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Lulu Introduces DRM

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the damn-ridiculous-meddling dept.

Books 222

An anonymous reader writes "Print-on-demand publisher Lulu recently announced that they're offering 'eBooks.' Since they've always offered downloadable books as PDFs, that takes some decoding to figure out what part is new: it turns out that it means now they're handling more formats, they've significantly increased the share they take out of the purchase price ... and for an additional fee, they now offer DRM. I have a few items published through Lulu myself; nothing forces me to buy the DRM, but I'm considering taking my business elsewhere on principle. This isn't what I expected from the people who, when I first signed up with them, were solidly endorsing Creative Commons."

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222 comments

Philosophy versus reality (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30019656)

Amusing to see what happens when "information wants to be free" collides with "your bills are past due".

Re:Philosophy versus reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020494)

Yup, it's called bad business idea. Many companies adopt "Information wants to be free" and not only pay their bills in time, they also make good profit on it. I guess they must be working magic or something -- or wait, could it be that they aren't desperately trying to adopt this idea of artificial scarcity and instead offer something of VALUE? Services, that is?

Re:Philosophy versus reality (2, Interesting)

joaommp (685612) | more than 4 years ago | (#30021144)

Lulu in it self is a whole bad business idea. Not really the business idea behind it, but the company. Why? Because they're dishonest. They sell books but they say they have no responsability in what happens to them during transport. Then, the book misteriously disappears during shipping, even before the end of timeframe they say it takes for them to ship it and appears on that same day for sale on Amazon at twice the price, by some strange company. Then, we contact them to ask for explanations and they say they have no responsability.

Re:Philosophy versus reality (0, Flamebait)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020692)

There are other ways to make money. Unless, of course, you can prove to me that the only way to make money in the publishing world is to restrict the ability to read and share.

Why complain about choice? (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019660)

As you say, you don't have to use the DRM at all. I don't see any benefit in punishing anyone that simply supports that as an option for authors that don't know any better (or think they do). If people want the rope for whatever reason, just shake your head and let them buy it.

Re:Why complain about choice? (3, Insightful)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019782)

Free market in this case. The company is trying to appeal to the largest number of people at a time. If they can support Creative Commons *and* DRM users... then good for them. I'd suspect that the raising of Lulu's take would be more upsetting. (Again free market will bear out if that was a smart move or not.)

Re:Why complain about choice? (1, Troll)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020072)

The free market generally only looks at short term gain and always exclusively for those in control of conditions. Calling "Free Market" as a refrain more often than not ignores many valid and important factors that aught not to be ignored.

Re:Why complain about choice? (2, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020418)

In this case, the free market should do fine.

The free market only has problems when:
1) People are allowed to do unethical things
2) Monopolies or oligopolies are created
3) There's a moral hazard

None of these conditions exist here. The difference is a product with DRM vs. a product without it. It's like the difference between cereal with new, poor tasting marshmallows or without them. No one is being forced into anything, there's no monopoly, etc.

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020602)

In this case, the free market should do fine. The free market only has problems when: 1) People are allowed to do unethical things

And you don't think DRM is unethical... From where I'm see it, consumers doesn't understand the concept of DRM... And selling DRM "protected" products to people who doesn't know that they are being scammed is unethical...

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

Hurga (265993) | more than 4 years ago | (#30021180)

The free market only has problems when:
1) People are allowed to do unethical things
2) Monopolies or oligopolies are created
3) There's a moral hazard

None of these conditions exist here.

You mean using DRM is not unethical? gee...

Socialism does the same things. (-1, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020758)

The free market generally only looks at short term gain and always exclusively for those in control of conditions. Calling "Free Market" as a refrain more often than not ignores many valid and important factors that aught not to be ignored.

Socialism does the same thing, except that it does it for the whole economy. In the free market, some owners do look ahead, do think things through, do take bets on the future, and that's how you have things like cars, airplanes, personal computers, and more.

The difference between socialism and the free market is not one of perspective, but risk management. If socialism makes a mistake, the whole nation suffers. If a company makes a mistake in the free market, life goes on. In socialism, the nation gambles with its own wealth, whereas, in the free market system, the nation can gamble with the peoples. It's a sturdier system and every time you dole out more power to the government, you make it weaker.

Socialists are just stupid, that's all.

Re:Why complain about choice? (5, Interesting)

KTheorem (999253) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019788)

Already there are a lot of comments like this in the general form of "just because company A, whom you do business with, starts to do something B that you find objectionable doesn't mean you should inconvenience yourself, especially if B doesn't directly affect your business dealing with them." It quite frankly baffles me.

What if the objectionable thing B was using slave labor for a product you do not use or buy? Does it suddenly become okay to continue the business relationship? I know there are huge differences in the offense, but the underlying argument is the same for both buying from a DRM encumbered goods provider and a slave created goods provider: "I don't directly deal in those products, so I will continue to buy other products from them and let the ones who DO buy them deal with the consequences."

Obviously—I hope—refusing to buying from a company with some products manufactured by slaves, even if the products you would be interested in aren't, would be a reasonable action. It is therefor clear that what people using the argument really mean is that they don't care about DRM enough to stop purchasing on priciple and don't thing you should either, and not that they actually think their argument really applies. In which case, they should really stop making the "boycotting is hard so don't do it" argument.

