere in the iPad's system settings there was a button that said, "I am a grownup and would like to choose for myself which apps I run," and clicking on that button would allow you to buy e-books from competing stores, where exactly is the reduction in elegance there?

Apple will also tell you that there's competition for apps--that anyone can write an HTML5 app (the powerful, flexible next generation of the HTML language that Web pages are presently made from. That may be true, but not if developers want their app to access the iPad's sensors that allow you to control it by moving it around and making noises, or to the payment system that allows apps to be bought and sold with a single click. It's an enormous competitive setback if your customers have to laboriously tap their credit card details into the screen keyboard every time they buy one of your products. And here's a fun experiment for the code writers among you: write an app and stick a "buy in one click with Google Checkout" button on the screen. Watch how long it takes for Apple to reject it. For bonus fun, send the rejection letter to the FTC's competition bureau.

There's an easy way to change this, of course. Just tell Apple it can't license your copyrights--that is, your books--unless the company gives you the freedom to give your readers the freedom to take their products with them to any vendor's system. You'd never put up with these lockdown shenanigans from a hardcopy retailer or distributor, and you shouldn't take it from Apple, either, and that goes for Amazon and the Kindle, too.

Can You Survive a Benevolent Dictatorship?


  1. There is only one flaw with the reasoning.

    I have always “boycotted” proprietary and locked-down technology. I have, for example, run Linux and OSS exclusively on my computers since 1994. I have an open source OS on my MP3 player (Rockbox). I have never purchased Apple products, and while I don’t have a “smart phone,” if I did, I would choose Android over Apple on philosophical grounds.

    I have released music under CC licensing, and software under FOSS license (X/MIT).

    And the problem? It hasn’t changed anything. Use rights have continued to erode regardless of my actions. It could be argued that “well, if everyone avoided…”, and, well, if wishes were horses then beggars would ride.

    The problems with IP, DRM, copyright, fair use, etc. are entirely systemic to our culture and society, and reasoning like this holds out false hope that it isn’t, holds a false hope that the system (society) isn’t broken, and that things can be “fixed” by a bunch of people working within the system.

    Our technologies are a reflection of our desires, purely and simply. What does culture and society want as a whole? The answer is simple: look at our technology. You may not want it, but in a democracy, what you want isn’t particularly important, unless you happen to be in a majority or in an over-represented minority (which could almost be thought of as a perversion of democratic principles).

    The majority may not want to buy products with DRM, but they want what it represents in the larger sense.

    1. And the problem? It hasn’t changed anything.

      The problem? Your lack of patience and perseverance. Change like this takes a LONG time. And, it’s often thankless (or worse) to be a part of the core that gets change rolling. Expect thanks later when everyone else comes around? Don’t. And, if you’re in it for a pat on your back in the first place, you’re probably not in for the long haul anyway, are you?

      I wish I could snap my fingers and life would be fair too. It’s fantasy. In the real world, you stick to your guns where you can and things progress over time. Even if it makes things only less shitty… that’s still less shitty, isn’t it?

      That’s why you vote in the lesser evil year after year after year and that’s why you don’t get discouraged at slow, positive progression with all it’s bumps, hiccups and temporary regressions. YOU KEEP TRYING.

      Because, believe me, the corporatists will NEVER stop trying to screw us. Never.

      Shame on you Steve Jobs. Your luster is fading every day you keep this shit up.

    2. Ambiguity, one advantage for you is that, if you’ve kept all of your work in open-source formats, you’ve avoided the possibility of losing access to your past work by changes in proprietary formats.

      For example, I’ve got a bunch of old fanzines I wrote years ago, in QuarkXPress format. My copy of QuarkXPress won’t run under MacOS X, and my copy of InDesign won’t read those old Quark files. One of these days I need to install OS9 on this old PPC Mac (if I upgrade to an Intel Mac I think I’ll lose that option) and see if I can re-save those files in a more recent Quark format that InDesign can read, but even then I’ll be locked in to InDesign if I want to read those files. If I’d done all that old work in LaTeX, I wouldn’t have this problem.

      1. If you’d written your fanzines in LaTeX, you’d have fewer problems, because the time it takes to become expert enough to do a visually interesting design in TeX is many times what it was for Quark, so you wouldn’t get out many issues.

        I love LaTeX for writing math papers (really! I do!), and there are experts who have made beautiful not-technical books using TeX or one of it’s variants, but it just isn’t the right tool for someone who just wants to sit down and write about Devo, or Rue McClanahan, or whatever you are a fan of.

