DRM – Digital Rights Management. We’ve all encountered it, right? In some form or another, this method of protection is an excellent idea. However, it just doesn’t work ; it can’t. Any time a mode of protection is applied to any medium (DVD’s, CD’s, Floppy Disks, files etc.) there is going to be a method to remove it or get around it. The only effective type of protection that I can think of at the moment would be code-based protection installed inside software (you know the xxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxx-xxxxx type code that you enter when installing something? Then you have to ‘register’ online via server.) Some of the newer games that are designed to require a persistent server connection to even play the game is a good form of protection, but at what cost?. Oh well. Now we are getting into entire software package protection and that’s not really what this is about.
DRM works – kinda. It can help control what types of devices files are opened on. It can control who opens the files. It can control when the files are opened. And it can control how many times the file is opened. What it can’t control is the number of ways that are developed to remove it, or the number of times that it’s attempted. It cannot control the personal goals of someone who wants to get past it just because the protection is there in the first place, then distribute thousands of copies in spite of it all. The main reason I oppose DRM is because it’s based on user restriction. When the words “user restriction” are mixed with one of my books, I don’t like it. This is why.
When you buy any written work, a movie or a CD, you own the rights to read, watch, or listen respectively. You do NOT own the written work, the movie or the CD. You own the material that the work is printed/pressed on and the rights mentioned before. Ownership of the goodies is still retained by the publisher, studios and record company also respectively.
When someone buys one of my books with DRM applied, it limits their ability to read it wherever the hell they want, which is a right that should not be taken away. They own the right to read it anytime, anywhere. They own the right to give it away (not copies, but the original AFTER removing it from their own storage), play frisbee with it (if it were print) and whatever. DRM prevents all of that. For example, if one were to buy one of my Kindle versions, they could only read it on a Kindle device or Kindle software. What if their Kindle device malfunctions? What if their account it messed up by no fault of their own? What if they don’t feel like carrying their Kindle with them on a trip and just wanted to bring a work laptop that prohibits Kindle Reader installation? Not applying DRM prevents all of this.
Is it risky? Not really. I mean, I know that there are going to be dishonest people out there that give away free copies of books. But I’m much more likely to sell a book for a measly three bucks if potential readers know that DRM is not applied and that they have control over how they use what they buy, as they should. And trust me, I wholeheartedly realize that I’m not going to get rich anytime soon from book writing anyway.
I’ve shied away from iTunes for a very long time for this reason. I don’t like buying music that I have limits with. Not only are limits in place, but I don’t get a CD case, CD sleeve or the actual CD. And with iTunes you’re not really saving all that much money. Maybe a buck or two? I just don’t feel that it’s right to limit an individual’s right to what they have purchased.
I feel privileged to have a method to distribute my work now without having to rely on big publishing houses to do it for me. And as far as I can see, I will never apply DRM to my work. Unless, I eventually get signed onto a big publisher and they make me. (It sure was cold in hell yesterday, right?) So buy my books and read it whenever and however you want!