By now it should be clear that ebooks are more than just a passing fad. That digital reading revolution we’ve been hearing about for over a decade is finally starting to take shape. Amazon has sold over a half million Kindles, Sony has moved several hundred thousand digital Readers, and Stanza, the free reading app for the iPhone, has been downloaded over 1.3 million times.
As consumer adoption of digital reading devices accelerates, publishers are grappling with the impact that digital distribution will have on existing business models. It’s hard not to feel a certain sense of déjà vu as we witness yet another form of mass media completely remade in the digital era. And it’s hard not to feel just a little bit sad that publishers are making many of the same mistakes we’ve seen made in other industries — most notably by the recording industry.
At long last the Federal Trade Commission is taking a serious look at DRM and the impact the technology is having on consumers. The Commission has scheduled a Town Hall meeting in Seattle on March 25th.
The FTC is soliciting public comments until the end of the month. I’ve already submitted my comments, and I encourage all Medialoper readers to do the same. You can submit your comments online until January 30, 2009.
While no one can doubt the importance of protecting the intellectual property rights of copyright holders, it is equally important to protect the rights of consumers. Unfortunately, where DRM is concerned, consumers have no rights.
Well, all I can say is that it’s about godsdammed time. Today’s big news out of Macworld — that the iTunes Music Store is going DRM-free AND adding a tiered pricing structure — is good news for everyone involved.
It’s good news for consumers because — from the consumer standpoint — DRM sucks fully, totally and utterly. No matter how it was spun as one of those “for your protection” things, or as “protection for the artist,” it’s been proven time and time again to be a big pain in the ass for consumers. Anytime you purchase an artifact — including a digital file — with eithervsome kind of purely arbitrary use restriction and/or dependency on the large corporation that sold you the artifact to keep it working, that’s potential trouble. Period.
So in the spirit of George W. Bush’s ninja-like ability to duck a shoe thrown at him from point blank range, the following people and things spent 2008 getting away with shit that they really should have been busted on.