Re:Why complain about choice? (2, Interesting)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019874)

I actually kinda like that Lulu is offering it. I don't expect it, but I hope that the sales numbers illustrate authors getting a solid f'ing black eye by opting for DRM. Then perhaps it could serve as a lesson to them... hate on your customers and they'll hate on you right back.

Re:Why complain about choice? (0)

Kumiorava (95318) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020318)

For me buying a book is not matter of DRM or no-DRM. I buy book because I want to read the book, regardless of the inconveniences involved in reading it. So I don't think the sales numbers will show any benefit for being non-DRM. I have tried to find a place that sells audiobooks that I want without DRM, but cannot, therefore I buy them with DRM and listen them on iPod/iTunes. If I ever need to I will remove the DRM using tools that are widely available.

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020428)

Pirate them and, if you must, send some money to the authors in the form of cash in an envelope without a return address (or a fake one because now apparently no return address means it's filled with anthrax). Either way, you're a criminal because the DMCA says you can't unlock anything you actually purchase. The only difference is that pirating things doesn't support the dipshits that put the DRM there.

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

raistlinwolf (1365893) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020908)

If you need the book for reference, then DRM will be an issue..

Re:Why complain about choice? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30019888)

And yet you buy from adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, DaimlerChrysler, Nestlé, Procter&Gamble and Siemens although they profit from torture, slavery, illegal medication trials on humans, political and social discrimination, destruction of resources and the environment.
And you do not actually want to hear that.

Source: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwarzbuch_Markenfirmen [wikipedia.org] (where is the English equivalent? Don't they criticize globalization where it is due?)

Re:Why complain about choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30019946)

Some info about the book: http://markenfirmen.com/english/book.htm [markenfirmen.com]
It is a listing of facts about several corporations ... you may have luck finding some of the criticism to each company on wikipedia.

Re:Why complain about choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020202)

...not to mention "made in China" products...

Re:Why complain about choice? (4, Insightful)

kklein (900361) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019940)

I am very tired of people trying to write rules for life. There is no algorithm; there are no unassailable truths. Being totally consistent in all things does not actually make any sense, because there is no one right answer to be applied to all cases.

We like to think that a totally logically consistent pattern of behavior will yield better results, but it won't, for two basic reasons:

1) This idea is inherited from religious/magical thought and is, as far as I am concerned anyway, a crock of horseshit already, because it doesn't scale. You end up with fundamentalist Muslims killing people with rocks over petty shit, or evangelicals who believe that Jesus erases all their sins and that, therefore, even the most offensive crimes against humanity can be fixed with prayer and Kleenex.

2) This is actually part of the first reason, but these patterns don't exist in any objective way. They are applied after the fact by humans as shorthand. Religions made up simple rules to get people's minds off the big things so they could improve everyday life, and the cracks only start to really show when life is so good that we can take another look at those rules. Math doesn't exist. Numbers don't exist. Grammar doesn't exist (don't tell Chomsky). Ideas and meaning don't exist. They are all just tools to make our monkey lives better. We can't be frustrated when people's behavior is not logically consistent. It really shouldn't be.

So yes, you're right, it is logically inconsistent to call for the boycott of a company that uses slave labor, but not one which violates your geek religion's creed against DRM. But most people are smart enough to see that those things aren't even slightly similar, and only a crazy person would apply the same logic to both.

That being said, if you are living in the developed world (and if you're reading this, you probably are), guess what? Virtually every product you enjoy has slave labor tucked away in it somewhere. You can't live high on the hog without slavery. We've just gotten very good at hiding it so we can feel superior. There's always a slave. Always.

And that doesn't bother me. I don't like it, but I don't think it can be avoided, and to try to do so would make my life incredibly inconvenient.

Maybe there's logical consistency after all.

Re:Why complain about choice? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020196)

Jesus loves you.

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020340)

So what? DRM still sucks. If it catches on, it will make life really, really, bad for the rest of us. There is no case where DRM is a good thing. It is always bad. By supporting companies who use DRM, you are making the world a worse place. Why do you feel the need to support this? It isn't geek religion, it's practical reality.

Re:Why complain about choice? (2, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020442)

Saying that consistent behavior isn't a good thing because people go to war in the name of religion doesn't make sense. I have yet to see anything in any religion that says "Thou shalt kill everyone that doesn't believe the same things as you". All these religious wars are done by people acting AGAINST critical portions of their own religion. "Thou shalt not kill" is pretty universal and yet people are killing each other in the name of religion. That's not consistent behavior.

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

klingens (147173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020558)

You assume religions have consistent commandments which is a huge assumption, that is also false.

The same book you say has a "Thou shalt not kill" has lots of offences described where it demands the offender must be punished by stoning him/her to death. So which part of that religion is now right? The not killing part or the stone adulterers to death one? Hardly universal.

In the end it's always "Thou shalt not kill UNLESS I say so". Why the religion's founder, a prophet or just a worldly leader says so and if that is justified is open to debate of course.

Re:Why complain about choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020590)

Muslims do, but Christians are lucky because they told them that they believe in the same god and thus aren't subject to that aggresion (just to standard aggresion).

There's nothing wrong with killing people. (1, Funny)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020772)

I think the whole "religious war" charge by the left wing is a bunch of crap. If you look at nearly every war that has ever been, religion at best was used as an excuse but the real reasons were always about money, and about preserving one's way of life, and those are plenty good reasons to fight a war.

