In what may well be the first sign of the end of them much hated DRM system of copyright protection on ebooks, Macmillan subsidiary Tom Doherty Associates (home to scifi publishers Tor Books, as well as Forge, Orb and others) announced that its entire ebook catalogue will be DRM-free by July 2012.
In this move they will be joining a number of other publishers who for a long time have not been using any form of DRM protection on their ebooks with no apparent loss of income. Publishers such as O’Reilly and Baen to name but two.
As Tom Doherty puts it in a statement:
They’re a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance to them. It prevents them from using legitimately-purchased e-books in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another.
An old argument:
This argument is one that has been shouted at publishers now for such a long time, as we ereader owners complain bitterly about the restrictive and infuriating problem of the hated DRM that publishers insist on using. And which up to now they have resolutely refused to listen to.
Only a problem for non-techies:
Actually, the problem of DRM is not really a problem for the “technically sophisticated”, they discovered ages ago how easy it is to strip the DRM from any ebook they bought, it is actually a problem for the non-technically sophisticated users of ereaders who do not know how to get that infernal thing out of their ebooks. And it is this group who will be pleased when DRM is finally relegated to the scrap heap as it so richly deserves to be.
Never worked anyway:
If it actually worked and prevented ebooks being stolen and put up onto illegal websites for us to download for free, that would be one thing, but it absolutely does not achieve this aim in any respect, so it is a totally pointless and counter productive irritation to publisher’s customers.
There are rumours circulating in the publishing world that the “Big 6”publishers are seriously considering dropping DRM soon as well, and that perhaps the Tor move is a sort of “dipping the toes in the water” move to find out what happens when DRM is removed.
Let us hope so.
A publisher speaks…..
In an intriguing post on Paid Content (link below) a necessarily anonymous publisher writes of his feelings about DRM on ebooks, a section of which I reproduce here as it gives a typical reader’s view of DRM on ebooks.
I had thought about breaking DRM before, but had never done so. A key reason why I didn’t is that I want to honor the IP rights of publishers. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized: I bought the book, and now I want to be able to read it on any device I choose.
I want to be clear about how I’ve been using these unlocked books. I’m not sharing them with anyone. They’re all just for my use. I’m not putting them on a torrent, or even sharing them with family or friends.
I believe this is justified because I realize that when I buy an e-book from Amazon, I’m really buying a license to that content, not the content itself. This is ridiculous, by the way. I feel as if e-book retailers are simply hiding behind that philosophy as a way to further support DRM and scare publishers away from considering a DRM-free world.
I’m not going to say where I work, or anything about my company, but I will say that I don’t think DRM is good for the publisher, author or customer. Don’t pro-DRM publishers realize this is one of the key complaints from their customers? I’ve heard plenty of customers tell me that e-book prices need to be low because they’re only buying access to the content, not fully owning it. That needs to change.
The actual process of breaking the DRM was pretty easy. There are plenty of how-to resources that are only a Google search away from you. I’ve now unlocked books from both Amazon and Apple, and I ran into minor hiccups with both. But a bit of digging online and help from a trusted friend got me through it. Now I can read those books on any device I want to. My advice to newbies is to not give up. If you run into a problem, look around and I bet you’ll find the answer online. I think most readers would be able to do this easily. It just requires a bit of detective work and not giving up if you hit a roadblock.
Do I feel “evil”? No, not really. If I was giving these books away, I would, but I’m the only person using them.
Interesting thoughts I find.
So,if this first crack inthe DRM wall opens even further over the next few months, as I am reasonably sure it will, a whole new age of freedom of use for our ebooks will finally dawn and I shall no longer have to keep swapping ereaders with my wife when we want to share a particular ebook….. Nothing like a personal point of view at times, is there?
Share with us:
What are your feelings about this whole DRM topic? Is it worth keeping, or is the route that Pottermore have taken the answer, or simply forget the whole idea of attempting to prevent copying of ebooks and hope that consumers are mostly honest enough to not freely distribute copies of their ebooks?