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Old 05-08-2009, 06:07 PM   #1
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On why DRM ebooks are good!

I disagree with many people's desire to do away with DRM on ebooks. This isn't communist China. Property rights actual mean something. When was the last time an important innovation came out of China (before and after communism)? I would say that DRM is absolutely essential to a successful future with ebooks. DRM is needed to stop the parasites from stealing people’s hard work. Entrepreneurs and inventors do not start businesses when they know people can steal their products and services willy nilly. It is very short sighted to want to get rid of DRM.

Let's say u r a novelist like Stephen King and u spend 6 months writing a book. You publish the book online DRM free in PDF and charge people upon purchase through a website like Amazon, etc. Very soon this book will end up on the file sharing services. It will be emailed among people that know each other. King will get much less for his work. Why would someone put all that effort into something if they know people can steal it so easily?

I don't think the creators should HAVE to rely on the good intentions of others to make a buck. They aren't running charities. Do a thought experiment…imagine that all people in the US has the sony reader and all people had access to file sharing programs. What would happen to a DRM free book once it is published? This is the thought experiment you should run any time u think DRM free books is a good idea.
Look at the music industry. MP3 has greatly reduced music sales and hurt many people. There is also probably much less innovation there as well. With books it will be ever worse because there is no “live performance” to make money on. The intellectual property is the only product.

This argument goes down to something very fundamental and important, something in the US constitutions….that is property rights. The right to control property…physical and intangible…to make a living off of your hard work.
Imagine a world without property rights, starting in 1900. A communist utopia by 2000? The USSR surely wasn’t. We would essentially have to rely on the government for innovations. I’m not even going to get into why socialism is a bad political/economic system…would take too long. Would we have the PC, laptop, iphone, mp3 music player, Prius, Mac, Windows, consumer electronics, HD DVD, gourmet food for mass consumption, dvds, mobile phones…etc.
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Old 05-08-2009, 06:20 PM   #2
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Maybe you should read all the other threads here that have discussed this a lot so you know the arguments and do not disregard them in your text.
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Old 05-08-2009, 06:50 PM   #3
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I have to agree with tompe, most of the arguments you raise have been discussed many many times already. Perhaps you should respond in one of the threads that already exist on the topic.

However your main argument is incredibly flawed. DRM doesn't stop piracy. Are you aware that most popular books and many many not so popular books are already out there to download from the darknet? Even books that haven't been released in electronic form are available. People scan, proofread and upload books for others to download. The Harry Potter books are all available for example.

And what about drm removal tools? They render drm effectively useless. It's incredibly easy to remove the drm on protected pdf, epub and mobi files. If in your example King released his book with drm it would be trivial to remove it and copy it as many times as you wanted. And even if some new form of drm was used that was uncrackable, all that would happen is that someone would scan and proofread a hard copy and upload that.

DRM doesn't stop piracy, all it does is make it difficult for honest customers to make use of their purchases.

Having said all this I'm not even sure if your being serious Especially given your question on Chinese innovations. I mean seriously? They invented paper, gunpowder, the compass, printing and many many other technological firsts.
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Old 05-08-2009, 11:45 PM   #4
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What everyone else said. You're quite big on pronouncements. Your info is not at all... adequate or sufficiently describes the situation (i.e. mp3s).
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Old 05-09-2009, 12:00 AM   #5
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@markbot: It may be important to note that DRM and property rights are two quite different things. I make my living in an industry that depends quite fundamentally on intellectual property (the software industry). I thoroughly support the basic idea of IP (although I have some quibbles about the current implementation of that idea here in the US). In fact, I don't have any music, ebooks, or software that was not acquired entirely legitimately -- it's all squeaky-clean legal.

But DRM is a whole different thing. It interferes with my traditional fair-use rights. It is an attempt to prevent me from format-shifting (for music or ebooks). It seems to be used far more as a way to lock me in to a particular family of hardware (for eBook readers), rather than to protect the IP rights of authors and publishers. It's a pain-in-the-butt... and it totally fails its supposed goal! Any form of encryption that depends on the end user having a copy of the key is fundamentally incapable of preventing that end-user from decrypting the content. (Think about that statement for a moment...)