I mean, the irony of things is that if there is no God, what's really the moral crime of invading another nation and taking it over. What's the difference between killing a fetus that I can't see or dropping a cluster bomb on a house from 50,000 feet. Either way, I'm just blowing people away without even giving a shit. In fact, what if I enjoy killing fetuses or dropping cluster bombs... what if I'm really good at walking a woman through an abortion so that I can make her feel good about giving me a couple of hundred bucks, or just guiding my aircraft to right on target so that I can waste some fricking muzzies.

Why on earth should I care? When I'm dead, I'm going to be dirt. The end, that's it. So there's no fricking point. As long as someone doesn't kill me, its ok... but I can do whatever I want, so long as I can get away with it.

Re:Why complain about choice? (2, Insightful)

TheMCP (121589) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019998)

Are you SERIOUSLY trying to equate DRM to slavery? Have you COMPLETELY lost your mind?

Re:Why complain about choice? (0, Offtopic)

rishistar (662278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020014)

Plus they feed the slaves Soylent Green!

Re:Why complain about choice? (3, Interesting)

KTheorem (999253) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020026)

No. I was not. Since you are the third person to have misinterpreted what I was saying, I must conclude it is my fault.

I was trying to point out that the reasoning behind opposing boycotts based on a company's support of DRM was flawed, by applying it to something damn near everybody is opposed to vehemently.

I don't think they are in any sane way comparable. I was using that fact to show that what the people who opposed boycotting because of DRM really meant was "this doesn't bother me enough to boycott and inconvenience myself" and not "you shouldn't boycott if it inconveniences you" as was implied by the wordings of many of the posters who thought that boycotting because of DRM was silly.

I really don't give a damn if anyone boycotts Lulu for any reason. My only goal was to point out the flawed reasoning being used.

Re:Why complain about choice? (0, Offtopic)

TheReaperD (937405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020670)

For the record, I was able to see your point very clearly.

Many people don't seem capable of understanding all but the most simple concepts. These are the very same people who we get slogans like "this is your brain on drugs", "war on terrorism", "fair and balanced" and "sea kittens". This is also the same group of people that these slogans work on. So, when you were trying to make a point about sticking to principles regardless of how large or how small the infraction is, all these people could understand is "DRM equals slavery". Though there may be some philosophical similarities, the direct comparison is ludicrous. So, they simply reject it. *sigh*

On the same note, this will likely be misunderstood as well. (Plus it will make members of this group very angry.)

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

Jerry Smith (806480) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020432)

Are you SERIOUSLY trying to equate DRM to slavery? Have you COMPLETELY lost your mind?

No, he compares different visions on business practices, and being it an example, exaggeration is in order. No he did not equate it, he equated the public's possible views on those diverse practices.

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020612)

Are you SERIOUSLY trying to equate DRM to slavery? Have you COMPLETELY lost your mind?

No; he was choosing something that is clearly objectionable to everyone, unlike DRM. When a discussion isn't about some subjective quality of X, using Y which has fewer subjective qualities can simplify the discussion. And no, I'm not trying to equate X to Y here; they're two different letters of the alphabet, and I respect that.

Re:Why complain about choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020654)

Welcome to Slashdot, home of the basement-dwelling college crowd.

Re:Why complain about choice? (2, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020450)

Ooo good. I love bad analogies. They're fun. Can I have a go too?

What if the objectionable thing B was manufacturing blue M&Ms, a colour you dislike - even if you don't purchase M&Ms. Does it suddenly become okay to continue the business relationship? I know there are huge differences in the offense, but the underlying argument is the same for both buying from someone who makes confectionary in an objectionable colour and a slave created goods provider.

Are you really surprised that people care more about enforced slave labour than a company that allows two people to enter into a contract which sets out on what devices they are able to buy a licensed product?

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

Burpmaster (598437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020570)

Do you really not see the logical fallacy introduced by your analogy that was not invoked by the analogy in the grandparent post? I think you have some studying [wikipedia.org] to do.

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

Gorbag (176668) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020886)

What if the objectionable thing B was using slave labor for a product you do not use or buy? Does it suddenly become okay to continue the business relationship?

And yet I maintain my citizenship, despite what the government or the rascals in Congress does.

Life is compromise.

Re:Why complain about choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30019920)

Complain because of the brand damage.

Once someone has a bad experience with a DRM'd eBook from Lulu they may be less inclined to buy any books through Lulu, even non-DRM'd ones, so all publishers are impacted.

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020268)

I don't see any benefit in punishing anyone that simply supports that as an option for authors that don't know any better (or think they do).

Isn't that a bit presumptuous? Each author has the right to do what he wants with his own work. It's his decision and your opinion is irrelevant.

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020456)

"It's his decision and your opinion is irrelevant."

Well, yeah. This is a discussion forum.... where people express OPINIONS. It's his decision to express his opinion, yours is irrelevant.

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020474)

He's a potential buyer, so his opinion is not irrelevant. He's not saying the author doesn't have the right, he's saying the author is making a bad decision, and there have been multiple cases where removing DRM boosted sales, so it's not a crazy assumption.

