Letters of Mass Construction

DRM or How To Punish Your Honest Customers

DRM (Digital Rights Management) does nothing. It stops no one from stealing your book, music, movie, comics. People who are going to break a copyright and post work on a pirate sight are going to do it no matter what. Companies who want to stop piracy (something akin to plugging your finger in the giant levee hole) should spend the efforts educating young people and going after piracy sights.

Trust me, the education is a big part of this. I have lots of students who don’t think going onto the internet and downloading comics or songs is wrong. It’s out there it must be free. I have some interesting conversations with them over the years. My main goal is to educate them on what it means to support art they love.

Of course, the companies have got to catch up on this. They are lagging way behind on how to reach customers. They are not cultivating the relationships which will make them successful. They are still operating on old archaic rules. I bought an album this week by an artist in Canada by the name of KO. The album isn’t available in the U.S., it’s sitting in the Canada iTunes store but I can’t get to it. I had to buy it from an importer. Why does this make sense to companies? A lot of people would have just gone and downloaded it. I had to pay a premium to get it. This is a roadblock I shouldn’t have to go through.

I own hundreds of Kindle books. I have been waiting patiently for the book industry to follow music and drop the DRM. I don’t want to be tied to the Kindle for the rest of my life but DRM kind of forces me there. If there is no DRM I am free to buy wherever I want and know I will be able to put it on whatever device I happen to own.

Luckily, this week Tor/Forge announced the end of DRM on their books. I was overjoyed. So overjoyed I rushed out and bought John Scalzi’s new book Redshirts to show my support. I am hoping this is the first of many companies about to do the right thing. I guess I have J.K. Rowling to thank for this. She just released all the Harry Potter books without DRM. She acknowledged her books were already out there on pirate sights and felt no need to punish her readers because of their actions. Good for her.

I go out of my way to support art and creators I love. I want artists to thrive in whatever forum they choose. If they go the independent route or the big company route. Art and creativity are like magic. They fill me up with energy and joy. I resent when companies treat me like I have done something wrong (or might if they are not watching me). DRM is a slap in the face to honest customers. It is time for someone to beat DRM into submission and bury it with the 8 track tapes in the back yard.

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