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Richard Stallman: Break free of e-book ‘chains’

June 23, 2011

Here’s Stallman’s list of physical book advantages:

• You can buy one with cash, anonymously.

• Then you own it.

• You are not required to sign a license that restricts your use of it.

• The format is known, and no proprietary technology is needed to read the book.

• You can, physically, scan and copy the book, and it’s sometimes lawful under copyright.

• Nobody has the power to destroy your book.

That list contrasts with his list of e-book drawbacks, including Stallman’s preferred derogatory term for digital rights management (DRM), using Amazon as the example:

• Amazon requires users to identify themselves to get an e-book.

• In some countries, Amazon says the user does not own the e-book.

• Amazon requires the user to accept a restrictive license on use of the e-book.

• The format is secret, and only proprietary user-restricting software can read it at all.

• To copy the e-book is impossible due to Digital Restrictions Management in the player and prohibited by the license, which is more restrictive than copyright law.

• Amazon can remotely delete the e-book using a back door. It used this back door in 2009 to delete thousands of copies of George Orwell’s 1984.

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