Why I Chose Not to Use DRM

When I published Revived, I was given the choice of either using Digital Rights Management software (“DRM” in short) or not. Before we go any further, some of you may want to know what DRM is. According to Wikipedia,

Digital rights management (DRM) schemes are various access control technologies that are used to restrict usage of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works. DRM technologies try to control the use, modification, and distribution of copyrighted works (such as software and multimedia content), as well as systems within devices that enforce these policies

When I was given the choice, I immediately and without doubt opted for not using DRM. If you want to know the reasons behind my choice, keep reading.

As a reader/gamer, I’ve always been contrary to DRM. To put it bluntly, DRM seems to be tailor-made to piss of legitimate buyers. The very principle it’s based on is wrong: DRM limits your enjoyment of a product because someonesomewhere, may choose to distribute it illegally. This merely hypothetical situation is used as an excuse to limit a series of established consumer rights; such as the right to lend the book you purchased to a friend, which can be easily and legally done with a physical book – that, incidentally, is much more expensive to produce than an ebook – without anyone crying havoc. Or the right to move the book you purchased from one place to another, which is impossible if you bought a DRM-protected ebook on Amazon and later want to switch to a Kobo e-reader (or vice versa). Or the right to keep reading the ebook you purchased after the DRM it’s protected by falls out of use, meaning that newer devices won’t support it, meaning that it will be unusable. All of these rights disappear because of the possibility that someone may pirate the book. Does it sound fair to you?

Some DRM may also be actually detrimental to the user experience. This happens most of the time with videogames, with known cases of lower performances or games made actually unplayable by bugged DRM. However, there are reported cases of ebook DRM making ebooks impossible to read. Note that these issues do not affect those who downloaded pirate copies, which creates an absurd situation: legitimate buyers find themselves with a product that’s inferior to the one they could have downloaded from the Internet for free. Seriously?

As if all that wasn’t enough, DRM has one more, big issue: it doesn’t work.

That’s right: the software that’s supposed to protect books, games, music and whatever from being copied and freely distributed is simply irrelevant. Just look through any website that offers pirate ebooks for free. How many of those books were originally protected by DRM? Probably most of them. And yet, it didn’t make any difference. It takes around 2 minutes for a tech-savy person to remove the protection from an ebook (or a dozen of them) and upload it on the Internet. The moment someone buys an ebook from, say, Amazon, they are given both the code (the protected ebook) and the key to the code (their e-reading device). From there, it’s quite simple to unlock the ebook and make it DRM-free. Might as well avoid using DRM from the start.

To sum it up: DRM is both useless and harmful to business. Why should I screw myself up by using it?

P.S. Before someone accuses me of being a… what’s the latest fad? “Liberal snowflake”? let me tell you something: I fully support author rights. I believe that anyone who creates something should have the chance to make a profit out of it. But that doesn’t mean I will stand for readers being treated like garbage. I am in favor of a DRM-free publishing world because I want people to be encouraged to buy ebooks. Because I don’t want readers to feel like idiots after they paid money for something that’s available – albeit illegally – for free and in a better form. If downloading pirate books is wrong, then tempting people to do so is worse than wrong. And I will not stand for that.

Credits: Ubisof_DRM by Colony of Gamers