Piracy has been a major problem for the film and music industry for many years now. Even in the days of tape there were problems with people making tape to tape copies of video or of music. Prevention of piracy was far more difficult then, but now that we are firmly planted in the digital age there is a strong DRM (digital rights management) culture. Unfortunately, DRM as it is today is a largely unfair system.
DRM is any of a number of methods of preventing a digital file from being copied. The techniques are generally applied to media files such as movies, music and digital books, but could be applied to almost any digital file.
One of the reasons that people consider DRM unfair is that it limits the freedom of genuine buyers. A physical paper book for instance can be loaned to a friend any time you want to loan it. It can be read by every member of your family, and then when you are finished with it, it can be given away to someone else who is interested in reading it.
An eBook cannot be lent to a friend. It can be read by others in your family but only if they are using the same account as you are to download eBooks onto their device-or else you have to loan them your eBook reader. Some companies are now permitting the loaning of eBooks-but only for a maximum of fourteen days, and only once ever for each book. Worst of all, you cannot give the book away or gift it to other people when you are done with it. Yet, you still have to pay the same amount for the average eBook as you would pay for a physical book. In fact it is often possible to find the physical book on special offer for less.
Similar issues arise with digital media. When you buy a DVD you can play it on any of the DVD players that you own. A movie that is legally bought and downloaded however may be limited to only certain types of device, or even to a single computer. And if your computer is somehow damaged and you need a new one, you may not be able to play your old movies.
DVDs are prone to their own issues. When watching a movie on DVD you have to first wait for a lengthy warning regarding piracy. Though the warnings are of course genuine and of use, they are being shown to the people who have legally paid for their DVD, where as the pirates see no warning at all. Illegally downloaded files can be watched on any of your devices, and they don’t have any of the annoyances, instead going straight to the movie.
The problem is that, as annoying as it is, DRM is all that companies currently have to protect their often very expensive productions. Considering them to be anti-piracy measures instead of just DRM helps to keep in mind the true reasons behind their use, and may help them to seem a little less annoying.