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Her Name is Ed Wilson

Thoughts, Anyone?

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First, I want to say I realize that this is an extremely serious discussion for writers. Especially, with the advent of e-readers, e-books, e-publishing, and e-everything else there are a lot of strong opinions on this subject. Having books now being read in digital form also means they can be transfered in digital form and there is a real possibility (and reality quite frankly) that they can be transfered much like music and movies to endless swaths of people who haven’t paid for the legal product.

Despite this truth, I still don’t believe in Digital Rights Management (DRM) for these following reasons:

1. It only harms law-abiding readers.

Book pirating isn’t anything new. It was already a problem in the days without our “Nooks” and “Kindles” (hard to believe, I know). Some of the most prominent stolen books were the new installments of the Harry Potter Series during the late 90’s and early 2k. Now, with e-books I believe many authors (or their handlers) decided it was best to place draconian DRM schemes placing undue restrictions on the reader, who by the way, actually purchased the book legally. Trust me, I understand you aren’t buying the novel per say, but the “licence” to read it.  Still, even with said licenses, readers are  required to buy the same book four different times so they can read it on four different devices! It’s no wonder why people pirate. But the truth is, people who pirate will pirate and the only group that is being limited are the very same people who wish to support your work.

2. It has an unproven track record.

There was a study released recently by the Attributor that suggest just that.  It didn’t work for the music industry and it’s not working for the film industry. So, why blindly follow bad advice? The only reason I could think of is a false sense of security. When the truth is it is causing a “real” sense of inconvenience for the content buyers.

3. It is an obstacle to the Fair Use doctrine.

This is a big one.  Fair use to put it simply limits the restrictions that over zealous content creators can place on their work, meaning it not necessarily some “constitutional” right you possess, but a safeguard against being unable to use your free speech rights. If that didn’t make any sense a great quote from the Blog Herald sums it up perfectly.

it is important to note that fair use is not a right of the user, but rather, a limitation on the rights of the copyright holder. It allows limited, unauthorized copying of a work in certain situations. This means that fair use is not a right that you have, but rather, a defense that is available to you in the face of an alleged infringement.

What DRM can do is prevent competition and be a significant barrier to technology innovation. This is particularly important to writers because it can restrict our ability to comment or satirize or archive pieces of information.

What’s my conclusion? I am a firm believer in creators of digital media and media of any form being able to protect their creation. I just think DRM in its current form is not the answer.  Still, stealing is stealing and there is no justification for it.

Now, I admit I’m not an authority on this subject so please, feel free to let me know how you feel (kindly of course). ^_^


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