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Amazon clarifies its App Store DRM -- it's not nearly as scary as you thought

Remember that blog post from Amazon a couple days back detailing how DRM (digital rights management) would work? Basically, it said if you download an app from the upcoming Amazon App Store, it'd need to check in with the Amazon App Store app on your phone before declaring itself legally downloaded and allowing you to use it. But once it's done that, it's status quo, all systems go, business as usual.

It caused a bit of a ruckus, to be sure. 

Only, Amazon apparently left out a couple things. And Thing 1 is a pretty important one: The Amazon DRM only applies to applications that opted to use Amazon's DRM in the first place.

Oh. Indeed, that makes a difference.So if a developer chooses not to "Apply Amazon DRM to this binary" (that's the actual upload screen above), it's just like downloading an application from anywhere else, and it'll work just fine.

Thing 2 is this: Amazon DRM downloads a token that gives your phone access to use the downloaded application. It's an offline token, meaning you don't have some constant connection checking in with the Amazon mothership, draining your battery and worrying your precious sense of personal privacy. In other words, it's not nearly as scary as you probably first thought. [Amazon]

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  • Wow, I and others like paying my dues for quality apps.
  • I do, too. But I don't like being treated like a crook for being an honest customer. Seriously, I don't get why DRM exists. Pirates bypass it, and honest customers are hamstringed by it. (Although I put up with Steam since it at least tries to throw out benefits for putting up with it.)
  • I agree 100%. I recently bought a children's book on my Evo to test out for my Son. I copied the APK to my Nook Color because I haven't bothered installing the Android Market on it yet. Installed the APK and it won't run without checking into the Market. 100% legitimate/legal use of the app that I paid for and it simply won't work because of DRM. If I'd stolen the cracked app I wouldn't have these issues. I'm not suggesting stealing apps, I pay for mine. I'm simply saying it's frustrating when developers hurt their paying customers with the illusion that it'll stop thieves.
  • I'm actually looking forward to the Amazon Appstore. Having Amazon with a stake in Android can only be a good thing. I'm happy to hear that the DRM system is not nearly as draconian as it first sounded.
  • I'm looking forward to when the Amazon App Store branches out to other mobile platforms and you can carry your app purchases among all but iOS.
  • Thing 1 wasn't left out at all. From their original blog post: "...An authorized user can now install your app on any of their supported devices; however, if you chose to apply DRM on your app at submission time, your app will not run on unauthorized devices." Thing 2 is where they were entirely unclear: "...When an app is accessed by the user, it will verify with the Amazon Appstore device service as to whether the user has an entitlement to the app. If the user does not sign in or does not have an entitlement to that app, then the app will not be usable." There was no indication of whether a connection back to Amazon would be required for this to happen. Thankfully, it won't be required. But that's the last thing I need... an app I don't want running, taking up RAM and other resources, just to ensure that I'm allowed to run the apps I want to run. No thanks Amazon - you're bloatware on my Droid was enough for me. You'll not see another one of my devices - not if I have anything to do with it.
  • Reading between the lines, it looked like that was the case. They should be very careful when talking about DRM considering how disliked it is. Just a side note. The Google apps store does much the same thing but it is tied more closely with the OS.
  • I hate their wording on the upload "pop-up". They don't address the negatives of USING DRM, only the supposed negatives of NOT using the DRM. Generally, DRM only makes legitimate, "good" users suffer. It might help with some casual piracy, but never stops serious pirating.
  • Amazon's DRM doesn't exactly sound like SecuROM or Sony's PC-crashing virus hidden on music CDs, but it sucks that companies keep stuffing everything with DRM
  • I have been screwed by Amazons drm and I don't believe that it works quit like you make it sounds. I have a Dell Streak 7 with Repligo Reader installed. I purchased this app from Amazon and it worked fine for a while but then every time I tried to use it, it would not run without an internet connection. I did not have an internet connection at the time this began but had been using this app for a while with no problems. Why then, does it now require an internet connection when I don't have access to one. Why should I have to put up with this when I paid for the app. After going through support channels with the developers, it turns out that Amazon puts the DRM on and if I need a properly running app, I should have purchased it from google as they don't add this aberrant DRM to this fine and truly outstanding app. Repligo Reader is a must buy and a great product. Amazon is a big jerk adding harmful anti consumer "features" and ruining a good app.