Much Ado About Nothing

BBC DRM protest image

Image via Wikipedia

I’m going to get this out because its buzzing around in my head fighting with Chapter Two for mindspace.

DRM. It’s stupid (I could end there but I suspect the fight over neurons will continue, so).

DRM is plain stupid for a LOT of reasons, chief among them being that it doesn’t work. Cory Doctorow spells out why in a cool way in a recent speech in Melbourne. So what’s the point. There isn’t one. The most effective anti-piracy technique that I have seen work was a short article in a Bangkok newspaper; this was some years ago.

A Thai mafia hit man and ex-con, had formed a band and released an album. Part of the proceeds of sale to go to charity. Article was your typical; guy who used to kill people for a living changes jobs, sort of thing.  His anti-piracy message: If you copy it, and I find out, I’ll come and visit you at your home – Now that’s more like it. Right?

In a short while I will remove the free download link to the ebook version of TAG. I’ll leave the pdf up there. If you want to struggle through the novel, reading it on pdf, heck I’m not going to charge you for that. Likewise, if you’re stone cold broke, and you need something to read under the bridge; send me an email, or drop me a snail mail or pass the word. I’ll send you a copy for you to read on your Blackberry (Fund Managers take note); but if you want a print copy, then sorry ‘coz I don’t print it out.

Piracy of books is at a very low-level. I work in the software business in Thailand so I’m qualified to make that statement. What is the equivalent of piracy then and why piracy will never be a problem? Used Books.

In Bangkok you can go down to a Mall, it’s called Pantip Plaza, Google it if you need the location. There you can buy just about every single piece of software known to man for about US$3-00. Yep. Now what the software industry does is take all of those sales, multiply it by the RRP of their software and then say that’s how much is being stolen from us. Which is simply bullshit. Are the software companies losing some money. Yes. Would all of the people who have copied software, bought the software? No.

But here’s the thing. Most people who pirate stuff want to have the real thing, this is particularly true in countries where the choice may be between a cool piece of software and not eating for a few days (and you could say “what are they doing on a computer if they can’t afford it,” and then I’d ignore you for the rest of the evening).

So you know what? You can’t pirate me because I’ll give it to you. That’s the best form of DRM.

Just a side-note. I have been pirated. Off the coast of Vietnam by a bunch of guys firing M-16’s at the yacht I was on. That’s piracy, and if I bump into any of those guys then I’m not going to be talking about legal contracts. Nope. I’ll take the low road.


About Simon Royle

Thinking about the future, and how to affect positive change for that future.
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