Cory Doctorow Boycotts the iPad

“Does the company that makes your toaster get to tell you whose bread you can buy?”

That’s just one of a series of inspired metaphors employed by Cory Doctorow to express his irritation with e-book manufacturers employing Digital Rights Management, those proprietary restrictions on distribution of e-books (“DRM” for short).

His current target is Apple, whose iPad he believes is an “attempt to shackle your readers to its hardware.” His denunciation may  be found in his most recent monthly column in Publishers Weekly devoted to monitoring his thought processes as he prepares his book With a Little Help for self-publication. “Has there ever been an ‘appliance’ with the kind of competitive control Apple now enjoys over the iPad?” he asks (knowing the answer full well).

The iPad’s DRM restrictions mean that Apple has absolute dominion over who can run code on the device—and while that thin shellac of DRM will prove useless at things that matter to publishers, like preventing piracy, it is deadly effective in what matters to Apple: preventing competition.

Though Apple is the object of his ire this time, in the past he’s also taken a stick to Amazon, because what’s really bothering him is not device-specific.  It’s the underlying DRM that places authors, publishers and customers in an untenable position. “Devices like the iPad and the Kindle are a wholly new kind of thing—they function like bookshelves that reject all books except those the manufacturer has blessed…Having too much of your business subject to the whim of a single retailer who is out for its own interests is a scary and precarious thing.”

How scary and precarious? Enough to make him hold his books back from the iPad and urge us to do the same. “Just tell Apple it can’t license your copyrights—that is, your books—unless the company gives you the freedom to give your readers the freedom to take their products with them to any vendor’s system.”

Cory Doctorow is a good old-fashioned freedom fighter, which comes as no surprise given his activism on issues like nuclear disarmament and the environment. Here’s his PW article in its entirety:

Richard Curtis

Every Blogger owes a debt of gratitude to newspapers and magazines. This posting relies on original research and reporting performed by Publishers Weekly.

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One Response to Cory Doctorow Boycotts the iPad

  1. Leif says:

    This guy was probably outraged when he discovered his DVD player wouldn’t play VHS cassettes.

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