Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Dislike DRM

This is a fairly off-topic post, but this strip got me thinking about this subject today. It is relevant to writers in a tangential way, in that you will have to decide where you stand on DRM if you publish yourself. And file-sharing (AKA piracy, a misnomer that I dislike.)

It's worth reading the news part, as well. A house divided and all that.

Basically, my idea is that if I pay for something, I own it. I am not interested in asking permission from the manufacturer every time I want to use it. I'm not even talking about copying, sharing, or anything that might be a violation of intellectual property laws. I'm talking about a video game that I cannot use without connecting to the internet and asking the manufacturer's servers if it's okay to play.

Not happening. Other manufacturers have tried this same stunt, and I have been uninterested in their products as well. As have the general range of consumers. There was a huge amount of backlash those times, and I expect there will be this time as well.

Now, in my case, it is a moot point. I rarely play games on my computer, and haven't for years. I did own a copy of the first Diablo, but I really didn't get into it much. So my not buying a copy is a foregone conclusion, regardless of the presence or absence of DRM.

I would worry about this sort of thing migrating over to other content (movies, books, music), but I doubt consumers would stand for it. So far, it hasn't worked out well for the video game companies that have tried this kind of heavy-handed approach.

More importantly, I'm with the likes of Neil Gaiman, Corey Doctorow, and J A Konrath on file-sharing - it's beneficial. DRM is stupid, not just because it annoys paying customers without affecting the (determined) non-paying ones. DRM is stupid because it limits an audience's potential scope. The more non-paying readers you have, the more paying ones you will have. It's that simple.

Ebook lending, file-sharing on torrent sites, library lending of print or ebooks, even photocopies - all drive sales. DRM screws up this beneficial process.

In other words, steal my books, please. Just pass them on when you're done, and thanks for reading.

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