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Coalition launches petition demanding that Amazon drop DRM from the Kindle

by John Sullivan Contributions Published on Aug 03, 2009 01:23 PM

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Monday, August 3rd, 2009 -- The Free Software Foundation's DefectiveByDesign.org campaign, in cooperation with prominent authors, journalists, and librarians, has launched a petition against the Amazon Kindle's use of digital restrictions management (DRM).

"The freedom to read without supervision or interference is central to a free society," said FSF executive director Peter Brown. "When ebook products like the Kindle use DRM to restrict what users can do with their books, that is a clear threat to the free exchange of ideas."

Signatories to the petition include prominent academic and industry names like Creative Commons and Change Congress co-founder Lawrence Lessig; author, poet and MacArthur Fellow Lewis Hyde; Harvard Law Professor and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources John Palfrey; and Christopher Hayes, Washington, DC editor for The Nation. The petition, published at http://defectivebydesign.org/amazon1984, is now open for others to add their signatures as well.

"The level of control Amazon has over their ebooks conflicts with basic freedoms that we take for granted," said Palfrey. "In a future where books are sold with digital restrictions, it will be impossible for libraries to guarantee free access to human knowledge."

On the heels of disabling the text-to-speech feature on many ebooks, Amazon drew even further wide-ranging criticism for the remote deletion of Ayn Rand novels and two George Orwell books (Animal Farm and 1984) from the devices of hundreds of users.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos apologized for the deletions, saying that Amazon would handle such situations differently in the future. But so far no substantive changes have been made.

"Amazon should never have had this power to begin with, and imposing it broke promises they had previously made. The only dependable way to preserve people's rights to free thinking and free expression is for Amazon to remove their DRM," said FSF operations manager John Sullivan.

Additional comments from signers

"This incident shows that the law gives radically more control to the company than it ought to." --Lawrence Lessig, author and Harvard Law professor

"Any time someone puts a lock on something you own without your permission, they're not acting in your interests." --Cory Doctorow, author and blogger

"Our future needs Orwell's books, but it does not need Orwell's predictions." --Evan Katsamakas, assistant professor in the School of Business at Fordham University

"You shouldn't need a license to read." --Lewis Hyde, author, poet and MacArthur Fellow

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at http://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

Media Contacts

Holmes Wilson
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942 x19
Mobile: +1 (508) 410-0980
campaigns@fsf.org

John Sullivan
Operations Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942 x23
Mobile: +1 (617) 388 8344
campaigns@fsf.org

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