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Amazon Kindle Proprietary Format Broken 203

Posted by kdawson
from the let-a-thousand-e-books-bloom dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Register reports that the proprietary document format used by the Amazon online store and Amazon's Kindle has been successfully reverse engineered, allowing these DRM-protected documents to be converted into the open MOBI format. Users of alternative e-book readers rejoice." Here are the hacker's notes on the program he is calling "Unswindle," and here is the (translated) forum where the Kindle challenge was posed and answered.
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Amazon Kindle Proprietary Format Broken

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  • Old old story. (Score:5, Informative)

    by CountBrass (590228) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @05:33AM (#30533888)
    There have been a set of python scripts around for more than a year and a half that allow you decrypt Kindle files to mobi [nyquil.org]. The challenge has always been in dealing with Topaz files and, unless I am missing something, they still haven't been cracked.
    • Re:Old old story. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @06:35AM (#30534046)

      This removes the drm from the books downloaded using the Kindle for PC app.

      As you mentioned, the scripts you linked to have been around for a while but only remove the drm from the actual kindle and kindle for iphone books.
      So, if you have an iphone or a kindle this doesn't really change much as you could already do it. This would be useful for anyone that is only able to get their books through the Kindle for PC app.

    • Re:Old old story. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by think_nix (1467471) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @07:36AM (#30534214)

      Not only that but also Jessie Vincent [fsck.com] showed at oscon [oreilly.com] (his 5 minute speech starts at 2:13 on the video) How he already reversed engineered and installed ubuntu 9.04 on the Kindle. After watching his presentation and hearing about all the crap amazon actually does with these things, I am surprised anyone would still even consider buying one.

      • Re:Old old story. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AndGodSed (968378) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @07:44AM (#30534240) Homepage Journal

        the THEY you are referring to are the uninformed masses. THEY have the buying power and THEY generally trust the large corporations more than they trust the informed among us, because there is a mentality of "If I saw it on TV (or amazon.com for that matter) it MUST be more trustworthy than the neighbourhood geek"

        Sigh... we geeks really have to work on our marketing... we need an image consultant!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Grimbleton (1034446)

          Yes, I've mentioned him before, but my uncle will trust any jackoff (Wait, I'm in Pittsburgh now, "jagoff") with a sign on his truck even if he were the biggest idiot who burns half his house down in the process of setting his VCR clock. When it comes to me fixing, say, a loose power socket that just needed the screw in back tightened down, he'd rather have it hanging loose until he can afford to hire someone to do it.

          • by timepilot (116247)

            You probably better off not having your uncle pestering you every time he needs his VCR clock reset.

            People like that will probably blame you when their coffee maker breaks shortly after you reset their VCR clock. Really not worth the hassle.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jbezorg (1263978)

            ...even if he were the biggest idiot who burns half his house down in the process of setting his VCR clock.

            Well of course. Your uncle would feel bad suing you after the house burnt down. The jack/jagoff on the other hand is a different matter. However...

            When it comes to me fixing, say, a loose power socket that just needed the screw in back tightened down...

            Don't you know that slashdot geeks are expected by relatives to fix hardware failures via email or over the phone? By using clairvoyance and the uncanny ability to determine what failed with only a "I tried [ insert normal activity ] and it didn't work. What's wrong?". You should be able to will that screw to tighten by incanting tech jargon over the internet.

          • Re:Old old story. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @09:59AM (#30535200)

            The faith in "professionalism" is stunning. But even more so in titles and price.

            When I was fixing computers for 10 bucks an hour and calling myself "computer repair guy", I was pestered and belittled and if only the tinyest bit didn't work out (usually because of user stupidity) I was blamed and indirectly accused that I don't know what I'm doing.

            Since I started charging 100 bucks an hour and calling myself a "senior IT consultant", not only do I no longer have to do any work (instead, I just tell people what to do) but I also am seen as the demigod who can miraculously cure any sickness that may have befouled the computer, no matter how long it takes or how little I actually accomplish.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Sigh... we geeks really have to work on our marketing... we need an image consultant!

          It's a whole lot better than when I was young. Back then, nerds were laughed at, picked on, called names ("egghead", "foureyes") and like the late Rodney Dangerfield, got no respect. As I mentioned in an old BSFW journal, [slashdot.org] crackheads have taken our place as social pariahs.

