Many e-bookers believe that the publishers and other companies don't care if people violate the DMCA while converting from one format to another. But beware! Sony is keen on the iPod business model for e-books, and when you blend hardware, software, formats and content in an iPodish way, the results could wreak havoc someday on your freedom to read. The problem could come not just from Sony but from companies whose DRM consumers "broke" to be able to enjoy books on the Reader.
Think It Can't Happen Here? Well, consider this story out of the New York Herald Tribune--reporting that a copyright activist in France could face the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Jérôme Martinez's crime? "Not only did I not use an iPod to listen to an iTunes song, but I transferred the film ‘Blade Runner' onto my hand-held movie player. I am willing to face the consequences of what they consider an offense." Horror of horrors, he even told others how to bypass encryption.
Yes, it’s true that Martinez and other protesters went out of their way to get arrested. Just the same, I suspect that certain moguls in Hollywood and Silicon Valley wouldn’t mind Washington getting more aggressive in enforcing the DMCA to protect monopolies, especially as ties grow between hardware and content people. Remember one of the main purposes of DRM as used today—not to protect intellectual property but to enforce monopolies. The Sony hardware-format combination just increases the risks to consumers. If the Sony Reader takes off, then rivals such as Microsoft may care a lot about their encryption being broken for use on the Reader, even by legal owners of content.
Related: Sony Reader owner up against Hollywood-bought DMCA in the TeleBlog and Sony Reader at Frankfurt Book Fair and in Manhattan, in MobileRead.