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020324)

It's not for the author's benefit, it's for Lulu's. They make more money for every checkbox that people enable when publishing their vanity books. It would be tough to find many books on the service that people would actually want to read let alone copy.

If slavery was only offered as an option (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020434)

If slavery was only offered as an option then why not deal with the company that offered it eh? It's not as though they would be forcing you to use slave produced work...

The point is, it does matter what they offer, and it is doesn't only come down to the option which you choose. If you believe in something strongly enough, you will not deal with any company which supports the thing you object to.

The majority of people who use creative commons and open source are just in it for the free goods (as in costs nothing), but there are a few who are in it on point of principle. It's the latter group who made it happen and will ensure it continues to be available. The former group are just leaches benefiting off the effort of others. You obviously belong to the former group

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020708)

If we followed that philosophy, we would not be making a stand against DRM. There is a big difference between passively resisting DRM as you suggested, and actively resisting by refusing to do business with a company that is promoting it.

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020888)

> If we followed that philosophy, we would not be making a stand against DRM.

Not everyone is. While the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA are pernicious DRM itself is a private matter. Authors don't have to publish their works at all: why should it be wrong for them to make them available only in encrypted form? They have as much right to be idiots as anyone.

Re:Why complain about choice? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020972)

Idiocy is bad for society, as I am sure you have noticed. A world in which I need to get permission from the authors every time I was to read a book is not a world I want to live in. A world in which I am unable to share a book with a friend is not a world I want to live in. Those are the most mild affects of DRM -- Lulu even suggests that authors could use DRM to restrict the number of times you can read a book:

http://www.lulu.com/en/help/drm/?cid=us_ebk [lulu.com]

The idiocy of the authors and of Lulu is detrimental to society -- and should be opposed as vigorously as possible.

Non issue (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30019666)

So... a publishing company is giving authors the *Option* of using DRM? I'm sorry, but I don't see a problem with that. If the Authors are silly enough to want that, then it's in Lulu's best interest to offer their clients what they want.

Re:Non issue (2, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020274)

Especially as the DRM version costs more. If I published any books via Lulu I would make both the DRM-free and DRM-encumbered versions available and charge a few dollars more for the one with DRM.

This has nothing to DRM, everything to do with $$$ (3, Insightful)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019676)

This move has nothing to do with DRM. Lulu figures that by adding a new option for authors that says it will "protect" their book from theft online, for a "small fee" that they will get an increase in profit, for no real added cost to themselves. In reality, if you are publishing through Lulu, I think DRM and book theft is the last thing you need to worry about.

If you want to know why someone does something, follow the money.

Does add cost though (2, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019760)

for no real added cost to themselves

Actually for Lulu the costs are very real and add up quickly:

1) Assume they need a DRM server, that must have 99.9% availability.
2) Need to test DRM to ensure it actually works
3) Need support staff to deal with authors and developers not understanding why they cannot access content.

I'm assuming they put a lot of thought into this, there must be a pretty compelling business case or else they would not incur this burden.

Re:Does add cost though (2, Informative)

a302b (585285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019814)

To be perfectly honest, why use LuLu in the first place? There are plenty of cheaper "Print on Demand" (POD) publishers, including Amazon's Booksurge, which lists books on Amazon. I can't see why authors would accept traditional publisher & distributor markups (typically >40% of the retail price) and then add a retailer markup, all for the privilege of selling a book electronically or via POD on LuLu! Find a cheaper POD publisher and sell it yourself, or if a sales page and distributor access are vital, then use Booksurge or an equivalent, not Lulu.

Re:Does add cost though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020542)

Amazon uses DRM on ebooks sold through them too. So no they (and pretty much all the other publishers) are not options now, if you are boycotting Lulu due to DRM.

Of course even your home laser printer encodes its serial number into the print out every square inch or so on the page. Some people call that 'ebil DRM' as well, so you can't even print it yourself without being a hypocrite.

Re:Does add cost though (2, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019832)

Is there a DRM that DOES WORK? I've found that anything a person could ever want is available on the web, already stripped of any restrictive code. Maybe I haven't looked hard enough. Maybe there are some schemes that really work. But, it has often times been pointed out that DRM only frustrates legal users.

Re:Does add cost though (2, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019962)

Is there a DRM that DOES WORK?

From the user's point of view, that is a contradiction. The very purpose of DRM is to make things cease to be fully functional.

Yes, Kindle DRM (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019976)

Is there a DRM that DOES WORK?

The Kindle DRM works about as well as any can (for eBooks).

By that I mean, from the users point of view it doesn't get in the way, and from the authors point of view it's hard enough to strip that it appears to offer some protection.

Also from the policy side, Kindle books are actually very user friendly - if you purchased a book but decide you want to "return" it, you can. Yes there was that whole mess with 1984, but even there at least the people got refunds. Personally I am still very reluctant to buy any book with DRM whereas I have and will buy PDF's without much of a qualm. I still mentally consider any DRM purchase merely a rental, no matter how long the digital version might be owned by me I live knowing it could go away any time for a variety of technical reasons.

User friendly (3, Insightful)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020046)

> Kindle books are actually very user friendly

  • So if I buy one, but have two or more Kindles, I can read it on all of them?
  • After I'm finished reading, I can indefinitely lend a Kindle book to a friend of mine in Brazil who also owns a Kindle by sending him something over the net?
  • After I'm finished reading, I can sell my Kindle book back to a used Kindle bookstore?
  • I can print out a chapter of a Kindle book to take to read at the beach?

