On Stripping DRM

I hate DRM. It’s like gun control–it’s stupid and short-sighted and all it does is punish people who play by the rules. Do you think pirates give a shit about copyright? No. That’s why they are called pirates. Do you think they are going to let a little thing like breakable encoding get in their way? No. That’s the digital equivalent of storming a ship and bringing her to heel.

I can’t pretend like I am any kind of programmer or capable of stripping DRM without tools someone else made to help me do it. But if I have paid for a file and need to use it for my own personal use in a format which it was not “meant” for, I’m not going to buy the thing a second time in the format I need. Sorry. You have my money, and I own this material for any personal use I see fit.

Today was the first day I’ve had to strip DRM off a file. I had purchased an Adobe epub because it was the only format available at the time I bought the book (which has since been added to Amazon for Kindle, which is what I use). Remember, piracy happens because the product is not available in the format needed by the consumer at a price they consider reasonable. Trust me, I would rather have been able to purchase the file I wanted rather than spend an hour of my Sunday downloading the tools to break DRM and then figuring out how to do it, but lacking that option, by God I was not going to let some publishing corporation with a stick up its arse get the better of me. In a way they have, time is money, etc., but my time wasted is not the same as more of my money given to them if I had just bought it a second time on Kindle and be halfway through the damn thing by now. THAT’S NOT THE POINT.

The point is, again, first-hand this time, the only thing DRM does is upset legitimate, paying customers. I am just glad to be computer savvy enough that I can get my file hacked instead of being resigned to a double-purchase and getting taken advantage of by my ignorance of formatting or unwillingness to break any rules.

That emotional and moral calibration is worth considering to anyone working for or as a publisher. As a writer, I want to get paid for my work, absolutely. But I don’t want my customers to feel exploited, cheated, bamboozled, strongarmed, or in any other way ripped off. I want them to pay me because they like my work enough to pay for it in order that I will write more for them to enjoy. I don’t want them to resent paying me, ever, and especially not because I forced them to by the same book twice because they needed to convert their copy to a new format.

So the moral of the story is: pirates > DRM proponents. At least there is a certain honesty to the pirates that seems…lacking from people who want to fuck me as a consumer every way they can simply because they can.

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Filed under Digital Revolution, Publishing, Rants and Storms

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