What is DRM and Why Is It On My E-Books?

If you’ve ever purchased a piece of media in a digital format, you’ve probably heard about DRM. But do you know what it does? Let us explain:

First of all, DRM stands for digital rights management. In a practical sense, it’s a piece of software that comes wrapped around most e-books you buy from an online store. The purpose of DRM is to protect e-books (or movies and songs, which DRM can also be applied to) from having anything done to them that the publisher doesn’t approve of — even after you’ve bought them. DRM can be used to keep e-books from being copied and illegally distributed, but it can also be used to prevent them from being printed, backed up, or viewed on more than one device. This, as you can imagine, is where things get complicated, and is the reason DRM has many outspoken opponents.

While the goal is noble, DRM often doesn’t work as intended. Those who want to illegally distribute e-books can find a way to remove the DRM, but those who simply want to lend a book to their spouse or read it on more than one device can face negative consequences. It’s quite common for someone to buy a Kindle, only to find their entire (legally-purchased) library of DRM-protected e-books can’t be transferred from their Nook to their new Kindle.

There have even been cases in which legally purchased e-books have been remotely deleted from users’ devices by the owners of the e-book stores from which they were purchased. (In at least one case, this happened because the e-reader’s owner took his device on vacation out of his home country and into one the store his e-books were from didn’t have rights to sell in.)

Do you agree or disagree with DRM? Let us know!

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