        So when you get Quark running again, don’t bother with InDesign, just print to PDF and then make a paper copy. It’ll be readable if not editable for the forseeable future.

    3. People buy Apple’s products for their elegance and ease of use.

      Well, as time moves on, FOSS products get more and more elegant and easier to use.

      And there is a limit on approachability to an ideal of elegance.

      Apple may be ahead of the curve from Microsoft, from IBM, from FOSS on the plot of elegance over time – but they are required to invest a substantially larger amount of resources to remain there.

      And Microsoft and FOSS are fast-followers; They’re content to let Apple do all the hard work of being the lead cyclist uphill against the wind. Sooner or later, there will be a lull, a plateau – and then…

  2. The iPad supports DRM free books, and I believe the DRM though the iBooks store is only optional. This puts the responsibility for the lock in squarely on the publishers.

  3. I have been using an e reader on my iPod Touch and iPhone that allows me to transfer my books between platforms. Stanza ,e access to multiple publishing companies and I can also import books from other sources. I read “Makers” with it. It is available today on the app store and competes directly with iBook.

  4. “and clicking on that button would allow you to buy e-books from competing stores, where exactly is the reduction in elegance there?”

    I agree about allowing unsigned or alternately signed apps but the quote above seems oblivious about current conditions. I have Amazon’s Kindle app on my iPad. I can buy and read kindle books on the iPad. Perhaps this is not ideal (since Amazon’s product is DRM hobbled as well) but there certainly is competition and many ebooks to choose from.

    It might also be worth pointing out how trivial it is to import all ebooks (without DRM) in ePub format to be read with iBooks. Just open iTunes on the Mac (and presumably on the PC) and drag and drop the ePub files to the Library section of the panel on the left. It highlights and the books appear in the Books subsection of the Library. They are now available for syncing to the iPad.

  5. Why should authors care?

    “Just tell Apple it can’t license your copyrights—that is, your books—unless the company gives you the freedom to give your readers the freedom to take their products with them to any vendor’s system.”

    If an author licenses a copyrighted work to Apple for distribution and then Apple licenses the work to the reader, this is a chain of licensees and licensors. Why should an author, as the creator and initial licensor, care the the First Sale doctrine be extinguished by subsequent licensees? This condition could generate additional sales for the author and from the fiscal perspective of the author, this may make sense.
    Unless an author thinks there is a net benefit, financial, marketing or otherwise, to ensuring that end purchaser of the copyrighted work is free to resell (or digitally copy the work to another system).

    Additionally, why not let the market decide the value of licensed products that are subject to the First Sale doctrine and those that are not? E.g. my book is $15 for the dead tree version, $12 for the DRM free, First Sale doctrine friendly version and $9 for the locked-down Kindle only.

    1. Additionally, why not let the market decide the value of licensed products that are subject to the First Sale doctrine and those that are not?

      Putting aside for the moment whether or not the idea that first-sale may not apply has merit: Because “the market” has a seller-side as much as it has a buyer-side. This is the seller-side making decisions. You can’t just abstract that out. Also, where there’s basically no shortage of supply (digital proliferation flattens the supply issue completely) value cannot be decided by scarcity anymore. “Letting the market handle it” is functionally impossible. At the end of the day the price is going to be completely arbitrary and set by the seller. The auction/scarcity based-environment of the traditional market doesn’t really apply to electronic content. Why does everyone keep forgetting that information and content are not commodities?

      Sure, they’re valuable, but that doesn’t mean they can be bought and sold like every other thing that has value. Content is highly variable, certainly not fungible, it’s not scarce, and it’s highly differentiable. If you don’t believe that, visit the local bargain bin at the bookstore and tell me that a DRM-locked version of any of those books is worth ten bucks sight-unseen.

      1. “The auction/scarcity based-environment of the traditional market doesn’t really apply to electronic content.”


        The price elasticity of demand for digital goods almost invariably exceeds that for physical goods. E.g. how the mp3 single model has killed the CD based album model for music pricing. I don’t have my cites handy for this argument (they are at work), but digital goods markets are surprisingly functional despite the appearance that the digital good is not fungible nor easily substituted.

    2. “…$15 for the dead tree version, $12 for the DRM free, First Sale doctrine friendly version and $9 for the locked-down Kindle only.”

