May 6th is International DRM Removal Day. This day is about educating readers of ebooks about the ethics (or lack thereof) of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). In addition, knowledge of how to remove DRM from legitimately purchased ebooks is shared across social networks.
Most people aren’t aware of DRM, and these who are, usually aren’t fully aware of how ridiculous and pointless it is. Programmers can bypass most DRM in a couple of hours, and there is nothing to stop the average person from scanning books with a home scanner. There are also countless tools out there on the world wide web, designed to remove DRM from ebooks.
DRM is useless as an anti-piracy measure, however is extremely useful to publishers who wish to restrict how their readers use books purchased through them and attain a monopoly over purchased ebooks and preferred reading devices. A Disney spokesman was quoted in The Economist in 2005 as saying “If consumers even know there’s a DRM, what it is, and how it works, we’ve already failed”. DRM is about megabusinesses and is a tool of a capitalist society, concerned about money more than copyright protection.
An online blogger put forth the argument that obscurity is far more an enemy than piracy to book sales. If consumers do not know about a book, they are not going to buy it. Filesharing is a form of social marketing which can actually drive sales up by spreading knowledge of the book and author. Some authors are getting savvy to this by offering the first book in their series for free to entice readers in.
From the consumer end, if a DRM protected ebook is purchased, the reader does not “own” the book, only the license to read it, and usually only on the publisher’s device of choice. Readers are restricted from reading their book on other devices, which is frustrating. The principal behind DRM Removal Day is that readers who purchase ebooks ought be able to read their books any way they want to. After all that is kind of the point of buying books isn’t it - it is ours to read long after said bookstore shuts down, and even after we change devices or preferred ebook reader software.
International DRM Free Day on May 6th can be celebrated by removing DRM from your ebooks, and letting others around you know how to do it! Read this article on the free Calibre library management softwareand find the DRM Removal Plugin for Calibre here.