          Learning still isn't seen as cool, though. We need to work on that.

          • by couchslug (175151)

            "Learning still isn't seen as cool, though. We need to work on that."

            The general public are morons who will always despise you, so work on wealth and power instead.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by mcgrew (92797) *

              The general public are morons who will always despise you, so work on wealth and power instead

              I only need enough wealth to provide food, shelter, transportation, tools and other gizmos, beer, and a little pot once in a while. Chasing after more wealth than I need seems a pointless waste of time and energy to me. And why would I want power over other humans? That just seems crazy.

              I'd rather spend my time on fun things, like hacking hardware and software, reading, writing, painting and drawing, drinking, sex,

          • We had a start back in the 1980s with MacGyver. So successful was he that his name became part of the language, and his signature use of duct tape still echoes through the culture. (I sometimes call it McGyver tape).

            We need another McGyver.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Opportunist (166417)

              Sadly, lately the pendulum is swinging back. With the advent of "team" based hero groups in mainstream TV shows, the geeks have become the comic foil again. Think Daniel Jackson in Stargate. You can see it pretty well in CSI and its spinoffs, too. While in the original CSI, Grissom could be seen as something like a geek with his insect collection and his pretty big trivia knowledge, when you look at the spinoff main characters, namely Caine or Taylor, you notice that they're more the traditional, hands-on k

          • by AndGodSed (968378)

            Hey! I actually read that journal entry before!

        • by GaryOlson (737642)

          Sigh... we geeks really have to work on our marketing... we need an image consultant!

          And the first thing geekdom will require is that this consultant Open Source himself and his work product. And then you will argue about which OSS license is more appropriate; and discuss the differences to oblivion. And then a bunch of you will fork his work. And then another group will require him to set up a torrent for the new image.

          A new image assumes a consensus about which all geeks will conform. Now, what do you think the probability curve looks like?

        • Re:Old old story. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by surferx0 (1206364) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:59AM (#30535794)

          the THEY you are referring to are the uninformed masses. THEY have the buying power and THEY generally trust the large corporations more than they trust the informed among us, because there is a mentality of "If I saw it on TV (or amazon.com for that matter) it MUST be more trustworthy than the neighbourhood geek"

          That is because the large corporation is in fact almost always is more trustworthy than the neighborhood geek. There is absolutely no way for an average joe to distinguish a geek who really knows their stuff from a geek who knows just enough to be dangerous, the latter being the category most of your neighborhood geeks will fall into.

          As someone who has worked in end-user computer services for a number of years, it's pretty much a daily occurrence seeing whacked out stuff that the neighborhood geeks try to do, which either makes the problem worse or works around the problem but confuses the customer enough that they still can't use their computer for what they wanted anyway.

          Most neighborhood geeks just don't understand that the average person does not use computers like we do and have no desire to learn how to. At least the large corporations making end-user products make a serious attempt at creating something usable for the masses. Some are obviously more successful than others, but in any case the neighborhood geek will typically only be interested in making something usable for themselves.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Mr Otobor (1097177)

          Mmmm, I think your view is overly simplistic; here's my expanded view:

          Firstly (1), The Kindle is awesome. Not perfect, but after roughly (and literally!) 2000 years, someone improved the book. Will it take, mmm, 5 or 10 more years get he new form right? Yeah. (And can we take a moment to reflect on the 'holy crap' aspect of improving something as durable as books?) The hounds of anti-DRM and anti-stuff-in-general-that-does't-work-exactly-the-way-I-say-it-should can bray on, but if they are that concern

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DarkTempes (822722)
        I dunno, I like my Kindle. It works, feels pretty much the same as reading a book (eink is almost the same as real ink to the eye (including viewing angle) with just slightly worse contrast), and allows me to read books comfortably but without taking up huuuuuge amounts of bookshelf/storage space.

        No one makes you buy ebooks from Amazon with the Kindle. And if you're super paranoid about Amazon seeing what you read or accessing your device or something you can hack that out or just keep the wireless turned o
        • by BLKMGK (34057)

          Ditto! My device works and works well although I think it might almost be time for a new battery in mine. Now the DRM is becoming easier to remove, this is good. I already have the capability to convert PDF to Mobi myself so what's not to like? In the end the device simply works and does what I need and I get discounts on many books, it was well worth the cost of admission for me...

