03.21.09

Amazon’s Linux-powered and DRM-laden Gadget Sued for Patent Infringement

Posted in Courtroom, DRM, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft at 12:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Amazon sued for using DRM

UNLIKE THE TOMTOM CASE, THE NATURE of this complaint and lawsuit against Amazon’s Kindle has nothing to do with Linux; however, it exposes vulnerabilities in both the notion of software patenting and DRM.

The first report that we found is this one.

Discovery Communications, the company behind the Discovery Channel, has sued Amazon.com for allegedly violating a patent on electronic book technology with the Kindle.

Discovery filed the patent infringement suit against Amazon in U.S. District Court in Delaware alleging that the sale of both versions of the Kindle violates a patent Discovery received in 2007.

We now know the obvious — that eBooks too are a patent minefield (one of the “in digital form” patents, much like the “over the Internet” patents). This may problematic because Linux is hugely popular in eBooks. It’s almost a de facto standard in fact. To give examples from the past year or two, see [1-11] in the references below. Kindle just happens to be most talked about [12-20], often in the context of is DRM-imposed harms [21-24].

Business Insider confirms that the lawsuit is about DRM.

Another patent lawsuit that left us scratching our heads: Discovery Communications (DSCIA) is suing Amazon (AMZN), claiming the Kindle infringes on a patent Discovery has for DRM on digital books.

This sure sounds like another reason to abolish DRM. In fact, to an extent, Sony and Google are doing exactly that at the moment, for competitive reasons.

Its headline-grabbing competitor, the Amazon Kindle, has monopolized e-book news with its new Kindle 2 reader, an Oprah Winfrey endorsement, and an even a pesky intellectual property lawsuit from Discovery Communications.

But this week’s announcement of a Google-Sony partnership shines the spotlight on Sony Reader in a big way. More than a half-million public domain books published before 1923 will be available for free to Reader customers via the Sony eBook store. The titles were digitized as part of the Google Book Search effort, and since they’re free of copyright entanglements, Google and Sony probably won’t encounter any legal challenges from the publishing industry.

This parallels the business proposition of Free software, which undercuts the competition based on price and value. Nothing but collusion — and almost the equivalent of price-fixing — can actually enable all businesses to uniformly cripple their own offerings, but this is precisely what they tried. They are called the “copyright cartel” for a reason. Some call them maximalists and ACTA is means for enforcing this [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19] at a legal level, not just unilateral agreements, sometimes known as “conspiracies”.

Regarding public domain, we recommend the following good talk from Richard Stallman (Flash required, sorry).

Book talks
Literature and publishers want to be free and exercise rights

As regards the Amazon lawsuit, more information can be found in TechDirt and in Ars Technica, which presents an informative picture too.

One person already suggests that Microsoft may be behind it and a new blog post brings back memories of the Microsoft Reader which never caught on.

MS Reader was Microsoft’s noble attempt to change the way ebooks were read. Reader offered an actual book-like interface that was easy on eyes. It had two other advantages. First, the ebooks created in Reader format (.lit) were considerably smaller in size than an equivalent PDF. Second, it introduced text-to-speech in ebook reading (it would read the book word-by-word with adjustable voice speed).

The bottom line is that DRM leads to lawsuits rather than prevent them (e.g. action from angry publishers) and devices are not immune to lawsuits just because they use GNU or Linux. This justifies immediate action against both DRM and software patents. The big loser here is the consumer.
____
[1] Ebook reader to offer Linux dev platform

A Berlin-based start-up called Txtr is readying an ebook reader that boasts an “open architecture” Linux development platform. Like Amazon’s Kindle 2, the Txtr Reader offers a 532MHz processor, a 3G connection, a second-generation E Ink grayscale display, and tie-ins to online services.

[2] Make ebooks pretty with GutenMark

Project Gutenberg is a real treasure trove for bookworms and casual readers alike, but turning etext files into a readable form is not as easy as it may seem. In theory, since etexts are just plain text files, you should be able to open and read them on any platform without any tweaking. In practice, however, this approach rarely works. Hard line breaks, for example, ruin the text flow, making it virtually impossible to read the book on a mobile device. Another problem is that most books are stored as single files, so locating a particular chapter or section in a lengthy book can quickly become a serious nuisance. Then there are minor, but still annoying formatting quirks, such as inconsistent handling of italicized text, use of straight quotes instead of smart ones, and so on.

[3] Ultra-light ebook reader runs Linux

PDF software company Foxit is readying an electronic book reader that weighs 6.4 ounces, measures 0.4 inches thick, and runs Linux. The Foxit eSlick offers E Ink’s low-power electronic-paper display, ships with an MP3 player, and sells for $100 less than an Amazon Kindle.

