Amazon has released (some of?) the source-code for the Kindle — presumably, this contains the modifications to the GPLed code they incorporated into its firmware, and possibly more material (there's no accompanying documentation in the tarballs or on the webpage).
I really want to like the Kindle, but I'm having a hard time feeling good about the device for so long as Amazon refuses to answer these three basic questions:
1. Is there anything in the Kindle EULA that prohibits moving your purchased DRM-free Kindle files to a competing device?
2. Is there anything in the Kindle file-format (such as a patent or trade-secret) that would make it illegal to produce a Kindle format-reader or converter for a competing device?
3. What flags are in the DRM-free Kindle format, and can a DRM-free Kindle file have its features revoked after you purchase it?
No one at Amazon will answer these questions. I've asked them of my contact there, a manager who wrote me to tell me about the existence of Amazon's DRM-free option for Kindles, and he hasn't replied to my questions over a period of several months and several re-asks. Then, an O'Reilly exec asked Amazon to clarify this, as O'Reilly is releasing all its books as DRM-free editions for the Kindle, and he, too, has been stonewalled. Then I wrote to their press office, on behalf of the Guardian newspaper, and they didn't even deign to reply with a simple "no comment." Just radio silence.
Just as with Audible, Amazon's DRM-locked audiobook division (which has the monopoly on providing audiobooks through iTunes as well), I want to like this stuff. Audible's got a great catalog and reasonable prices. The Kindle, too, seems like a perfectly pleasant little device. But Audible requires mandatory DRM on all its files (my Amazon contact said that this has changed, but refused to answer any followup questions on the subject), and Amazon won't tell you what the rules of the road are for your "DRM-free" Kindle books. Given how crummy the license terms are on the "DRM-free" MP3s Amazon sells, I'm very cautious about this.
Please, Amazon, open up. Tell your customers what they're buying.
Amazon is pleased to make available to you for download an archive file of the machine readable source code ("Source Code") corresponding to modified software packages used in the Kindle device. By downloading the Source Code, you agree to the following:
AMAZON AND ITS AFFILIATES PROVIDE THE SOURCE CODE TO YOU ON AN "AS IS" BASIS WITHOUT REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND. YOU EXPRESSLY AGREE THAT YOUR USE OF THE SOURCE CODE IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK. TO THE FULL EXTENT PERMISSIBLE BY APPLICABLE LAW, AMAZON AND ITS AFFILIATES DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. AMAZON AND ITS AFFILIATES WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND ARISING FROM THE USE OF THE SOURCE CODE, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, AND CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES.
- Kindle owners start to lose text-to-speech on purchased books …
- drmfree tag for items on Amazon – Boing Boing
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- When it comes to the Kindle, authors are focused on the wrong risk …
- Report from protest for blind rights at Authors Guild yesterday …
- My DRM and ebooks talk from O'Reilly Tools of Change for …
- Wil Wheaton vs. Authors' Guild vs. Kindle – Boing Boing
- Amazon's anti-DRM tee – Boing Boing
- More audiobook publishers drop DRM: will Audible follow suit …
- Random House Audio abandons audiobook DRM – Boing Boing