      OK, so we agree that DRM-infested versions are worth less. So I suppose all that’s left is quibbling over the relative price? Some might say worthless.

  6. Forgive me, specifically in relation to books, the iPad allows you to to import a non DRM .ePub via iTunes. So you are free to sell me an .ePub direct from your own website which I can download and then I can simply drag said file into iTunes and see it appear on the iPad. Problem solved or have I missed something?

  7. That reads like, “why I don’t use Apple products”, and it’s true; that’s why I don’t use Apple products.

  8. The content creates really don’t care. Hell, Apple is one of the best things that has happened to musicians, especially smaller ones who had no distribution options before. The same will be true of writers as the iPad sells.

    And frankly Steve Jobs doesn’t care. He has felt his mortality so he’s working on his legacy with single minded dedication and couldn’t give a wet crap what anyone who disagrees with him thinks, specially some self righteous punks.

    It’s not like there is anything like a monopoly going on. Find some other product to deploy on. Seriously, what’s so special about the iPad that you MUST have it your way?

  9. I agree with zadaz. Stp whnng. Apple protects its platform, its interests, its businessdeals. It’s got every right to do so. If you can’t cope, go elsewhere.

    1. *Raises one end of monobrow*

      Um- “going elsewhere” is kinda what this is talking about. Did I misread the article or something? Or are you just complaining for no apparent reason? Do you walk into a discussion about raising a tax for schools and go, “You know what? All you whiners should just raise a tax!” and walk out? That’s basically what you’re doing here.

      1. I also agree with Anon #7 and yesno #16. The article is a lot of noise about a nonexistent ‘problem’. Everybody can publish content on their website in just about any format, all of us can import all of this content onto our machine of choice.

        If you want to publish through iTunes (or iBookstore or appstore), do so. If you don’t, then don’t.

        1. Do you really think those Chinese knock-offs would have existed without the iPad? Apple has plenty of problems, but it pisses me off the hear people talk about how horrible is while every gizmo on their person exists or was made better due to a competing Apple product.

  10. That’s a good article. We need indeed to resist any DRM to the point of “Boycott”.

    AND, most importantly, to support aritists/writers/musicians directly by buying from their sites/them directly. (one click or no)

    With the current economy, we can bleed the big corporations dry. Their lawsuits against “Pirates” only feed their lawyers, the industry is still quaking and fighting itself.

    Support creators directly. Reject “Mainstream” stuff.

    And, even with the “Theft” supposedly made possible by no-DRM, the “Tip Economy” is quite lucrative when it doesn’t support the CEO and a thousand middlemen. If you toss $1 or $5 into the “Tip Jar” of a guy playing a flute on the street corner, you pay him far more than if he was a “Pro” and you bought his $18.99 CD.

  11. Apple allows Amazon to sell ebooks for the iPad, and iTunes will sync over any DRM free ebook to iBook.

  12. I wouldn’t worry that much about the iPad. It’s designed to sell to a certain amount of people that can afford it (and after they post their cats and grandmas on youtube I seriously doubt they will keep on using it in substantially large numbers to make an impact). Although it’s praised by Apple fans as revolutionary and tide turning it’s way too expensive to become commonplace and enter every home. The real revolution will come from cheaper clones coming from Asian manufacturers selling them with a 10%-15% profit margin (as opposed to the +50% Apple Tax). It’s a fad and let’s move on.

  13. “And here’s a fun experiment for the code writers among you: write an app and stick a “buy in one click with Google Checkout” button on the screen. Watch how long it takes for Apple to reject it. “

    Why do you think this would be rejected? Amazon has basically written this app. You take a picture of an object, and about a minute later you get a link to buy it directly from Amazon.

  14. I have a lot of respect for Cory, but I just can’t agree with a lot of what’s in this piece…specifically putting all this at the foot of Apple.

    For one thing, I spent the past year working in the music industry with artists, labels, site publishers, managers, publicists, internal counsel, external counsel, blah blah blah. I’ve seen the fear of companies afraid of doing anything without detailed contracts so they aren’t sued from IP companies, and content owners who were only happy to sue…all combined with legal departments who wanted to ensure they stayed relevant by keeping the whole system going.

    If we look at just music…it took a long time, but finally just about any music store online is DRM free…including Apple. Anything you buy on iTunes can play on any other device. So the argument of a closed system controlling Apple’s monopoly on music isn’t really that accurate…you can buy music just about anywhere these days and put it on any Apple device and vice versa.

