Teleread has a look at an all too typical case of what happens to people who are honest enough to actually put their hard earned money down and pay for ebooks crippled by DRM.
Then I bought an iPad, and suddenly reading eBooks began to crowd out my paper book reading. I wasn’t alone. By Fall 2010 there were new reading apps coming out every few weeks to target the excited iReading populace. I happily downloaded all of them and tried each one out, looking for the perfect eReading experience. Then I ran into a problem.
My iPhone wouldn’t let me authorize any new apps that utilized Adobe’s DRM. I had run out of the allotted authorizations. By March of this year, I began to contact Adobe to fix the situation, but each web case was “withdrawn”, which is to say “dismissed without solving”. I called tech support on multiple numbers and each time I was told that they only supported Adobe Digital Editions via the web. Some helped me open a case for Tier2 support, yet each of those web cases was withdrawn.
. . .
I had to delete the app and reinstall it. As I feared, this caused problems when reauthorizing with Adobe. I got the dreaded “Adobe Activation Request Error 2004”. I was locked out of my library book. I started calling Adobe again, getting the usual runaround. The one time I thought I finally got help was when a tech said he would happily reset my account, but just reset my password instead. Today I got another “Withdrawn”. Adobe would not reset my activation account for love nor money.
I think it is clear what is going on here — The Pirate Bay has clearly infiltrated content and software companies. They don’t want satisfied, paying customers. Rather, they want to create such an awful experience for average consumers that everyone gives up and just torrents everything.
It’s sad, really.
The Apprentice Alf blog has a nice guide to removing DRM from most ebook formats using Calibre for Windows and some additional plugins.
Staci Kramer wrote an interesting take on the fact that Spore was apparently the most heavily pirated game in history — there were an estimated 500,000 downloads of cracked versions of the game from BitTorrent sites. At $50 apiece, Kramer’s take is that Electronic Arts left $25 million on the table in its efforts to make the DRM as draconian as possible.
Normally I’d take something like Kramer’s analysis with a grain of salt. I suspect a very large percentage of folks who downloaded the game from BitTorrent would have done so regardless of the DRM scheme that EA had in place. Moreover, aren’t anti-DRM folks always making the case that illegal downloads can drive real world sales, so EA may in fact pick up customers who download the game, try it out, and decide its worth $50.
That said, it was nice to see how quickly EA backpedaled. First they caved on the ridiculous three install limit. Then they had to switch gears on their one account per registration key nonsense. If they’re smart (and this is EA we’re talking about so who knows) they’ll wait until December and announce a Christmas present patch that removes the Securom DRM which obviously caused so much trouble to all those folks who uploaded crack versions to BitTorrent.
Given the bad publicity, EA would be smart to rethink its approach to DRM in time for the Sims 3 release (currently scheduled for February 29, 2009). That and maybe get WIll Wright to actually finish Spore so its actually a playable game rather than a half-assed tech demo for an amazing set of content creation tools.
This thread at Doom9.Org is simply beautiful in showing how a small number of determined individuals can so quickly dissect and disassemble the latest and greatest DRM, AACS. This follows a different assault on AACS back in December by another hacker.
You have to wonder how much the movie industry pays for these DRM systems that are hacked and easily routed around as soon as they become even halfway relevant.
All that money spent screwing over customers with technology that genuine pirates can easily circumvent. Probably the same people green lighting new Ben Affleck movies are sitting in the back thinking “and we’ll protect it from piracy with DRM.”