Friday, May 04, 2012

International Day Against DRM

CC poster by Brendan Mruk
 and Matt Lee
Never mind Star Wars Day -- did you know today is the International Day Against DRM?

Digital Rights Management (aka ‘DRM’) is a pernicious means of hobbling users’ access to content such as movies, games and music. Its application is odious in the realm of ebooks. It adds no value for the consumer, and makes the reading experience palpably worse.

If I purchase a title electronically, I want to be able to easily and flexibly access it on whatever device I choose.

DRM has affected lending and my local library system as well (look at the Toronto Public Library blog about ebooks -- 80% of the posts are about how publisher-inflicted DRM imposes restrictions on either title offerings or usage!). Penguin, like many of the major publishers, doesn’t make ebooks available for library loans -- because they have a misguided need to apply 'security' to their titles.

Cast off the DRM shackles!
CC poster by Brendan Mruk
and Matt Lee
Tech companies such as Apple, Amazon, and Sony help to perpetuate the mess with ebook formats that lock in users to particular software and hardware platforms. It’s annoying, and regrettable.

These restrictions in general are a despicable affront, and thankfully some enlightened ebook publishers (e.g. Springer VerlagTOR, O’Reilly and Baen Books) are beginning to offer DRM-free titles.

We seem to have mostly gotten over the DRM obsession in digital music. Hopefully e-books will take the same path, eventually. If JK Rowling can come to the right conclusion about killing DRM, then I have faith that most publishers will come around too, and finally recognize that DRM is bad for business.

I know that my stance on this may be rife with inconsistencies -- and the above is not well articulated (Cory Doctorow’s article in The Guardian -- linked below -- explains the issues nicely).

But the heart of the matter is, our culture needs to be open in order for it to be culture. Restricting people from accessing content that they have legally purchased is not the way to go.

I choose wherever practical to consume media that is not tainted by DRM -- and so should you!

See Also