DRM and Monopolies

I miss Rob Pegaroraro’s contributions to the Washington Post’s technology coverage. Instead of the Apple Rumor du jour that passes for Tech Journalism in most places, he digs into policy angles.

He makes some interesting points in his story “Overlooked E-Book Chapter: DRM Makes Monopolies.” Notably, the fact that once someone buys an e-reader (e.g. a Nook or Kindle), they’re not likely to buy e-books from competing vendors. Why not? Because the Digital Rights Management (or rather, Digital Rights Restrictions) prevent you from reading a book from vendor A on vendor B’s hardware.

He does overlook two loopholes though. First off, you can buy two e-readers. If you have lots of money. (In which case, please share some with me!) Or you can buy a tablet computer (iPad or Android) and download the free Kindle and Nook e-reader apps. You still can’t read the books from one store in the competing stores’ app, but at least you only have to buy one piece of hardware.

But it’s still not convenient. And, as Pegaroraro points out, your rights to the book are sharply limited. With a physical book, once you’ve read it, you can put it on a shelf, sell it or give it away. With an e-book, it’s yours forever.

1 Comment

  1. December 10, 2012 @ 12:23 am

    The issues of property and privacy are at the heart of this digital book paradigm . The record of what you’ve read may now be “forever” but neither the book nor the record of your reading it is yours. The ebook is simply a “conveyance” not physical property. As IP the Rights holders can prohibit you from sharing your “book” with others. This is a real problem for libraries in trying to serve the public. Firstly not every one has one of these reading devices, secondly these “volumes” are digital and could theoretically be shared with all patrons silmultaneously… This is likley why libraries are not allowed to purchase digital books. They are required to liscense them for a duration of time…after which they own nothing.