Now, go visit the good folks over at Baen Books and Webscriptions. They have a thriving business selling eBooks. With no DRM anywhere in sight! They don't do things that way out of the goodness of their hearts (or because they're against property rights), but rather because it helps them make more money. In fact, they make a very strong case that having the right business model protects the IP far better than does DRM. Certainly their sales results with this approach have been fantastic.

For today's homework , do a forum search on DRM and on Copyright and read the many posts that have gone before. You'll find tons of people here who fully support property rights and IP, but who find DRM an abomination rather than a good thing. A one-screen summary of the best argued pros and cons on DRM will get you a good grade. Extra points available for digging up the sales info for Baen and Webscriptions. Double extra credit if you find the links to a longer and well-written discussion of copyright issues by one of Baen's leading authors.

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(Can you tell I've been spending too much time in academia?)
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Old 05-09-2009, 12:01 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by markbot View Post
Let's say u r a novelist like Stephen King and u spend 6 months writing a book. You publish the book online DRM free in PDF and charge people upon purchase through a website like Amazon, etc. Very soon this book will end up on the file sharing services. It will be emailed among people that know each other. King will get much less for his work. Why would someone put all that effort into something if they know people can steal it so easily?
If it is PDF, it might get shared, but hardly read. Most people do not like reading PDF. So while it gets shared, it doesn't get read that much. That's the truth to PDF. And most of the people who do the file sharing already know how to break the DRM from LIT, PDF, ePub, Mobipocket, and eReader. So it's too late. The key is out there. The only way to lock things is to come up with a lock nobody cares about opening.
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Old 05-09-2009, 01:56 AM   #7
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DRM is needed to stop the parasites from stealing people’s hard work.
Firstly, DRM doesn't stop piracy. That's a fact. Just search for any recent movie or music or ebook or game on any file-sharing site.

DRM causes no problems for pirates. This is the big flaw in your entire argument. DRM can be circumvented very easily. Once one copy of Carrie is cracked and uploaded to the web, everyone can get a copy. I'm not condoning this, but this is what happens.

But DRM does cause many problems for legitimate users/buyers of media:

For example, people who own iPods and bought music for years that will only work via iPods and iTunes. These people can either pay more money to 'upgrade' their music to the new DRM-free format or be stuck with using Apple products for as long as they want to use that music (or video for that matter). They can't buy a different brand of MP3 player or use different computer software to access their legally bought music. And what if iTunes closes down permanently, like a few DRM-using sites have recently? That music becomes unusable.


Quote:
Entrepreneurs and inventors do not start businesses when they know people can steal their products and services willy nilly.
Tell that to the companies that make a lot of money through DRM-free products. I spend quite a bit of money on (digital) music and ebooks and I've only ever bought 1 song with DRM (accidentally) and no books. Since getting my ebook reader I have bought almost exclusively from Fictionwise because they make it easy to find DRM-free content. All my MP3s are either ripped from CDs I own or were bought from one of many sites selling DRM-free music.

Quote:
Let's say u r a novelist like Stephen King and u spend 6 months writing a book. You publish the book online DRM free in PDF and charge people upon purchase through a website like Amazon, etc. Very soon this book will end up on the file sharing services.
You seem to think DRM would stop this. It doesn't. Harry Potter books are available online and they haven't even been released digitally. Computer games are a good example, since they almost always have DRM...yet any big game is very easy to find and download with the DRM removed no more than a day after it's released (often before it's released). And guess what? The DRM-free versions are actually better than the versions with DRM because you can play without putting the disc in the drive, etc. I will admit to downloading DRM-free versions of games I have bought and to 'cracking' games I own so I don't have to insert a disc every time I want to play.

Quote:
I don't think the creators should HAVE to rely on the good intentions of others to make a buck. They aren't running charities. Do a thought experiment…imagine that all people in the US has the sony reader and all people had access to file sharing programs.
Imagine everybody has an ereader. Imagine you could buy any book you want at a reasonable price knowing that book would 'work' on your ereader, your three different computers, your phone, etc. and that the software required to let you read that book could never 'expire' and never needs to 'call home' to a server to check that you are allowed to continue reading the book you bought.