          • "I already have the capability to convert PDF to Mobi myself so what's not to like?"

            You don't even need that anymore as well. Last summer I think it was they updated for native PDF reading on all models. Though I still prefer to use Calibre to convert my PDFs to Mobi first.
            • by BLKMGK (34057)

              All models? that was the update via a new firmware download right? The one that Kindle 1 owners such as myself didn't receive? I haven't tried a native PDF on mine lately but I'm pretty sure the original Kindle owners were left out in the cold on that one and I know my Kindle has never received an updated firmware....

              • Yeah, you're right =/. I reread the press release from way back when and now I wonder why it only says 'some'.

                "Native PDF support will also be available for some earlier versions of Kindle via an automatic Whispernet wireless firmware update."

                By earlier versions they mean Kindle 1. They refer to the Kindle 2 as 'the new Kindle' in said press release.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I like e-Ink, I don't like Amazon's proprietary lock-in, so I got a Sony eReader, which handles ePub, PDFs, LRF, and everything else I want to read, Calibre converts for me. Except Kindle DRM format, of course. This might be useful as a method to buy Kindle books without a Kindle, crack them, and load them on my e-Reader, if there were any Kindle-exclusives I wanted.

  • Nothing new? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aussersterne (212916) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @05:37AM (#30533900) Homepage

    Wait, I've been using MobiDeDRM for a while with my Kindle's Mobi serial number to strip the DRM and leave me with Mobi files. How is this different, exactly?

    • Re:Nothing new? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @07:21AM (#30534166)

      Wait, I've been using MobiDeDRM for a while with my Kindle's Mobi serial number to strip the DRM and leave me with Mobi files. How is this different, exactly?

      This gets the Mobi serial number from the Kindle For PC application. Now you don't need to own a Kindle or iPhone to buy Kindle books.

      • The question is, why would anyone want to do that? I don't like reading books in the PC, but even if I did, I would rather buy a physical copy (to pay the author) and then download a digital copy from torrents or whatever than support DRM infested products.

        • Probably if they have a different ebook reader.

        • by rhsanborn (773855)
          I have a Sony PRS-505. Amazon has better prices on most books, and has a much larger selection. This is a boon.
        • Re:Nothing new? (Score:5, Informative)

          by pla (258480) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:06AM (#30535274) Journal
          The question is, why would anyone want to do that?

          Because Amazon has a good storefront for buying eBooks of a known quality in a consistent format. You don't need to deal with 6 different formats, 27 different storefronts, and quality going as low as scans of the actual pages.


          I don't like reading books in the PC

          Some people don't mind it. More importantly, plenty of devices other than the Kindle or iPhone exist on which you might read eBooks... Netbooks, for instance (basically just PCs, but they finally hit a sweet spot between utility, weight, and battery life), or non-Amazon/Apple-approved smartphones.


          I would rather buy a physical copy (to pay the author) and then download a digital copy from torrents or whatever than support DRM infested products.

          I suspect most of us agree with you on that - However, the legality between the two differs radically. Stripping DRM for purposes of interoperability might count as a protected use (IANAL); downloading a torrent definitely does not. Also, keep in mind that publishers have increasingly tried to play the "X different products" game, claiming that the dead-tree edition requires a separate purchase from the eBook which requires a separate purchase from the audiobook (even if digitally produced) - Geeks tend to scoff at that sort of thinking, but the courts sadly haven't caught on to it as nothing more than a shell-game yet.
  • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @05:38AM (#30533902)
    I'd suggest converting every book you own really fucking quick. No telling how long it will take Amazon to make a similar format that will take another year or so to break. You can bet that once they do, they'll remotely switch everyone's ebooks over to that new format and then push a firmware upgrade to ensure compliance.
    • Not so much (Score:3, Informative)

      by aussersterne (212916)

      I've been walking around with DRM-free files for over a year. Anyway, after stripping of them of DRM, I changed the filenames, and added prefixes to the titles (my real goal) to "categorize" them, which is why I wanted to unDRM them in the first place--adding text prefixes to the titles to indicate category makes it easier to use a Kindle without folder capability.

