Technological Restrictions on E-Books and Culture Wars on Books in 2022

Despite the long title, this post will be fairly short. This blog used to publish a lot more often (I had a lot more free time in high school & college) and focus a lot more on issues related to free software, free culture, and things like that, yet even after looking through posts on this blog from its early years (which, aligning with the stereotype of an adult looking through essays written in high school, made me cringe at the quality of writing even if I agreed with some of the basic opinions), I actually couldn't find any posts specifically about the effects of so-called digital rights management (DRM) on E-books.

In any case, I was motivated to write this because I recently listened to an episode [LINK] of a podcast associated with The Daily Show in which the guests discussed recent instances of conservative politicians in the US preventing public schools & libraries from teaching or carrying books that offend those politicians' cultural sensibilities. I distinctly remember reading in high school & college about warnings of the consequences of putting DRM on E-books, including making it easier to ban such books. At that time, I and many others felt it would be ridiculous for politically motivated book bans to take effect in the US especially given respect for the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Leaving aside whether such book bans from public schools & libraries technically violate that amendment if such bans don't go beyond those domains, it is disheartening to see a direct example of censorship so closely connected to technological restrictions that are politically motivated (not due to fundamental technical limitations). It will be interesting to see whether authors of banned books encourage or tolerate people scanning & sharing unauthorized PDF files of the books for free; this wouldn't be unprecedented, given that the huge markup of textbooks in the US compared to other countries has led many textbook authors to encourage students to buy cheaper editions from other countries.