DRM and eBooks

This is the eighth essay in a series on electronic publishing. The other essays can be found at the links below:

Essay 1
Essay 2
Essay 3
Essay 4
Essay 5
Essay 6
Essay 7

One of the biggest controversies in digital publishing revolves around digital rights management (DRM). This is code built into the eBook specifically placed there to prevent copying. The theory, from the publisher’s point of view, is that it prevents people from distributing the book for free, ergo increases profits. The problem is, it pisses off readers, you know, the ones who buy the book.

The end user wants to be able to read an ebook on the reading device of choice. The end user wants to be able to transfer the ebook from an old device to a new device. The end user wants to pay for a book only once.

Amazon, in some cases, has even gone as far as remotely deleting content off Kindle devices for reasons that it deems appropriate. That Amazon deleted books by George Orwell adds a delicious irony to it.

In another instance, Microsoft locked users out of documents they created themselves!

Most authors turning to electronic publishing are against DRM, and for good reason. SF author Simon Haynes has already discussed this at length, with the crux of the argument being that DRM prevents end-users from using the content they paid for as they please. His arguments underscore the point of this post, so I urge you to click over there and read what Haynes has to say.

The dust has yet to settle on this issue, but if the music industry is any gauge, DRM-free content will ultimately prevail. With the ability to eliminate the middlemen, authors will have the ability to post DRM-free content as they please.

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