Locking the Door – Thoughts on DRM

Amazon, ePub, and DRM: My opinions (Chris Meadows)

EPUB is irrelevant to the consumer; DRM is the issue; Amazon is brilliant (Paul Biba)

(I was going to read, and post a link to, a third blog post, mentioned by Chris Meadows above, but the link turns out to go to Paul Biba’s blog post again)

I lock the door when I leave the house.

I also lock my car when I leave it untended. However, in neither case have I invested in any of that two-inch thick glass you see in banks (and big-city 7-11 stores). After all, as my grandmother told me once, locks aren’t there to make crooks honest. They’re there to keep the honest people honest.

Face it, if a crook wants into your house, he’s going to get in. All you can do is slow him down. And if a crook wants to steal your book, there’s not much you can do. Ever since Gutenberg applied the Lego Principle to the written word, advancing technology has made theft of intellectual property easier and easier. Now that you no longer need your own roomful of monks, it’s a downright snap.

Oh, sorry – I guess I haven’t gone into my Lego Principle here. In a nutshell (which is pretty much where I live, anyway), the Lego Principle says that all of mankind’s greatest inventions – Legos, place-based numerical systems, movable type, etc – are based on the concept of modularity. It’s a sort genetic application of repeatability that makes enormously complex things into, well, into child’s play.

Anyway, even if you have to go to the bookstore and buy my novel, Cursing the Cougar (see that sly little plug, there?), you can slice the spine off with a band saw, run the whole thing through a scanner, and have it on your website as a downloadable file in a couple of hours at the most. But you would know that what you were doing was immoral, unethical, and criminal. I guess if you’re the sort that would do that, then you just don’t care.

But what about the people (not naming any names or pointing any fingers, but that one right there in the pink shirt, that one looks likely) who truly believe that if you can copy it, you may copy it? That if it is copyable, it’s not copyright?

All I require from DRM is enough of a snag in your plans to tell you that you really shouldn’t be doing that. I don’t need bullet-proof DRM, any more than I need bullet-proof glass. I don’t need to make a crook honest, I just need to help an honest person stay honest.

By the way:

As in many things, China seems to have beaten Europe to the punch on movable type. According to Wikipedia, they had ceramic movable type by AD 1041.

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