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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Yes. There IS a "Recourse" to DRM

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A Wired article about the end of the Microsoft Store's books section laments the fact that many users took notes in their ebooks, and lost those along with their licensed copies of the various works:

kindle.jpg
Image by Perfecto Capucine, via Unsplash, license.
Other companies have pulled a similar trick in smaller doses. Amazon, overcome by a fit of irony in 2009, memorably vanished copies of George Orwell's 1984 from Kindles. The year before that, Walmart shut down its own ill-fated MP3 store, at first suggesting customers burn their purchases onto CDs to salvage them before offering a download solution. But this is not a tactical strike. There is no backup plan... And because of digital rights management -- the mechanism by which platforms retain control over the digital goods they sell -- you have no recourse. Microsoft will refund customers in full for what they paid, plus an extra $25 if they made annotations or markups. But that provides only the coldest comfort. [bold added, link omitted]
Contrary to the above, I can think of at least three recourses. (1) Hard copies and marginalia, written by hand, (2) notes taken on a pad or device that isn't the ebook reader, and (3) learning, as I did, how to transfer your notes to your own computer. (For Amazon, you need only go here, then copy-and-paste your notes to a file in the format of your choosing.) All of these, of course, require taking the potentially transitory nature of a digital license into account ahead of time. If you want your notes to be "within" the licensed copy and you're considering a digital platform that does not allow you to export your own notes, take your business elsewhere if that's important enough. (Before I decided to go with Amazon, I made sure I'd be able to export any notes.)

The Microsoft Store closing is no indictment of DRM or of ebooks: It is a cautionary tale for those of us who want to take full advantage of a new technology.

-- CAV

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