    IP owners in the movie and TV industries are not likely to allow Apple or anyone else to just sell DRM free products any time soon…and book publishers aren’t likely to allow it either. The Kindle is an example of a company/device that tried to buck the system, only to be strong-armed by publishers.

    Also…remember when the Authors Guild (a trade group representing 9,000 authors) told Amazon to disable the text to speech function on the Kindle? Here’s an example of a group of writers who dictated exactly what a device could and could not do…that wasn’t some decision a technology company made…that was a group of WRITERS.

    The actual problem here isn’t Apple…or Amazon…the problem is the complexity of copyright and convincing those who hold said IP don’t feel threatened by technology…if you want to see change from companies like Amazon and Kindle…refusing to publish your works through their system really only hurts you…if you want to change the system you need to work to change both copyright…and get authors to fight their own publishers to make a change from the inside…

    My $.02

  15. OK, so you love your little walled gardens and the extra Aluminium Tax you pay with every Mac product. Yes, Nintendo has wacky restrictions too. But as a developer let me put it to you this way – given a Quality Assurance test from Apple or from Nintendo who would I choose? Answer – Nintendo, Sony or MS any time. From a purely games perspective, I know that any pre-release advisory I get from the big three will cover not just technical stuff, they’ll be testing the games and flag problems with potential issues with stuff like objectionable content way BEFORE gold master.

    Apple and Amazon are kind of dangerous because they can, will and HAVE retrospectively applied changes in their ratings, terms of service… the works. Amazon for example, deleted Kindle’d copies of Orwell’s “1984” in certain parts of the world and auto-refunded customers, neither obtaining permission, nor getting the irony in the process.

    And Apple? How can they let in trash like the “I am Rich” app, or the billion and one bikini chicks apps only to suddenly grow a conscience about so-called pornography when their boss needed to trash talk competitor? Or cut off Mark Fiore’s editorial cartoon app for being potentially defamatory?

    Sorry, too much caprice for my liking. You can keep your Ipad and your expensive laptops too. The more the Macolytes harp on about the awesomeness of their choice of computer, the more I’m likely to seek a Win7 or Ubuntu solution.

    1. Macolytes harp on about the awesomeness of their choice of computer, the more I’m likely to seek a Win7

      Using Microsoft instead of Apple for ethical reasons? That’s funny. ^_^

      1. “Using Microsoft instead of Apple for ethical reasons? That’s funny. ^_^”

        Yeah, it’s a funny old world, but there seem to be more circumvention options in the Windows Empire :D No need to get smug now – not everyone can afford to write their own OS.

  16. On this one I will only say this:

    “Boycott” is essentially throwing the ‘apple’ out of the pram (pun intended). It provides no solution other than a “Now what?” moment. It is destructive and not creative. Would it perhaps not be better to organise a DRM free, CC licensed (or whatever) method for distributing content instead? Old media wants to throw the rattle out of their pram, let them. Crowd source your buying decision. Problem gone. Far more creative.

  17. Why is there no article about HTC? I had one of their most recent models in my hand the other day and I could see immediately that these phones are far better.

    As for boycotting a brand or whatever there is to boycott, it seems to me that the consumers have now accepted (since the eighties)that they would buy what is for sale without other requirement than their own aesthetics (as opposed to ethics).

  18. I am sorry but this argument (if it can even be called that) holds no water at all, and is very very misguided.

    In the world of DRM, Apple as a company should be the last one for people to be concerned with.

    Calling the App Store DRM in comparison to other forms of DRM that are out there and you will just get laughed at.

    If you want to run any apps on a device you had nothing to do as far as developing or creating it. You can use it how it was designed or you can tinker with it to make it do whatever you want. Telling Apple to let you tinker with it more is a worthless tree to bark up.

    You want to do whatever you want with the iPhone, do it, and stop whining to Apple that you are so inconvenienced by their device.

  19. I’m confused about this… I have an iPod full of music, and an iPad packed with movies, books and comic books, and none of them have DRM. I didn’t buy any of them in the Apple store either.

    I can see arguing that Apps are over regulated (although I personally don’t think they are), but it’s not just possible to buy, download and view content without ever dealing with Apple, it’s downright convenient.

    I’ve read this post three times, and I still don’t see what copyright has to do with it. Apple is a retailer, not a publisher.

