The Hidden Things Audiobook FAQ #1: What’s DRM and Why Are You So Against It?

Those of you who started but didn’t finish watching the kickstarter introduction video (about 66% – I love you anyway) might not know that I talk at some length about Digital Rights Management and why I want to make sure that there will always be a version of the Hidden Things audiobook that is DRM-free.

The thing is, lots of people don’t really get what DRM is and why it gets me so riled up.

So let’s talk about that.

What is DRM?

Paraphrased from

Digital Restrictions Management or DRM is the practice of imposing technological restrictions that control what users can do with digital media.

When a program is designed to prevent you from copying or sharing a song, reading an ebook on another device, or playing a single-player game without an Internet connection, you are being restricted by DRM.

In other words, DRM creates a damaged product.

DRM is not about protecting copyright.

Companies present that argument to make DRM appear beneficial to creators, but in order for that to be true, DRM would have to work as advertised, and it doesn’t. Instead, what you get are digital product that are ‘broken’ from the point of view of the average user, thanks to DRM that is absolute child’s play to circumvent for anyone with actual criminal intent.

While DRM is advertised as a mechanism to prevent copyright infringement, the only thing it does effectively is restrict all of the incredible possibilities enabled by digital technologies… and then sell some of those options back as severely limited services to honest customers.

So, here’s what DRM actually does:

  1. Treats all users like criminals, but in an ineffectual way that fails to stop criminals and both insults and frustrates honest customers with crippled, broken products.
  2. Extends corporate control over the legitimate uses of products legally purchased, so that those same corporations can then (maybe, if they feel like it) extend you some the rights you should already have, usually with an additional ‘premium’ markup.

If you want an example, think about what a big deal it was when Amazon added the ability to share our Kindle ebooks with our friends. (You know: that thing we’ve been able to do with regular books, forever.)

Except… we can’t share all our ebooks. Just some.

And only for a few days.

And only once, per friend.

Unless you want to buy Amazon Prime.

Or your friend does.

Consider: DRM has broken most of our digital products so badly that this level of “freedom” makes us happy.

So, to hell with that.

When I hand you a paper copy of Hidden Things, you can do whatever you want with it. Read it to a crowd (by all means). Read it to you friends and family. Lend it to your friends and family. Give it away. Sell it. Chop it up and add it to a salad. Wear it as a hat. Even, if you choose, scan the whole thing and make 100 (or 1000 or ?) copies.

Anything you like. I will probably never know and I almost certainly will not care one way or the other. As much as trust comes into the equation, I trust you.

I want to give you this audiobook in the same way. I want to hand you this product and, with it, trust you as a customer, and a fan, and hopefully a friend.

Yes, someone (anyone) could grab copies of these unbroken, dare I say libertine audio files and hang them out on Pirate Bay or any one of a thousand Torrent sites.

But they could do that anyway, because DRM doesn’t work.

And I’m not going to hold a shotgun on everyone else in the store, just because one person out there might decide to be an asshole.

That’s not how this is going to happen.

Does this sound good? I hope so. If you want to support the project, and maybe show other creators out there that there’s nothing too scary about trusting your customers, check out the kickstarter page.

And watch out for the Hidden Things.

HTAudio-cover draft Q

Interested in backing this project? Head to the Kickstarter page to find out more!

Want to find out more about the Hidden Things novel? We’ve got you covered.

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