If you ever needed another reason not to purchase hardware, software or media with DRM then this latest story may convince you that DRM is utterly bad for consumers in general.
Amazon Kindle owners who purchased books by George Orwell just realized yesterday that the books were no longer on their device. Amazon apparently deleted the books from user devices remotely because the publisher of the book decided to no longer offer electronic versions of the books for the device.
Customers who have bought the books did receive a refund but were left puzzled and confused. Anyone who thought that ebooks with DRM were just like book purchases may have realized that they are not at all as Amazon and the publishers seem to have the power to remove books at any time from user devices. Amazon responded to user questions with the following paragraph:
The Kindle edition books Animal Farm by George Orwell. Published by MobileReference (mobi) & Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell. Published by MobileReference (mobi) were removed from the Kindle store and are no longer available for purchase. When this occurred, your purchases were automatically refunded. You can still locate the books in the Kindle store, but each has a status of not yet available. Although a rarity, publishers can decide to pull their content from the Kindle store.
Amazon states that is is unlikely to happen again. What users do need to realize is that it can happen at anytime. That's a huge difference to books or other media that you purchase as a hard copy in stores. Once you have made the purchase it it is yours and no publisher or company in the world will come to your house to get the book back and give you a refund.
Customers thinking about purchasing a Kindle or any other electronic device that is making use of DRM may want to consider selecting DRM-free alternatives instead as they provide them with more control over the contents on the device. It's better for them, their children and our future.
Amazon, basically, has a kill switch that it can use to remove contents purchased on the site in digital form. That's quite the scary option the company has at its disposal, but it is far from the only company that has these powers.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.