HOWTO disable the crippleware in The Complete New Yorker

Mr Jalopy has posted a compelling ruminations on the user-license that come with the DVD-based Complete New Yorker set, as well instructions for de-activating the crippling use-restrictions built into it.

As Mark blogged in December, Boing Boing pal Mr Jalopy of the Hooptyrides blog posted a great review of The Complete New Yorker, a collection he'd hotly anticipated as a fan of the magazine. The problem is that the eight-disc set comes with copy-restriction technology that prevents him from loading it onto his hard drive for easy use, which means that if he tries to read the archive out of chronological order (say, through the subject index), he has to constantly swap discs, which is a gigantic pain.

What's worse is the license agreement, which requires you to waive your privacy rights to allow "the collection of your viewing information during your use of the Software and/or Content. Viewing information may include, without limitation, the time spent viewing specific pages, the order in which pages are viewed, the time of day pages are accessed, IP address and user ID. This viewing information may be linked to personally identifiable information, such as name or address and shared with third parties." This is a pretty abusive term-of-service for an anthology of magazines: since when does reading a magazine require a waiver of privacy?

The same terms-of-service grant you the right to make a backup copy for personal use, but the anti-copying technology prevents you from doing this, and the terms require you to promise not to remove the copy restriction. Mr Jalopy tried to get an answer to this conundrum out of the New Yorker's general counsel, but without luck.

The user-agreement says that if you don't like this, you can return the set, but of course, every retailer has a policy of not accepting returns of opened software, and that includes the New Yorker. Naturally, you can't read the agreement until you open the software and put the disc in your computer. Nice one.

So Mr Jalopy has taken the law into his own hands. He's posted detailed instructions for copying the issues off of the discs and onto your hard-drive, where you can avoid all this swapping shenanigans, where whatever spyware it is that requires your waiver of privacy can be de-activated, and where you can have a safe backup in case your house is robbed or burned down.

What a mess. To put all this effort into compiling a ground-breaking anthology of a brilliant magazine like the New Yorker and then mar it with clumsy crippleware and abusive terms of service. Who ever heard of "terms of service" for a magazine, anyway? If a print copy of the New Yorker turned up with a sticker on the front of it telling you how you could and couldn't read it, most people would be outraged.

Copy Issues to Local Hard Drive Issues Folder – This is a more elegant solution. Oddly, although the Complete New Yorker is locked up in twenty different ways, it relies on a public domain database called SQLite. There is an Issues table in the database that has the complete list of every issue along with corresponding DVD number. Each issue is assigned a number 1 through 8 plus 9 for the harddrive. If you copy every djvu issue file to the local issues directory and change the issues table so that every issue points to the local hard drive (9), then you can scream through the issues. It is fast like the blazes. So elegant and beautiful. I downloaded a shareware SQL database manager off CNet to make the changes, but individuals smarter than I could do it with the free command line SQLite.


Update: Gustaf has posted a detailed HOWTO for moving the magazine files to your hard-drive.

Update 2: Nicholas sez, "Here is how I got it working::

1) Installed sqlite3 using Fink.
2) Copied all the "Issues" files from the DVD's to my spare hard drive..
3) Ran the sqlite commands as described by Gustaf – note that the ny-sqlite-3.db file is located in /Library/Application Support/The New Yorker, as is the Issues folder..
4) Copied the contents of /Library/Application Support/The New Yorker/Issues to the Issues folder on my spare drive..
4) Made a soft link from /Library/Application Support/The New Yorker/Issues to my copy of Issues (note that an alias in the finder did not work – I had to create the soft link on the commandline)..
5) Voila! Speedy New Yorker with no DVD swapping.