About DRM

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It relates to e-books, not printed editions.  You can read lots of gory details about it in the Wikipedia article, if you’re interested.  For a brief, non-technical, summary read on after the next paragraph.

Let’s get this part out of the way first:  At this point in time my e-books are sent to my distributor without DRM, and with the request that no DRM be applied. Note however that some stores may add their own DRM as a matter of standard practice, so if you are concerned about DRM you should check carefully at the time of purchase.

The use of DRM on e-books (and any media) can be controversial. Forums around the ‘net abound with arguments about it. This article is not, I repeat NOT, an article about the pros and cons of DRM. It is not my intention to start any arguments here (and I will reject any comments that attempt to do so). This is merely a brief article to introduce the subject to those that don’t already know about it, and to talk about my (lack of) use of DRM.

DRM is intended to limit the purchaser’s use of the e-book. In an ideal world it would limit the purchaser to using the e-book as they would use a paper-book. But it’s not an ideal world. In practice DRM tends to limit the use of the e-book to a particular device or registered user, some variations allow some limited forms of lending (just as you would lend a paper-book). Also in practice, DRM has only limited effectiveness (to say more is to get into technicalities not really relevant here).

In an ideal world DRM would not interrupt a reader’s legitimate use of the e-book.  But, in this world, there can be problems.  Some people have multiple e-readers and would like to be able to read the e-book on any of them.  Sometimes companies that have sold the e-books go out of business or stop selling e-books, either of which may leave the reader unable to access their e-book.  And some people merely object to the restrictions imposed, even if they cause no immediate problems.

In theory DRM should protect the author, publisher, and reseller by reducing the amount of piracy (illegal copying and distribution) of e-books.  This is one of the more contentious parts of the debate on DRM.  Here I will simply offer my own fence-sitting opinion that DRM may help in some situations; not everyone knows how to strip DRM from their purchases, and there are a significant number of people whose needs are simple, and that read a book just once and don’t really care if the reseller disappears.

I chose not to use DRM (but note the warning in the second paragraph).  This is not any sort of criticism of those that do choose to use it.  I simply decided that I did not want to put-off those readers that object to DRM (some people refuse to purchase e-books protected by DRM).  While I am a poor unknown I can’t afford to alienate anyone that might want to read my books so I opted out.  In different circumstances my choice might have been different.

The lack of DRM on my books should not be construed as encouraging piracy. I would still much prefer that you pay for legitimate copies of my books if you intend to read them. They cost me a lot of time and effort to write, and not a small amount of money to make them available.

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