A woman has had her Kindle wiped by Amazon, after they claimed a policy violation; she stands accused of is using a friend’s UK address to buy Amazon UK English Kindle books from Norway. Under Amazon’s rules, this type of action is barred, as the publisher seeks to control what content is read in which territory of the world.
But the big shock is that after she was informed that her account had been closed, all open orders were cancelled, all her content was removed and she was unable to find out why. All she got was corporate-speak form-letter nonsense.
The move highlights the power digital rights management (DRM) offers big companies as publishers limit the use of digital content once it has been purchased by consumers. The company can prevent you from reading content you have bought at the Kindle store on a rival device.
Before we all shout ’1984′ – and let’s remember that Kindle removed that book too, after rights infringement – this is typically a problem of copyright. Look at the mess DVDs and Blu-Rays have got themselves into with region protection. Does anyone honestly know what plays in which country in which format? Streaming is easier, but the content choice is almost entirely Hollywood-centric. A quick check through the films awaiting viewing on my desk reveals that only ONE in thirty five is currently available, and that’s just in the US. Let’s not even get into France’s bizarrely xenophobic attitude toward translation and subtitling.
My reading material is similarly eclectic – there is only one best seller on my current list; the rest are print only, or simply out of print gems I’ve accrued. Copyright won’t change – every country is attempting to dam up their leaky markets, even though this forces them against the grain of growing global migration.
Perhaps the answer will be to give the copyright protectors exactly what they want, and only use downloads for a few ubiquitous, cheap mainstream items. For the rest we can rely on quirky independent shops selling physical books and DVDs, and pay a little extra for the pleasure.