What is DRM?
Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a term that refers to a set of control technology approaches that restrict unauthorized access and use of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works in digital media. While the applications are endless, the DRM controls are more popular with eBook writers and independent publishers, as they try preventing customers from copying, modifying, and redistributing the work they’ve purchased.
How does DRM work?
Publishers use certain applications, which encrypt content and make it viewable only to people with the correct decryption key or a dedicated ’Reader’ application often downloaded. There’s a licensing system that is used to transparently transmit the decryption keys to the ‘Reader’ app. Normally, the keys are locked to only authorized devices.
The ‘Reader’ application checks for the correct decryption key so that it loads the content with the DRM protections applied. If this app does not have the correct keys, it then confirms with the licensing system to ascertain whether the reader is authorized to access the protected content.
eBook authors can choose the type of DRM controls to apply depending on the work published, audience, and distribution to readers. Well, it could be preventing printing, screen grabbing, document expiry, or watermarking documents with unique user information to establish identity.
Should eBook authors use DRM?
An honest answer? NO. The truth is DRM really does little to prevent piracy regardless of the technological protection you put on your files. Any form of DRM control can be cracked, often very easily by readers that paid for your content.
This because the publisher must allow the buyer to unencrypt the file, and this is just the fundamental flaw with any copy control scheme. Worse even, nowadays there are free tools, which pirates can take advantage of to remove DRM from an eBook. And when this happens, there’s nothing that would be stopping them from uploading your files anywhere they want.
Reasons not to use DRM
Besides not being able to stop piracy, here are the other reasons not to use DRM in self-publishing:
Restrictions will only hurt paying readers
Imagine purchasing an eBook, but you’re still prevented from reading the book in another format or device. Such restrictions are quite off-putting for your customers. Some readers will easily get annoyed and even refuse to buy books that are DRM enabled.
No complete ownership for customers
The DRM enabled book is locked to a store that the customer bought it from, meaning if the store stops to exist someday, the reader loses access to the eBook they legally paid for. Simply put, the current DRM approaches are downright making the life of paying customers a little difficult without fully preventing piracy.
With constant advancements in technology, however, there’s hope of getting new effective piracy control measures in the future. But until that happens, eBook authors should just avoid putting DRM on their books. The truth is that piracy may not the problem for most authors, but obscurity is. Removing the DRM controls can mean that more customers get to access and read your books. Your messages can be shared by customers to reach more people and positively impact their lives.