  20. Apple allows competing eBook stores. Apple allows books without DRM. Cory knows these things perfectly well. I don’t know, but I’d guess Cory is writing this at the very same time his publisher is insisting Apple use DRM.

    Is this true Cory? Does your publisher belong to the cartel which refused to sell ebooks without DRM?

  21. “clicking on that button would allow you to buy e-books from competing stores”

    You can buy books very easily from competing stores. And have them delivered to your iPad without ever having to leave the device.

    “but not if developers want their app to access the iPad’s sensors that allow you to control it by moving it around and making noises”

    Device specific javascript makes this very simple.

    “It’s an enormous competitive setback if your customers have to laboriously tap their credit card details into the screen keyboard every time they buy one of your products.”

    No it isn’t. There are several apps that will store your information and paste it in for you. Ones that are controlled by companies less evil than Apple.

    Amazon stores my credit card for me. I need to type in a pass phrase. Dead simple. I made 3 purchased from my pad in the last few days. Wish it was more difficult.

    Then again, if Apple allowed everyone to have access to that credit card information, exactly as you are describing it, we’d be hearing another complaint from Cory about being the gatekeeper, yet again.

    “Just tell Apple it can’t license your copyrights–that is, your books–unless the company gives you the freedom to give your readers the freedom to take their products with them to any vendor’s system.”

    Use any number of applications already available for the pad that allow you to get your books into the system.

    I personally love GoodReader. You can get the doc from email, via FTP, other web sites, setting up peer to peer connections (mostly for your desktop)…and even through Apple’s preferred iTunes / USB method. Docs are easily transfered back and forth. I just moved a CC’d book from my pad to a friends pod via wireless (though I heard there was a way to do it through bluetooth as well if you both have the same app). Apple isn’t censoring this app, but actively promoting it.

    It reads a dozen formats…I mainly use PDF…I have a few dozen books in there right now…some bought commercially some otherwise.

    Beyond that, you can import DRM-free ePub books into Apple’s own app. And you can even download these to your computer from iBooks. I don’t care for this app, but I’ve used it to play with. Hell, I even bought a book from Apple that did not come with DRM and ran it through another app to get into PDF format.

    Why is it so hard for someone to take a middle / neutral ground and present information without a dishonest slant? There are a lot of things I don’t like about the iPad and Apple’s policies, but this is very near the realm of ‘making stuff up’, or at least willful ignorance.

  22. These polemics of Corey’s are getting me down. It was because of Corey that I became aware of and interested in copyright reform, read Larry Lessig, etc. I’m grateful for his efforts at public education on the subject. But so much of this criticism of Apple is off the mark.

    Worse than being wrong in all the ways pointed out by other commenters (I also have an iPhone full of un-DRM’d music and ebooks), it misdirects people’s anger from where it would be most usefully directed: toward the people who actually have the power to change copyright law. If people think they’re scoring a blow against DRM by swearing off Apple hardware in a huff, will they still be motivated to write their congressvarmint the next time Disney wants to extend copywrite protection another 50 years? (And hey, if Steve Jobs is a controlling stockholder in Disney at that point, that’d be a GREAT thing to criticize Apple for.)

    Corey deserves credit for being an early and influential advocate for an important cause, but forwarding incoherent arguments detracts from it.

  23. I have to give Cory credit for following his illogic to an illogical conclusion, that he should take the high road and boycott his work on the iPad.

    As everyone else has pointed out, you can read books without DRM on the iPad, so this really has nothing to do with books. The only real gripe is that Apple should allow people to create a competing App store, which is kind of crazy (porn argument or not). As Cory points out, it takes two seconds to jailbreak the iPad, so really you can do anything you want with it, just not easily enough for Cory. Basically, Cory thinks Apple should spend billions of dollars in R&D and marketing on a new device but encourage ways for it to be cut out of feature revenue when it’s used.

    Even if the iPad has the potential to control and distort creative markets, it seems a little early to panic about it. It’s only been out a month, and only 500,000 or so have sold. Once it controls 80% of the market, and there are millions of them floating around, it might be worth complaining.

    In the mean time, the myth that the device is locked up should provide other companies with a chance to offer alternatives that solve Cory’s highly theoretical issue. And in regards to that, he’s probably done everyone a favor. I look forward to a Linux tablet with lots of porn apps.

