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Amazon and Two Sides of the Intellectual Property Coin

Last week, Amazon sent a DMCA takedown notice to MobileRead requiring MobileRead to stop hosting, or even linking to, a kindle script that allowed users to buy mobipocket books at other retailers and load those mobipocket books onto the Kindle. The unique thing about the kindle script was that it did not remove any DRM, but instead allowed you to change the Mobipocket DRM to match that of the Kindle. It allowed a Kindle user greater flexibility in enjoying discounts other retailers on the internet offered.

On the other side of the coin, Amazon is being sued by corporate entertainment big wig Discovery (of the Discovery Channel) for infringing on the patent Discovery has for the delivery and sale of digital ebook content. The patent Discovery has seems to cover DRM schemes so I’m not sure why Discovery hasn’t sued before although it might be due to the issue that the patent is more broadly about delivery schemes:

The patent’s abstract describes how “a portable book-shaped viewer is used for secure viewing of the text” and how “a billing system performs the transaction, management, authorization, collection, and payments.” That last bit appears to be describing Amazon’s role as gatekeeper for the transactions involved in putting content on the Kindle.

Discovery doesn’t want an injunction halting the sale of the Kindle. Instead, it wants in on the cash flow Kindle might/will be generating.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

6 Comments

  1. Teddypig
    Mar 18, 2009 @ 06:33:07

    Notice that Discovery has never done anything with that patent nor are they even really involved in eBook creation. They just stockpiled it away in case someone came up with something that actually worked. Just another case of modern day claim jumping.

    Which is why US Patent Laws need to be junked.

  2. DS
    Mar 18, 2009 @ 09:45:11

    Agree with Teddypig. I hope Amazon has the balls to take this on since it is going to dip into their pockets.

  3. Jessica
    Mar 18, 2009 @ 10:10:34

    I did not see where my line of tolerance on the DRM issue was, but now that Amazon has crossed it, I do.

  4. Teddypig
    Mar 18, 2009 @ 11:44:12

    I know I take a chance whenever I link to things like convert lit etc.

    Yes they can make you take it down.

    THEN THERE IS ALWAYS BIT TORRENT! Hmmmm tasty!

  5. XandraG
    Mar 18, 2009 @ 15:20:03

    Claim Jumping. I like it. I’ve heard it called “patent squatting” – and Microsoft tries it periodically on some Linux distros that get too much attention. Unfortunately, Red Hat buckled in the sense that it kicks back something to MS now, but it didn’t stop releasing the distro.

    Still…this is how innovation gets crushed by greed. It’s a sad, sad thing. Can’t stand Amazon’s “only buy it here, only read it with DRM, and only look at it on this computer or in this format,” but Discovery (really, guys. why? Stick to Dirty Jobs and crab fishing drama, k?) just being randomly greedy makes me want to kick something.

    In a perfect world, maybe this will punch a sucking chest wound into DRM.

  6. Jane
    Mar 18, 2009 @ 15:22:43

    I can’t see Amazon fighting it out. It’s got it’s own patent process to protect (the 1 click wonder). I foresee settlement in the future. To fight Discovery and weaken the patent law on processes would injure Amazon’s own economic interest.

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