      • Re:Not so much (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @08:05AM (#30534342)

        I've been walking around with DRM-free files for over a year. Anyway, after stripping of them of DRM, I changed the filenames, and added prefixes to the titles (my real goal) to "categorize" them, which is why I wanted to unDRM them in the first place--adding text prefixes to the titles to indicate category makes it easier to use a Kindle without folder capability.

        If Amazon really wanted to, they could easily identify their own books on the Kindle regardless of what messing around you've done.

        The obvious way would be to put in the occasional misprint - an extra space or punctuation mark would be the easiest, though the odd mis-spelled word would also work - and check for it in a firmware update later. IIRC there are cases of publishers doing exactly this to determine if works they publish were being infringed upon. Put in enough little things like this (and in a book you've got space for hundreds without anyone really noticing) and the only way to avoid it is to retype the whole thing.

        Though I'm sure some enterprising fellow somewhere will reply to this with a five-line Perl script which takes a block of text, removes extraneous spaces, adds a few of its own, corrects existing mis-spellings and adds a few new ones and also messes with the punctuation, all of which without impacting the readability of the text.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by riegel (980896)
          I had a similar idea for mailing lists. The basic idea would be to have the mail server generate a unique (via inserting random spaces line feeds etc.) message to every subscriber. Then if that message gets cross posted you have a method to help identify who posted it.
          • by dintech (998802)

            if that message gets cross posted you have a method to help identify who posted it.

            Maybe you're making it too easy for them? :)

            http://p8ste.com - Web based Clipboard

        • by Nemyst (1383049)
          As you've said, someone will figure it out if that is the case. Remember they've managed to crack the format; I'd say that's a slighty tougher goal than fixing spelling mistakes and removing double spaces...

          And why is this modded funny?
      • by BLKMGK (34057)

        Actually it can folder things. Not sure if this will help you but if you order a magazine from Kindle it will show up in a "folder" with that magazine's name. So yeah there's a way to do it, I'm just not sure how you'll do it with your naming scheme or what they do to the file internally to enable this...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by charlener (837709)

      I don't know if it's that this took a year+ to break or if it's just that no one actually sat down to try it until a year or so. I'm not sure how great the overlap of e-book users and coding types is compared to, say, dvd viewers or itunes users and coders. Also could take a guess based on torrent activities - presumably there are lots more torrents of movies, tv series, music, etc. than e-books.

    • by jonnyj (1011131)

      I just finished reading a book to my son that originally belonged to my great-great grandfather. Apart from it being a great story, it was humbling to join in a family tradition that has survived 6 generations.

      What's the chance of a DRM'd Kindle ebook still being readable in 150 years?

      • by Duradin (1261418) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:16AM (#30535376)

        Sumerian clay tablets with cuneiform script have been readable for thousands of years, what's the chance that your book will still be readable in 5000 years?

        I don't think anyone is buying a kindle and expecting it to outlast the ages. Kindles are a lot more convenient than lugging around clay tablets.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jhon (241832)

          what's the chance that your book will still be readable in 5000 years?

          Pretty good if I convert them to Sumerian Clay Tablets. But what are the odds that even if they ARE readable, that *I* will be able to read them in 5000 years? I'm more or less looking to make sure they are still readable by me for the next 40-50 years tops.

      • by ErikZ (55491) *

        This is why I refuse to let go of my clay tablet collection.

        There's nothing out there today that can replace a good clay tablet, and I'm not switching until they do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by clodney (778910)

      I'd suggest converting every book you own really fucking quick. No telling how long it will take Amazon to make a similar format that will take another year or so to break. You can bet that once they do, they'll remotely switch everyone's ebooks over to that new format and then push a firmware upgrade to ensure compliance.

      Or, I could say that my Kindle works just fine as is, and that the presence of the DRM has been a non-event for me. In the event Amazon goes under I could be out of luck (though the most likely thing that would happen is that everything on my Kindle would continue to work for as long as the device lived). But what are the odds that Amazon will disappear in the next few years?

      I'd rather we lived in a world where nobody felt the need for DRM, but that is not the world we have. Amazon and Apple seem to have

  • Too early (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OpenSourced (323149) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @06:00AM (#30533942) Journal

    Better to have waited a couple of years more, till much more books had been published in the DRM'd format. Publishers were starting to warm to the Kindle, and now they will retrench like timid snails.

