Friday 8 April 2016

DRM Restrictions

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It's the lock on digital media which dictates where you can and can't read the ebook you've downloaded. It's the reason you can't read a Kindle .mobi on a Nook without converting it to an .epub. The idea being you need to buy the software to go with the format, and that format, if it has a DRM on it, can't be converted. 

Last year, I posted about why you don't actually own an ebook. You purchase it, you think you own it, but really, it's more like borrowing, as one Amazon customer found out when her library was repossessed.

I don't think that's fair. 

Neither do many other consumers of music, video games and ebooks:

So we’ve established that DRM doesn’t prevent piracy – but worse still – it frustrates legitimate consumers. They find their media needs special software to be installed to allow access; an always-on Internet connection so it can dial home and check if your purchase is valid; or that it’s limited to a single device and rendered permanently useless once that device breaks, or the DRM service goes down. If the perfect DRM was invented that couldn’t be hacked, you can be certain it would be the most frustrating and restrictive technology ever. 
Furthermore, DRM prevents many legitimate uses of media – such as a public library lending a book, or being able to use materials from a piece for research and education (which are classified as fair use, and therefore legal).

Would you like to watch your legally bought movies on different devices? Would you like to backup your DVDs? Or would you like to convert your e-books into different formats? 
Digital Restrictions Management systems place restrictions on your right to do all of these things. Your movies or e-books may even stop working altogether if the vendor goes bankrupt, or no longer maintains a particular DRM system.

There's even a campaing: Librarians Against DRM. Now, who you gonna feel more sympathetic towards, your local librarian, or companies like Amazon who dodge taxabuse workers, destroy high street companies and offered Rape On T-shirts?

Amazon does offer an Amazon Reader App, which is free, and you can install it on an iPhone or PC. But then, Amazon can still wipe your entire library on a whim. The equivalent of that second hand book dealer you bought a copy off last week, breaking down your door at 4 a.m. to repossess it.

So, I'm not too fond of the DRM idea, and - having looked into it - I'm not overly worries about piracy, either. I think it's used as a very big scare word to prevent ordinary, law abiding citizens from managing their media in whatever way they see fit.

If you are interested in reading your ebook in a different format, but you're being hampered by DRM, check out this article

When you pay Amazon some money for a Kindle eBook, you probably think it’s yours now. I mean, you paid some money, you got some content, and now you have it, just like any other book you buy at a brick-and-mortar store. Well, that’s wrong. Actually, you didn’t buy anything, and you don’t own that book you just paid for. 
If this sounds wrong, and if you think you should actually own a book after clicking a button that says “Buy now with 1-Click” and paying some of your hard-earned money, read on and I’ll show you how to take ownership of your Kindle eBooks.

I'm not advocating you do this, but I'm not unhappy the information is available. Piracy is one thing. Accessing goods and services you've paid for feels like quite another. And I'm curious that UK's Trading Standards don't seem to have picked up on the issue. Only, in this case, you're not being 'misled into buying a product,' you're being misled into not buying one. 'Buy Now' seems far clearer than it actually is.

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