HomeAll postsThe Grinch - aka Amazon and DRM - stole Christmas

The Grinch – aka Amazon and DRM – stole Christmas

DRM has been a hot topic for a while. People pay good money, expecting to own an item, being surprised later when they discover ‘that purchase’ does not entitle them to ownership of the product. Amazon is rather Grinch like in its machinations to revoke ownership – permanently or temporarily – of products people believe they’ve purchased.

Cory Doctorow relates a story about a guy who purchased two Christmas movies from Disney via Amazon last year.

CORRECTION: he purchased a software licence, he did NOT buy the hardcopy DVD nor bluray.

He tried playing those movies this year for his kids, only to discover Disney has revoked access to the movies for which he PAID MONEY. Apparently Disney has temporarily revoked the right to access software licences for those Christmas movies because the movies are only available on Disney channel at the moment. It’s ok, though, because kids can watch ‘their’ movies IN JULY.

There have been many other stories about DRM and even Amazon specifically. Some of these stories are about being locked in to a product, like a kindle or laptop, and not being able to transfer books to replacement technology.

Other stories are even more sinister, like the guy who bought hundreds of dollars worth of eBooks then Amazon bricked his kindle and deleted his account, destroying not just his library but his record of purchases. Amazon said someone else might have tried accessing his account. (I recommend keeping email notifications in a folder for reference later.)

This year NetGalley gave me an Adobe Digital Edition eBook to review but after I downloaded it, I discovered that Adobe refused to give me access to that NetGalley approved file.

I looked at my eBook library. This was when I discovered Adobe will NOT ALLOW me to access any of the hundreds of dollars worth of Adobe-managed eBooks I’ve purchased in the past eight years. After my difficulties with Adobe in 2012, Adobe eventually  allowed me to resume using Acrobat (that I’d previously purchased) but I’ve lost access to every Adobe-DRM-managed eBook.

When my partner has the time and the intestinal fortitude, he will contact Adobe in attempts to regain access to those eBooks (I just do not have the patience to go through that ALL OVER AGAIN). Admittedly the number of non-DRM books looming over me at present has meant this is a low priority but some of my Terry Pratchett books – for example – are eBooks only, I don’t have paper copies at all.

I don’t purchase music SOFTWARE LICENCES unless they’re dirt cheap and, even then, I’d rather pay more to acquire a CD.

Recently I went to purchase Pentatonix’s Christmas album because I loved their Little Drummer Boy SO MUCH. The album was $7.99. Ok, I was prepared to pay that for a ‘licence’ from iTunes if I couldn’t get a CD. But then iTunes changed the price to $13.99, presumably because I live in Australia. I refused to buy a LICENCE to listen to the music, a licence that can be revoked at any time, for over $10. Also, I object to being treated like a moron, being overcharged not because of currency exchange rates but just because big companies like iTunes, Adobe etc, have decided to overcharge Australians. As if our costs of living aren’t already high enough.

Rant over.

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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