Amazon accused of closing and wiping Kindle account, reminding us we don't own DRM content

There's a story going around about Amazon closing someone's account and wiping her Kindle of all its content, without offering any specific information or recourse. It's a single-sourced story, and Amazon's side hasn't and may not be heard, but it serves as a powerful cautionary tale for users of any DRM (digital rights management) wrapped online content provider, including Apple's iTunes. Martin Bekkelund writes about alleged the incident, which he says happened to his friend Linn, on []:(

As a long-term writer about technology, DRM, privacy and user rights, this Amazon example shows the very worst of DRM. If the retailer, in this case Amazon, thinks you’re a crook, they will throw you out and take away everything that you bought. And if you disagree, you’re totally outlawed. Not only is your account closed, all your books that you paid for are gone. With DRM, you don’t buy and own books, you merely rent them for as long as the retailer finds it convenient.

And the same, of course, applies to your TV shows, movies, and other content. With iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match, all of our purchased apps, movies, TV shows, books, etc. all live in iCloud, and we need to log in with our Apple ID to re-download them to our iPhones and iPads, or stream them to our Apple TVs. iTunes will even authorize a device to playback local copies of the DRM content. While music, which went DRM-free in 2008, podcasts, and a very few other content types can be easily copied and backed up and played anywhere and with anything compatible, most of what iTunes "sells" cannot be. Same for Amazon. Same for any online provider.

You don't own your content, the company that controls the DRM does, and it's only at their sufferance that you can play it.

And it's not just digital content either. Right now my pricy 7.1 speaker system is sitting dead and my receiver unplugged because it's decided all my fully legitimate signals aren't HDCP (high definition copy protection) compliant so refuses to play them. I was recently given the Avengers BluRay and I couldn't watch it because my offline BluRay player claimed it's encryption keys were outdated.

We're charged full price for content, but we no longer enjoy any actual ownership rights. We're licensees, at the mercy of faulty chips and servers that go down and services that go out of business (PlaysForSure turned out to be anything but), and an entertainment industry that's more concerned with treating us all as potential thieves that need to be guarded against rather than customers that deserve to be delighted.

We don't know the specifics of this case, but that our accounts can be closed and our access to the content we paid for, terminated, should be a cause for huge concern, and something we should never forget.

If the emails contained in the email below are accurate, shame on Amazon. As someone who buys Kindle books (okay, Kindle comic books) it does give me pause about continuing to do business with them. But like I said above, what's the alternative?

Maybe none of the established players. And maybe that leaves the door open for something new and next?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.