A while ago I bought an ereader (ECOReader - not store or manufacturer aligned / supports heaps of different formats / Linux installation - ticked all my boxes in other words). I didn't buy it as a device to become a rogue reader though, far from it actually.
We've been listening to, involved in, asked about and thought about digital rights a lot lately. I guess this is something that we have a slightly different perspective on - having been in the business of giving away free software (open source) and using free software (don't need to use Microsoft software on my laptop or Netbook - miss out on nothing by not) for ages now. (Disclaimer - I'm now involved in a small publishing venture and we're about to start releasing some ebooks as well).
One of the most frequent concerns voiced is, however, not by the consumer of copyrighted material - it's by the producers. How are we going to make a living in a world where copyright seems to no longer be respected. Where free downloads, ripping off of materials and wanton distribution of illegal materials is not just condoned, it's often celebrated.
This is now becoming an issue for authors as the craze for ebooks takes off.
Whilst the producers can have a go at protecting their copyright it's more often than not a fairly futile exercise - there is always somebody less than 1 step behind them cracking protection schemes, doing the distribution, pressing on with the theft. And that's what it ultimately is - it's theft. And it's not theft "from the big boys" therefore it's okay. This is no Robin Hood behaviour people, let's not for a moment pretend that it is. The artists are providing you with the means to entertain yourself, and you're stealing that effort.
Now I'm not for a moment pretending that we have all the answers in open source - and it is a model that has been struggling along under the weight of it's own issues for a long time now, but there are people making a living giving their main product (the software) away. There are also other people who use the medium as a way into a living (as a springboard for a job). There are ways that free product can be used to leverage an end result for the producer. But there is also a concomitant obligation on the part of all consumers to acknowledge that without the producers, you have nothing to consume. This idea that you can just steal what you want, when you want, because it's "electronic" is just pathetic and attempts to wrap it up as anything other than that - well who do you think you're kidding.
But on the more positive side, there are ideas out there - methods for leveraging are starting to be articulated and we're always on the lookout for these.
Recently 1,000 True Fans came up: http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/03/1000_true_fans.php
Have a look - you might find it an interesting, if not slightly daunting idea.
In the meantime - if you're reading these posts on your pilfered copy of commercial software, or you're quietly listening to a music track that you illegally downloaded - snap out of it. If you can't afford to buy the stuff - look for the Open Source / free alternative. But for goodness sake, have some backbone and support the artists, software developers, authors, film and TV producers that entertain you and allow you to work.
(Second disclaimer - I have Torrented a bit in the past - conscience very quickly got the better of me.)