No DRM Results In No Change In E-Book Piracy

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No DRM Results In No Change In E-Book Piracy

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Sci-fi and fantasy publishing label Tor U.K. says that one year after it removed DRM from its e-books, nothing much has happened.

In April 2012, publishing imprint Tor U.K. announced that it would remove the DRM from its e-books, saying that not only readers but also many of its authors wanted it gone. One year later, it's looking like a smart move: customers are happy, authors remain supportive and, most important of all, the rate of piracy of its titles hasn't budged.

"Having been in direct contact with our readers, we were aware of how frustrated many of them were by DRM. Our authors had also expressed concerns at the restrictions imposed by the copyright coding applied to their e-books," Tor U.K. Editorial Director Julie Crisp explained. "For us, we felt a strong sense that the reading experience for this tech-savvy, multi-device owning readership, was being inhibited by DRM leaving our readers unable to reasonably and legally transfer e-book files between all the devices they had. DRM was an irritant taking away the flexibility and their choice of reading device and format, the very things that made the e-book so desirable a format to begin with."

"Protecting our author's intellectual copyright will always be of a key concern to us and we have very stringent anti-piracy controls in place," she continued. "But DRM-protected titles are still subject to piracy, and we believe a great majority of readers are just as against piracy as publishers are, understanding that piracy impacts on an author's ability to earn an income from their creative work. As it is, we've seen no discernible increase in piracy on any of our titles, despite them being DRM-free for nearly a year."

Books are books and games are games but the similarities are obvious, and while this is just one more anecdotal tale of "DRM serves no one," you have to hope that also makes it one more step toward recognition of that fact by the major publishers in all relevant industries.

Crisp also confirmed that Tor U.K. will continue to publish all its e-book titles DRM-free.

Source: Tor, thanks to The_root_of_all_evil for the tip.

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I wish every company would learn from this, also when they do drag people into court (and win) the artists sadly don't see many pennies of the millions that are won.

Come to think of it, I don't know a single person that has ever pirated an e-book. Fancy that.

I guess we ain't all criminals waiting to happen after all. Or maybe Pirates don't read.

Fappy:
Come to think of it, I don't know a single person that has ever pirated an e-book. Fancy that.

I've known a few. DRM doesn't stop them. Hell, to the dedicated, a dead tree book doesn't stop them. The most dedicated will unbind the book so they can scan the pages flat, then rebind them. (Lazier ones just cut the book up, but I'd never have the heart to do it.)

When the pirating scene is small and built around a core of guys who will spend days performing the insanely tedious task of scanning and OCRing a real book, what hope does DRM have?

Andy Chalk:

Source: Tor, thanks to The_root_of_all_evil for the tip.

Root? He's still active? That guy's awesome. I kind of wish that he stayed...

OT- Well, all you fancy piracy is killing our business haters please go away. It doesn't change anything because you simply took off the DRM. Now, offer incentives on the DRM free products, and then we're talking profit. :-)

Considering it stayed equal, I'm not sure whether to take from this that:

1. DRM does not stop piracy.
2. DRM does not cause piracy.

In any case, no DRM benefits both the business and the customers so woop woop!

Formica Archonis:

Fappy:
Come to think of it, I don't know a single person that has ever pirated an e-book. Fancy that.

I've known a few. DRM doesn't stop them. Hell, to the dedicated, a dead tree book doesn't stop them. The most dedicated will unbind the book so they can scan the pages flat, then rebind them. (Lazier ones just cut the book up, but I'd never have the heart to do it.)

When the pirating scene is small and built around a core of guys who will spend days performing the insanely tedious task of scanning and OCRing a real book, what hope does DRM have?

irronically its alot of gaming sourcebooks for rpgs that end up being pirated

How do they know that the piracy rate has stayed the same? How do they track something like a piracy rate, which is an activity that people do in secret?

I wonder how much this comes from the fact that Baen has been DRM free for quite some time.

