Media ownership in the 21st century is a trickier concept than ever before. In light of the growing percentage of our books, music, movies, and software that is purely digital, that is to say, downloaded directly from the Internet, how is ownership defined? When music came on CDs and other physical formats, it was pretty easy to say, “This is my CD. I bought it. I do with it as I please.” Of course, the recording industry would disagree, to the extent that while you might have purchased the medium, you only licensed the media. Now that the medium is largely ephemeral, so too is ownership. Add onto that digital rights management (DRM) that locks down and controls what you do with your “licensed” goods and ownership becomes a ghost of its former self. But do we really care?
Let’s talk about eBook readers. I’m sure you’ve seen one by now. Rectangular pieces of plastic capable of storing thousands of books to be read anytime, anywhere. Now equipped with screens employing the latest “electronic ink” technology that mimics the lighting qualities of real paper, they are fast supplanting the "traditional" portable media player as the tech to talk about.