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New apps offer DRM removal option for Kindle, Nook, Adobe Adept

July 29th, 2011 by · 19 Comments · software news

An interesting piece of news came across my desk a few days a go, and it sounded too good to be true. But it’s not.

I’ve come across a developer (iPubsoft) who is selling DRM removal apps that will work on Kindle, Nook, and Adept DRM (used on Epubs sold by everyone other than Apple and B&N). That means that he offers a solution for all 3 major flavors of DRM (iBooks doesn’t count) and you can get the apps for both Windows and OSX. He’s selling them for $30 to $35 a pop, which is a little high. I’d rather pay $50 for the set.

I’ve downloaded and tested the app that removes Kindle DRM. The process is somewhat clunky but it works. It requires an old version of Kindle 4PC, and it only works on 1 ebook at a time; I’d much rather have it work its way through my entire collection.

I’ve looked over the help and instruction pages for the other apps and based on how they’re written (and the technical details included),  I believe the other apps will also work as described.

Do you realize what this means? We’ve had DRM removal tools since forever, but they’ve always been passed quietly from one person to the next. Now there is a commercial developer boasting about the tools he sells.

I wonder what the feds will do?

I have to say I’m surprised at the gutsyness displayed by the developer. He’s painted a bullseye on his back. Removing DRM is likely illegal even for personal use (it’s a gray area), and selling commercial DRM removal software is certainly a violation of the DMCA.

Publishers might not care that these tools are being sold, but most major publishers are part of media conglomerates. Someone higher up the chain might decide to sic the federal government on the developer. Do you recall late last year when Matthew Crippen was prosecuted for installing modchips in XBoxes? The case fell apart, yes, but it still almost went to trial. That’s what the developer of these apps might face.

We’re going to find out in  the next 6 months to a year whether DRM removal is a crime. Interesting, no?

iPubsoft

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19 Comments so far ↓

  • Ravi

    Can you figure out where iPubsoft is based? I couldn’t and it seemed to me that they were making a significant effort to hide it. If they’re smart, that suggests they’re based in a DMCA-free jurisdiction and they’re trying not to advertize which one (in order to be just a little bit further “out of reach”.

    If they are in a DMCA-free jurisdiction, then making and selling the tools on their end would be perfectly legal. The law is being broken when they sell to people in the US (and other DMCA-like jurisdictions). So that means there are two major options for shutting them down (both harder than a simple takedown):

    (a) Get banks, credit card processors, Paypal, etc. to shut down (or at least dramatically squeeze) the flow of money. Possible as we’ve seen with Wikileaks, but very difficult.

    (b) Sue the buyers. Except… beyond the importation, I’m not sure that the buyers have actually done anything illegal. They’re certainly in a position to assert a fair use defense to actually using a circumvention tool in a way that a tool-maker is not, which I think changes the dynamics of a DMCA case.

    • Nate Hoffelder

      The press release had a business address in California.

      Edit: And the attached phone number comes from central Florida.

      • Ravi

        Well, then. I didn’t notice the press releases.

        Not nearly as smart as I thought. Probably will be squashed like a bug relatively quickly then.

  • Luqman

    Why would anyone pay for tools that are freely available? How hard is it to click on a script and follow the wizard? $35 dollars hard?

    • Ravi

      Yes.

      There’s a fair bit to figure out (which people are often less good at and/or lazier about than you might think). I also imagine that there are plenty of people who would consider these scripts to be on a “scary part of the Internet” that they’d prefer to avoid (because they don’t know how to protect themselves from malware and like and also don’t know when they don’t need to worry about that sort of thing).

  • Nikola

    Removing DRM is not illegal if you bought DRM file. It is then your property and U can use it however U want. But copying that DRM-free file and sharing it is illegal, and this software has nothing to do with it.

    • Nate Hoffelder

      Well, no. A plain text reading of the DMCA says that stripping DRM is illegal even if it is your own file.

    • Eric

      You don’t buy a DRM’d book. You buy a license to read it on appropriate devices. That license specifically prohibits you from removing the DRM from the book. There isn’t really even a “fair use” defense here, as you’re purchasing a license and modifying a book.

