Digital Rights Management

The Things I CarryDigital Rights Management (DRM) is software used by publishers to control how customers and readers are able to use digital media like e-books, digital music and video. DRM can restrict users from copying files (for example, preventing copying music from an iPod to a computer), using them on particular devices (like preventing using Amazon e-books on a non-Kindle e-reader), or even disabling functions like copy/paste and reading aloud for blind users.

Some companies have stopped using DRM on their digital media, but it’s still a common practice. Some new e-books offered by public libraries (not GSU’s library) include DRM that deletes the e-book from the library’s collection after a certain number of checkouts.

As e-reader devices have become more popular over the last couple of years, DRM has become a more important issue for researchers and will remain so for some time. Chances are you have purchased digital media (music, video, text or games) encumbered with DRM restrictions and didn’t know it.

DRM is an interesting and complex issue for information users — it overlaps with questions of copyright and fair use, commerce and business practices, and how these things will influence the digital economy of the future.

For some great books about DRM and related topics, try these:

Content:selected essays on technology, creativity, copyright, and the future of the future / Cory Doctorow.

Remix: making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy / Lawrence Lessig.

Wired shut: copyright and the shape of digital culture / Tarleton Gillespie.

…and more.

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About Jason Puckett

Jason Puckett is Online Learning Librarian at GSU, specializing in support for online learners and faculty. He’s also the subject librarian for Anthropology, and supports and teaches Zotero.
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