DRM Hell

I was hurt by DRM. I purchased an ebook copy of David Foster Wallace’s fine Up, Simba! using the Adobe eBook reader a few months ago. After getting my new TiBook I was interested to see if I could move my book over to my new PC. This is proving more complex than it should.

Adobe doesn’t make a version of their eBook reader available for OS X, indeed they specifically state that their software will not work under the classic environment. I haven’t booted into OS9 on my laptop yet and I don’t intend to start for Adobe.

What makes this sad is that the whole OS X display system is based on Postscript, the format that Adobe mung and poorly encrypt into their eBook format. In order to show just how bad this encryption was a Russian programmer, Dimitri Skylarov, wrote a program the Advanced Ebook Processor. This decrypted the file into the underlying PDF format so you could use it in a wide variety of reading programs on any OS you choose.

When visiting the USA Dimitri was arrested under the DMCA and charged with computer crime despite never ‘offending’ on US soil. Quite rightly Dimitri was found not guilty earlier this month and set free. However his employers were forced to stop selling the Advanced Ebook Processor. Were I to be able to obtain the underlying PDF file I could read my legitimatly purchased book in my choice of reader on my choice of platform. Any ideas? Lazyweb, hear my cry!

This is another reason why we can’t compromise on data independence. The thought that this could happen to my essays, stories or budget makes me shiver in an unhappy manner.