Lego robot that strips DRM off Kindle books

Peter Purgathofer, an associate professor at Vienna University of Technology, built a Lego Mindstorms robot that presses "next page" on his Kindle repeatedly while it faces his laptop's webcam. The cam snaps a picture of each screen and saves it to a folder that is automatically processed through an online optical character recognition program. The result is an automated means of redigitizing DRM-crippled ebooks in a clear digital format. It's clunky compared to simply removing the DRM using common software, but unlike those DRM-circumvention tools, this setup does not violate the law.

He says he got the idea for using the Kindle and the Mindstorms kit for something neither were intended for. “It ended being a reflection on the loss of long-established rights when you buy an e-book. You make a copy of that book, but at eye-level, so that the result is not a stack of paper, but another e-book.”

It’s not intended as a statement against e-books, which he loves, he says, but rather what he considers a “dramatic loss of rights for the book owner. “The owner isn’t even an owner anymore but rather a licensee of the book,” he says.

Another thing: He’s only ever scanned one book, and that was just to prove the concept. And he hasn’t shared it anywhere “…since it would get me in deep trouble,” he says.

How a Man in Austria Used Legos to Hack Amazon’s Kindle E-Book Security [Arik Hesseldahl/AllThingsD]

(Thanks, Paul!)

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