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Open question: How is your publishing organization addressing DRM?

questionmarkLast week in an interview with Brian O'Leary about the current state of piracy in the book industry, the subject of digital rights management (DRM) and its relationship to piracy came up. Brian said:

I'm pretty adamant on DRM: It has no impact whatsoever on piracy. Any good pirate can strip DRM in a matter of seconds to minutes ... DRM is really only useful for keeping people who otherwise might have shared a copy of a book from doing so.

To be clear, Brian wasn't saying he's against DRM — he actually didn't state his opinion about it at all, other than to note that DRM is a useless tool against piracy.

Mike Shatzkin responded to Brian's interview, agreeing that DRM isn't an effective tool to prevent piracy, but that it is important because it prevents casual sharing. He wrote:

I do think DRM prevents "casual sharing" (it sure stops me; and I think most people are more like me than they are like my friends who break DRM for sport) and I believe — based on faith, not on data — that enabling casual sharing would do real damage to ebook sales with the greatest damage to the biggest books.

A piece from Wired further muddied the DRM waters by showing how almost anyone can strip book DRM in a few short steps.

All of this leads me to a couple questions:

  • What fears, concerns, and issues do publishers hope DRM can address? Piracy? Sharing? Something else?
  • Is DRM is a long-term solution?
  • If you work for a publisher, how is your organization using DRM?

Please share your thoughts in the comments area.

TOC: 2011, being held Feb. 14-16, 2011 in New York City, will explore "publishing without boundaries" through a variety of workshops, keynotes and panel sessions.

Save 15% on registration with the code TOC11RAD

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl