[LMB] AKICOTL: OT: Kindle restrictions?

Mark Allums mark at allums.com
Sat Apr 4 20:27:58 BST 2009

Francis Turner wrote:
> On Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 3:21 PM, Pat Mathews <mathews55 at msn.com> wrote:
>> According to Locus this month, Amazon is making sure you can't read
>> anything on the Kindle you didn't buy from Amazon. IS that correct?
>> because I've made up my mind to buy a reader and was all set on Kindle
>> (a VERY close tie with Sony) until reading that. Can anyone enlighten me?
>> Thanks,
>> Pat
> Amazon are attempting to make it impossible for you to buy DRMed
> mobipocket format works to read on your kindle from any other source
> but Amazon. They have done this by attempting to suppress a program
> called KindlePID.py which lets you determine what the Mobipocket PID
> is for your Kindle (or for the Kindle for Iphone app). Without the PID
> you cannot get a DRMed book to be read on your Kindle. However
> non-DRMed books are still supported at present.
> My real issue with the Kindle is the lack of control you have since
> thanks to Whispernet they can in theory upgrade your Kindle to remove
> support for something else without asking. They appear to have already
> done that for Text to Speech as this Grauniad article by Cory Doctorow
> explains
> http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/mar/31/cory-doctorow-kindle
> Personally I would be very very suspicious of Amazon because they have
> the ability to completely lock you into the Kindle and Kindle Store.
> Sony, so far, is not doing the lock in thing. Indeed it seems to be
> consciously doing the opposite with its support for open standards.
> Francis

I would be slightly suspicious of Doctorow's take on this, but yes, they 
can update the firmware (mostly a good thing).  The purpose of the 
recent change is that the Authors' "union" threatened Amazon, because 
they consider the text-to-speech capability to be a violation of 
authors' rights.  They say that reading a work is a performance, and 
therefore, authors must be compensated.

I have no opinion.

I do wish the updates weren't "silent".  It makes me feel like I don't 
really own my Kindle, that they are just letting me use it for a while.

(BTW, Kindle's run embedded Linux, and you can get a terminal prompt, if 
you are willing to hack it, and risk "bricking" it.

Or, can bypass Whispernet and download to your computer and then 
transfer it to your Kindle.  This is also a hack, and it required a 
driver for your computer.  MAC OS X can already speak to Kindles 
directly, Windows 32-bit needs a driver.  I don't think there is a 
driver for 64-bit Vista.  This will allow people in countries that don't 
yet have Whispernet--and probably never will--get books for their 
Kindle.  Handy for travelers.

The Holy Grail of Kindle hacks is using Whispernet as a "tethered" 
wireless internet connection.  As far as I know, it isn't possible, but 
people are trying.  I think Amazon would take unkindly to this.)

Mark Allums

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