Beating the drum for DRM?

I finished marking some PUB310 semester tests. In one of the questions, I ask students to suggest criteria that would influence their choice of ebook vendor. A criterion that is often used is the use of digital rights management (DRM) – or at least, the option of providing DRM for titles. According to the memorandum, this statement is part of an acceptable answer.

Given my personal feelings about DRM in general (feelings that are often compounded by Steam), this criterion worries me – especially when presented as a quick solution for  protecting intellectual property. Frankly, I want them to realise that selecting DRM as a default option without considering the effects of that choice is a very bad thing.

In Beating the drum for DRM?, Appazoogle’s Leah Thompson summarises discussions for and against the use of DRM. Leah shows how the Triangle of Fraud – a model used to investigate accounting fraud – can be used to consider the relationship between DRM and piracy. One of the components of this triangle is rationalization: ‘I already own the book version.’ ‘It’s not worth as much as they’re trying to charge.” The other two, pressure (high prices) and opportunity (cheap bandwidth), might imply that lowering prices can play as great a role as reducing opportunities to pirate (such as litigation or access restrictions).



2 thoughts on “Beating the drum for DRM?

  1. The result of fighting piracy which is fighting the consumer ultimately, is the philosophical debate about exploiting humans.

    If I told my friend about a great movie, drew him pictures, made loud noises and tried to simulate the enjoyment of watching it, one could draw similarities of it against piracy. Which is cheaper, lower quality alternative to paying to watch it at the big screen.

    If the items being produced are of true value that which will impact the lives of the viewer, would one still pirate it? How does one judge that anyway? I think one has to understand what is of true value to the customer e.g. status? Consuming media is often a once of experience. One would revisit it, if it was truly valuable.

    Most of the digital information out there, have not been viewed because the avenues to access them are limited. The information that is most accessible out-weighs the quality.

    • Hey Anonymouse,

      Your post made me think about what I truly value in a book. My first thought was: “Well, the knowledge I gain from it.” Then there’s the value of sharing that knowledge with others – either by sharing the book or just talking about it. There’s also the thrill of discovery; exploring what it’s like to be Afghan or the concept of time travel.

      DRM detracts from the sharing part of the book experience. It doesn’t detract from the others, though. If my book is locked to my device, I still get to read it.

      I’m undecided about the effect of DRM on the publishing industry, despite everything I’ve read. But there are two things I know :

      1) DRM eventually gets circumvented.

      2) Many of the justifications I’ve heard about stripping DRM relate to an increase in the value offered by the product: not having to watch through previews on DVDs, sharing a book with a friend or just getting the darn game to load at last.

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