Monday, 28 June 2010

Of e-books and DRM

I really want an e-reader. There have, until recently, been two things stopping me: price and DRM.

A few days ago the prices dropped to where I would consider actually getting one, especially if it meant not having to carry around the complete works of the artist formerly known as shakespeare or paradise temporarily misplaced (I know they're not medieval, but when in a job interview someone asks me if, as well as teaching Old and Middle English, I can teach Milton and Shakespeare, I need to be able to say "why yes!" in a chipper tone of voice).

So now the problem is DRM.

I was unaware until today that the vast majority of books sold electronically are DRM'd up the wazoo, making use of something called Adobe Digital Editions. (Well, the Kindle has its own proprietary DRM, but I'd never buy one from them anyway. Not until they give up the practice of stealing things off people's e-readers.) Now, I have two issues: First, I find it personally offensive and counter to my beliefs to buy books that I can only read sometimes in certain places for a limited amount of time as per a byzantine set of rules; second, I run Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and refuse to rely on a buggy windows emulator like WINE to allow me to -decrypt- my books. If I were in Canuckland, the country of my birth, the answer would be simple: removing DRM for personal use is not (currently) illegal. Covered under the fair use doctrine, if I want to scrub the files of DRM and use them myself for whatever purpose I deem fit (say, printing them out and making paper airplanes out of the pages) I could do that. In the good ol' US of A, however, there's this DMCA thing.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a bullsh*t piece of legislation the Americans passed giving away their rights to corporate lobbyists. Instead of allowing me to do what I want with my books, it makes it illegal to remove DRM from anything for any reason under penalty of jail time and obscenely high fines.

And they wonder why people aren't rushing to buy e-books.

So does anyone have any experience with e-books and e-readers? I'd love to get one, but the more I look into it, the more I feel as though I'm going to have to wait -- for Ubuntu/Linux compatibility and for the slow (but otherwise inevitable) death of DRM.

Comments are welcome.


Janice said...

You've hit on the same reason that I'm not interested in buying an e-reader. I don't want to pay pretty much full paperback price for something I can enjoy only in very limited ways.

Might as well buy paperbacks which I can get some money back on from the used bookstore if I want to get rid of them, I figure!

Vellum said...

Yeah. *sigh* I was just hoping to get the benefit of real books, just in a smaller package. But with the DRM garbage I can't even lend a book to my friends. >_<