Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My books! Mine!

So I spend most of yesterday afternoon stripping the DRM from my purchased eBooks. Which is not yet illegal, no matter what Adobe and Amazon would like you to think. Although if this stupid C-11 bill passes it would be. But that is a totally different rant.

I have no intention of uploading, distributing or otherwise violating copyright on any of these files (That's the illegal part). I just want to guarantee that should Kobo or Adobe or Sony go out of business, or change their policy or hardware, or get bored with this eBook business, I will still be able to read the items that I have paid good money for. I refuse to rent books under the guise of "purchasing".   I feel the same way about music or movies or video games (ummm, what do you mean I can't play single player Diablo 3 if Blizzard's servers go down? I don't THINK so!). The main difference is that I actually get really attached to my books, and I read them over and over and over. Heck, I just finished my sixth time through the entire Dresden Files series, although I also own that series in dead tree format just to make sure it is 100% safe from apocalyptic hard drive/technology failure. I may own the audio books as well. I REALLY like that series.

On a related note, Tor books, the Science Fiction/Fantasy imprint of Macmillian, will soon be releasing all of their books DRM free and selling through their website. I am so excited about this step that I can barely type straight! They had some issues with the big distributors adding DRM to the first book they tried this with,(Redshirts by John Scalzi) but they were really great about getting people the file they had promised. I only bought this book to support the decision to let me own it, but it was very funny and totally worth it!

I hope it goes well and that all the other big publishers are forced to admit that people are capable of supporting an industry without being treated like criminals in waiting. I still think the difficulty and limitations of DRM'd material, combined with the philosophical opposition to not being allowed to actually OWN your media causes more people to turn to digital piracy than the idea of free books. Free books from libraries didn't kill the publishing market. Only the publishers can do that.

I found this point of view on piracy in an old blog post from Charles Stross, and I love it, so I am going to use it here to finish this up.

"In the pre-internet dark age, there was a subculture of folks who would get their hands on books and pass them around and encourage people to read them for free, rather than buying their own copies. Much like today's ebook pirates, in terms of the what they did (with one or two minor differences). There was a closely-related subculture who would actually sell copies of books without paying the authors a penny in royalties, too.
We have a technical term for such people: we call them 'librarians' and 'second-hand bookstore owners'."

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