The general consensus among consumers is that DRM sucks, and the often draconian measures used to prevent copyright infringement do very little, if anything, to prevent software piracy. The argument is that DRM only shackles the honest consumer, while pirates figure ways around the copyright schemes regardless. But could DRM also be giving otherwise law-abiding citizens cause to cross the legal line?
That's exactly what DRM is doing, according to the first empirical study of its kind in the UK. In a new paper titled, "Technological accommodation of conflicts between freedom of expression and DRM: the first empirical assessment." Cambridge law professor Patricia Akester says she spent the last several years interviewing lecturers, end users, government officials, rights holders, and DRM developers to see what affect DRM was actually having.
In one example, Akester cited a situation in which a blind person who bought a legal electronic copy of the Bible from Amazon could not utilize text-to-speech. Amazon's policy is not to refund eBooks once they've been downloaded, and the publisher proved little help. Seemingly out of options, Lynn Holdsworth, the individual in question, ended up tracking down an illegal copy without the text-to-speech limitation. Not exactly what one envisions as the typical pirate.
You can read Akester's lengthy paper here, or view the shorter version here.