Amazon Kindle extinguishes the fire of learning

Amazon came out with their newest line of Kindle ebook readers today, including the appropriately named "Kindle Fire".

To quote their TV commercial: "The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all."

This device does not kindle that fire -- it extinguishes it, with more of the same digital restrictions.

Let's look at the facts:

Kettling Wikileaks

This article provides an important back story to our DRM campaign. Here at DefectiveByDesign we try to give our readers the bigger picture of how DRM is a threat to society's freedom: it's more than just about access to music and movies.

("Kettling" refers to the police tactic of surrounding a large group of protestors in the middle of a protest and keeping them under siege for hours.)

Amazon app store for Android welcomes DRM

In 2007, Amazon announced their music store. It would, they promised, deliver DRM-free music to U.S. Amazon users. And they did just that. With much fanfare, they rolled out Amazon MP3, touting music downloads for any device. On their website, they explain what's special about their music sales. "DRM-free means that the MP3 files you purchase from do not contain any software that will restrict your use of the file."

Update: hundreds of 1-star reviews added to Kindle page!

Update: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos apologizes - see our press release, and Digg this news

This week's Kindle action is going great; together we've generated hundreds of 1-star reviews and tags.

Then there was a great article in Slate by Farhad Manjoo, Amazon's top "expert reviewer" on the Kindle's product page, retracting his recommendation. This would be a perfect article to share with friends and co-workers, to introduce them to the problem of DRM (diggable here).

If you haven't written a review yet, here are direct links to the review forms. Take a few minutes to explain to potential Kindle buyers why they shouldn't get one: 6" Kindle, Kindle DX.

If your review wasn't published by Amazon, definitely let us know. We'll be busy picking our next product to target (if you have any suggestions, email us at In the meantime, we thought we'd share some of our favorite reviews below. Awesome job, everyone.

Spore and More: Activate against Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts (EA) and Amazon have been the targets of a justified online rebellion the last couple weeks. The impetus for the backlash is EA's use of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology in its game Spore.

DRM Free Clasical Music Downloads

The Christian Science Monitor has a good article about classical music without DRM.

The article makes the point that digital sales of classical music are pretty high and that classical music fans are willing to spend money on digital music sales for larger files.

Industry figures are hopeful that dropping copy protection – thus allowing for big, clear-sounding and noncompressed audio files – will generate even stronger interest in classical downloads.



Time Magazine ran an article last week about DRM. It gets alot right, and speaks in non geek terms:

Off the record, most executives--on the technology side at least--will tell you that DRM is a dinosaur that's waiting for the asteroid to hit. It's just a matter of when the music industry will stop assuming its customers are all criminals.

Tagging products on Amazon "DefectiveByDesign"

On Thursday afternoon we asked DBD members to start tagging products with DRM on "DefectiveByDesign". The response has been great, with over 500 products tagged by more than 150 Amazon customers.

We're also suggesting that if you own a product that has DRM, go on and review it to let other would be users know about the dangers of DRM. If you do, let us know by posting a comment (include a link to your Amazon review!).

Unbox?! More like a DRM Cage!

Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribue ran a fantastic column this morning on the Amazon Unbox service, DRM and our Day of Action:

Amazon's Unbox program is going to run in the background on
your computer and send information back to the company about your
"operating system, software, amount of available disk space and Internet
connectivity" as well as what you're doing with those videos, all in
order to continue to "manage rights" associated with them, says the

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