Goodbye to DRM eBooks form Microsoft

eReader with a set of keys next to it.

Did you buy books from Microsofts eBook store, well now you can’t read them any­more.
Actu­al­ly, I was­n’t aware that Microsoft had an eBook store, though this is not sur­pris­ing as many of the tech com­pa­nies have been diver­si­fy­ing in the past to try and move into con­tent, and lock you into their plat­forms.

This is the Microsoft announce­ment:

Start­ing April 2, 2019, the books cat­e­go­ry in Microsoft Store will be clos­ing. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this means that start­ing July 2019 your ebooks will no longer be avail­able to read, but you’ll get a full refund for all book pur­chas­es. See below for details.

While you can no longer pur­chase or acquire addi­tion­al books from the Microsoft Store, you can con­tin­ue to read your books until July 2019 when refunds will be processed.

Imag­ine that the books you have on your book­shelf had locks over the cov­er and now the keys are going to self destruct so you can’t open them again. That is what DRM (Dig­i­tal Rights Man­age­ment) is doing.

Offi­cial­ly, DRM is there to pro­tect rights hold­ers and pre­vent unau­tho­rised copy­ing. Although in most cas­es media pro­tect­ed this way is read­i­ly avail­able for those who know what to look for (I don’t endorse this and do buy my media, though I’ve learnt get the phys­i­cal thing or look for DRM free stores). The imple­men­ta­tion how­ev­er often leads to lock in to the spe­cif­ic tech­nol­o­gy and plat­form, since times and tech­nol­o­gy change, as do busi­ness needs. The servers that pro­vide the DRM ser­vices cost mon­ey to main­tain, and if that becomes too much of a cost or the com­pa­ny goes out of busi­ness, then they just get switched off. With the move to dig­i­tal down­load media, we real­ly rent our books, movies etc. Not own them. As the Wired sto­ry that brought this to wider atten­tions states:

At least Microsoft can afford to pay off its impact­ed cus­tomers. The next time a plat­form folds—and takes its ecosys­tem with it—those affect­ed might not be so lucky. Which is maybe the real les­son of Microsoft oblit­er­at­ing its ebooks: This has all hap­pened before, and not near­ly enough is being done to stop it from hap­pen­ing again.

This extends also to oth­er ser­vices that are meant to pro­vide inter­op­er­abil­i­ty. Ultra­vi­o­let, a ser­vice that allowed store bought disks to also include a dig­i­tal copy through down­load codes, and move media between plat­forms is also shut­ting down.

Sad­ly, it looks like DRM is here to stay, despite some hope that it might go away, when Steve Jobs post­ed his thoughts on Music and iTunes music (and music only) went DRM free. This is most­ly as we are mov­ing to a more stream­ing media world with the likes of Spo­ti­fy and Net­flix. At least with these ser­vices there is hon­esty that its a rental ser­vice and no sense of own­er­ship. I don’t real­ly mind that, although I don’t use those ser­vices myself as I pre­fer to own. There are how­ev­er cam­paign groups that are doing their best to high­light the dam­age, such as Defec­tive by Design.

Fea­tured image by Actu­aLit­té

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