Sep 15

Marc Hedlund

Marc Hedlund

Cory tears into Amazon Unbox license

Cory Doctorow gives Amazon a beat down for the license of their new Amazon Unbox movie download service. Cory's piece looks spot-on to me.

I imagine the other side of the story will be the "Hollywood made me do it" defense -- that movie executives wouldn't agree to participate without every one of the restrictions in the license. That excuse was barely tolerable to me (though not to Cory) from Apple when the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) launched, but in this case, no one should accept it for a moment (if it is offered as explanation). Apple has clearly proven that a market for downloadable entertainment exists and will benefit Hollywood tremendously if they make it work for people. Amazon should be pushing to offer looser, more customer-friendly terms in order to take business away from Apple, and the story in Hollywood should be, "Silicon Valley made me do it."

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Comments: 4

  Cory Doctorow [09.15.06 10:59 AM]

Right on. If Amazon went into the asbestos business ("people want effective home insulation!") and gave their customers cancer, we'd blame Amazon, not the asbestos.

Getting into business with the entertainment industry means promising to ship toxic waste -- spyware, rootkits and EULAs that would make a grown lawyer blush. Everyone knows this. Any entertainment business that ships a product like this deserves our naked loathing, not sympathetic handwringing about the nasty boogiemen in Studio City.

Amazon has a great business selling movies -- they ship DVDs and VCDs and even VHS cassettes. Getting into the downloadable business requires them to ship toxic waste. Ergo, they shouldn't get into that business.

  Cliff Spence [09.15.06 01:04 PM]

Truer words have never been spoken. Excellent article, Corey.

I decided to try out the Amazon Unbox service the day after launch, being curious to a fault. The result was one of the most frustrating combinations of experiences ever between a website, an application and DRM. It took two days, a support email, and a phone call to Amazon to get the DRM-suffocated media to even download, much less play. Since web applications and media are what I do for a living, I can't help but feel bad for the average user.

My loathing is most definitely wearing it's birthday suit.

  Scott Haug [09.15.06 03:04 PM]

Minor point, but Amazon is headquartered in Seattle, WA, not "Silicon Valley".

Otherwise, excellent analysis.

  Marc Hedlund [09.15.06 03:11 PM]


Yeah, I know, and many movies are made in Vancouver, not Hollywood. :) I just wanted to use the representative city for the respective businesses.

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