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Amazon waves DMCA in Kindle channel lock-down

Bans e-book shopping at own store

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Amazon has invoked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to prevent distribution of software for extracting the personal identifier from a Kindle, used by those wanting to shop at the Amazon-owned Mobipocket store.

The software concerned is called kindlepid.py. A simple Python script that extracts the Personal Identification (PID) from a Kindle, this file was linked to by MobileRead, who received the DMCA notice from Amazon demanding their remove both the tool and instructions on its use.

Users of Amazon's Kindle e-book reader are supposed to only shop at the Kindle store and have their books delivered over the whispernet direct to their device. But extracting the PID from a Kindle enables the more adventurous e-book buyer to purchase titles from Mobipocket and other sellers, prompting Amazon's reaction - though it's hard to see how extracting a number that enables perfectly legal shopping should fall foul of the DMCA.

But MobileRead don't want to take any chances, so it has removed the content - though mirrors are already popping up around the place.

Books bought at Mobipocket actually come from Amazon, but the Mobipocket software synchronises across devices - so a book bought once can be read on a mobile phone, an e-book device, and a laptop computer - whichever is nearest or gives the greatest impression that one is working.

So Amazon still makes money, and the extraction of the PID does not disrupt the DRM system, nor threaten to do so, so it's not clear why Amazon has taken such a step. Most likely, it's to do with keeping the Kindle ecosystem closed so Amazon can control, and monitor, closely. They want to know how many books users are buying and which ones. Keeping the system closed gives them greater control. We've asked the company and will let you know when they get back to us. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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