Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Book Reviews: From political histories to bad comics, to bad comics of political histories. And the occasional rant about fiction and writing.

George Orwell’s incinerator

Jerry Stratton, July 17, 2009

In 1999, writing about digital restrictions management on the now thankfully defunct DIVX format, I said “They can’t stop you from viewing an already-purchased videotape of course, or an already-purchased DVD video. With DIVX, they can.” The same applies to DRM on music and to books. Any server-based restrictions management can and will be used to retroactively remove things people thought that they paid for. Amazon just did it with, of all things, an edition of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm.

It doesn’t matter why Amazon erased Orwell’s books from other people’s e-readers. What matters is that they can, and they are willing to, and they would not be able to do this with paper books. This is why I don’t buy restricted music, and will not buy restricted books. I don’t want to wake up in the morning to discover that Orwell has disappeared down his own memory hole. In my review of Eucalyptus, I wrote that I’d like to highlight sections of the books I read. What happens to those highlights when the text they’re highlighting disappears?

If I absolutely must buy restricted stuff, it will be something like DVD, which doesn’t check back with a server or require changing keys (unlike Blu-Ray, which does require changing keys). But I’ll do my best to avoid DRM altogether.

  1. <- Eucalyptus, revisited
  2. The Prince ->