    • by Mathinker (909784) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @06:32AM (#30534040) Journal

      Just like with music, the publishers have to be convinced that DRM is worthless (as it actually is for the vast majority of text) so that we will eventually be able to buy non-DRMed ebooks.

      This is just one tiny step on that path. The publishers haven't even gotten to the "if we sue them piracy will be controlled" stage yet. One wonders if they will understand its futility and skip it.

      • by h4rm0ny (722443)

        Just like with music, the publishers have to be convinced that DRM is worthless (as it actually is for the vast majority of text) so that we will eventually be able to buy non-DRMed ebooks.

        Actually, they have to become convinced that DRM is uneccessary. The addiction to DRM came as a response to piracy. Get piracy down and we may see the back of DRM. If piracy remains a big concern of the producers, then they will continue to either use whatever DRM promises to help, or be reluctant to embrace digital dist

        • by GaryOlson (737642)

          ...DRM came as a response to piracy. Get piracy down...

          Piracy of some sort has existed as long a people have existed. Producers who don't accept the obvious fact that a certain percentage of their product will always be pirated lack a realistic business outlook. If the product truly has value, people will purchase the product and encourage others to do the same. If the product is mediocre crap, people will disassemble the product to point out all the flaws.

          Piracy is just an excuse for people to take things apart and break them.

    • Re:Too early (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wvmarle (1070040) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @08:07AM (#30534352)

      If publishers were really thinking that, they were not really smart.

      DRM has two sides. The content producer, and the consumer. Both lose control to the DRM provider. Look at iTunes and the ITMS. Apple got a virtual monopoly on digital music players, so any music publisher wanting DRM and sell music online and wanting to have an audience larger than 10 would have to go to Apple. Apple knew that. It gave them a lot of pricing power and control.

      Now the music publishers realised that, and have started to sell non-DRM music, so they can at least dictate the terms again. There is competition between the stores: they all want to sell music.

      At the moment ebooks go the same way. Amazon is a giant, their Kindle is very popular. If a publisher wants to sell DRMed books, they have to go the Amazon/Kindle route. Great for Amazon: they have a double monopoly (readers and content). Not good for authors and publishers. Amazon can demand a greater profit on sales than in an open market, and if Amazon doesn't like your title too bad. You can not go for another DRM as the most common reader can not read it.

      I have argued the same before, and will continue to do: DRM goes away because it gives all control to the DRM provider. And the content provider (music labels, publishers, authors, movie studios, TV channels, etc) have to sing to their tune. On top of that it fragments the market: imagine, you are an author, you want to publish your book, and not knowing much about digital technology and distribution you want to "protect it against copying because otherwise everyone will steal my work" so you want to add that cool DRM technology. Then you have a choice of distributors: you could go with DRM1 and you get 40% market share, as their DRM1Reader has a 40% share of e-book readers. Or you could go with DRM2 and you get 30%. DRM3 and DRM4 each have 15% market share. And neither allows you to license to anyone else, so you can not reach more than 40% of the market.

      Of course everyone will go to the DRM1 company to grab the largest distribution potential for their work, which then grows and grows and grows to say 80% of the market. And has full control over everything: distribution, pricing, commission for themselves, whether or not to promote/feature your work, etc.

      That is what happened to Apple's iTunes. And that is the real reason why everyone is now selling DRM free music. Not because consumers do not like it because in this game no-one cares about the consumer as long as they consume. But the content owners lose control over their content, and lose sales.

      • Re:Too early (Score:4, Interesting)

        by b1t r0t (216468) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @09:36AM (#30534986)

        You make it sound like the DRM in iTMS was all Apple's idea. Guess what? The labels required it. All Apple did was say "this DRM format is ours and ours only". They never prevented you from playing un-DRMed music. Nor did they default to ripping CDs in DRM format like (IIRC) Windows Media Player did. Apple took longer to remove DRM music than other music stores simply because they had to wait for existing contracts to expire.

        Are you so sure that Apple's plan was to make themselves a (pseudo-) monopoly through their DRM? Or maybe the plan all along was to make the DRM distasteful enough for the labels that eventually they would give it up?