But yeah, it's strange, I never really think to pirate a book unless it's an insanely priced academic one. I actively choose not to pirate music, movies, and TV, but naturally don't pirate the printed word. Weird. Maybe because there was never a point at which I felt like I couldn't afford to buy a book as long as I was willing to wait for the paperback?

If DRM does not lead to any change in piracy at all, then it's superfluous and an objective waste of resources.

In other words, if the piracy rates remain unchanged after you removed the DRM, there's reason to believe the DRM wasn't working against piracy.

ccdohl:
How do they know that the piracy rate has stayed the same? How do they track something like a piracy rate, which is an activity that people do in secret?

Nothing you do on the internet is a secret :p.

Fappy:
Come to think of it, I don't know a single person that has ever pirated an e-book. Fancy that.

I did, but thats largely because I was forced to. I wanted to buy an ebook but was told I couldn't because I lived in the UK. So I found a torrent in less time than it took to write this post. This is why people pirate folks, its a better service
Its also why e-books get pirated less, they're very easy to buy

Tor is who publishes Sword of Truth and Song of Ice and Fire right? Perhaps knowing how awesome they are I will get the e-books too, as I normally just stick with audiobooks.

I'm sure the fact that on average (e-)books are much much cheaper than games has nothing to do with it.

I think there is something to the "Books are books and games are games" argument.

A book generally has a single person's name attached to it. It often has that person's picture on the inside cover, and a little bio about who they are and how they live.

In short, it's got a face.

It's not just a faceless corporation people can take from and think nobody will get hurt for it, it's made clear to everybody that if you take this book then this particular guy is going to suffer for it. Most people don't want to be selfish dicks, after all. But if you can rationalize to yourself that it's not hurting anyone, then you're not being selfish, right?

Of course, after that, if someone points out why it was selfish, that's when we see all the various people trying to rationalize it.. "I wouldn't have bought it anyway" "I was too broke to afford it and a real artist would just be happy I saw it anyway" "They have policies I don't like, so that makes it okay," etc.

Maybe that's what games need to really start doing. Focus attention on the game designer.. put his or her picture on the box/title screen, and a little background story about them. Make it obvious that this is the guy who's not going to get hired again if his game doesn't sell well enough.

Fappy:
Come to think of it, I don't know a single person that has ever pirated an e-book. Fancy that.

According to Comcast, someoned pirate the Harry Potter series using my wireless. Well, they didn't say my wireless, but it seems unlikely someone broke into my apartment and downloaded it while I was sleeping.

Even if they had the wrong account, that's one person who did it.

Not that I entirely blame anyone who would seek to get Harry Potter in ebook form. This was back when Rowling as still a holdout on ebooks because her works were meant to be experienced on the printed page. Which explains the movies and audiobooks, MIRITE?

(Not condoning piracy, mind, just saying that I understand why someone would want to pirate the unavailable).

DVS BSTrD:
I guess we ain't all criminals waiting to happen after all. Or maybe Pirates don't read.

Gotta be hard with them eyepatches.

wombat_of_war:

irronically its alot of gaming sourcebooks for rpgs that end up being pirated

Oh God, I was so pissed when Wizards removed their ebooks from Drivethru because someone had been caught distributing their watermarked PDF.

Glad they're back now, but yeah.

Aeshi:
I'm sure the fact that on average (e-)books are much much cheaper than games has nothing to do with it.

Sarcasm aside, it probably has little to do with it. You'll notice that they didn't say there was no piracy, but rather that things didn't change because they went DRM-free.

Why are people so quick to defend DRM?

wombat_of_war:

Formica Archonis:

Fappy:
Come to think of it, I don't know a single person that has ever pirated an e-book. Fancy that.

I've known a few. DRM doesn't stop them. Hell, to the dedicated, a dead tree book doesn't stop them. The most dedicated will unbind the book so they can scan the pages flat, then rebind them. (Lazier ones just cut the book up, but I'd never have the heart to do it.)

