Does DRM Have Any Effect On Ebook Piracy? Nope.

Tor Books have now been selling their ebooks DRM free for a year, and in a statement have said that there has been no increase in ebook piracy in that year.  Note, no increase.

DRM is irrelevant to piracy.

By this, they have not said that there is no ebook piracy problem, but rather that whether ebooks have DRM “protection” or not is actually completely irrelevant.  Thus before they decided to drop all DRM from their ebooks they had a problem with pirating of their ebooks, and still do, but the existence or not of DRM in no way influenced that problem.   The rate of pirating of their ebooks seems to have been pretty stable, both when they used DRM and now that they don’t use it.


DRM, as any halfway competent computer user knows is all too easy to remove from any ebook, and those who run illegal download sites are assuredly computer competent and know exactly how to remove any form of DRM protection from any sort of media file.  So as a method of keeping down the illegal copying of ebooks it has proved about as effective as a bicycle with square wheels.

Actually as we all know, its only effect has been to alienate readers, encourage the use of illegal download sites and generally made us consumers of ebooks feel like crooks who can’t be trusted not to steal anything that isn’t firmly nailed down.

Readers intrinsically honest.

Another point is that consumers of ebooks seem to be a different sort of person to those who consume music and films online, and as a group we are apparently less likely to use illegal ebook download sites if ebook sellers make it easy and cheap to download ebooks legally.   Nice to think that readers are inherently more honest than music collectors and film buffs….  If it is true that is.

Protecting your investment.

I have always ensured that every ebook I buy is safely saved on my hard disk, and of course then backed up to my Drop Box folder…. This is to prevent the loss of my ebook collection when the online store I bought them from either goes bust or simply stops.   However, as I discovered one fine day when I decided to change the ereader I used for my own reading, from a Sony to a Kindle,  owing to the DRM protection I couldn’t reformat them from ePub to Mobi…   So, the only choice I had was to strip the DRM from all those ebooks, so I could reformat them as Mobi ebooks.

Having done this, I was then able to read my ebooks on my Kindle, as I should be able to, I paid for the damn things after all.

I also experienced all manner of hassles when I changed from one Sony ereader to a newer model….  Took me ages before I had managed to get the DRM software to allow me to read my own ebooks on my new ereader…..  So I started to remove the DRM on my ebook collection as a matter of course.

And should you happen to own two Sony ereaders for example, it can be hellish getting the registration of both of them sorted out…..

I feel that as long as Publishers insist on cluttering our lives up with this totally pointless and useless form of anti copy theft protection, we as honest consumers should strip the DRM of every ebook we buy.   This is not to suggest we should then bung them onto the web and advertise them for all and sundry to download of course, but merely to enable us to read our paid for ebooks on whatever ereader we happen to have.

Software to remove DRM

Here is a link to a website devoted to software to remove DRM from ebooks.  As I mentioned above, I do not condone the use of such software to encourage theft, but simply to enable you to read your ebooks on a Nook one day, and then on a Sony the next day should you wish it..  Or to lend it to your wife to read on her ereader, rather than having to lend her your ereader as well.

Apprentice Alf’s Blog:

Share with us:

What are your views on this while messy subject of anti-copy protection of ebooks?   Do let us share your thoughts here as it effects us all in a number of ways.

One thought on “Does DRM Have Any Effect On Ebook Piracy? Nope.

  1. Mishka

    I totally agree with you “as a group we are apparently less likely to use illegal ebook download sites if ebook sellers make it easy and cheap to download ebooks legally. ” I’ll pay whatever its worth just to get my hands on the eBook I’m really interested in. I don’t even want to result into searching for torrent files. Too bad a lot were priced unreasonably. I read an article from which discussed the truth about piracy and just what measures can be done to prevent piracy. I just hope they’ll be enlightened to see that piracy is manageable if only the would price and promote it for its worth. At the end of the day people pirate due that they like it too much but can’t afford one.


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