The Right to Read
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (May 2012)|
"The Right to Read" is a short story by Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation, which was first published in 1997 in Communications of the ACM. It is a cautionary tale set in the year 2047, when DRM-like technologies are employed to restrict the readership of books: when the sharing of books and written material is a crime punishable by imprisonment.
In particular, it touches on the impact of such a system on the requirements of university students, one (Dan Halbert) of whom is forced into a dilemma in which he must decide whether to loan his computer to a fellow student (Lissa Lenz), who may or may not illegally access his purchased documents.
It is notable for being written before the use of Digital Rights Management technology was widespread (although DVD video discs which used DRM had appeared the year before, and various proprietary software since the 1970s had made use of some form of copy protection), and for predicting later hardware-based attempts to restrict how users could use content, such as Trusted Computing.
In 2005, the Princeton University bookstore (not affiliated with the university itself) announced that they planned to offer DRM controlled e-book format textbooks, restricting reading of said books to the computer that downloaded them, and expiring after 12 months. This is virtually identical to what Richard Stallman theorized in the story.
|This short story-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|