  24. DRM is good for Apple because it allows them to excercise some control over the quality of their platform. Consumers like it for the same reason. That’s why the iPhone and iPod are number one in their respective categories. No one owns a Zune and Android is a disaster. (I used my friend’s Nexus One for about 5 minutes before it crashed. I’ll stick to what Apple wants for me.)

    1. Coopyright is good for the government because it allows them to excercise some control over the quality of their policies. Citizens like it for the same reason. That’s why ACTA and DRM are number one in their respective categories. No one owns linux and open source is a disaster. (I voted independent for about 5 minutes before it crashed. I’ll stick to what the government wants for me.)

    2. Seems your friend has a bad one. I bought my Nexus One, and LOVE IT, never had a problem with it (By the way my Nexus One kills every iPhone you could put there. I will always support Linux and Open source based OS like Android.
      Cory, take it easy, just a little patience when the market will be full of tablets (some of them with HUGE potential). I am waiting for some great Android options like the Notion Ink ADAM (at the moment it gets on sale my money is going for them).
      Take a look at the SPECS, in my opinion this is the iPass killer:
      A full color LCD transmissive mode; a low-power, sunlight-readable, reflective e-paper mode; and a transflective mode, which makes the LCD display visible in sunlight, all in One! Proprietary Algorithms for automatic brightness control.

      1. “ipad killer”! WOW!

        When does it come out? Where do I buy one? How much does it cost?

        Will it kill the JooJoo too?

  25. Cory, you can purchase DRM-free books in an open format from iBookstore.

    I’m not sure whether knew this and chose to ignore it, or whether you decided not to engage in any research at all before submitting your copy. Do tell…

  26. As others have pointed out, you can publish your book already without any DRM if you so choose. Of course, you’re also fighting a a battle with publishers (that don’t want to publish without DRM), and even with authors.

    Does anyone remember an author that was on Stephen Cobert like about a year ago…maybe the Daily Show…but I can’t remember his name. But HE said that he will never ever let his books go with an electronic edition because he doesn’t want people pirating it. And this guy was a relatively young man and certainly knows the technology. His book, if I recall, was even a “tech” book. (sorry, but I just can’t remember his name, but his comments stuck out for me).

    Anyway, the case for and against are coming from several sources on BOTH sides of the fence…but leave it to Cory to zero in on Apple. I mean, when he doesn’t want to use the iPad that’s fine. But he doesn’t want ANYONE using it. WTF is up with that? Why should he give two shits what I use to surf the web and read books? I’m happy with it…so screw off Cory and keep your nose out of my business.

    Besides, this is STILL in it’s infancy. iTunes eventually went to DRM free on a lot of things…but only after a few years. And it wasn’t Apple that was the doorstop for that but the Music Industry. Once again we have the same thing. (Some) Authors and publishers want DRM. So for the time being, if we boycott all the DRM in relation to e-books, we’re not going to get much and if EVERYONE boycotts it….it will just be another failed endeavor. They’ll just say “see, no one bought anything, therefore no one wants e-books, so we’ll stick to regular books”. Come on, you KNOW that’s what they’ll think.

    Also, DrPretto…spec sheets mean nothing. These things have to be greater than the sum of their parts. I think that’s why there was so much nerd rage out there over the iPad because all they did was look at the specs while regular people (no, not just Mac zealots) went out and just bought it and love it. But for once I’d like to see another company do something original. Go their own way. Stop trying to out-Apple Apple and chasing everything they do. But we’re going to see a TON of tablets from other places now all trying to out-do the iPad and my prediction is that they’ll all give the nerd rage people the specs they way, the cameras the ports, the DVDs the whatever…and they’ll all fail. But I guess we’ll see. It will certainly be an interesting next couple of years.

  27. It’s been kinda fun watching the apparent schism between Cory and the other BB bloggers when it comes to the iPad… His rancor for the device may escalate to the point that a unicorn chaser/ipad fanboy post might be necessary following another rant. But yes it’s getting a bit boring.

  28. Some historic context with asserting one is a grownup and would prefer to not have Apple (or any other vendor) attempt to shield oneself… [Pardon me for being “out there” nerdy, but it’s the field I’m most comfortable with.]

    Long ago, IBM wrote an operating system to use with their computers. It was called OS/360. The “360” referred to all points of the compass. When you bought an IBM computer, you got the object code for the operating system for free, and you also got the source code to the operating system.

    Those with enough technical skill could alter the operating system, or fix bugs as they found them.

