DRM rears its ugly head
My friend and fellow writer Brian Panhuyzen is writer in residence right now over at Open Book Toronto. He’s writing about DRM, otherwise known as digital rights management. It’s a contentious issue sure to sunder friendships and end marriages, but then what issue online doesn’t?
In his first post, Brian comes out in favour of DRM:
For me as a writer, DRM is a way of making it difficult to distribute my work without authorization. With the widespread distribution of music and movies and now books via the Internet, the public is clearly without conscience when it comes to disregarding copyright. In this climate, the worst thing you can do is make it easy. If I’m reading a book and loving it, I can email you and tell you that you must read it – but how much better if I simply attach the unprotected ebook to my email message, and in minutes, you can be reading it too. DRM complicates this process by inserting a critical step, a mild but important impediment, to the process: you need to software unlock the file, to remove the DRM. While it’s not terribly difficult to do, it does require a certain degree of technical savvy and comfort. And it’s illegal.
I’m usually all for consumer rights, but I lean more toward Brian’s side in this case. Almost everyone I know routinely downloads pirated movies or watches them on streaming sites. The same used to be true of music, but I’ve found that most of the people I know now pay for music. Why? Is it because it’s easier to buy than steal music? Is it the low price points, which movies have yet to match? (In fact, both movies and books are creeping up in price, which will probably lead to more piracy.)
I want it to be easy for readers to find my work online. I want it to be easy for readers to buy my work online. I want it to be easy for readers to read my works on whatever device they want, when they want. But I don’t want it to be easy for people to steal my work. It’s hard enough to time find time to write as it is. The less money coming in from my writing, the less time I have to write because I’ll have to work at other things to pay the bills.
Don’t like DRM? I’m afraid we’re stuck with it until people change their behaviour.