When the pirating scene is small and built around a core of guys who will spend days performing the insanely tedious task of scanning and OCRing a real book, what hope does DRM have?

irronically its alot of gaming sourcebooks for rpgs that end up being pirated

Actually... that makes a lot of sense. While most of the rules are online for free anyway (thank God for the Pathfinder SRD!) I do know a lot of people who pirate tabletop books. In fact, I think most the people I have gamed with have owned a pirated PDF before. I know Paizo and White Wolf don't actually care that much since a lot of people find hardcovers easier to use and only pirate the books as a way to demo them.

Personally, I like working with hardcovers and SRDs as source book PDFs are generally clunky as shit.

I live for these "no shit Sherlock" moments. So here it goes. Are you ready?

No shit Sherlock!

I wish others would follow suit. I use Netflix for most of my movie and TV watching but I would rather buy TV shows and watch them on my devices. Of course, this means I would have to pick a video service to stick with and I can't think of any that would work on all my devices and it would be another fucking accountto keep track of. I'd be more than willing to drop like $50 on a season of a TV show if they would they would just give it to me as a bunch of mp4's. My alternative would be to rip dvds but I don't want to own a bunch of disks and boxes

I thnk there are a few books I've grabbed, but mostly I end up preferring to read it as a dead tree edition and either buy it or grab it from the local library. (Pro-tip: libraries have plenty of books you can get without having to pay for!*)

(* Some places do charge, so this is not 100% true, but true enough.)

I don't imagine that there's be a huge market for pirated books. Books have never really been that expensive, and ebooks are even cheaper, so really, books are not worth the hassle of pirating, considering the risk of viruses, low-quality scans and other risks inherent in piracy.

ccdohl:
How do they know that the piracy rate has stayed the same? How do they track something like a piracy rate, which is an activity that people do in secret?

They're probably tracking torrents for their stuff

DRM is not and has never been about piracy. It is about large corporations attempting to use technology to eradicate the secondhand market after they have failed to do so legislatively.

The formula goes like this: DRM costs A to implement and maintain. B is the money lost from users who will not buy DRMd products. Support issues caused by the DRM will cost the company C dollars. And finally Z is the amount of money that would be spent by users who would buy but don't because they can get a pirate copy.

For DRM to "work" this equation has to be true A+B+C<Z

And for Z to be any number more than 0 the DRM has to be good enough that it will prevent the use of the device or content long enough for the money to be made. So far the only DRM "success" story I can think of is the PS3. I don't know of a single instance where DRM has stopped copying of software/content for any significant amount of time.

The problem is that at some point all digital content has to be "exposed" to the customers at which point it will be available for copying and sharing. I remember a story about a streaming video service that had a perfectly locked down player. So the enterprising pirates wrote a script that recorded the sound and took 24 screenshots a second. Then the data was integrated them back into a video to be uploaded.

In conclusion DRM doesn't prevent piracy, but it costs money.

Ubisoft lost sales of FarCry3 and Blood Dragon from me because of their DRM practices. Even though those two particular titles "just" include their stupid uplay phone home dumbness and not always on DRM.

Adam Jensen:
I live for these "no shit Sherlock" moments. So here it goes. Are you ready?

No shit Sherlock!

I agree, but I tend to favor 'Ya don't say' said in the most condescending tone I can muster, cause I'm kind of an asshole like that :D

It's not like ebook DRM is hard to beat: My ebook library program has a drm stripping plug-in,(because certain providers like to not tell you if a specific book has drm and goddamn I just paid 20 dollars for this thing, I'm using it on my e-reader of choice regardless of how hard you want to fellate the kindle/kobo.) It basically ignores DRM with contemptuous ease, I stick it in the library and the DRM gets removed as part of the uploading.

Anyways, this isn't new, Baen figured this shit out more than a decade ago, and then they went the extra step of making huge chunks of their catalogue free and it not only didn't cost them money, but they made more. Turns out a massive back catalogue has a shit profit margin, but paying $100-$200 to get into an authors stuff turns people off. Removing that impediment makes more people more likely to give you money in the future. Go figure.

