DRM – Defective by Design

Oh DRM, how I hate you. The way you treat me like a criminal. The way you like to restrict the way I consume. The way you are sneaking more and more into everyday life and permeating every corner of technology.

Mostly, I hate you because of the way you have managed to evade mainstream criticism.

“La plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas.”

(“The devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.”) Charles Baudelaire

I thought I had heard that somewhere before

The Usual Suspects

What is DRM

DRM stands for Digital rights Management. It is the imposition of technological restrictions to control how users can access, copy, backup and share digital media.

The restrictions from DRM range from restricting the devices you can view a movie with to requiring that you remain connected to the internet to use software so that it can “phone home”.

In all cases DRM restrictions are artificial limitations forced on consumers by hardware manufacturers, publishers and copyrights holders with the express intention of retaining control of digital media even after a sale has been made.

An Example of how DRM works (against you)

The DRM example

The Ridiculous Analogy

The Perfect World

You buy an DRM encumbered eBook and download this to your Kindle eBook reader with the intent of reading it over the weekend.

You buy a Microwave frozen pie at the supermarket with the intent of eating it over the weekend.

Mrs Macs Meaty Goodness

You buy an unencumbered open format eBook and download this file to a USB stick with the intent of reading it over the weekend.

In all of these examples something is being purchased for later consumption

Before the weekend, tragedy happens and your drop your kindle. Breaking the screen.

Kind of always was though

Broken Kindle

Before the weekend your kid places all of your cutlery in the microwave oven sets it on high for 60 minutes and laughs manically.

Before the weekend, your laptop is dropped from a height of 8cm. Netherless, this is enough to break the screen

Oh No, Our hero’s preferred device for using the product is compromised!

You don’t worry about buying a replacement eBook reader, you instead decide that you will transfer the file to your wife’s Kobo.

You don’t worry about a new microwave after all, you have an oven which should be able to make pies hot.

You don’t worry as you have you have your wife’s kobo, and your office Desktop computer to transfer the file to.

Phew, there are alternatives

You fire up your computer and plug the Kindle and Kobo into a computer, after all – they both use standard USB connections.

After a hard search, you manage to find the eBook file on your kindle and attempt to copy this to the Kobo.

But nothing happens. You instead get an error message informing you that the operating you are trying to perform is not allowed by either device or your computer.

You preheat your oven, take the pie out of its packet and place this in the device. Afer all, it is just cold food, which should be able to be heated like any other.

But nothing happens. In fact, your oven goes cold.

Using your USB stick and computer, you copy your book to the Desktop and the Kobo, knowing that you may use either to read the book.

The process is as seamless as dragging and dropping files.

No book for you this weekend.

The DRM in the eBook and your readers now means that a legitimate purchase of yours is rendered useless

This lack of literary stimulation causes has far reaching consequences to numerous complex for me to bother writing as you won’t understand any more.

No pies for you!

The DRM in your pastry goodness has now rendered you hungry.

While at 1st your waist-line rejoices, it doesn’t take long for you to become so frail and thin that you are regulated to indoors for the fear that you may get blown away with the next gust of wind

How happy you are.

Able to read your book where and when you please.

For more information on DRM please check out www.defectivebydesign.org
*** Yes, I know there are tools that will strip the DRM out of eBooks and thus allow you to transfer your books between devices. But that is besides the point of this article – that DRM creates artificial and annoying barriers to all forms of media consumption.


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