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          Probably neither plan. And it was not my intention to make it sound like Apple wanted DRM, I know it's the music labels that wanted it. In music as I see it DRM is disappearing slowly but surely.

          Contracts also do not need to expire, they may be renegotiated at all times.

          I don't think any DRM provider ever had "gaining distribution control" as their business plan, they just got it. They had the DRM, and part of keeping DRM working is keeping those keys secret (one of the major weaknesses of DRM of course),

        • >The labels required it.

          Yeah, and they fucked themselves by doing it. I tend to side with the OP that the reason why DRM is falling out of favor is because the content providers are realizing that the protection DRM offers (which is negligible) is not worth putting all your market share at the control of the DRM provider.

          No doubt the music labels originally required it. That's because they 1) thought it would work and 2) didn't realize the control they were giving up.

    • by DrXym (126579)
      I believe the earlier it happens the better. I do not see any positives for consumers if Amazon becomes the dominant player as might happen a few more years down the road. Anything that helps a more open (as in widely supported) alternative is to be applauded. Sites like Fictionwise is reflective of the complete mess the industry is in - look at the multitude of proprietary formats, DRMs and accompanying readers that books sell in. The sooner a single common format and delivery model that all publishers, se
    • by popeye44 (929152)

      Which frankly is perfectly fine with me. OCR scanning works good enough. People will demand e-books in the next few years. Authors and publishers won't have much choice. Do it or starve. DRM on ebooks attempts to keep people from doing that which they do with real books. SHARE! I for one will not give that up.

  • by tyroneking (258793) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @06:00AM (#30533944)

    .. from the forum that was linked into from Slashdot (well done for that btw kd)...

    "Wow, you're a little scary! Well done." - I will use this the very next time one of my developer colleagues finally does a decent job.
    "If Guy says you gun, you cannon. No arguments about!" - I will use this the next time one of my project manager "colleagues" puts his/her foot down about something technical that they don't know anything about.
    "Already finished rope hook" - I will use this the next time I am telling a colleague that their code or document was so bad that instead of a review I had to re-write the whole thing.

    The best quote of course is the new term "Open DRM" that one of the posters has coined. Genius! We should use that as a tag for all similar posts.

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @06:05AM (#30533958) Homepage Journal
    No more getting Jeff Bezos'ed 1984 style.
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/18/amazon_removes_1984_from_kindle/ [theregister.co.uk]
  • Users of alternative e-book readers rejoice.

    More like; "Amazon-dot-com and shareholders rejoice, as more people can now read your files, therefore you make more money from increased e-book sales."

    • Yeah. Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @06:36AM (#30534050)

      More like; "Amazon-dot-com and shareholders rejoice, as more people can now read your files, therefore you make more money from increased e-book sales."

      You really think so? You figure the hackers were disgruntled Amazon shareholders working to increase their quarterly dividends? My perception is that this will result in increased piracy, i.e., distribution through non-authorized channels from whom the authors of the books are not compensated.

      • Re:Yeah. Right. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Winckle (870180) <mark@[ ]ckle.co.uk ['win' in gap]> on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @06:49AM (#30534094) Homepage

        If you want a pirated book it's easy enough to get a hold of, there are ebooks all over torrent sites and usenet. Even private ebook only trackers. And they are more likely to be in plain-text formats or epub making them better than the amazon equivalents.

      • by dangitman (862676)

        You really think so? You figure the hackers were disgruntled Amazon shareholders working to increase their quarterly dividends?

        I'm not sure where you get that idea from. I'm pretty sure most Amazon shareholders aren't hackers, and wouldn't support the idea of hacking the Kindle - until they see they increase in revenue that results.

        My perception is that this will result in increased piracy, i.e., distribution through non-authorized channels from whom the authors of the books are not compensated.

        Why would pirates need to hack the Kindle in order to pirate books? There are already plenty of unprotected sources available to them. To get the content via hacking Kindle files, they would need to buy the Kindle file in the first place, resulting in a sale that Amazon wouldn't have otherwise made.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Ash-Fox (726320)

          Why would pirates need to hack the Kindle in order to pirate books? There are already plenty of unprotected sources available to them.