[4] How Linux (and Ebooks) will save the publishing world!

Linux can also help these publications in the server department, on desktops, PDA’s, mobile devices, cameras, and a wide range of other things.  It’ll be everywhere, helping them to adapt to this new market and make the move into the 21st century of technology.

With all these wonderful Linux powered devices standing by to help them, it’s now up to the companies to do the right thing and make the switch.  But when and if they do it is another matter entirely.  Then again, if they don’t, they’ll only have themselves to blame for their failure.

[5] 10 Linux-powered E-book Readers

Linux just keeps popping up on many of the popular gadgets that are hogging the limelight nowadays. Some are quite conspicuous about it, like the Android phone that is being developed by a group that makes it very obvious, calling themselves the Open Handset Alliance. However, there are some that don’t flaunt Linux around, like the Amazon Kindle. Not that they have to, but well, allow me to do it for them here anyway.

[6] Rollup e-reader runs Linux

Philips spinoff Polymer Vision has announced plans to ship a Linux-based e-reader with a flexible, rollup display. Thanks to the screen’s low power consumption, the “Readius” offers up to 30 hours of reading without a battery charge, according to the company.

[7] E-paper support for Linux

One of the electrophoretic display controllers for which Linux support has been posted (tarball) is a controller from E-Ink called Apollo. This controller is interfaced to the host through 8-bit data and 6-bit control over General Purpose IO (GPIO) interfaces.

[8] Down with paper: A review of the Sony Reader

Not only does the new Reader sport an SD card slot alongside the Pro Duo slot, but it plays AAC and MP3 files; ATRAC doesn’t even make an appearance on the spec sheet. Oh, and did I mention that the Reader is Penguin-powered?

[9] Sharp intros RD-CX100 dictionary / e-book reader

It may not boast quite the versatility of its souped-up Linux-based “electronic dictionary,” but if you’re just looking for some basic e-book reading capabilities along with your multi-lingual dictionary, Sharp’s new RD-CX100 looks like it may fit the bill.

[10] HP offers peek at next-gen gadgets

HP has unveiled some of the gadgets it is working on in its worldwide laboratories.

[...]

The e-book attracted most interest from delegates at the HP Mobility Summit in Shanghai. It uses touch sensitive strips on the base of the rectangular unit to select books and turn pages, runs a Linux OS and has a USB port to install new titles.

[11] Linux-based eBook reader leverages lightweight browser

The NetFront browser enables users to click through to linked reference sites, such as Wikipedia, while they are reading.

[12] Linux dominates in Amazon Kindle competitors

Linux runs on the first e-book reader released this year … and on the second … and the third.

[13] “Amazon’s Kindle eBook Reader

But in the final analysis, the point of the thing is to be a better book. It does this very well. Everything else is just icing on the cake, which is, in this case, not a lie.

[14] Amazon.com Launches Wireless Reader

The Linux-based device weighs 10.3 ounces, can store 200 titles on its 250 MB of onboard flash memory, and its battery can hold a charge for two days with the wireless feature on and seven days with it off, Amazon said. The reader is made by a Chinese OEM and can be purchased on Amazon.com for $399.

[15] Mobipocket books on Kindle

We’ve known for some time already that Amazon’s AZW files are actually Mobi files, but Amazon didn’t share Kindle’s Mobi PID which would allow one to buy encrypted Mobi books for Kindle.
Well, I’ve discovered the algorithm used to generate the PID and was able to use it on Fictionwise, but there was another catch. AZW files have a flag set in the DRM info which is not present in books bought from other vendors. After fixing that, I could read the book on Kindle.

[16] Kindle sold out

There is no telling if this is a consequence of consumer demand exceeding Amazon’s forecasts as to how many people would want this thing, or if Amazon is taking a page out of Nintendo’s book and creating a little product scarcity to drum up business. All I know is I got mine in the mail today, and I’m already in love.

Flop? I think not.

[17] New eBook Reader Undercuts Kindle, Sony Reader Prices

Available in black, gray, or white, the device will have 128MB of internal memory, plus USB and an SD Card slot (it’ll come with a 2GB card, too). Because its screen draws very little power, battery life should be extremely long; Foxit says it’ll go for 8,000 page turns between recharges; it recharges via either USB or an included AC adapter. It uses an embedded Linux operating system, too.

