Monday, March 7, 2011

I do not want your DRM; or I got someplace you can stick your ADE

I do not object to DRM--Digital Rights Management--in theory.

I even kinda like the idea that somewhere in the cloud someone could keep a record of all the content I've purchased, someplace that says, "Oh, yeah, Frankie has a license for Book X or Album Y," and I can just go get another copy if my hard-drive fails, if my new e-reader or portable music device doesn't support the same formats as my old one, whatever.

That's what DRM sounds like it should be, to me.

That is not what DRM is.

What DRM is, it's a system for making it as hard as fucking possible to use content. For everyone, purchasers included. Especially purchasers. The idea, by making it hard to use the product, this will prevent people from copying the product.

This is fucking stupid, because it is harder to use legitimately purchased content than it is to use pirated content.

For serious. Pirates just crack that shit wide open and then circulate content that works without the fuss, bother, and hoop-jumping. Why would I, why would anyone, pay for an inferior product that wastes time and comes loaded with artificial restrictions that prohibit fair use?

Please do not say, "It's stealing." We are talking about a book I fucking paid for.

And anyway, what the fuck do you think companies that make their shit hard to use are doing to my time? I only have so many hours in my life. How much of it should I have to spend coddling ineffective, crack-brained schemes to protect corporate interests at the expense of the only people stupid enough to pay them for the privilege? Two fucking days to get a goddamn book working, no fucking thanks to Lulu, from whom the book was purchased. Those days, they were not included in the purchase price. I'd ask for them back, but Lulu is very clear on their refund policy. Absolutely none, not ever.

Can you tell I'm really angry about this whole fucking DRM thing? I am so fucking annoyed. It's enough to make the most upstanding consumer hang out their Jolly Roger.

I make fun of myself, but I'm not a digital idiot. I've even had my moments, albeit few and far between, of technological bad-assery. Em's even more hardcore than me, and won't touch DRM because it's a waste of time; I got laughed at for even thinking it might, you know, just work.

There are a lot of people out there, they say "Oh, I could not figure this out, it is because I'm bad at computers." That's not true; you can't figure it out because some asshole is making shit deliberately difficult.

I will not go into the long, boring story of my contacting customer service so that I can read a fucking book, or how utterly useless their response was, sending me a form mail with a link to a "supported devices" page.[1]

I am clearly a dumbass for expecting that I should just be able to open an ebook purchased from a U.S. company on an ebook reader sold by another U.S. company, one that claims 25% of the U.S. ebook market, and supports the fucking Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) DRM that the ebook has been crippled with. (Em laughed at me here, again, and said, "You know everything Adobe touches turns to shit." I just hung my head, because yes, I did know this. I have known this for years.)

Lulu doesn't even mention the Nook on their fucking list. But they mention the Jetbook and the Elonex Ebook? I've never even fucking heard of those.

And to add insult, clearly I am so fucking stupid, for expecting that buying and reading a book should be trivial, that I do not even merit a response from an actual human concerned with making said fucking bought-and-paid-for book readable.

I realize it's a lot of fuss and anger for a two dollar book.

But it's a book I really want to read, an indie book, a book isn't available anywhere other than DRM'd at Lulu.

Christ on a cracker, it's a book.

I should be able to download and start reading a book within minutes. It shouldn't matter what device I have, whether it's an ereader, a smartphone, a netbook. It shouldn't matter if it's running OS X or Windows or Linux or a mobile OS.

Two days, two devices, and three motherfucking operating systems later, and I can finally read a motherfucking book. (With absolutely no fucking help at all from the assholes at Lulu, remember.)

What I learned from this is that I am never buying anything through Lulu again. Ever. There is no reason. There is nothing I want bad enough that it's worth wasting two fucking days and expending all that energy in the accompanying irritation.

Someone needs to put a claw-hammer in the skull of this DRM bullshit. It is not good for the people buying the products, and it is not good for the artists creating the products.[2] It is only good for software companies peddling "solutions" to scared men in suits clinging to outdated business models and longing for the good old days when people who paid for art and entertainment were only numbers on balance sheet.

Dear indie writers and boutique publishers and gallery presses:

I want to read your books. More than that, I think what you do is awesome, and I want to pay you for your books. Please do not buy into this DRM bullshit. Do not let your distribution channels convince you that you need it. All they are doing is putting up walls between people like you and people like me.



[1] Lulu's sole contribution toward helping me read the book I fucking bought
[2] More on this later.