Here don't take my word, go read Eric Flint's explination:
http://www.baen.com/library/intro.asp

Hell they go beyond the stuff there. Buy a first edition hardback and you often get a disc with all/most of that authors releases through Baen, with not only the go ahead, but the explicit encouragement to share it around.

Seriously:

John ringo and Travis Taylor:

Within this electronic transfer medium you will discover a universe of adventure, delight and astonishment. All who venture herein shall be transported beyond these sad, tawdry, mortal realms and into a world of wonders. Rejoice! Rejoice! Thou art saved from the mundane.

So stick the %^&* CD in your computer! We don't do these things for our health!

And make many many copies and give them away to your friends. We don't mind. Really. We think of it as multi-level marketing with reader crack.

Repeat after me:

You willlll copy this CD and give it away... You willlll copy this CD and give it away... You willlll copy this CD and give it away...

Ohm... addict people to Ringo/Taylor books... Ohm... addict people to Ringo/Taylor books... Ohm... addict people to Ringo/Taylor books...

You may now have your mind back. But if you don't follow our instructions, the puppy gets it.

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And we'll know. Oh, yes, we'll know...

Edit: Oh and they also sell e-arcs for a reasonable price and well ahead of release if you don't mind a slightly flawed copy. Reeeeally want to read that new book, but it's not due for a few more months? Well you can!

I feel that a large reason that ebooks get pirated is because of price. Too many books are the same price for a Kindle version as a paperback.

Since I got an e-book reader I've been mostly using it to replace my library visiting, with a much larger and more comfortable library.

If I actually want to own a book, I'm going to get it on my shelf.

Also, e-books don't make as nice gifts as dead tree ones. So they are probably outstandingly safe from the typical harms of piracy, all things considered.

ccdohl:
How do they know that the piracy rate has stayed the same? How do they track something like a piracy rate, which is an activity that people do in secret?

Just do a few rainchecks on people seeding/leeching your stuff on the more popular torrent trackers, and you have a relatively easy check on significant volume changes.

You'd think that this would be quite basic common sense, seeing as all it takes is one person to crack a product's DRM, then anyone can pirate it, rendering the DRM literally useless.

Kargathia:

ccdohl:
How do they know that the piracy rate has stayed the same? How do they track something like a piracy rate, which is an activity that people do in secret?

Just do a few rainchecks on people seeding/leeching your stuff on the more popular torrent trackers, and you have a relatively easy check on significant volume changes.

And add in sales rates, which is the real thing any producer or creator should be concerned about.
If the legitimate sale rate went relatively unchanged after removing DRM, that says FAR FAR FAR MORE about the DRM than some nebulous number on a torrent tracker site.

It's really nice to see a company start to trust their customers.

Pirates gonna pirate, there is no conventional way to stop piracy en masse. Slow them down? Sure, but you can't stop it.

I'll admit to pirating a few e-books but only because I didn't want to login to work to gain access to our rather extensive, and annoying, online e-book interface. Convenience factor but it exists.

Which brings me to my main point: there is a bigger picture here. Publisher's getting rid of DRM on their books not only helps buyers of a particular book but also libraries who would like to allow e-books to be added to their collection for their patrons to use. DRM and copyright are two of the biggest problems facing all libraries, both public and academic, and this is a step in the right direction.

I work at a library and e-books are starting to make some noise. We have two Kindles for patron use, much to my protest due to its lack of epub functionality, and recently run into the issue of Amazon's prohibitive DRM policy. We could strip the DRM and convert mobi to e-book (or rather the other way around) but that violates copyright/licensing and cannot legally be done. We also can only buy a book for one patron only, not the entire patron-base. This doesn't mean others can't strip DRM by themselves yet, as a large, public institution we cannot do this. Our pool of e-books we can make available to our patrons is much smaller than you would think.

Still, books may be books and games may be games but DRM will always be DRM.

So...just a stutter in the title?

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