I doubt this (well, maybe the first one is doable, I don't have any Kindles, myself).

All of this functionality might be expected by a reasonable consumer who isn't already thinking about why the publisher wouldn't want him to be able to do it.

Thanks to Cory Doctorow [craphound.com] from whom most of these examples/ideas [craphound.com] have been lifted.

Re:User friendly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30021038)

What do these things have to do with user friendly? I'd posit that people buying digital media have no expectation of being able to do these things in the first place.

Re:Yes, Kindle DRM (1)

jasonwea (598696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020538)

1984 is available on the Kindle. 1984 has always been available on the Kindle.

Re:Does add cost though (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020010)

Consoles come to mind for DRM that does work. PS3s have yet to be cracked. Other platforms might be moddable, but when hopping on a network, the changes are usually detected and the modchipped console insta banned forever.

Windows Media also comes to mind. It was cracked in 2006, but MS patched it twice and now no utility is able to even touch it. Well, unless you use something that plays songs through an audio card to analog hole stuff, but then you get a lot of artifacts and quality loss due to the transcoding.

Apple's FairPlay DRM-ed video. Only real way to bypass it is to analog hole it via some utility.

Blu-Ray. HDCP has been out for almost half a decade, no cracks. No cracks for newer Blu-Ray movies either.

Satellite. There has yet to be a single occurrence of someone able to decrypt HD video. Maybe in the past people could use fake cards, but that was long since stomped out.

Lots of other examples of DRM which has stood the test of time for unbreakability.

Re:Does add cost though (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020336)

Sure. Look at modern games console DRM (PlayStation 3, for example).

Of course, "perfect" DRM is only theoretically possible for things where the experience is unique for each user, like software. For books the best you're gonna get is making it as annoying to pirate as a real paper book. That's probably good enough - short of special cases like student textbooks, I rarely see somebody reading a pirated book. Go down to the beach and I don't see photocopies in use.

Whether anybody has succeeded in making such a DRM I don't know. Is the newest Kindle DRM broken?

Re:Does add cost though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020394)

Come to that, is the Sony DRM on their LRX files broken? And if so, how, and where can I break it? I don't like the idea of swapping computer and then faffing around with a million settings trying to get books I've paid for working again.

Re:This has nothing to DRM, everything to do with (2, Insightful)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019894)

Maybe they would like to say: "Look, you can put DRM on your books to try to protect your copies, you don't need to go elsewhere. But be aware that that make some legitimate users unhappy -- as it did with music -- and they will opt to non-DRM ... making you lose money."
If they wouldn't offer the option, they wouldn't be able to let publishers try out.

OTOH, I have no clue about ebook publishing ;-)

Re:This has nothing to DRM, everything to do with (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020102)

I think it's more optimistic to reverse that. If you want to know why someone follows the money, see why they want to do something. Money is used as a mechanism, but it doesn't take any worth away from the pursuits and items that need that mechanism.

I realise that may not fully apply with some of the more 'greedy' / short-term profit companies though.

Just to start us off with a car analogy... (4, Insightful)

TaggartAleslayer (840739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019684)

It's like threatening to not let a dealership sell your line of cars because they offer LoJack as an option on other models.

DRM is not the devil. It is a tool. The sooner we stop crying about buzz words and instead actually do something about how they are used, the better off we will all be.

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (3, Insightful)

Iceykitsune (1059892) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019722)

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. DRM has the potential to give companies/governments absolute control over what you see and hear.

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30019772)

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. DRM has the potential to give companies/governments absolute control over what you see and hear.

Absolute nonsense. You have the right to take your business elsewhere.

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (3, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019902)

Not always.

Especially if your non-refundable purchase of DRMed material gets nuked because the company doesn't feel like holding up their end of the bargain.

You can't really "shop around" much if you've already been milked and burned.

Doubly so if they have a big enough army of lawyers to squash you like a bug if you try to complain.

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (3, Insightful)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019802)

DRM is nothing more than an attempt make digital media more like physical media. For example, you can't easily copy a book to give to a friend. You can, however, easily give a copy of an ebook to a friend. DRM makes it so you cannot easily give a copy of an ebook to a friend. DRM, when done right, is fine with me. But we rarely seen it done right, and honestly, I'm not entirely sure what it would look like.

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (4, Informative)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019792)

DRM is not the devil. It is a tool.

Yes, it's a tool to shut people out of using what they bought. Supposedly it prevents criminal copyright infringement but there is always collateral damage on legitimate use. That damage doesn't stop with the current owner either. In the future there will be entire groups of historians specialising in breaking ancient copyright to get an incite on our culture.

The sooner we stop crying about buzz words

DRM isn't a buzzword. It describes an intent to restrict the use of a resource. If you ask me we're not crying loud enough. The boiling frog analogy may not be scientifically correct but it's as good an analogy as any.

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (3, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020348)

Dude, try a substitution - "the police" are a tool to punish innocent people who annoyed those in power. Supposedly they prevent crime as well but there's always collateral damage on legitimate behavior.

