cory doctorow

Home/Tag: cory doctorow

DRM is not a feature.

In its experience, Tor discovered that DRM did not stop anyone from copying, and in fact served only to lock them into the DRM vendors’ platforms. If you sell a million bucks worth of DRM-hobbled e-books on iBooks or Amazon, you create a million dollar switching-cost for your customers if they ever decide to switch to B&N or Kobo or any other new platform that might emerge in this still developing market. These companies are dire competitors, and they use DRM as offensive weapons against one another, suing anyone who makes a tool that might convert DRM-locked files from one platform to run on another.

–Cory Doctorow on DRM.

Like Doctorow, I tend to be of the opinion that DRM is bad but, as an author, there’s not much I can do about whether it’s applied to my books or not; when it’s released, Liesmith will have DRM because, as far as I know, that’s just with Random House does. This is not something I like, but it’s not really something I can change, either. (Believe me, if I was actually offered to option to opt-into a DRM free distribution I’d take it, but I’m not so… sorry, basically, is all I can go with on that one.)

Doctorow makes the argument that DRM had never actually lead to a sale; no customer in the history of ever has ever thought “gosh, I hope this title has DRM!” But the thing he doesn’t mention is that publishers do “sell” their DRM–and other anti-copyright measures–to authors as part of their “why you should sign with us!” pitches. I can kind of see why; for a debut or midlist author, piracy really can hurt,1 and DRM would seem to be a solution, of a sort.

Thing is, it’s not. As I’ve mentioned before, I de-DRM most of my own, legally purchased ebooks so I can remove them from their walled gardens and read them in whatever goddamn ereader I happen to be fond of at the time (currently iBooks), and using whatever formatting I goddamn want to (fonts and line heights in ebooks still tend to be fucking awful, because IDK people are still typesetting them for print, not screen, or something). This takes me about five minutes. I’m actually not sure what the legal status of this is in Australia; back probably ten to fifteen years ago, our Competition and Consumer Commission was big on protecting the rights of consumers to strip DRM-ish things like region-locking on electronic devices but I’m not sure if their stance has changed (it definitely seem to’ve softened).

So I dunno. All I know is being able to remove the DRM and use the resulting files more flexibly is the main reason I do, in fact, buy so many ebooks.

  1. Or, at least, the perception of it can hurt. Basically, raw sales figures are the only thing that stands between an author and another contract. There’s definitely an argument to be made in here as to whether piracy actually leads to lost sales–I’ve heard arguments both ways–but for authors who live royalty-cheque to royalty-cheque, finding their works on pirate sites can be an absolutely devastating feeling. Especially if they’re the sites that charge (yes, these exist). Basically, my point here is that, if you want to read free ebooks, for gods sakes borrow them from your library, okay? Authors get paid for those ones. []
2017-07-17T11:05:50+10:0031st August, 2014|Tags: cory doctorow, drm, ebooks|

Publishing lock-in.

It is precisely because Hachette has been so successful in selling its ebooks through Amazon that it can’t afford to walk away from the retailer. By allowing Amazon to put a lock on its products whose key only Amazon possessed, Hachette has allowed Amazon to utterly usurp its relationship with its customers. The law of DRM means that neither the writer who created a book, nor the publisher who invested in it, gets to control its digital destiny: the lion’s share of copyright control goes to the ebook retailer whose sole contribution to the book was running it through a formatting script that locked it up with Amazon’s DRM.

The more books Hachette sold with Amazon DRM, the more its customers would have to give up to follow it to a competing store.

–Cory Doctorow on the DRM own goal.

DRM is promoted as locking a purchase to a customer. What it actually does is lock a customer to a retailer.

2018-04-27T13:48:48+10:0010th August, 2014|Tags: amazon, books, business, cory doctorow, drm, ebooks, hachette, kindle, publishing|

Even if it works, ubiquitous surveillance is still unethical.

The “instrumental” argument against torture – that it doesn’t work – invites the conclusion that on those occasions where torture would work, there’s nothing wrong with using it. But the primary reason not to torture isn’t its efficacy or lack thereof: it’s that torture is barbaric. It is immoral. It is wrong. It rots societies from the inside out.

And so it is with mass surveillance. As the exiled WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum said to me this week in Berlin, “Surveillance makes you say ‘yes’ when your conscience says ‘no.'”

–Cory Doctorow on not using “ends justifies the means” arguments.

2016-05-14T10:05:44+10:009th July, 2014|Tags: cory doctorow, culture, privacy, tech|

The crisis never ends.

‘‘The Cold Equations’’ shoves every one of those questions out the airlock along with the young girl. It barks at us that now is not the time for pointing fingers, because there is an emergency. It says that now is the time to pull together, the time for all foolish girls to die to save brave explorers from certain death, and not the time for assigning blame.

But if a crisis of your own making isn’t the time to lay blame, then the optimal strategy is to ensure that the crisis never ends.

–Cory Doctorow reminding us the power of what’s left out.

2017-11-16T11:14:29+11:0026th May, 2014|Tags: books, cory doctorow, culture|