So you got an e-Reader. Amidst your excitement, there is a small amount of sadness in your book loving heart. You realize that lending your new favorite book to a friend has become a hassle far greater than just handing your friend the book. You have no control, barely have anything resembling ownership of that book you purchased. You don’t want to have any part in piracy; you just want to own what you own. Is that too much to ask for in this technological era?
So it would seem and it’s all due to something called a DRM, digital rights management. The American Library Association (ALA) says:
"The purpose of DRM technology is to control access to, track and limit uses of digital works. These controls are normally imbedded in the work and accompany it when it is distributed to the consumer. DRM systems are intended to operate after a user has obtained access to the work. It is in this ‘downstream’ control over consumer use of legitimately acquired works that DRM presents serious issues for libraries and users... DRM, if not carefully balanced, limits the ability of libraries and schools to serve the information needs of their users and their communities in several ways…”
Click the quote link here to see the list of ways the ALA says DRMs limits libraries and schools.
DRMs are used on all kinds of media from movies to music and of course eBooks, is used by such big wigs as Disney, Sony, Apple (yes that's why you can't put movies you burn on iTunes on a disc... unless you get a DRM remover as mentioned in the video) and Amazon. Using the example of eBooks, here is a great PDF that will give you the dirty details on DRMs. This, as well as more useful information can be found at Defective by Design, an organization opposed to DRMs. You can sign up for the newsletter and donate (through the Free Software Foundation) to the anti-DRM cause on the site as well as find out how you can get involved in the cause.
For a full description of DRMs from basic information to the history and controversy, you can also see this 8 article collection on HowStuffWorks.com that can tell you everything you need to know about DRMs.
There is much debate over DRMs from whether they are a reasonable tool to fight piracy or right stifling ridiculousness. It's hard to even get a clear answer on whether DRM removable is legal or illegal for all media types its put on. As I always say though, where there is a will, there is a hack so of course there are plenty of sites out there with all sorts of DRM removers or deDRM applications and addons and plugins and so on. Feel free to leave comments below with your opinions.