DRM is only necessary because piracy is so widespread that it's impossible for humans to police it. If piracy was as rare as murder, then it'd be possible to have humans investigate every case and make a nuanced decision on whether it was legitimate and beneficial or criminal. This is an extremely sad state of affairs, but it's the reality in which we live.

Yo ho (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020792)

If piracy was as rare as murder

Pastafarianism posits a link between piracy and global warming [wikipedia.org] . But this BBC article [bbc.co.uk] states that something has held off warming, at least for the next decade. Might piracy of Atlantic Records have helped Atlantic currents in this?

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (0)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019804)

DRM is not the devil. It is a tool. The sooner we stop crying about buzz words and instead actually do something about how they are used, the better off we will all be.

Absolutely. Opposing DRM is not some kind of religion, it is not even a moral position, it is saying "hey, DRM is inconvenient, I don't really want to have to deal with it in my data." The best way to show this is to not buy anything with DRM in it. Ideally enough people do this that selling DRM-less becomes the more profitable way to go.

Expanding your position to "I will also not buy anything from anybody who makes any money off of anything with DRM" is just silly. The only reason to structure your boycott like that is if, not only do want to have open data as before, but you also want to prevent anyone else from being able to buy closed data. Why would you possibly care? It's like refusing to buy good nintendo games because the platform also supports sucky nintendo games. If you just make a point of buying the good games I assure you that this will give the best results as far as voting with your dollars goes.

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019906)

The best way to show this is to not buy anything with DRM in it.

No, that is not enough. You have to tell the shop "I would buy that if it hadn't DRM in it." Same with mp3-players. Shops and companies will never know people would like ogg support (although it would be trivial to add).
Create demand.

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020812)

You have to tell the shop "I would buy that if it hadn't DRM in it."

After I explain why I'm not buying in the PLAYSTATION 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC, Nintendo DS, PSP, iPod, DVD, and Blu-ray sections, what is there left to do other than call security to remove me from the premises?

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (3, Insightful)

dstar (34869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019932)

Opposing DRM is not some kind of religion, it is not even a moral position,

Opposing DRM is most definitely a moral position, on any number of grounds, starting with the ones you don't want to acknowledge down to the less obvious ones, such as opposing anything that makes life more difficult without providing any benefit or opposing the conflation of 'buy' with 'rent', as you never actually buy anything with DRM, you simply rent it.

Feel free to pretend you aren't doing anything wrong when you say there's nothing wrong with DRM. Just be aware that that's exactly what you're doing -- pretending.

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (1)

Schlemphfer (556732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020694)

you never actually buy anything with DRM, you simply rent it.

I've never heard it put this way before, and it's a wonderful point.

And it also frames my purchasing behavior in a way that makes a lot of sense. Specifically, I have no problem whatsoever paying for DRM stuff, if it's offered at a steeply discounted price that makes one-time use attractive.

I would never buy DRM music from iTunes, or for that matter even pay for non-DRM music in Apple's proprietary codecs, because if I'm paying money for music I want to feel like I own it for life.

Even if DRM technically gives me lifetime access to a given product, I assume I'm going to lose the key, or the company running the DRM valdiation server will go out of business.

That's why, like iTunes music, Kindle doesn't make any sense to me. I assume at some point, whether in five years or twenty, I'm going to get locked out of all the books I supposedly own --- if for no other reason than I'm likely to switch to a different eBook reader five or twenty years from now that's not Kindle compatible. Given that I don't feel like Kindle truly offers permanent ownership, I think its prices aren't nearly discounted enough to be attractive.

The best book I've read lately is _Eating Animals_ which Amazon currently sells for $14.90. This for a hardcover book printed on acid-free paper. It'll last the rest of my life and then some, so the only way I lose ownership is if I decide to give it away. The Kindle version,by contrast, is $11.92 --- barely a $3 discount. Given the DRM and the device lock-in, that's ridiculously expensive compared to the hardcover.

What would make infinitely more sense is if I could *rent* the book on Kindle for, say, $3 or $4 --- for a six month period. As dstar said in the parent post, "you never actually buy anything with DRM, you simply rent it."

And to me, there's nothing at all wrong with that --- if things are priced accordingly, and even with DRM expiration dates. Where things become morally suspect is when a DRM item is sold under the pretense that the buyer has gained lifetime ownership. It just ain't true.

Returning to the Slashdot story on Lulu, I've got no problem at all with Lulu deciding to offer DRM books. But I think they should be offered in such a way that it's clear that readers are renting them for one-time use, not buying them for a lifetime --- and they should be priced accordingly. If these terms are explicit and DRM is part of the deal, I don't have any problem with that. Just like I don't have any problem with the fact that I currently rent my access both to NFL Game Rewind [nfl.com] and to NetFlix's "Watch Instantly" feature. There's DRM in both these products, but there are no false pretenses that the reasonable price I'm paying is buying me lifetime access to what I see.

In the case of NFL Replay and Netflix's "Watch Instantly," I'm getting one-time access to stuff I very much want to see but don't want to own, at a very fair price. DRM makes this sort of deal attractive and workable to both me and to the rights holders, and I think that's great. I don't think DRM's the devil at all. In fact, I'd like to see more products wrapped in DRM and available at a steep discount for one-time use. The world would be a better place for rights holders and consumers alike.

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019822)

DRM is not the devil. It is a tool.

Like a pitchfork, or a giant blast furnace...