Most people are honest. The dishonest ones can, and will, pirate their content with or without DRM. Those who are honest and happy to pay for content are hindered by DRM, and thus may choose to either pirate content or ignore it completely.

Quote:
What would happen to a DRM free book once it is published? This is the thought experiment you should run any time u think DRM free books is a good idea.
Again, DRM or not, if there is a 'market' for a pirated book, the book will be pirated. DRM cannot stop this.

Quote:
Look at the music industry. MP3 has greatly reduced music sales and hurt many people. There is also probably much less innovation there as well. With books it will be ever worse because there is no “live performance” to make money on. The intellectual property is the only product.
I'd say MP3 is a large factor in the decline of the music business, but it's not the only factor, and it's not entirely due to piracy. It is EASIER to steal music via bittorrent than it is to buy it. Many people who would buy music would find it easier to get it illegally than deal with complicated pricing structures, proprietory software, and uncertainty about what file type works on what devices they own, etc. If music publishers made this content as easy to buy and use as it is to pirate, they would make more sales. Also, most people feel that there is less intrinsic value in a digital download, but the record companies try to charge prices almost as high as CDs. For example, for me to buy an album online is around AU$17. I can usually find a new release CD for $18 or $19.

You're right that musicians have the cash stream of live performances, t-shirts, etc. They can to some extent afford to give away music as a marketing tool. Authors can't really do this.


Quote:
This argument goes down to something very fundamental and important, something in the US constitutions….that is property rights. The right to control property…physical and intangible…to make a living off of your hard work.
Of course, people should have the right to use DRM. They should know that the customer has the right to not purchase that material. And they should also know that many people will feel justified in stealing that data if they can't buy it legitimately in a format they can use.

Ultimately the world of media is changing. There is money to be made there, and if companies are smart they will do things in such a way as to make a good profit while paying the artists. Since I personally will not buy content with DRM, all my money will go to companies and artists who are happy to let me play my digital content on whatever devices I want.

There are free alternatives to most media, and in many cases the free (both in terms of cost and DRM-free) is as good as or better than the overpriced, protected (i.e.defective) products.

How did you hear about your favourite authors? How did your favourite music become your favourite?

For me, I found my favourite authors by borrowing library books or by being given second-hand books when I was younger. I found my favourite bands by hearing them on the radio or borrowing a friend's CD or taping my brothers' LPs. That is, I had free access to this material so I could 'sample' it before deciding if I liked it. I now buy music and books by authors who I would never have been exposed to without 'free samples'.

There are big problems for artists and publishers going into the digital age, there's no doubt about it, but locking people out of digital files is not the solution to these problems. It not only punishes the paying customers, but it could actually pave the way for pirates to start making big money from the DRM-free files.
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Old 05-09-2009, 02:08 AM   #8
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I have downloaded games (from the darknet) to finally end up buying it because I liked it. Had I not been able to "pre-play" it, I would never have bought it.

I have downloaded music files (from the darknet) to finally end up buying all the CD's from that artist. Had I not downloaded it, I probably had never heard of that artist and I wouldn't have bought all those CD's.

I have downloaded books (from the darknet) to finally end up buying (if available) the electronic form. The same reason, it was from an author I had never heard about, or thought I'd not enjoy.

I read somewhere that most of the books floating around the darknet are never read by the person that download them. Most downloaders tend to be collectors. They would never have bought the books, even if they weren't available as illegal download.

About DRM: in the Netherlands, you are allowed to make copies of music, movies and literary work for your own, non-commercial use. How does DRM fit in with that?
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Old 05-09-2009, 02:19 AM   #9
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I have downloaded games (from the darknet) to finally end up buying it because I liked it. Had I not been able to "pre-play" it, I would never have bought it.

I have downloaded music files (from the darknet) to finally end up buying all the CD's from that artist. Had I not downloaded it, I probably had never heard of that artist and I wouldn't have bought all those CD's.
And millions of other people have too. The big record labels and movie studios fail to see two very important facts:

1) Piracy can't be stopped
2) DRM hurts only the legitimate customers

No amount of DRM can stop pirated copies getting out into the wild. These companies should turn the tables and put out high quality media that will turn pirates into purchasers and fans.

