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.

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