As e-readers and e-books become increasingly popular and pervasive, the rights surrounding e-books and issues of DRM are at the forefront of industry concerns. An article from Mainstreet.com takes a look at digital books, noting that “for the most part there is no real distinction between an e-book and a piece of software. When you buy either, what you are really paying for is a license to use the product, not to own it.” The interesting title for this article is "Do we own the e-books we buy?" An interesting phrase choice, as most of the options for students to buy digital textbooks fit this concept of paying for a use license for a period of time -- more like a digital rental than a digital purchase.
Publishers and e-book sellers rely on DRM software to prevent piracy, and it is used by all major e-book readers with the exception of the iPad.
With Google Editions expected to be launched later this summer, which will not be focused on proprietary devices and software, and with publishers pushing for a standardized e-book format, perhaps DRM restrictions will be at least somewhat reduced in the not-too-distant future.
“Amazon took a big step and allowed publishers to decide whether they wanted a particular book to use DRM. While this is definitely a step toward allowing consumers more control over the books they buy, Nieman Lab points out that most publishers will likely choose DRM for fear of piracy.”