Saturday, March 19, 2011

DRM is Bad.

Presenting the Readers Bill of Rights:

The Readers' Bill of Rights for Digital Books:
1. Ability to retain, archive and transfer purchased materials
2. Ability to create a paper copy of the item in its entirety
3. Digital Books should be in an open format (e.g. you could read on a computer, not just a device)
4. Choice of hardware to access books (e.g. in 3 years when your device has broken, you can still read your book on other hardware)
5. Reader information will remain private (what, when and how we read will not be stored, sold or marketed)

More over at: https://readersbillofrights.info/

And now, some thoughts on why I, as an author, am against DRM.

First, I'm a reader too, so knowing what makes me frustrated as a reader, why would I want to deliberately inflict that on someone else?
There's a lot of talk about whether it's better to get money from every copy, or "languish in obscurity" because no one knows about you. My thought on this, is that it depend on how popular an author one is.

If an author is selling a lot of books, they don't have to worry about people finding out about them. Word of mouth from happy readers will do that. On the other hand, if they aren't selling many books,  people are much more likely to try an unknown author for free that to pay for a book they've never heard of.

I've also heard read about authors who've thought this way, tried it, and changed their minds.
All of that is only a side issue for DRM though. Some pirates use the above to justify stealing books. I don't agree with that. I think it should be the authors choice whether or not to give out a free book. I think almost every publisher and author would agree with me on that point.
And so, most publishers encode their books with DRM to "stop piracy". Only it doesn't work. All DRM is easily hacked, or will be soon enough. All it really does is anger pirates, who then, out of a twisted sense of morals, have a personal grudge against the publisher; and irritate readers, who don't understand why they have to buy three different copies of the same book to read it on their Android, iPad, and Kindle.

As an author, I'd a lot rather people have an overall positive experience reading my books. And while it'd be nice to think I was still in print (now I'm being optimistic! ;) when the next technology comes along, that's most likely not the case.