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[libreplanet-discuss] [Fwd: Article: Price Fixing Won’t Open the E-Books
[libreplanet-discuss] [Fwd: Article: Price Fixing Won’t Open the E-Books Market, But Dumping DRM Just Might]
Wed, 10 Jul 2013 22:21:44 -0400
-------- Forwarded Message --------
> From: Libby Reinish <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Article: Price Fixing Won’t Open the E-Books Market, But
> Dumping DRM Just Might
> Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2013 16:51:51 -0400
> The single biggest distortion in the e-book market goes unmentioned
> over all 160 pages of the ruling U.S. District Judge Denise Cote
> handed down this morning, holding Apple guilty of antitrust
> That flaw is not the way Apple conspired with publishers to raise
> e-book prices and force Amazon to switch to an “agency model” that
> stopped it from selling titles below cost. No, it’s the “digital
> rights management” restrictions that have served to plant Amazon on
> its current perch and built a wall of incompatibility around it.
> We’ve seen this movie before–and been unable to watch it on the device
> of our choice.
> The crimes that Justice Department alleged aren’t fictional, and Cote
> cites convincing evidence of them in her ruling. But Amazon’s
> disproportionate influence over the e-book industry–the problem that
> Apple and publishers Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers,
> Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Penguin Group set out to fix–is real
> And attempts to undermine Amazon’s pricing, even if you think Apple
> did nothing wrong, aren’t the best way to solve it.
> Consider the choice you face today. Just as the DoJ alleges Apple and
> the publishers wanted, prices are effectively equal between
> Apple’s iBookstore and Amazon’s Kindle Store: Among the top 10 New
> York Times fiction bestsellers on Wednesday, eight cost the same in
> each shop and two cost slightly less at Amazon.
> So you’re unlikely to decide that way. The presentation of these
> titles varies little–neither store has gotten around to allowing
> custom fonts in books, much to the dismay of typographical dorks like
> What does vary is how widely you can read these books. There, Amazon
> peels, cores and dices Apple.
> Beyond its own Kindle tablets, the Seattle retail giant provides
> free reader apps for iPhones and iPads, Android phones and tablets,
> Mac OS X, conventional Windows and Windows 8′s Start-screen interface,
> Windows Phone, BlackBerry and the newer BlackBerry 10 and even Palm’s
> long-dead webOS–plus an HTML5 Cloud Reader that should work in any
> modern browser.
> Apple, meanwhile, lets you read in iOS. Period. You’ll have to wait
> until OS X Mavericks ships this fall–a good three and a half years
> after iBooks debuted with the first iPad–to read your iBooks on
> Apple’s own desktop or laptop computers.
> So, duh: The Kindle Store it is. And every single download of a Kindle
> e-book reinforces that dynamic—why have to switch from one app to
> another to read different titles?
> Apple could rethink its bizarrely limited distribution and acknowledge
> that men and women of good will may use other companies’ operating
> systems. (Competitors such as the shrinking Barnes & Noble aren’t as
> restrictive in their support, but they still can’t match Amazon here.)
> But the smarter play would be to push publishers to go through DRM
> detox (yes, you’ve read this from me before in 2011 and again last
> year). If I could buy a title off iBooks and know I could open it or
> convert it to open in any e-book app, even Amazon’s–and retain such
> fair-use rights as the ability to loan or sell the book to other
> people–the Kindle Store would have no chance.
> That should sound exactly like how Apple’s iTunes Store and Amazon’s
> MP3 store work. But it wasn’t that many years ago that abolishing DRM
> in music downloads looked like an impossible task.
> So far, the publishers have made major record labels look like an
> innovative and daring lot. (Judge Cote’s ruling does reveal that they
> abandoned the “foolish and even dangerous idea” of delaying the
> release of e-books until after paper copies go on sale, so they’ve got
> that over the movie studios.) Last year, however, the MacMillan
> imprints Tor and Forge somehow misplaced the DRM-forever memo,
> followed the example of such independent publishers as O’Reilly
> Media by dropping DRM from their titles, and have done fine without
> that crutch.
> The other publishers have already lost the fictional protection of DRM
> in many cases but don’t seem to realize it. The encryption
> on Kindle and iBooks downloads has long since been compromised;
> cracking one of those titles may not be easy, but it doesn’t have to
> be to enable commercial-scale unauthorized redistribution.
> It’s gotten less attention that Amazon’s own Cloud Reader for Kindle
> e-books apparently doesn’t impose any DRM beyond only sending a
> chapter of a book at a time.
> The publishers now have a choice. They can keep whining about Amazon’s
> power while insisting on a pointless technological measure that
> cements its continued domination of the industry–even as Amazon
> continues to elbow publishers aside by inviting authors to publish
> through its own imprints.
> Or they can give a competitor a chance to do to Amazon what Amazon did
> to iTunes when it offered DRM-free music from all the big labels a
> year before iTunes.
> Libby Reinish
> Campaigns Manager
> Free Software Foundation
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