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Old 02-20-2013, 10:18 PM   #1
charmian
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Indie bookstores sue Amazon, Big 6, over e-book DRM

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The bookstores are asking the court to issue an injunction prohibiting the publishers and Amazon from “selling e-books with device and app specific DRMs,” while also requiring the big six publishers to allow independent bookstores to directly sell open-source DRM e-books. The suit also seeks an injunction preventing Amazon from selling DRM specific, or non-open-source, dedicated e-readers, alternative e-reader devices, and apps.
I don't think this has much chance of success when you've got dedicated closed-source game consoles being legal.

From what I understand though, Adobe DRM is not open source either? Is there open source DRM software?
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:22 PM   #2
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http://www.latimes.com/features/book...,4341241.story

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/0...n_2727519.html
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:44 PM   #3
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I believe the marketplace, not the Courts, solved Betamax v. VHS
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:44 PM   #4
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"We are seeking relief for independent brick-and-mortar bookstores so that they would be able to sell open-source and DRM-free books that could be used on the Kindle or other electronic ereaders,"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/0...n_2727519.html
...and Amazon isn't stopping stores from doing this. Publishers can make their books DRM free at any time and this would be possible. Just like I can buy books from Baen and others and put them on a Kindle without going through Amazon.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:53 PM   #5
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http://paidcontent.org/2013/02/20/in...oly-on-ebooks/

This article has more information. Apparently the plaintiffs already have business relationships with Kobo (which is not involved in the lawsuit).

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.co...-over-e-books/

NYtimes has a comment from Simon and Schuster. The other publishers have not commented and Amazon declined to comment.

Last edited by charmian; 02-20-2013 at 10:55 PM. Reason: add link
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnemicOak View Post
...and Amazon isn't stopping stores from doing this. Publishers can make their books DRM free at any time and this would be possible. Just like I can buy books from Baen and others and put them on a Kindle without going through Amazon.
Yeah, it seems that the publisher's would be found more liable than Amazon in this case. The Kindle quite freely allows 3rd party content, it's just the publishers who don't want to distribute it in a compatible format.

EDIT: Interesting thought... would cracking the DRM scheme in order to create compatible ebooks that are DRM protected using the same scheme and tied to a particular device fall afoul of the DMCA, or would that be considered OK under the compatibility clauses?
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:23 PM   #7
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Sounds like somebody hasn't done their homework.
A good candidate for summary judgment with prejudice.
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:39 PM   #8
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If it only had the effect of making Amazon/kindle support ePub format, I would be very happy!
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:02 AM   #9
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ePub format is not the issue. The issue is Adobe's DRM. If Amazon changed its mind and switched from mobi to ePub but kept using its own DRM, nothing much would change.

In an odd way, though, Amazon's walled garden is only really useful on e-ink devices. On a tablet it is pretty meaningless because you can d/l multiple apps. As the costs of e-ink devices decrease, perhaps it will change its strategy. Though, by that point Nook might be dead (with Apple iBooks the main rival), or the publishers may drop DRM. (If B&N got the publishers to drop DRM, Amazon would, and then there would be no problem. Only the publishers, one way or another, can solve this issue.)
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:34 AM   #10
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And if Amazon supported DRM-free epub, this helps their competitors... how?
By letting Amazon sell their ebooks to Nook customers? To Sony and Kobo owners?
From their easier to use website, with better customer service, better catalog and better promotions and pricing?
The only thing keeping Amazon's competitors afloat at this point is their proprietary format. By now, DRM-free epub is just a way to give Amazon another 10-20% market share.

Those bookstore owners were sold a bill of goods by some ambulance chasers...

BTW: "Open Source DRM"? Really? Good way to help Alf and company.

Last edited by fjtorres; 02-21-2013 at 12:36 AM.
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Old 02-21-2013, 03:51 AM   #11
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Is there open source DRM software?
I don't think there is. Furthermore, I don't think there can be such a thing. By its very nature, DRM only works if the user is not in full control of the device, because at its core it denies the user (as opposed to the reader software) access to the decryption algorithm and/or key that is needed to access the DRM-infested material. Open Source DRM would make the decryption algorithm public as well as show exactly how to retrieve the decryption key, thereby making DRM pointless.

There might be Open Source solutions for water-marking-style "soft" DRM, which does not restrict access but only makes it possible to track the origin of a file.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:22 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by twowheels View Post
Yeah, it seems that the publisher's would be found more liable than Amazon in this case. The Kindle quite freely allows 3rd party content, it's just the publishers who don't want to distribute it in a compatible format.
I'm pretty sure that being limited to a certain volume of non-Amazon content isn't exactly "free."

Quote:
EDIT: Interesting thought... would cracking the DRM scheme in order to create compatible ebooks that are DRM protected using the same scheme and tied to a particular device fall afoul of the DMCA, or would that be considered OK under the compatibility clauses?
Given we're talking about big business here, it'd probably run afoul of it.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:23 AM   #13
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There are Open Source encryption algorithms but encryption is only a part of a functional DRM system. And anyway that is not what they're asking for; what they really want is for the court to undo 6 years of open market competition and reset the industry to zero so they can do now what they didn't have the vision to do then.
Because, "it turns out ebooks aren't just a techie fad after all..."
The kindest thing I can say is that they are either getting real bad legal advise or prime candidates for a Darwin Award.

Last edited by fjtorres; 02-21-2013 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:30 AM   #14
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Well Open Source DRM schemes have been proposed and so I'm inclined to think it's not impossible. It's not so much that the algorithm must be kept secret (so-called "security through obscurity" is not considered strong) as the key must be kept from the end-user. So Open Source encryption like PGP can encrypt a message so that only the person with the key can decrypt it and no-one else. The problem with DRM is that "the person with the key" needs to be the device and "anyone else" includes the owner/user of that device. So any Open Source DRM would need to have a way of hiding the key from the user. Not sure how you'd do that but the people who proposed these schemes must have thought of that.

Anyway the "Open Source" part of this isn't the main thing really. What they're really asking for is 3rd party, interoperable DRM - think Adobe but perhaps not even controlled by a single company, perhaps a licensing/standards body (something equvalent to the DVDCCA). The point is it needs to be a system that different ebook vendors can use.

I like the idea of this suit - it separates Amazon the bookseller from Amazon the device seller - but I'm thinking it won't succeed. Similar things were tried against Apple (although I think they were willing to license their DRM but for exorbitant fees) though that became moot when they went DRM free.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:36 AM   #15
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The kindest thing I can say is that they are either getting real bad legal advise or prime candidates for a Darwin Award.
Given how many content channels are going to "worst business practices" as a first step instead of a last resort, I'd probably say neither.

How else do you explain Youtube channels who trick people into signing a lifetime contract giving the channel the rights to any content they might produce in any format known or as-yet unknown?
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