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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