          Exclusive Kindle releases are only available on the Kindle, and there are certainly a few.

      • I'm not quite sure you are correct there -- I was not in the market for an e-book reader (I like the dead tree editions, personally), but if I were, I would specifically seek out one that did not use DRM. For something that I am interested in -- I would have been on board with iTunes years ago had they not used DRM. As someone who spends a LOT of money on music, I can say with 100% certainty that the time they had DRM on their files, they lost literally thousands of dollars in sales from me alone. I know th
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by IDtheTarget (1055608)

        More like; "Amazon-dot-com and shareholders rejoice, as more people can now read your files, therefore you make more money from increased e-book sales."

        You really think so? You figure the hackers were disgruntled Amazon shareholders working to increase their quarterly dividends? My perception is that this will result in increased piracy, i.e., distribution through non-authorized channels from whom the authors of the books are not compensated.

        Not necessarily. I prefer to read my books on my iPhone, using BookShelf. I've been burned a couple of times by DRM, so I won't buy an eBook unless I can strip the DRM. That way, once I've paid for the book, I won't have to worry about it being either taken away or rendered useless by a company going under.

        I *want* to purchase my ebooks. I *don't* want to pirate them or give away books I've purchased. But I also *require* that I have the ability to read my purchases on whatever medium is convenient to

      • Once piracy take off and a lot of people start to be itnerrested into eBook, then real usage and real sale will pick up. until then it is a niche market.
  • by hAckz0r (989977) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @07:31AM (#30534200)
    If DRM is not locked inside of a closed black metal box, with anti-tamper seals, then it can always be reverse engineered. Once Kindle readers became available on the PC I knew it would be a matter of time before the DRM format was broken and utilities made available. What did surprise me here was that much headway had already been made by the ones hacking the Kindle hardware/OS already. The DRM had long been defeated. The sad part is that the people that pay for all that DRM 'technology' (the people who buy the DRM'ed books) are never going to be able to easily use the great software such as Calibre, which could make managing all these devices so much easier, sans the DRM. The legal aspects with circumventing DRM will always prevent the ability to have a ubiquitous software platform capable of reading any format that happens to be available from any publisher. I for one would buy much more from any publisher who would publish 'real books' (i.e. not best sellers list only) in a format I can really use. One day they will realize that all the money was wasted on DRM technology, and was merely passing for modern day 'snake oil'. DRM is a loosing battle that need not be fought because it only takes one disgruntled geek to undo all the millions spent on that failed technology. DRM will never increase sales, as the market forces are still just a matter of supply and demand. There is no upside to DRM except for those selling the technology itself. Everyone else, including the content providers themselves, loose in the long run.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DrXym (126579)
      Proposing a non DRM solution to publishers is simply not a viable solution. Like it or not, publishers want to protect their content from copying and certain people all too willing to copy their content for nothing. However, any DRM scheme needs to be common to all publishers, all resellers and all reader devices. It must also define reasonable limits that take into account the user's needs and the publisher's needs.

      With that in place, consumers will flock to the format and publishers will reap the reward

      • by base3 (539820) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @08:29AM (#30534468)
        DRM doesn't make any sense on books. No one even has to "crack" it -- it only takes one person with access to type the book into an open format and distribute it. The publishers can either suck it up and realize this, or lose out to the pirates who provide a better, more convenient product for zero cost.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DrXym (126579)
          DRM doesn't make any sense on books. No one even has to "crack" it -- it only takes one person with access to type the book into an open format and distribute it. The publishers can either suck it up and realize this, or lose out to the pirates who provide a better, more convenient product for zero cost.

          And all one has to do with music is tape it, or with movies camcorder it. You can even do this with encrypted content. The analogue hole means all content can ultimately be copied and usually at an accepta

          • by Roogna (9643)

            They can want the option all they want. But even the music industry basically went to selling DRM free tracks everywhere. Because if people complain loud and often enough even companies like these will eventually realize they're fighting a loosing battle and losing customers in the process. And far more than DRM, they want your money! If the people keep speaking up and saying they won't buy it with DRM, then their greed will eventually take over.

