DRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRM. Walk d’ plank!!!
Do I wanted to be an ebook pirate? No, but I do like the idea of ease of access to information I need to get. Mind you, I said easy access not free access to information. Back in the days of Napster, the internet had no rules. Downloading and sharing files with fellow peers ran like a wild fire. Yes, I have been guilty of such downloads to a degree but what I was looking for was not available anywhere. As a consumer, my needs were not being met and Napster fit the need and delivered on the goods. Flash forward to today, the rise of portable devices to carry such goods, Kindles, Knooks, iPads and tons of other ereaders have been come the new portals to access book information rather than just a PC or Mac.
DRM (Digital Right/Restriction Management) is the new sheriff in town that is here to help regulate and prevent unauthorized downloads over many devices. This has created a problem that is two-fold. When Napster was around, if you wanted a music file the search was done with a keyword and then hit download. Granted, if you had dial up, those files took forever to download but it still worked when it was completed. If I download through one of these new devices, you are locked in to the specific devices; this is the first.
Now, flash back two days, I wanted to see the Oscars. I purposely cut the cord with cable since I need to cut back on expenses. I opted to buy a converter box to get local channels. Well, it didn’t work out exactly as I wanted. I could not get all the local channels and could not see the Oscars on tv this way. The next option was to watch it online the same day. Since I was not able to do this since I needed to get up early the next day, I thought I would be able to see it online the next day… I was wrong… some what. I opted to do bit torrent for the Oscars and I am watching it as I am writing this piece. If I want, I can then convert it to my iPhone and I can watch it on the go.
You may be asking yourself where is the connection to DRM? Much like cable, if I wanted to see a show, I need to pay a premium for the content even though I can watch regular tv (which I still can’t). Since I don’t own a digital video recorder, if I don’t see the show when it is on, I will miss my chance. If I did, I could watch it on my own leisure rather than staying up all night and I could watch five minutes here, 10 minutes there and so forth.
Well, what if my friend also missed the Oscars? If I still had my video cassette recorder, I could lend the tape to my friend and then they can watch as well. By now, hopefully, you are seeing a pattern or at least a connection to DRM. Buying an ebook or other media, most all of them have DRM, which limits or restrictions that material to appear on a certain device. If I had downloaded an ebook on my reader, least say the Knook, I may not be able to transfer it to another device. Unlike a regular book which I bought out right, I am entitled to first sale doctrine; this this is the second problem.
The first-sale doctrine is a limitation on copyright that was recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1908 (see Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus) and subsequently codified in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 109. The doctrine allows the purchaser to transfer (i.e., sell, lend or give away) a particular lawfully made copy of the copyrighted work without permission once it has been obtained. This means that the copyright holder’s rights to control the change of ownership of a particular copy ends once ownership of that copy has passed to someone else, as long as the copy itself is not an infringing copy. This doctrine is also referred to as the “right of first sale,” “first sale rule,” or “exhaustion rule.”
With electronic sources, I am restricted to do what I wish with the material. I can’t very well sell it or transfer to someone else who may have a different ereader than mine. I may be also prohibited in making a backup copies in case of the original file becomes corrupt. When these restrictions come up and the cost of such items are not are at the correct value (songs on Apple’s iTune $.99 each), piracy and the use of peer-to-peer file sharing programs like bit torrents may be the best options for many users.
The trend for buying movies on Blu Ray is to include a regular dvd copy of the movie and then give you access to a digital file which you can download and play to your computer or other mobile device. This is the direction which DRM can have some room for flexibility. When there is no easy access information, the end-user, you and I, will look towards other avenues to enjoy and own material; even if it means that we all become pirates.
Wait until I discuss the same issue when it comes to libraries. Rrrrrrrrrrrr!