A lawsuit recently filed really caught my interest. Some really small, independent publishers are suing Amazon and the Big Six publishers over the use of device-specific DRM. Here’s the coverage so far from Huffington Post, the American Libraries magazine, and Cory Doctorow.
It’s really such a shame that the use of DRM is being (potentially) resolved through litigation. Where are the MBAs working on these business models? How is it that some publishers are able to release their e-books DRM-free, including big houses like Tor, while others absolutely insist on DRM? How is it that music is sold without DRM, but for fear of piracy, books are not? Of course piracy is DRM’s raison d’être, but from a business point of view, stopping piracy should not in itself be a goal. Publishers should only care about piracy insofar as they factually, and not just potentially, translate into lost sales and profits. I’m going to take the megalomaniac opportunity here to slightly misquote myself and say
We content distributors should do a hard-nose calculation on what it costs us to fight these pirates, the likelihood of us succeeding in this fight, and the benefits for succeeding. Forget the rest; forget the moral outrage over “theft” of our intellectual property; forget the defense of American jobs; forget the trumpeting of the American value of strong property protection. Concentrate why we are paid to be here – to make money. Battle the pirates, and adopting pirate-fighting technologies like DRM, only if so doing generates more profits for our business; cease otherwise.