Take Neil Gaiman and Cory Doctorow, two authors who have made a lot of their material freely available online. I have a read a bit of Doctorow's free stuff and will now probably go out and buy his stuff in future. I got a free book from Jeffrey Carver from a link he posted to this site. I haven't read it yet, but it looks like it will be a great read, and if it is, I will be more than happy to pay full price for the next book of his I read.

Contrast that with two books I badly want to read but can't find in a DRM-free format...(The Stories of English and Banana)...I would pay any reasonable price for DRM-free copies of these books, but the publishers have chosen not to make the product available to me. So I will read something that I can get a hold of and save my money for an artist or publisher who respects me and their artists.
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Old 05-09-2009, 04:07 AM   #10
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Look at the music industry. MP3 has greatly reduced music sales and hurt many people. There is also probably much less innovation there as well.
I am not going to reiterate everything already said but here is a thought:

MP3 can be purchased at greatly reduced prices compared to say a CD or other form of recording (I am old enough to still have a record collection). My question is, is this a reduction in the price of the MP3 or the marketplace setting a price they are prepared to pay for the product?

I have a young nephew who will look at the music and movie sites and has a clear idea in his mind about what he thinks is a fair price and what isn't - if its overpriced in his mind he won't purchase.

We are seeing a change in how we all purchase and have goods delivered. Traditional marketplaces like those serviced by the record companies and publishers are changing and evolving. The traditional companies need to embrace these new channels or face extinction. DRM is just a ploy to try to hang on to some old, useless DNA.

Pev

PS I own a software and services business and we provide all of pur product copy protection (drm) free to enable our clients to manage their business and supply chain. If we don't offer them the service they requrie they can easily take our products (may include source) and use another supplier.
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Old 05-09-2009, 04:15 AM   #11
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We are seeing a change in how we all purchase and have goods delivered. Traditional marketplaces like those serviced by the record companies and publishers are changing and evolving. The traditional companies need to embrace these new channels or face extinction. DRM is just a ploy to try to hang on to some old, useless DNA.
Further to this point, the record companies, etc. are failing to realise that the power is now in the consumer's hands. These companies can no longer charge whatever prices they want because piracy is so easy.

Most people will be happy to pay a reasonable price for media, but the content producers are trying to use DRM to keep their often artificially high prices at a certain level. These companies shouldn't underestimate the difference in value (from the consumer's perspective) between a digital file and a physical object.
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Old 05-09-2009, 06:30 AM   #12
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When my current book reader dies (hopefully not for a few years yet!) DRM will prevent me from loading my books onto a replacement, for my own use.

That is good ? why ?
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Old 05-09-2009, 08:28 AM   #13
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When my current book reader dies (hopefully not for a few years yet!) DRM will prevent me from loading my books onto a replacement, for my own use.

That is good ? why ?
Because if they didn't have DRM you would have stolen them and/or made copies for everyone!

(I'm being sarcastic, of course).

Out of curiosity, how many people here share books and/or read the same books as friends and family? I don't really share tastes with friends and family when it comes to books. Music, TV, and films to some extent, but not books.
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Old 05-09-2009, 08:58 AM   #14
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I have a couple of comments about file sharing in general.

A fear of technology seems to be relevant here. Sharing printed books with friends and family isn't regarded as piracy. Borrowing a printed book from someone - stealing the content - is perfectly fine.

We're told that pulling the same book from a torrent and reading it in your reader is different. The objection will be raised that torrents involve much higher numbers, but it's not relevant. You can let 500 or 5000+ friends read your printed book and no one will threaten to sue, not even the publishers.

If piracy is wrong then so are traditional libraries.
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Old 05-09-2009, 10:11 AM   #15
tompe
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Linköpng, Sweden
Device: Nexus 7, Nexus 5, iPad 2, Kindle PW
Quote:
Originally Posted by djgreedo View Post
Out of curiosity, how many people here share books and/or read the same books as friends and family? I don't really share tastes with friends and family when it comes to books.
I do it a lot. Among people reading science fiction at least it is very common to lend and borrow books among friends.
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