I’m not generally a fan of DRM, because so-called digital rights management software basically limits what users can do with the software, books, music, and movies they download. If you pay for an eBook or a movie you should really be able to access it on any device you choose, write in the margins, or do just about anything you would be able to do if you bought a physical copy of the book or movie.
But there are some situations where DRM may be a necessary evil. Streaming audio and video services like Netflix and Hulu wouldn’t exist without DRM, because content publishers would never license their material. And I’ve actually been really impressed with the way public libraries have used OverDrive‘s system of DRM-laden books to essentially replicate the experience of taking out a book from a library.
Essentially each library will have a limited number of licenses for a book. Users can check out those books and read them on supported devices, such as an iPhone or Android device using the OverDrive Media Console, Bluefire, Aldiko, or a similar app. If the library has just one license, when you check out that book nobody else can check it out until you return it. If you check out a book for three weeks, your license expires when your time is up and you won’t be able to read the book anymore. But now another reader can check out that title. And if you finish reading before your time is up, you can “return” the book.
The system closely resembles that of walking into a library and checking out a book — without leaving your house. But it turns out that book publishers aren’t as impressed with this system as I am. Read the rest of this entry »