The inevitable heat death of the print universe

At the SXSW festival, free software activist Richard Stallman made an interesting point about "eBooks." He said that if printed books were given the same protection under the DMCA as electronic works, it would be illegal to buy them used, loan them to friends, or read them several times.

In other words, corporations have stricter control over eBooks than they do over printed works, in both the legal and technological sense. It occurs to me that this might ultimately be what pushes onscreen publications into the mainstream. This is a sad scenarios though, because it means there won't be much incentive to actually improve the experience of reading onscreen. Publishers will continue to wedge traditional paper-based traditions onto the computer screen if the driving force behind their decision is corporate interest, not reader acceptance.

Posted: March 12, 2003 link to this item, Tweet this item, respond to this item