[18] Amazon Kindle: A Road Warrior’s Best Friend

I don’t care if print is dead, or if it’s just resting a while. What I do care about is getting the best, most versatile access to information when and where I need it. And for this, I’ve come to depend on my Amazon Kindle. While the rest of the tech world is busy kvetching over the forthcoming second-gen Kindle’s design aesthetics and its admittedly hefty $359 price tag, I’m wondering only one thing: Will it make me want to upgrade?

[19] You ready for Kindle 2.0?

The Amazon Kindle book reader appears on the verge of showing off a new makeover.

[20] Kindle Sold Out Until February

The Kindle has been out for a year, and has been enormously popular, so its vanishing makes a degree of sense. But one would figure Amazon understood the demand for its product and would stockpile appropriately.

[21] Adobe Digital Editions: a Fraud!

I am not decided yet whose fraud is bigger: Adobe’s one, or that of the e-book publishers who infamously market the digital content for Adobe Digital Editions as content for Adobe Reader?

[...]

You should therefore avoid e-books from HarperCollins, and be cautious: when the DRM’ed contents “fine-grained rights”, it’s unlikely to be a PDF (even if marketed as “Adobe Reader”), but something worse.

[22] Don’t let DRM get between you and a good book

Amazon Kindle (Swindle), Sony Reader (Sh-reader), and others are all competing to control how, what, and when we can read with their competing Digital Restrictions Management technologies. Let’s let them know that we won’t buy their ebook readers until they get rid of the DRM!

[23] The Kindle Swindle

It seems that Amazon only cares to oppose DRM when they can profit from it, such as when they advertise their MP3′s as “Play Anywhere, DRM-Free Downloads.” The same is not true for Kindle ebooks. Perhaps if they were honest they would advertise their ebooks as “Play Only Here, DRM-Laden Kindle Ebooks.”

[24] Linux Journal Live – eBook Readers and DRM

The November 13, 2008 edition of Linux Journal Live! Shawn Powers and special guest, Linux Journal Author Daniel Bartholomew, talk e-book readers and Daniel’s Kindle, DRM, and other goodness.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2009/03/21/ebook-linux-drm-and-patents/

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

4 Comments

  1. Robert said,

    March 21, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Gravatar

    i believe that Microsoft might be involved with this lawsuit brought on by Discovery networks. i have noticed a lot of television advertising of Microsoft products on all of the networks that discovery owns (the History channel, Animal Plannet, etc). i have also seen the celebrities for a very popular show that is produced & shown exclusevily on discovery networks main channel, “The discovery channel” do blurbs for Windows Vista on their show. the program is called Mythbusters. i used to like their show, but after seeing this, they have lost all credibillity.
    i believe that Microsoft is using the Discovery networks as a proxy, just like they did with SCO.

  2. David Gerard said,

    March 22, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Gravatar

    Where’s the book reader that just plays PDFs? That’s all I want, something good to read PDFs on! Apparently this is too simple. Or I can theoretically email PDFs to Amazon whereupon they will deign to translate them to DRMed format for me. How nice of them.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 22, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Gravatar

    I was doing just that in 2002 with my Palm.

  4. Jose_X said,

    March 22, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Gravatar

    Robert, I’d like to find out more along the lines of what you just mentioned. Discovery Communications may have been wooed because they might feel they have a valuable position at risk, as a major source of educational material.

    In fact, I had not realized or remembered that all of those channels were owned together [ http://corporate.discovery.com/our-company/ ]. The scent of monopolization is never too far from where you find Monopolysoft standing.

What Else is New


  1. [Meme] Bundestagate Series Spoiler

    The chain of command/s at the EPO typically leads to major tragedy



  2. Breaking News: Campinos to Appear Before the Legals Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on Monday 12 April

    "Some MEPs have been briefed about ongoing governance deficits at the EPO, in particular the lack of GDPR compliance and the sell-out of "digital sovereignty" to Microsoft, but it remains to be seen whether or not they will dare to bring these issues up during the hearing."



  3. Pro-FSF Petition (“An Open Letter in Support of Richard Matthew Stallman Being Reinstated by the Free Software Foundation”) Tops 6,200 Signatures

    Monopolies and their media, along with their NGOs, have spoken and incited based on falsehoods; people now respond so the hate letter has a real crisis



  4. Links 10/4/2021: osbuild 28, KDE Frameworks 5.81.0

    Links for the day



  5. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 12: A Worthy Successor to His Mentor?

