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The Futility of Digit Rights Management

... why I don't bother with turning on DRM for my e-books...
hen I was in high school, a bunch of years ago, one listened to music from a radio or a turntable. You know those machines with a needle on the end of an arm that went round and round. Yeah, there were tape cassettes and some still had 8-tracks but mostly it was vinyl. Pirating was about B movies at the Saturday matinee. There was bootlegging, something about secret recordings of concerts, but I was never part of any in-crowd so I only heard a few words from a distance.
Fast forward a few years and the digital world turned the music business upside down. Pirating took on new meaning and things haven’t been the same since. The book business was slow to see the effects because people weren’t willing to read books on their computers nor were they willing to spend a small fortune for a portable device. Enter Amazon and its Kindle. They sold it at a loss to create a market. It’d say it’s worked because in the last three years we’ve seen a revolution in the book business. No going back.
One aspect of downloading e-books to your e-reader is DRM or Digital Rights Management. BigAl gives an account of it on his blog here.
I won’t repeat this thoughts, but add a couple of points.
DRM is too easy to circumvent. It does not limit pirating.
Anything digital can be copied. It doesn’t matter what hoops you put in the way. If you think DRM is protecting you from lost sales, then you don’t fully understand what is going on.
I can go to a legitimate download library for e-books (part of my local public library) and sign out a load of e-books for use with Adobe Digital Editions. It’s set up to allow me to view them for one, two or three weeks. I can load them on my Kobo and use it with the same time constraint. All legit. After the expiration date, I can’t view the files on my computer or reader. But I could run some software and within seconds the DRM is gone. The time restriction is removed. I can now view those files next month or next year or send it out into the world for others to use.
DRM for e-books is a failure. It doesn’t work.
The only saving grace is in places like the US where there are laws against cracking DRM. But what is gained? Does the FBI go around to people’s home checking their computers and e-readers?
As well, if you have a download from Amazon (MOBI / AZW format) you can easily convert it to EPUB format for use on a Kobo or Nook or any other file format like PDF, TEXT, Word .DOC and so on. The same is true if you are starting with an EPUB file.
I don’t use DRM on my books because it doesn’t work and I don’t feel I’m losing any revenue. If people are passing along copies of my book, not likely, it is helping to build my brand, such as it is.
Posted 2012/06/15 at 15h50ET in E-books.


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