Ebooks be DRMed

Kindle and Book by jamjar on Flickr

One of the most talked about non-presidential debate stories recently was one about Amazon blocking a user from Norway from accessing all the ebooks she had purchased. Or should we say licensed. Amazon is one of many companies that use Digital Rights Management (DRM) to limit what users can do with the media they license. Amazon’s algorithms mistakenly identified an innocent Kindle owner named Linn as someone who was violating Amazon’s terms of service, and disabled her account. Although Amazon was not very forthcoming, it seems likely that Linn purchased a used Kindle which had been tied to a problematic account,and Amazon found her guilty by association. Since Amazon has DRM embedded into most of the ebooks they sell for the Kindle, they were able to block access to all the ebooks purchased through her Amazon account.

This story serves once again as a reminder that people do not always own digital media in the way the same way that they might own physical objects. You may think you are purchasing a movie, or book, but in reality many of the terms say that you are only renting them. This continues to be a particularly thorny issue for libraries who are used to being able to lend books that they buy, but some slow progress is being made. Langsdale hopes to be able to increase its ebook offerings soon.

One Reply to “Ebooks be DRMed”

  1. Does anyone know if Amazon and other ebook vendors are still able to cascade delete* any books they sell? I had heard about this possibility when the first kindles were coming out.

    * By "cascade delete," I mean to delete an ebook simultaneously from ALL user accounts.

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