In a rather complicated story last week, CNET News reported
that Amazon had sent a cease-and-desist letter to the moderator of an online discussion forum dedicated to eBooks, alleging violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which prohibits the circumvention of technological protection measures (TPM or digital rights management - DRM) included in digital copyrighted works. Several posts on the site had linked to a script and instructions that allowed eBooks downloaded from libraries or purchased at sites other than Amazon.com to be displayed on Amazon's popular Kindle reader. With respect to the Kindle itself, I question whether there is really a DMCA violation here, in that the script in question doesn't exactly remove or circumvent any Kindle-based TPM, but rather enables the Kindle to display DRM-protected eBooks that the device doesn't natively support. Ultimately, the script on its own is used not to violate any copyrights, but simply to allow legally purchased eBooks (just not from Amazon.com) to be read on the Kindle, a use that is arguably socially beneficial in terms of interoperability, competition, and innovation.
For those interested in the technical details, Daniel McCartney at Public Knowledge has a good post
on the script (and how it interacts with other scripts toward more nefarious ends than it alone was designed for). Suffice it to say that the script itself simply enables the Kindle to display eBooks in the secure Mobipocket format legally procured from non-Amazon sources without stripping their DRM.
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