I was writing the post earlier about the new ebookstore and it inspired me to pen this little rant about DRM on ebooks. I’m going to focus today on Adobe because that’s one of the dominant form of DRM on the ebook market.
If you have been reading this blog for any length of time then you know how I feel about DRM. I hate it and I feel I am being punished for the actions of others. And then there’s the fact it doesn’t actually prevent piracy.
But most importantly, DRM doesn’t make sense even in theory. The idea is that you lock down all digital copies in the hopes that no single copy is hacked. At a minimum, applying that idea to ebook DRM ignores the “analog loophole”. This is a colloquial term given to scanning a paper book and converting it to digital form. It’s called a loophole because no matter how secure the DRM on an ebook, someone will always be able to take a print edition and scan it. That scanned copy can then be pirated and thus the DRM is moot.
But the main reason that DRM makes no sense in theory is that it involves locking down all copies, including the ones belonging to people who lack the desire to pirate the content in the first place. This is done in the hopes that the skilled pirate won’t be able to remove the DRM. The expense of locking down a copy and then handing it to someone who has no interest in pirating it is a waste.
And there is a real expense in locking down each copy. Adobe charge ebookstores $0.22 for each DRM-encumbered ebook that you buy. Do you know those free ebooks you get from Kobo, B&N, etc? If you download those ebooks as Epub then you just cost the ebookstore 22 cents.
That 22 cents is a tax that Adobe collects for each ebook.
Guess what? There is a second Adobe tax, and this one applies to ebook readers. Adobe charge $75 thousand per year
tens of thousands of dollar to certify ebook readers as being compatible with their DRM. Do you own a Nook, Kobo, or Sony Reader? Part of the price of your ereader went to pay that fee.
Do you know why I call this an Adobe Tax? Because like
any tax a number of taxes I pay, Adobe’s DRM takes money from your pocket without actually giving you anything.
I wanted to give you another reason to not like DRM. Not only is it a hassle, it also directly costs you money. That’s my $.02.
image by Images_of_Money