DRM frustration stories

DRM (Digital Rights Management or Digital Restrictions Management) is a system to restrict the use of digital media (DVD’s, music, ebooks etc.), usually using encryption technology. This is mainly used by publishers of these media to prevent unauthorized copying and printing of these media. Its purpose is to restrict usage of the media to those people that legally obtained them and to restrict the usage to those actions that the publisher allows and sometimes to a set time period, e.g. when it is borrowed from a library. That looks like an acceptable purpose; however, there are several circumstances when things go wrong and the stuff can no longer be used by the person that legally acquired it. In this post I will collect links to reported cases of these kind of problems. Originally published on Jan 9, 2010. Latest update: Aug. 21, 2010.

  • NYPLApril 2008. How hard can it be to borrow ebooks from the New York Public Library? Partly due to DRM.
  • Fictionwise/Overdrive – In January 2009, OverDrive informed Fictionwise that they would stop providing downloads for purchasers of e-books through Fictionwise.
  • Author Naomi Novik – March 25, 2009. Naomi Novak tried to read an Asimov ebook she bought on her laptop but gave up after two hours. She is concerned that het customers will suffer from DRM. They also discuss the pros and cons of DRM with people from the publishing world.
  • Sony/AdobeDecember 2009. Activating your Sony Reader with Sony’s software and later installing Adobe’s software can result in a nightmare where your books bought with Adobe’s DRM will not read on your Sony.
  • Sony/Adobe 2 – Be careful when you give your child a Sony reader without requiring her to read the manual. Another registration nightmare where your legally bought ebooks seem unreadable, and Adobe support has to come to the rescue.
  • B&N books on Sony ereaderJanuary 2010. Ebooks bought from Barnes & Noble in ePub format are at the moment not readable on Sony ereaders, and probably neither on others except the nook. This may change in the future if the Adobe software on these ereaders will be updated.
  • Computer crashAugust 2010. Someone on the Mobileread forum mentions that he had a computer crash. After resurrecting the PC his DRM’ed ebooks and movies wouldn’t work anymore. As the publisher disappeared there is no way to recover his media.
  • Download hassleAugust 2010. Tweet by Liz Castro: ADE is such a hassle. Trying to download books from BPL then get them on nook. What a drag! #eprdctn (EPUB is NOT culprit, it’s DRM).