The entertainment industry’s fear of copyright infringement has led to stringent curbs on what you can do with the media you buy and rent. For example, Amazon’s Kindle format is unreadable on other e-readers; you are not legally permitted to make personal backups of DVDs you’ve purchased, or “rip” them to other formats so you can watch them on other devices or share them with other people; and DVD players have “regional coding” that curbs people’s ability to play a disk bought in one part of the world from being viewed on a player in another part of the world. There are plenty of tools that let you use media your own way despite these restrictions, but there are some risks (small in some cases, larger in others). This chapter does not advocate copyright infringement. It does explain what is possible, and encourages readers to make their own, informed decisions.

Sidebar: Cory Doctorow says, “”When someone puts a lock on something that belongs to you and won’t give you the key, the lock isn’t there for your benefit.” This applies to content providers, who have given the keys to their kingdom to companies like Apple, Amazon and Google; Digital Rights Management hurts the creators more than it helps them.

Sidebar: Interview with founder of VLC, an open-source, multi-format media player.