Sense and Senselessness or A DRM Love/Hate Story (OK, Hate)

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Yesterday MediaBistro published an article quoting Richard Nash from Red Lemonade imprint stating that they are taking the unusual step of giving out eBooks for reviewers without Digital Rights Management (DRM) imprinted on them.

Mr. Nash said: “Well, I don’t think consumer books should have DRM, so putting DRM on reviewers’ books is even dumber. I want to make it as easy as possible to get it to you, as easy as possible for you to read it, as easy as possible for you to assign it to a reviewer, as easy as possible for you to send it to a friend.

Do you get it, Mr. Nash’s thinking, common sense to you and me, is considered “unusual”.

Newsflash if you’ve been in a cave/ivory tower/corporate America for the past 20 years. DRM has never worked. All DRM did is give honest consumers a hard time and waste the company’s money by fighting DRM pirates who are always one step ahead (at least). Not to mention that all you need is one person to crack the DRM and the file will be available to everybody.

I can assure you that your DRM will be cracked in about 15 minutes after you put it online.

DRM is also expensive. It costs a lot of money to develop and implement DRM technology. Encoding the files is a hassle and consumer complaints keep the retailers and content producers busy, cutting into their profits. There are also the hidden costs of not selling files because people don’t have a compatible reader.
iTunes sells music at 99 cents a song, eMusic sells the same ones at 25 cents. eMusic is saving 75% not having to deal with DRM system and consumers having issues.

Care to guess who pays for all of this?
Either the consumer or the author in the form of reduced royalties.

Another point is that we don’t know if the future eReaders will support today’s DRM format. Not to mention that DRM allows someone else to control what you do with a product you legally purchased.

I have been a software engineer for over 20 years. My best advice to publishers who want to send eBooks for reviews – you better trust who you send the files to.
They are impossible to protect – DRM or not.

Question: What do you think? DRM – is it a good idea or not?

Zohar – Man of la Book

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