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Old 04-09-2010, 11:21 AM   #1
rleguillow
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What is the real purpose of DRM?

We all seem to accept the excuse that DRM is used to stop pirating or DRM is used to support copyright law. At least, I see those excuses repeated here in the forums often.

When I bought my Sony reader, the sales gimmick at the time was 100 free ebooks - and they are all classics, out of copyright, and available on just about every ebook seller's website. So WHY is there DRM on those books?

It isn't to protect copyright - these books are out of copyright. It isn't to prevent piracy - what is the point? They are free.

IMHO, it is to prevent me from using these books on anything other than the Sony reader. Just as the Apple DRM was to prevent listening to music from iTunes on anything other than iTunes or the iPod. The sellers are hoping that if you have a lot of books that can be used on only their product, you'll only buy their product in future, to preserve your ebooks.

I don't plan to give my books away to a dozen of my friends, and I don't plan to put them out for pirates. I DO, however, plan to upgrade my reader whenever I want to and can afford it, and if it breaks down on me as it eventually will, I may or may not consider another Sony. I DON'T plan on buying all my ebooks again just because of DRM, if I don't get another Sony. So I try to always buy DRM-free books - prefer to give my money to sellers who support that (go Baen!) - and if I "gotta have" a book that I can't get from Baen, I at least make sure I get it in a format from which I can remove the DRM.

I think we could at least stop repeating the party line, and let the sellers know we are on to their game.

Opinions?
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Old 04-09-2010, 11:29 AM   #2
Ankh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rleguillow View Post
I think we could at least stop repeating the party line, and let the sellers know we are on to their game.
Sigh... They have exclusive rights to the content. They can, pretty much, do whatever they please with that content, including, but not limited to, infecting it with DRM before offering it for sale.

No competition, hence no way for customers to fight back.
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Old 04-09-2010, 11:31 AM   #3
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For me personally, it means:
DRM = Don't Read Me
DRM = Doesn't Really Matter (because I ain't buying it)
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Old 04-09-2010, 12:12 PM   #4
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It is to make you used to DRM, to make you assume that every book you can encounter is only readable in a single device, to discourage you from sharing the books with other people, to keep you trapped in their store... They just don't tell you there's a bright world outside their store
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Old 04-09-2010, 12:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rleguillow View Post
We all seem to accept the excuse that DRM is used to stop pirating or DRM is used to support copyright law. At least, I see those excuses repeated here in the forums often.
"Excuse" is the correct word.

It's been proven, long ago, that the real purpose of DRM is to reduce competition by locking the consumer into a product.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rleguillow View Post
I think we could at least stop repeating the party line, and let the sellers know we are on to their game.
The sellers have known and known for a while now. Cory Doctorow and others told them. But the sellers are at the mercy of the publishers. And the publishers are still living with their heads in the sand.
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Old 04-09-2010, 12:44 PM   #6
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It's all about platform lock-in.

Modern corporations will do anything to avoid actually having to compete on price, quality, or innovation. Actually, to compete at all.
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Old 04-09-2010, 12:54 PM   #7
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I'm new to ebooks and still trying to get my head around DRM. I have a jetbook (no DRM support at the moment) and I am enjoying reading the epubs from Feedbooks.

Am I correct in that the ebooks purchased are locked to the device?

If this is the case, how does one deal with reading these purchased ebooks on a replacement device?

Thanks
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Old 04-09-2010, 01:24 PM   #8
rlauzon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hiaig View Post
If this is the case, how does one deal with reading these purchased ebooks on a replacement device?
It depends on the device and the seller.

If the seller is still in business, and if the seller allows it, then you can get an eBook locked to your new reader.

If you chose a different kind of reader, you are probably out of luck. Again, it depends on the whim of the seller.
If the seller is out of business, you are out of luck.
If the seller doesn't permit it, you are out of luck.

