Kindle users bypass copy protection and regional restrictions

Kindle 2

If the sign of a successful product is people finding ways to hack it, Amazon should be flattered. An Israeli user has found a way to remove copy protection of titles bought from the Kindle store for use on a PC, while a writer in Spain has found a way around international barriers of web use and book availability on the standalone device.

The Israeli user, whose screenname i?cabbages is believed to be a pseudonym, has released an application named Unswindle, which removes the encryption from Kindle for PC files and translates them into the Mobi format. That allows easy resizing to any screen resolution and, more importantly, allows the files to be transferred to any device without restriction. (Note that this is for the application on PCs rather than downloads on a Kindle reader device.)

While it’s clearly a breach of the law, it’s how this is used that determines the moral situation. Some users will believe it’s acceptable to use the application to transfer files from their Kindle to other devices for added convenience. Amazon will fear that popular titles will quickly find their way online for mass downloading.

Cheekily, i?cabbages praised Amazon’s efforts to protect the content, noting that its system creates a separate encryption key for each title on a device. That’s not the case on the Kindle app for the iPhone, though.

Meanwhile, an owner of a Kindle reader in Spain has found a creative way around regional restrictions on the device (for copyright reasons not all titles are available in all countries). Charlie Sorrell of Wired figured out that the solution is to open two Kindle accounts: one with your own address, and one using a US address which, shall we say, you don’t necessarily reside in. You then use your main account to buy gift cards and then apply them to the US account, allowing you to buy any titles available in the US.

The trick also means that you may be able to access web browsing even if the feature isn’t available to customers in your country. The downside is that you are now classed as a US customer roaming overseas, which can increase the cost of buying some titles.