15 September 2006

Friends Don't Let Friends Buy From Amazon

The start of the new semester has been incredibly busy and hectic, with orientations for new students, organizing the deparment student association for the new year, launching the wiki-based course on organization development, and trying to get my own studying and research done. Top this off with multiple massmedia interviews on the news of the week, and I've been away from this voice. However...

Sometimes you come across something so egregious that you've just got to say, no, I won't buy from that company, no matter how useful their other services are. Sony is like that. Amazon has now become another one, like that.

Cory from boingboing reports on the unbelievably horrible licensing agreement associated with Amazon's new movie download service, Unbox, in a post appropriately called, Amazon Unbox to customers: Eat shit and die. Here is a summary of the terms you must agree to in order to "purchase" (more like rent with a permanent live-in security guard thrown in) movies via Unbox.
Once you install [Unbox software], it does what other programs that remote-control your PC against you do: stays resident and refuses to budge. It might phone home, it might check and re-check your licenses. Who knows? This is a cop that you're installing on your machine, and you're the perp. Its job is to watch everything you do and keep you in line.

The software you're agreeing to install today isn't the software you're going to have to run. Tomorrow, the day after, next week, and ten years from now, we plan to be forcing you into ever-tighter nooses. You don't have to install the updates, but if you don't, kiss the movies we sold you goodbye.

Click "I agree" and you've just signed away permission for Amazon to wiretap all of your viewing habits, and to search your entire hard drive continuously and report back on all the software you've installed. The entertainment industry can produce a blacklist of legal software that it just doesn't care for -- say, software that lets you take screenshots, or screen-movies -- and refuse to allow your movies to run if you've installed it.

If you delete our software, we delete your movies! Imagine if selling your old DVD player gave Jack Valenti permission to come over to your house and take away all your DVDs, too. [Of course, Jack is no longer president of the MPAA; only the poster boy of MPAA-wrought evil - MF]

Remember when you used to watch DVDs in the break-room at work, or in the common room at school? ... Forget about it. These movies can only be watched where and when we say.

We will put commercials on your computer without your permission. But you can't keep the good ones. ... If you move, or if you travel, we'll take your movies away.
Now, compare all that with, say, renting from Blockbuster or Netflix. Or, to consider the reversal that occurs with almost any form of DRM or "Technology Protection Mechanism," compare allowing Amazon such control and access to your computer with downloading the music, video or movie from, say, The Pirate Bay.

When is the entertainment industry going to learn that when you make things reasonably priced, trust and work with your customers, and offer real value, it's actually better for business. Punish those that are willing to pay the freight like Amazon Unbox is doing? How long do you think that business model is going to work?

(For those that are interested, I could explain what's going on using my Valence Theory model to demonstrate why Amazon is definitely not an organization of the future.

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