Ebook DRM disrespects our freedom

Richard Stallman has described ebooks as a step backward from printed books and claims they are attacking our freedom.

The campaigner for open software and founder of the Free Software Foundation has called upon the pubic to reject the products until manufacturers learn to respect freedom. The beef is with the DRM trap, used by the likes of Amazon in its offerings.

In a report (PDF) he claims that by requiring us to sign up and provide personal information – to read a book – they infringe on our privacy. Unlike the printed book which we can buy anonymously. Unless you’re ordering them from Amazon anyway.  

Similarly, buying a physical book doesn’t require signing a licence that restricts use.

In comparison, the ebook format used by Amazon is “secret”, and “only proprietary user-restricting software can read it at all”.

Although no one has the power to destroy a book, Amazon showed it could do what it liked when it notoriously, and ironically, remotely deleted thousands of copies of George Orwell’s 1984 in 2009.  

He said that “even one of these infringements” made ebooks a step backward from printed books.

As a result he is calling on the world to “reject ebooks until they respect our freedom,” adding that although ebook companies say denying our traditional freedoms is necessary to continue to pay authors, the current copyright system does a “lousy job of that.”

Instead, Stallman suggests we support authors better in other ways that don’t curtail freedoms.

“Ebooks need not attack our freedom, but they will if companies get to decide,” he added.  “It’s up to us to stop them. The fight has already started.”