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (2, Insightful)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019876)

Speaking of bad car analogies

No, not LoJack, it's more like you're buying a 2005 SUV especially because you know it has an OnStar system on board, and then a few months later, GM decides to change the format on you, and you basically have no recourse [yahoo.com] (and no one willing to buy that truck from you, because by now everybody knows about the discontinuation).

First generation Zune owners and Walmart DRM music customers should know basically what I'm talking about. You don't own the music you buy, and if you want to keep on listening to DRM music you've already purchased -- it means you may have to repurchase your same music again and again.

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (4, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019994)

DRM is not the devil. It is a tool.

DRM is the Devil's tool.

pam (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020110)

best comedy videos at

http://bestcomedycircus.blogspot.com/

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020634)

DRM is one thing: a tool. It's also used by the devil.

DRM is two things: a tool, and used by the devil. It is also problem-causing to legitimate users.

DRM is three things: a tool, used by the devil, and problem-causing to legitimate users. It is also.. well, let me think about this a bit more.

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020738)

At least it doesn't have fear, surprise or efficiency. It is pretty ruthless though. And fanatically devoted to the pope.

Re:Just to start us off with a car analogy... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020724)

DRM is not a tool, it is an attempt to maintain the old way of life for publishers. You know, back in the days when the majority of people could not make copies of a creative works? Now we live in an age where anyone can make a copy of a creative work, spending very little money in the process; instead of finding a new business model that is appropriate for that new reality, publishers opted instead to make it harder than ever to share a creative work with a friend.

Instead of the Internet ushering in a golden age of information availability, it is beginning to be used to make information less available than it used to be, and DRM is fundamental to that trend. Remind me, how can DRM be used in a constructive manner?

Bad analogy time. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020798)

I have cheap paperbacks I bought in the '70s, with copyright dates in the '60s, that I can still read. They're not in great condition compared to even older quality bound hardbacks, but they're still completely readable.

I have digital books I got in the '80s (mostly fanfics, of course) and the '90s, I can still read.

I've got a CD somewhere with some DRMed books I got about seven or eight years ago, they were free downloads that came with a PDA, used part of the credit card number I use to download them as the PIN... the gimmick was that once they had your card on file you'd be more inclined to buy more ebooks. I wouldn't have the faintest idea what credit card number was on my now-twice-renewed card I bought them on. So even if the publisher was still in operation (I don't know if they were) there's no way I could hope to get them reactivated. I've got another DRMed eBook that I bought, because it was the only way to get the annotated version of A Fire Upon the Deep, and I think I could reactivate it if I wanted to.

I've also got three or four programs I got on that PDA that I'm now running on an emulator of that PDA because the company that sold them is out of business, but I happened to have activated them on that emulator. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to use them any more.

DRM isn't like a lojack, DRM is like buying a book printed on nitrocellulose. It's like buying a car that disables the engine after five years, and you can't resell or even loan to a friend.

Do not worry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30019714)

If you are going to figuratively cut your throat every time you come into contact with something you do not like you will have a lonely life ahead of you.

The moment DRM is made mandatory then I would think about your principles an option that is voluntary is fine.

Making customers pay for DRM? (2, Insightful)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019724)

Applying DRM (optional, eBooks only) adds $.99 to the base price to offset the fee charged by our DRM provider. To reiterate, authors never pay to publish, these fees are reflected in the list price and are only charged to the purchaser at purchase time.

Note to self: Never use Lulu.

Re:Making customers pay for DRM? (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019890)

Why not? You can still buy printed books there.

Re:Making customers pay for DRM? (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020306)

What's wrong with charging extra for DRM? DRM costs money to create and passing that cost on to consumers directly seems like a very good way of highlighting exactly what is wrong with DRM. Get the book in DRM-encumbered form for $11 or DRM-free form for $10. Highlight the fact that the cost of the DRM is hidden in the purchase price when you buy something like a BluRay disk.

Re:Making customers pay for DRM? (1)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020446)

What's wrong with charging extra for DRM? DRM costs money to create and passing that cost on to consumers directly seems like a very good way of highlighting exactly what is wrong with DRM.

While I don't disagree with what you say, I don't think we should require multiple demonstrations of some bad thing before we realize it is bad. It's not as though we need more accidents before we discover that drunk driving is bad; utilizing common sense, we can determine that the very concept of drunk driving is a bad thing. The same goes for DRM. Case in point, not dealing with the company in the first place is a better alternative to getting burned by the company and then deciding to stay away from them.

Re:Making customers pay for DRM? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020620)

But we do. Ask a random person what their opinion on DRM is and they will look at you like a crazy person. Most people don't know what DRM is, let alone why it's bad, and if they come across problems related to DRM then they just blame the implementation in question, not the concept. If you sell the DRM-free and DRM-encumbered versions next to each other, people who know what DRM is will buy the cheap one. People who don't will wonder why they should pay extra for DRM and will look up what it is. They'll then watch out for it in other products. Or they'll buy the DRM-encumbered version anyway, in which case they deserve to pay more.

Re:Making customers pay for DRM? (2, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020762)

Unless, of course, the DRM restricted version is the only one that is available. Then you do not see a price difference for difference versions of the book, you see a price difference for different books -- pretty standard -- and do not feel the hurt of the restrictions until after the sale.