      What I’m waiting for is the first lawsuit from an author against a publisher to challenge this arrangement: the revenue from licenses related to books is generally split 50/50 with authors, and that’s significantly more than authors are generally making these days from ebook royalties.

  • elmar

    Calibre is free and does your entire library.

    • Nate Hoffelder

      But it’s also not easy to use.

      • Eric

        The hardest thing about stripping DRM is getting it to work once.

        After that, it’s easy. It’s the initial setup that’s tricky.

      • Eli

        How could it possibly be easier?

        Step 1: Install calibre, by clicking on calibre-[version number].msi
        Step 2: Run calibre, by double-clicking on a launcher
        Step 3: Click preferences, on the top of the program window
        Step 4: Click the plugins option
        Step 5: Click load plugin from file
        Step 6: Select the zip folder you downloaded from Apprentice Alf’s blog
        Step 7: Click configure plugin, and enter you Kindle ID printed on the back of your kindle or on the manage your kindle screen on amazon.com
        Step 8: Click add books on the main program window. Add whole directories at once. Congrats, all your books are free in one fell swoop, as are every other book you add later.

        This is all spelled out very clearly in the ReadMes.
        All it takes is having calibre, and adding a PLUGIN!! The only remotely complicated step is finding your Kindle ID, which you need for ePUBee or whichever product you buy anyway.
        You don’t need to install python, calibre is packaged with a private copy of python, and all necessary pycrypto files are packaged in the plugin. Oddly enough, Apprentice Alf seems to have heard your complaint a long time ago. That’s why the plugins were DESIGNED to be as idiot-proof as possible.

        P.S. If you use the Kindle for PC Application, you can skip Step 7 entirely. Just install the plugin and add books to calibre. The plugin reads the decryption key directly from your K4PC installation.

        • Nate Hoffelder

          First, that old comment is from July 2011.

          Funny thing is, I didn’t see calibre as easy to use back then, but about a year later I wrote a post which explained how to install the DRM-removal plugin. You’re right; it’s not that difficult.

          But no, the readmes were not clear on to go about the process.

  • Paul Durrant

    There have been people selling ebook DRM removal software for quite some time now. At least one is based in Canada. They’re all (as far as I can tell) taking the work done by the Dark Reverser, I Love Cabbages, and others and repackaging it without attribution.

    As for being easy to use: Have you looked at the latest tools at Apprentice Alf’s blog? I don’t know how they could be simpler:

    * Calibre plug-ins (for those who use calibre)
    * Drag&Drop utilities (for those who don’t)
    * GUI front-ends for the scripts (for those who really like detail)

    Why anyone would pay for ebook DRM removal software is beyond me, unless they just haven’t found Apprentice Alf’s blog.

    And given that selling DRM-removal software is illegal in several countries, do you really want to trust your CC details to someone who is breaking the law and, more importantly, not being up-front about the source of their software and what they’re actually selling (which is, essentially, the idea of extra simplicity).

  • Howard

    “We’re going to find out in the next 6 months to a year whether DRM removal is a crime. Interesting, no?”

    Ehh no ! Why would it be interesting ? No one cares. No one. DRM removal is never eve ever going to stop and is only going to spread more and more.

    • Nate Hoffelder

      That’s like saying no one cares about console hacking. Matthew Crippen would disagree.

      • Howard

        Wow .. an amazing parallel ..

        Crippen ran a small business from his Anaheim home modifying the firmware on Xbox 360 optical drives to make them capable of running pirated or unauthorized games.

        Oh yeah … very comparable.

  • e-book-news.de » Neue App von ipubsoft befreit E-Books automatisch von DRM – das Ende des „wirksamen Kopierschutzes“?

    [...] der Software, mit ihr können bis zu drei E-Books vom DRM befreit werden. Nate Hoffelder von The Digital Reader schreibt über seine Erfahrungen: „I’ve downloaded and tested the app that removes Kindle [...]

  • Neue App von ipubsoft befreit E-Books automatisch von DRM – das Ende des „wirksamen Kopierschutzes“?

    [...] der Software, mit ihr können bis zu drei E-Books vom DRM befreit werden. Nate Hoffelder von The Digital Reader schreibt über seine Erfahrungen: „I’ve downloaded and tested the app that removes Kindle DRM. [...]

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