Tuesday, 11 June 2013

DRM. Hm.

First of all, this is sort of a self publishing post.

So I'm looking at publishing a story on kindle. I'm looking at the ins and outs of it and within the pre-read documentation I'm told that I will be asked if I want to use DRM within my publication. So what does DRM mean?

To me - and I'm pretty savvy on electronic media - it is the piece of software that stops you from just straight
up copying electronic media. Games have it. Kindle books have it. I have seen in the press that it (particularly in gaming) has caused some 'issues', but nothing that has affected me personally.

From a Kindle point of view the company line is:

You may choose, on a per title basis, to have us apply DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology which is intended to inhibit unauthorized access to or copying of digital content files for titles. DRM is a one-time option. This setting cannot be changed once selected. 

Okay, fine. Dig a little deeper.

With DRM in place on a title you cannot remove that title from the Kindle and read it on another e-reader. I know. I tried when I was looking at e-readers. Okay, fine. I know this technology can be circumvented, and whilst I do not claim to have looked at the legalities of it, I will assume that it is illegal to remove DRM through 3rd party software.

Now I hit a wall. Very few people seem to be touting the benefits of DRM. Except Amazon, that is.

So I'm beginning to wonder if I should use it at all.

Then (sort of unrelated) I find that Amazon have to ability to delete books from your Kindle without notice. It appears to have happened a couple of times. Orwell's 1984 was one (presumably because the Eiffel Towered sized I in Irony fell on someone). The reason? Someone started selling it against copyright on Amazon and they did what they had to, to put it right. It was sold to you illegally, we're taking it back. Amazon refunded the owners. But is that the point?

In my ambles around internet land one site referred to it as Amazon breaking into your house and taking books you had bought from them, leaving their value on the bookshelf.

The new Amazon E-Ninja.
Used to bring copywriter thugs to justice...!

It's a point, isn't it?

Now the internet is one big vacuous rumor mill, and the suggestion is that DRM free titles cannot be deleted remotely. As I said, rumor.

So the plus side, apparently, is that people can't remove e-books from Kindles unless they, um, know how to use Google. Which protects me, the author.  Sort of.

The downside? Well, that's not actually for me to judge. If I want to buy a book for myself and trust Amazon not to randomly decide they don't like me and wipe the thing (which, believe it or not, I do)  there don't appear to be any. The only 'downside' is that I cannot take my Kindle books and use them on other readers. But I did by Kindle Books. Not PDF's, or Nook, or whatever.

Food for thought. 

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