Friday, 20 April 2012

Should ebook publishers use Digital Rights Management?

DRM (Digital Rights Management) is a way to protect ebooks – and other media – from being copied by the end user. Some people think DRM is curse and others, a blessing. The anti DRM brigade thinks that by applying copy protection, authors are implying that their readers are all potential thieves. Whereas the pro DRM fans insist that it’s a legitimate form of protection.

DRM: For or against?
I can appreciate both sides of the argument, and although I'm generally an advocate of DRM protection, I can understand that it's not everyone's cup of Darjeeling. Publishing ebooks without DRM clearly has its upsides, but if authors want to use this admittedly imperfect method of copying protection, it should be their prerogative. And by opting for DRM, authors are no more treating readers as potential thieves than a storekeeper would be by locking his shop at night. But if there are some sensitive souls out there who are repulsed by the actions of the nasty storekeeper, they can always elect to shop elsewhere.

A non DRM book could be a very useful promotional tool for some authors.

For instance, If an author had a number of books and decided to have one published without DRM protection, he or she could throw it to the pirates (who would no doubt relish not having to squander valuable micro-seconds stripping out the DRM coding) and stand back watch as tens of thousands of copies are downloaded from the illegal torrent sites across the web. This would be, in effect, a kind of un-time limited and anarchic version of Amazon's KDP Select promo program. By sacrificing just one book to the Long John Silvers of the e-publishing world, the author might stimulate an interest in his or her other ebooks. So it could turn out be an effective marketing tool. My only concern would be that are those who download ebooks from pirate websites the kind of folk who would consider paying actual cash for a book?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Readers ARE thieves! Readers will do anything to get their hands on, and keep, a book they have not paid for! Don't believe me? What about that library book that you KNEW you really ought to take back? Or that book without a cover which has been legally declared dead by the publishers (mass market books are sent back as covers only if unsold)that sits on your bookshelf. And then there is the question of "borrowing" books from didn't pay for it, did you? Perhaps the other five people who read it before you didn't either. Oh and you did remember to give it back to its original owner, yes? The one who DID pay the cover price...? Need I say more?
    I'm just as guilty as anyone else.
    My own book, Pilgrimage to Heresy, has been pirated. I don't know how or even when. That is the result of many years of research, writing, proofreading and editing and public relations and marketing that I will never get paid for.
    If I could hold up a banner it would say "Protection for Digital Books NOW!"
    Tracy Saunders

  3. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.



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