            The catch to this, given how popular the kindle and nook a

            • by DrXym (126579)
              I suspect the music industry's shift to MP3 had more to do with loosening the stranglehold of Apple than any underlying recognition of the merits or lack thereof in MP3. The irony is Amazon looks like becoming to book publishers what Apple was to the music industry. Unless of course Apple turns up with a tablet device and attempts to steal that market too. That's why its all the more important for the industry to rally around a standard while they still have a chance.
      • by hAckz0r (989977)

        any DRM scheme needs to be common to all publishers

        While I sympathize with your idealistic dream, and wish myself that it could work, I can assure you that it is logically infeasible to create any methodology where you give a user an algorithm, a key to use that algorithm, and the content itself, and expect it not to be used/recombined in a way not envisioned by the writer of that algorithm. If the software runs on a general purpose CPU and I have your key, I can hand you your decoded content in a matter

    • Call me a ludite but I just don't see the point in paying $300AU for a device (DRM'd or otherwise) to read e-books that cost virtually the same as a real book. With real books I save $300 in up front costs and will never experience the frustration of batteries running out on the last chapter. And when I'm finished I can go to the seconhand bookshop and swap it over for another book for pennies. What's the attraction?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Intrinsic (74189)

        I guess for me its about making room in my book bag. It doesn't replace a paperback, but its great if you need to carry a ton of books for research, which as a writer, I sometimes need to carry a bunch. But im not buying any device that contains drm so I stick to books or the occasional pdf.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ash-Fox (726320)

        What's the attraction?

        I use ebooks all the time (not DRMed), the attraction for me is having an entire library of information accessible on the go. I have thousands of ebooks on my netbook (I could store far, far more, but I don't have more), some of them technical manuals which I find useful to look things up and others just happen to be books I tend to enjoy reading. Additionally, in the room I live in, I don't really have any room for storage, so just having it on the laptop, netbook etc. is a God send.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ErikZ (55491) *

        Have you ever had to move 8 moving boxes filled with paperbacks, and pay for the privilege every time you moved? That was my tipping point.

        The ability to easily move your collection and to shop for new books without finding a bookstore are the best parts for me.

      • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:22AM (#30535450) Homepage

        There are a number of advantages:

        1) Lots of content available in a small package. You can carry a library with you wherever you go, which is fantastic for travel (who wants to haul around multiple books in a carry-on?).

        2) Easy to purchase new content quickly. Out of books? Buy another one and it's there and available in seconds.

        3) No bookmarks. An e-reader remembers exactly where I was at any given time.

        4) No need to hold a damn book open. Combined with 3, it's suddenly practical to read while standing on the bus, waiting in line at the grocery store with a basket in one hand, etc, not to mention enabling more comfortable reading positions at home (lying on one's side in bed, lying the book on your lap or propped up on your knees, etc). And it's a lot less fatiguing on the hands.

        5) You can easily change font sizes (this is a killer feature for a kindle owner I know). Do you have poor vision? Are your eyes just tired? Crank up the point size and you're good to go.

        Of course, there are plenty of disadvantages, not the least of which is the lack of that wonderful smell of paper, and the tactile sensations as you turn the page and handle the book, hence why I would never completely replace my paper library with a digital one. But the advantages mean that I typically split my time, switching between reading electronic and paper books.

      • by hAckz0r (989977)
        I do have a reason for such a device, sans the DRM. I commute to work, and spend hours on the road each week. I like to listen to audiobooks but have completely exhausted the inventory of available 'highly technical audio books' in my various fields of science. The 'top seller list' doesn't cut it for me, and the content providers are never going to think of paying someone to record what I need to listen to. They would never recover the costs of that audiobook unless they sell it as an astronomical price an
  • Is the crack for SD Flash cards available and current? Because "SD" stands for "Secure Digital". The storage end of the digital chain has DRM in its hardware. It's only a matter of time before it gets used to control us, now that it's everywhere. And it's only a matter of time before it's cracked, if it's not already. But if it's not, there will be some time where our actual rights are suspended. And rights delayed are rights denied.

  • Did anyone else notice this line in the code:

    ". text: 00414436 call BadBoy "

    I wonder if the complimentary call is named "SpankMe".

  • Duly mirrored in my signature, well beyond the reach of the DMCA.

    Fuck you, Amazon!

Maybe Computer Science should be in the College of Theology. -- R. S. Barton

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