Lulu. Who the fuck is Lulu? (0, Troll)

snikulin (889460) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019784)

I don't know why she's leaving or where she's gonna go
I guess she's got her reasons, but i just don't wanna know
'cuz for twenty-four years i've been living next door to Lulu

Lulu, who the fuck is Lulu? ...... many "fucks" following .....

For the un-enlightened [wikipedia.org]

Re:Lulu. Who the fuck is Lulu? (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020488)

I thought they were on about Lulu the recording artist at first, why would she introduce DRM? maybe because it "makes you want to shout"? :)

Much ado about nothing (2, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019812)

As has been said many times in this thread already, you don't HAVE to use DRM. I guess there are a lot of people who publish on Lulu who don't want a free-to-spread PDF of their work roaming around the world, diminishing the profits from their hard work. Now they have an extra option to offer people their work and get paid for it. Most people don't care about DRM at all, so what is the problem?

Re:Much ado about nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020334)

I guess there are a lot of people who publish on Lulu who don't want a free-to-spread PDF of their work roaming around the world, diminishing the profits from their hard work.

Has DRM prevented the spread of anything? Applying DRM to their works is a feel good measure for the ignorant. Making your product less functional at a higher price is a stupid idea and will not make you more money.

Most people don't care about DRM at all, so what is the problem?

Then why has iTunes gone DRM-free? People care when it bites them. I bet the people who bought DRMed music from businesses whose DRM servers have now gone down care. To the extent that they don't care it is generally because they are also ignorant or else because it is easily broken. This is one potential problem: people get bitten buying a Lulu book with DRM and then by association become more reluctant to purchase the book of an author who didn't want DRM.

Re:Much ado about nothing (1, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020786)

"diminishing the profits from their hard work"

Sounds like a good time to find a new business model for books. You know, there was a sweeping technological change over the past 30 years, and technological changes usually force the marketplace for affected goods and services to change in turn?

"Now they have an extra option to offer people their work"

No, now they have an extra option to restrict access to their work. Instead of making the work more available to their readers, DRM makes it less available. That is a bad thing for society, and authors who care about such things should actively resist DRM -- by refusing to have Lulu be their publisher.

"Most people don't care about DRM at all, so what is the problem?"

Most people do not care about the Bald Eagle, so what was the problem with DDT? Most people do not care about anything at all: complete apathy is the norm these days. Just pointing to the fact that most people do not care about a problem does not make it any less of a problem.

OMG 456 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30019818)

how do these articles make it on slashdot...? /me shakes head

What's the best alternative? (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020016)

And, while I'm asking this kind of question, does anyone know of a good place to get hard-copies of books from GutenPrint?

Re:What's the best alternative? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020502)

And, while I'm asking this kind of question, does anyone know of a good place to get hard-copies of books from GutenPrint?

Lulu is still the best option for that.

Second best (In the USA at least, not sure where else they are yet) is Kinkos, I believe owned by FedEx.

Of course you can use your own laser printer and bind a book yourself.

Unfortunately a laser printer still stamps its serial number on every square inch of the paper, which some equate to DRM (and others apparently equate to slavery, wow)
So avoiding Lulu for this reason means you shouldn't also avoid all laser printers for the same reason.

Little DRM rant here... a bit off-topic (0, Redundant)

deckardt (989092) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020726)

DRM is a tool to create artificial scarcity. Scarcity, virtual or real makes the scarce item more valuable, or so is thought. Only one (1) person needs to crack the 'scarcity' and the whole (economic) system comes tumbling down. Let DRM be implemented, and let it be cracked, it will lead to yet another market-crash. However, if the DRM can not or isn't cracked it will lead to the loss of the item, destroying the information locked by its DRM inside forever. An information black-out will be the result in our history.

Its a very strange thing that DRM is hailed upon by the biggest players in the 'free market'. All for profit and profit for all as they say. Money seems to be more valuable than anything else. This to me is a very freightning attitude. But reacting upon angst is even more freighting. We need to look at the root cause of the issue here, authors/creators feeling they're not duly compensated for their work. If we solve this issue there is no need for DRM.

A lot of research is being done in the field of new media and especially its distribution, but these reports don't seem to hit home (the publishers/law makers/etc).

Need an example on how stuff can change? Watch this lecture,1st part is a dull intro to bittorrent, after that it really gets interesting: pt1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxCoCTc3T5Q [youtube.com] pt2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIqG7WgqQ-w [youtube.com]

CC isn't for everybody. (3, Insightful)

Michael_gr (1066324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020766)

I'm with the people who don't think DRM is necessarily evil. Remember: Lulu is a *print-on-demand* outfit. You want a non-DRM'd version of a book? buy the print version and do whatever you want with it. I don't see why we should force writers to give their work in a format that can be duplicated too easily. If you write technical manuals, software guides, that sort of thing... you're in a market where piracy is very, very strong, to the point you may never make any money on your book, while it may be pirated by thousands or tens of thousands of users. Just look a the book section on Pirate Bay. Yes, I would have preferred if there was some global DRM scheme which was vendor-agnostic and internationally maintained by some non-affiliated organization, so we'd have some assurances our DRM'd media isn't going to just go away one day. But all the arguments I hear against DRM are about the specific implementation, not the idea in general. The idea is... well... necessary if you want people to bother writing professionally.
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