Does DRM Prevent Piracy?

Back in April 2012, Tor books decided to abandon DRM schemes and begin releasing all of its books DRM-free. A year later, in 2013, Tor summed up its approach to piracy and the results after a year (emphasis added),

But DRM-protected titles are still subject to piracy, and we believe a great majority of readers are just as against piracy as publishers are, understanding that piracy impacts on an author’s ability to earn an income from their creative work. As it is, we’ve seen no discernible increase in piracy on any of our titles, despite them being DRM-free for nearly a year.

The move has been a hugely positive one for us, it’s helped establish Tor and Tor UK as an imprint that listens to its readers and authors when they approach us with a mutual concern—and for that we’ve gained an amazing amount of support and loyalty from the community. And a year on we’re still pleased that we took this step with the imprint and continue to publish all of Tor UK’s titles DRM-free.

At least one company gets it.

I’d Rather Buy Your Book, But…

Jason Davis over at Teleread noted a Guardian story about authors and publishers demanding an anti-piracy campaign focused on ebooks (suggested slogan: home taping is killing the publishing industry.) Davis goes on to note four ways in which he believes the publishing industry is itself largely responsible for ebook piracy.

I couldn’t agree more. A couple weeks ago I read a review of a new book in a series that sounded like something I’d be interested in. I’d never read anything by the author, however, and wanted to grab an ebook of the first book in the series. Alas, for whatever reason, the author’s books are not available in ebook form, period.

Which means it took me about 3 minutes to find an excellent epub version of the book, transfer to my ereader, and begin reading. I know, rights agreements, agency pricing, blah blah bullshit. I’d have gladly paid for a DRM-free version of the book, but since publishers have decided that the best approach is to make it as difficult as possible for me to give them my money, I’m not going to lose any sleep over keeping the money.

Maybe someday the publishers will get it, but given the music industry’s continued intransigence, I doubt it. It’s so much more satisfying to wave a fist in the air and bitch that home taping is killing the publishing industry than it is to adjust your business model to changing conditions.

Whatever. This year I’m going to buy about 100 paper and ebooks. If some publishers and authors would rather have me spend that money on someone else’s books, I’m more than happy to oblige.