    We examine the role of Christoph Ernst in EPO management, both in the Benoît Battistelli era and the António Campinos era (plenty to hide)



  6. USPTO for Monopolies, Keeping GNU/Linux in the Dark

    Growing evidence of gross discrimination against GNU/Linux (or Free software, even BSD/UNIX) users at the USPTO is too hard to ignore; some people out there challenge the Office over this travesty



  7. Accessibility and Availability First

    To make Techrights more widely accessible and more difficult to block/censor we've been making further changes, including self-hosting where possible



  8. Self-Hosting Videos With Free Formats and Animated Previews, Watermarks/Logos and Translucency

    We examine the power of video editing with ffmpeg, chained with command-line scripting and HTML5 features



  9. Links 10/4/2021: Linux on M1, Wine 6.6, ClamAV 0.103.2

    Links for the day



  10. Lunduke: On Mob Justice in the Tech Industry

    A new video from the former Microsofter who fears the phenomenon that’s adopted by companies like IBM



  11. IRC Proceedings: Friday, April 09, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, April 09, 2021



  12. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Appendix (Benoît Battistelli's Vichy Syndrome): Georges Henri Léon Battistelli and Charles Robert Battistelli

    Local copies with evidence of or something concrete about Benoît Battistelli’s connection to unsavoury — and by today’s standards outright fascistic — politics



  13. IBM Doubles Down on Masters Being an Acceptable Word in the Context of Technology

    3 days after this post which disproves IBM's stance or shows its double standards it once again says “Masters” in its official blog (won’t that offend and alienate some people as they insist?)



  14. Hate Letter Against Richard Matthew Stallman (RMS) Backfired So Spectacularly That Signers Asked to Revoke Their Own Signatures and the List Was Then Frozen Permanently (Updated)

    "An open letter in support of Richard Matthew Stallman being reinstated by the Free Software Foundation" tops 6,100 signatures (graph generated just moments ago)



  15. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 11: The BMJV's Tweedledee: Dr Christoph Ernst

    The right-hand man of António Campinos plays a role similar to that of Herr Lutz before him



  16. Links 9/4/2021: Tanglet 1.6.0 and HPVM 1.0

    Links for the day



  17. The Libel Against Richard Stallman Did Not Age Well

    Almost 2 years down the line libel about the founder of the FSF remains online, uncorrected (in sites funded by Microsoft and IBM)



  18. The Letter in Support of the FSF and Richard Stallman is Backed by the International Community, Not American Monopolies and Nationalistic Elements

    Free software is for everybody to use, internationally, it is not the asset of a bunch of current and old monopolists (connected to the US military) that also control the media; the nature of the signatures says that out loud



  19. Gemini Over IPFS (Decentralised Web, Accessed Over Gemini Protocol)

    The Gemini protocol (gemini://) can already be used to fetch (at the back end) and present objects from a P2P-like network; we're currently exploring practical use cases and possibilities



  20. News Sites That Talk About Patents Have Become Shameless Self-Promotion 'Plugs' by Law Firms (and Sometimes Outright 'Spam' for Litigation)

    The sources of news about patent affairs have dried up; sites that actually used to investigate and report facts have since then shut down or defected to the Public Relations/marketing industry



  21. Links 9/4/2021: Kubernetes 1.21 and FFmpeg 4.4 Released

    Links for the day



  22. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, April 08, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, April 08, 2021



  23. [Meme] Self-styled Judges

    To suit a recurring theme at the EPO we hereby present Roland Lutz, a self-styled judge



  24. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 10: A Faithful Lapdog Despised and Reviled by EPO Staff

    "In any event, the "Nazi" jibes directed against Lutz seem to have triggered Battistelli who decided to take revenge on his perceived enemies inside the EPO by smearing them as “Nazis”."



  25. Links 8/4/2021: GnuPG 2.3.0, Xen 4.15, Xfdashboard 0.9.2

    Links for the day



  26. The Hate Letter Which Backfired

    The FSF is more closely aligned with its founder's vision, his antagonists have left or are leaving, and that old hate letter turned out to be a loud minority (made to appear louder by biased media) emboldened by a gish gallop of lies



  27. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, April 07, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, April 07, 2021



  28. IBM: We Can Say It... You Cannot

    Blog posts such as this new one help show the hypocrisy or the double standards of IBM, looking to control speech while attacking people's (software) freedom/civil liberties and profiting from atomic bombs



  29. The Collapse of Microsoft Windows

    Although the corporate media keeps insisting that Microsoft is doing well, government (or military) bailouts keep the company afloat while its desperate attempts to remain relevant (as the common carrier languishes) merit a debate



  30. Links 8/4/2021: Mesa 21.0.2, GNU Releases, and Stable Kernels

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts