DRM doesn’t work. We know it, you know it and even the RIAA knows it. The FCC has had hearings on it, and even the retailers agree that it is useless, which was why Apple removed DRM from their music. Unfortunately, it’s still required for audiobooks that are sold through the iTunes Music Store.
Cory Doctorow, blogger, author and columnist, is not shy of technology or the Internet. His last book, Little Brother, covered the internet, RFID, terrorism and even the Pirate Party. Doctorow also served as the European Director for the EFF and co-founded the ORG. When it comes to DRM, he knows his stuff, and he also knows that DRM doesn’t work
So, when he wanted to release an audio version of his new book ‘Makers’ without DRM, it seemed a fairly simple prospect. The publishers, Random House Audio, were amenable to it. The problem was one of distribution. There are two major players in this area, Audible and Apple. Unlike the publishers, they are not so keen on the ‘no DRM’ position.
Audible, writes Doctorow in Publishers Weekly, turned them down flat when it came to a DRM-free version of Little Brother last year. Since they’re the only retailer on the iTunes music store, that locked out an huge market. When it came time for ‘Makers,’ this time they said yes. Apple, however, said No. audiobooks have to have DRM.
Doesn’t matter what the author or publisher wants, Apple wants DRM, so it’s DRM or nothing.
The backup plan then was just to sell via Audible. The problem then, writes Doctorow, is that while the files might not contain DRM, they come with an End User Licensing Agreement (EULA), which effectively does the same thing – DRM by contract.
DRM might be be gone from music as apple proudly proclaimed early this year, but it’s still alive and kicking. Often not because of the artist or the publisher wants it, but because it’s a store requirement. Indeed, Mr Doctorow is very happy with his publisher, telling TorrentFreak “Random House Audio has been remarkably flexible and committed to letting me sell my audiobooks without DRM and I’m incredibly grateful to them and to my editor, Amy Metsch, for all their hard work.”
Now for Apple and Audible to similarly be flexible and hard working, after all, they didn’t create the work, they’re just selling it.