Even with Amazon it's iffy. Let say that pay for a Swindle... er... Kindle, load it up with eBooks and take it on a cruise. You drop it overboard. So you somehow get a new one and register it, you may not get all the books you paid for back. Amazon allows the publishers to set how many times you are permitted to download the eBook you purchase. If that number is set to 1, if you lose it, you are out of luck. Pay for it again.
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Old 04-09-2010, 01:28 PM   #9
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Sigh... They have exclusive rights to the content. They can, pretty much, do whatever they please with that content, including, but not limited to, infecting it with DRM before offering it for sale.
They don't have exclusive rights to public domain works.

And it's possible someone could freely offer DRM cracking software with the stated intention of *only* having it used to remove DRM from public domain content, which is not protected by the DMCA. No copyrighted material = no copyright violation; no rights to digitally manage. As more and more ebookstores put DRM on public-domain content, this becomes more legally viable.
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Old 04-09-2010, 01:41 PM   #10
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It is used to lock you into specific hardware, so that if you buy new hardware you need to buy your books again.
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Old 04-09-2010, 01:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hiaig View Post
I'm new to ebooks and still trying to get my head around DRM. I have a jetbook (no DRM support at the moment) and I am enjoying reading the epubs from Feedbooks.

Am I correct in that the ebooks purchased are locked to the device?
[/QUOTE]

Depends on the type of DRM, and the device.

EReader DRM, and Barnes & Noble's new ePub DRM, requires a credit-card password to open it. You can read those books on any computer by entering the credit card # to open the book, and any device that allows entry of the password (which is based on the device's software); this includes most PDAs & mobile phones, but not most dedicated ebook devices.

Mobipocket & Adobe Digital Editions both register the devices themselves through a corporate server; only those devices they recognize can be authorized, and a limited number of devices can be authorized at one time.

Some forms of DRM only allow viewing the content while connected to the server online; you can't read it offline at all, which means it can't be transferred to most mobile devices.

Some DRM for software (not common for ebooks) is dongle-based: you need a physical device attached to the computer to run the program.

There are other forms of DRM, and more being created; those are some of the most common. And yes, transferring your content to a new device or a computer with a reinstalled OS ranges from "a hassle" to "impossible," depending on circumstances. (If the original DRM server is gone, you can't register new devices on it.)
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Old 04-09-2010, 02:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
They don't have exclusive rights to public domain works.

And it's possible someone could freely offer DRM cracking software with the stated intention of *only* having it used to remove DRM from public domain content, which is not protected by the DMCA. No copyrighted material = no copyright violation; no rights to digitally manage. As more and more ebookstores put DRM on public-domain content, this becomes more legally viable.
Millennium act, wasn't it? They have every right to put DRM on whatever they please (public domain or not), distribution of any tool that can be used to circumvent DRM is a criminal act...
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Old 04-09-2010, 02:49 PM   #13
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Millennium act, wasn't it? They have every right to put DRM on whatever they please (public domain or not), distribution of any tool that can be used to circumvent DRM is a criminal act...
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act only protects copyrighted material. Removing the "DRM" from non-copyrighted material can't (erm, should not?) be illegal, because there are no digital rights to protect.

For public domain works, "DRM" is a misnomer; it's just usage-prevention software at that point.
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Old 04-09-2010, 03:11 PM   #14
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The Digital Millennium Copyright Act only protects copyrighted material. Removing the "DRM" from non-copyrighted material can't (erm, should not?) be illegal, because there are no digital rights to protect.
I agree with your sentiment, but the letter of law, as I understand it, is somewhat different. You see, the said act went a bit further, and defined a new type of criminal activity. From what I know, the design and distribution of any tool that can be used to circumvent copyright protection became a crime.

So, if company A, has one copyrighted title protected by a given protection scheme, that makes the complete scheme legal fortress. Since the act did not prevent company A from applying protection scheme on non-copyrighted material, it is impossible to create a tool that will target only non-copyrighted material, and will not work for copyrighted material offered by company A.
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Old 04-09-2010, 05:13 PM   #15
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Ankh - Why are you worrying about the DMCA? It's an American law, only Americans have to fret about it. Canadians, so far, only have to worry if we get a bad new copyright law or let ourselves get sucked into the ACTA business. We still have a chance to fight both of those.

Proud Supporter of Fair Copyright for Canada
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