Monday, July 27, 2009

Amazon Apologizes But Still Has A Fight On Its Hands

Amazon may have apologized last week for pulling off of its Kindle versions of 1984 without notice, but it faces new competition and customer reaction. "A growing number of civil libertarians and customer advocates wants Amazon to fundamentally alter its method for selling Kindle books, lest it be forced to one day change or recall books, perhaps by a judge ruling in a defamation case — or by a government deciding a particular work is politically damaging or embarrassing." Will other content providers try the same thing, looking inside our digital devices and deciding whether we can keep something or not, no matter if it is owned legally or illegally. Doesn't the right of privacy matter in a democracy. Amazon may have admitted its stupidity, but it still demonstrates that a bigger problem exists.

The key concept here is D.R.M. or digital rights management, and it ultimately affects all kinds of digital content, print, video, and audio. It sets security measures that can limit how content can be owned, viewed, copied, and shared. "D.R.M. has created a new dynamic between consumers and the vendors of digital media like books and movies. People do not so much own, but rent this media. And the rental agreement can be breached by the manufacturer at any time, sometime with little or no notice." Where in printed form, a book can be handed over to a friend to read after you finished with it; with D.R.M. controls, that same digital book may be limited to the device it was sent to. More profit, no sharing, no illegal reselling.

And now, Amazon faces a new battle from Barnes and Noble and their Plastic Logic E-Book reader. How will this competition be received by current and potential customers and how will B&N address these issues? D.R.M. is a major issue that will affect all digital content; these issues will need to be more fully addressed by other content distributors as well.