    In the early 1980s, to its customer’s dismay, IBM began to withhold the source code to some operating system components. Various accounts on the ibm-main listserv put this down to customers causing more problems than they solved. The trend continues to this day, with more and more components being shipped “object code only.”

    IBM customers continue to assert that, if they had the source code to z/OS (the most current decedent of OS/360), they could debug and fix their own problems. IBM maintains that, in the past, such fixes resulted in more trouble calls (from ill-implemented fixes) not less.

    Forcibly dragging this line of reasoning back to what I believe is one of the main points in the original article, there is historical precedent for the reasoning restricting your ability to do as you will with that which you have purchased.

    In this case Apple seems to believe that if you run an app that causes you to be unhappy with your iPad in some manner, you will blame Apple. Or you will bring your iPad in for service because of a misbehaving app, costing Apple money in servicing the device (presuming such work is done under a warranty).

    Apple is apparently willing to forego the portion of the market that insists on being able to do whatever they want with their iPad. They also apparently believe that the ill-will garnered by such an approach is less to their disadvantage than that which would (in what I posit to be their position) result from iPad problems due to errant apps.

    The analogy isn’t perfect, but I think it holds some water. Perhaps another analogy is the voluntary tyranny concept in Alastair Reynolds “The Prefect.”

    I’m not an artist (I may be a craftsman), so I don’t have the same visceral reaction as the original article’s author to someone trying to control my work.

  29. This is such absolute crap. there is a kindle on IPad that can use all of the items you can use on the kindle on computer or kindle device. You bye the book you have it on a kindle device registered from you. You can read numerous books (maybe which I gave up on every finding physical copies of) for free on amazon. And those you can’t can be found on google reader and converted at no cost.

    I really think Cory is Luddite. Which is a shame there are so many obscure books not in print anymore that physical copies are not profitable but having them on e-reader makes them able to be read again.

  30. A curious thing happened when apps were DRM’ed on the iPhone….

    Publishers don’t have to build “piracy” into their pricing of their applications. There are no $50 games on the iPhone/iPad. $2-$5 is closer to normal.

    Publisher’s like the walled garden, and when prices plummet as a result, consumers benefit as well.

    1. Publishers don’t have to build “piracy” into their pricing of their applications.

      [citation needed]

  31. All of the comments on nonDRM books for the iPad inspired me to reread the article, and I see now that there is some fuzziness on the distinction between signed apps and DRMed content. However, I think that can be assigned to the audience that the article is intended for (perhaps not as up on the whole issue as the average bb reader?). Those that have seized on the nonDRM book thing are missing the point. For me, it is this: the mindset that is OK with the draconian rules/policies of the Apple’s app store is the problem. What makes me sad about all of this is that so many people who really should know better don’t appear to. The device is so “magical” that common sense is being checked at the door.

  32. “And here’s a fun experiment for the code writers among you: write an app and stick a “buy in one click with Google Checkout” button on the screen. Watch how long it takes for Apple to reject it. For bonus fun, send the rejection letter to the FTC’s competition bureau. ”

    I am heady with the intoxication wrought by the foreseeable outcomes of this thought experiment.

  33. Apple, and just about any provider of DRM technology, knows that the value of DRM is to thwart competition and lock in customers. Apple, for example, used DRM to take control of the music biz, and to take power away from the very music industry executives who demanded DRM on the iPod. Because Apple wouldn’t let anyone else’s DRM on the iPod, Apple could make itself the sole source of legal major record label content on the iPod. By the time Steve Jobs wrote his disingenuous open letter urging the dropping for DRM (just for music), he already knew EMI was weeks away from doing that. So, Jobs pretended it was his idea. I wonder if he’s already written open letters for the movie and book publishing industries, or if he just plans to use his music letter as a template.

  34. There’s only so many people interested in buying a tablet computer sight unseen.

    Presumably Apple building all those stores is just another part of their nefarious evilness.

    1. There’s only so many people interested in buying a tablet computer sight unseen. Presumably Apple building all those stores is just another part of their nefarious evilness.

      I’d much rather spend a day online reading reviews and complaints, and then buy online, than go into a physical store and have someone try to sell me something. Well, maybe not shoes. But, for electronics, I consider face-to-face transactions to be a weakness.

      1. But you can go to the store and have a play with it, then go home and buy online, no?

        Apple stores have everything out on tables so you can play to your hearts content, no need to engage with the staff.

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