Do you think you ought to ‘own’ your digital content the same way you own material content? Take ebooks from Amazon stored in the Kindle. Recently, Amazon snuck into users Kindle and removed a book with questionable copyright (the book is 1984, feel free to laugh with irony). Pogue writes: “As one of my readers noted, it’s like Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we’ve been reading off our nightstands, and leaving us a check on the coffee table.”
This is a PR disaster for Amazon and they have recognized how offended consumers are.
You’ll recognize this debacle goes back to the fundamental problem with all digital things: you can make any number of copies of Digital content at zero cost. Contrast this with material content. You can’t make a copy of a paper book without spending atleast as much as you did buying the original. So, there is a built-in protection for content creators and publishers with this sort of material content. They can invest in the production and distribution mechanisms knowing that they can be profitable, provided they have a good product to sell.
That said, it is absolutely essential that we do not tie things – digital or otherwise – down to a mechanism that is unimaginative and unworkable in the long run. For why DRM as it is now is unworkable, I recommend a quick read of the a. hole problem. Copyrights and DRM is here to stay as long as there is money involved. That’s the way the world is (atleast the world of Adam Smith). We need to have better implementations of Rights that are not beholden to organizations like MPAA and RIAA, otherwise the world is going to end (ok, maybe not, but it’ll suck more and more). You can’t lend your ebook in Kindle, nor can you sell them when you don’t want it anymore. This goes against the very grain of market economy. It is stupid and it will hurt all sellers like Amazon. You can’t count on customer loyalty if you are being an asshole. DRM’s back is easily broken. All the current implementations only make it harder for legitimate consumers to buy and use the things they want.