What Is DRM?

And Why I Don't Like It


What Is DRM?

DRM is an acronym for ‘Digital Rights Management’, and is something that all readers and authors of ebooks should understand.

Sometimes called ‘Digital Restrictions Management’ by those who know how it works, it is a method used by retailers of digital products, including ebooks, to restrict the use of the file.

What Is DRM?

Originally applied to music, many vendors of ebooks now use DRM to control what a buyer can do with an ebook. It also allows control over what a vendor can do with a file even after purchase.

The well-publicised story of the Norwegian woman who had her Kindle ‘wiped’ by Amazon, is a rude example of what DRM means to a buyer of digital products protected by DRM.

Most often, DRM blocks the ability to share or copy a file and can also restrict the use to one particular device. In the case of those familiar with Apple digital products, files are often restricted to a certain number of devices.

For those with Kindles, it is clear that you can only use the ebook on your device – and the possibility for Amazon to control the ebook file once on the device. Even the ability to delete it after purchase.

As an author, of course, I like to sell books and ebooks. However, I am a firm believer that a book is a book, and that a buyer of my books has the right to read, keep, lend, save and store my ebooks after purchase. Exactly the same as can be done when someone buys one of my books in paperback form.

‘Digital Restrictions Management is a technology that controls what you can do with the digital media and devices you own. When a program doesn’t let you share a song, read an ebook on another device, or play a game without an internet connection, you are being restricted by DRM.

In other words, DRM creates a damaged good. It prevents you from doing what would normally be possible if it wasn’t there, and this is creating a dangerous situation for freedom, privacy, and censorship.’ [Source]

To enable those readers who buy my ebooks to freely enjoy, share, lend and store their purchases, I have recently moved all of my books to Smashwords, which sell ebooks DRM Free, and have made it the first buying choice on my website.

Yes, ‘One Click‘ purchasing is very convenient, but do you really want someone else to have control over what you buy, after you buy it? That in my mind is only renting, and on very restrictive conditions.

Free the ebook for readers by supporting and buying  DRM FREE ebooks.

  1. Avatar of Jack Eason
    Jack Eason says

    DRM is the tool designed by control freaks who don’t want competition. 🙂

  2. Avatar of Andrew J. Sacks
    Andrew J. Sacks says

    Derek, fine heads-up on a genuine problem and continuing frustration for artists and others in the industry. Thank you!

  3. Avatar of Robert Politz
    Robert Politz says

    Ah, so you have taken a solid position regarding the DRM technology. Cool. But…, I’m a bit confused. Without DRM, you say you’re protecting the right for your readers to share yor books but, doesn’t that also mean that someone can buy a single copy, reproduce it and sell it themselves… without paying you any royalty at all?

    Bit of a sticky wicket – To use or not to use DRM. Guess if you use it, the platform (i.e. Amazon, etc.) has control. If you do not use it, everyone who has a copy, either purchased or pirated, has control.

    The internet is free (so to speak) so why not make everything on it free as well?

    1. Avatar of Derek Haines
      Derek Haines says

      DRM doesn’t stop copying at all. Removing DRM from a file takes just a few seconds, so if someone wants to do this and then copy and distribute, they will.

      The real evil of DRM is the control the retailer has over the file. This can mean that the file can be removed from your device, even though you have paid for it. As has been reported recently, B&N don’t allow any downloading of a book purchased legitimately once your credit card expires. So when you buy a new Nook, you can’t access files you own? That’s DRM evil. DRM also restricts legitimate personal use of a file, such as lending it to your wife.

      Just to be clear. DRM does not protect an author or from file copying. It only protects the profits of retailers.

  4. Avatar of Bart
    Bart says

    An article to shed some more light:
    “Why the death of DRM would be good news for readers, writers and publishers”

    The analogy with the music business:
    The DRM Manifesto

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