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Old 09-15-2010, 01:07 AM   #1
starrigger
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One author's pledge on DRM

DRM seems to be one of the perennial hot topics here, so I thought I would copy the following statement that I just put up on my website. I imagine most of the writers here take the same position, but I thought it might be good to make it explicit. Here it is; the pledge comes at the end. Skip ahead if you want, since the first part covers familiar ground.

My DRM Philosophy and Policy

DRM (or Digital Rights Management) refers to the encryption that is often applied to electronic media to prevent customers from sharing the files they've purchased, or to keep them from using the files on any but the particular device that the seller wants them to use. The principle is the same, whether it's DRM-restrictions on a music file, a movie DVD, or an ebook. The purported purpose is to protect the copyright—to prevent the purchaser from engaging in misuse of the file, whether it's uploading it to a pirate site or sharing it with Grandma.

The effect of DRM is to alienate the customers, by limiting their fair use of the media, by making it hard to archive their purchases for safekeeping, and by generally getting in their way and treating them like would-be criminals. That's my view, and I believe that many of my fellow writers share it.

I hate DRM, both as an author hoping to reach readers, and as a customer of books or music or movies hoping to use my purchases in the way that best suits my legitimate purposes. Therefore, whenever I have the choice, my ebooks are available for purchase or download free of DRM.

Sometimes it's beyond my control—either because a publisher has decided to go with DRM, or because the retailers have made it a requirement. There's not much I can do about that, if I want those books to be on sale—and I do. But I can do this:

MY PLEDGE

If you buy one of my ebooks from a store that uses DRM, and you can't download or read the book on your chosen device—whether it's the reader you originally bought it for or another—I want to help. Email me, preferably with some evidence of your purchase, and I will provide you with a copy that works for you. If you want to share it with a family member or a close friend the way you might a paper book, that's fine with me. If you want to convert the file to work on a different device, feel free. I trust you not to share it indiscriminately. I figure if I treat you with respect, you'll respect my need to earn a living, so I can continue to write. And you'll get to read my book and own a copy of it, which was the whole point to begin with.
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Old 09-15-2010, 01:27 AM   #2
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Old 09-15-2010, 01:41 AM   #3
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+1

But doesn't your publisher have a say in this?
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Old 09-15-2010, 01:54 AM   #4
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+1

But doesn't your publisher have a say in this?
I can't think why they would object. They're interested in having satisfied customers, too--and I'm saving them the hassle of dealing with a complaint. Anyway, can't I give a copy of my book to a reader if I want to?
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:42 AM   #5
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I suppose that depends on your contract with your publisher. With printed copies I assume you get a certain amount to distribute as you see fit. Don't know how that works with electronic copies.
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:58 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by starrigger View Post
Anyway, can't I give a copy of my book to a reader if I want to?
If your contract with the publisher assigned the copyright to them, you'd need their permission to do so legally. If you retain the copyright, then yes you can.

At least, that's my understanding. I'm not a lawyer, but I am interested in copyright issues.
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:44 AM   #7
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If your contract with the publisher assigned the copyright to them, you'd need their permission to do so legally. If you retain the copyright, then yes you can.

At least, that's my understanding. I'm not a lawyer, but I am interested in copyright issues.
I don't know of any publishing contract that assigns copyright to the publisher. They can, however, assign exclusive distribution rights to the publisher, in which case the author would subsequently be in breach of contract were he to distribute copies of the book himself.
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:55 AM   #8
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I don't know of any publishing contract that assigns copyright to the publisher. They can, however, assign exclusive distribution rights to the publisher, in which case the author would subsequently be in breach of contract were he to distribute copies of the book himself.
Ah, fair enough. I know nothing about publishing contracts, but I was under the impression that it was common in all the creative industries for the creator to sign over copyright when signing a deal.
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:59 AM   #9
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If you buy one of my ebooks from a store that uses DRM, and you can't download or read the book on your chosen device—whether it's the reader you originally bought it for or another—I want to help. Email me, preferably with some evidence of your purchase, and I will provide you with a copy that works for you. If you want to share it with a family member or a close friend the way you might a paper book, that's fine with me. If you want to convert the file to work on a different device, feel free. I trust you not to share it indiscriminately. I figure if I treat you with respect, you'll respect my need to earn a living, so I can continue to write. And you'll get to read my book and own a copy of it, which was the whole point to begin with.


This is quite brilliant, Starrigger.

And, with your permission, I will shamelessly plagiarise it for my own site (I'll pass a draft by you).

Being a partner in our indie publishing house (and knowing my other partner and co-workers so well), we will have no problem making this promise ourselves.

There may be some opposition from third-party retailers who slap their own DRM on our ebooks and without our permission. Quite honestly, I don't give Kurt Vonnegut's 'flying f*ck at the mooooon'.

We detest DRM, but the only assurance we've been able to make up to now is that ebooks from our own site are GUARANTEED DRM-free. This idea of yours means we can take that a tad further. And tell those who use DRM to exploit and inconvenience the honest buyer, 'Up yours!'

Many thanks, Starrigger -- and here's maximum karma to you for a fine thought. Best wishes. Neil
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:21 AM   #10
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I don't know of any publishing contract that assigns copyright to the publisher.
In academic journal publishing, you usually have to sign a copyright transfer form before your article is published. But this, as far as I know, affects only the final edited and typeset version of the article.
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:25 AM   #11
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Good for you Jeffrey!
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:28 AM   #12
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:28 AM   #13
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This is quite awesome! Sadly, I published TKL to Amazon without fully understanding what DRM was or how it affected readers, and so it has DRM enabled. But the novella does not, nor will The Venom of Vipers when I upload that. All my books are/will be available on Smashwords, too, though -- even in Kindle format.

May I copy your text to use on my site & blog and give you proper attribution (and a link)?
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:52 AM   #14
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Quote:
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I figure if I treat you with respect, you'll respect my need to earn a living, so I can continue to write. And you'll get to read my book and own a copy of it, which was the whole point to begin with.
I am going to buy a couple more of your Chaos Chronicles ebooks now.

Thanks for your trust in us, the reading masses.

You have my respect.
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Old 09-15-2010, 02:29 PM   #15
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Neill and KC, yes, of course you may use the text and adapt it in whatever way works for you. It's not like the idea's original with me. I just thought it should be stated outright.

I'd be interested in hearing how other writers (or publishers) on the board feel about it.
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