More #drm #debill #deact nonsense AKA “What would reacher do”

This entry was posted by on Wednesday, 14 April, 2010 at

I know they're quite low brow and predictable and generally the same story every time but I genuinely love the jack reacher books by lee child. I've got the full collection at home from the one where the jobless, homeless reacher falls into the middle of a bad situation, meets a beautiful girl affected by the situation, cracks some heads and then goes back on the road like the littlest hobo all the way through to the one where the jobless, homeless…(you get the idea).
Lee Child now has a new book out now called 61 hours which I have been looking forward to for ages and finally got round to thinking about buying it last night. I love reading on the train and in bed, both places which do not really suit a large, hard backed book so wanted to get the ebook to read on my htc hero. First stop, waterstones – hmmm £12,99 that seems a bit steep considering the physical book is only £9.89 and there is no requirement to actually print or physically distribute it but I'm game. Add to basket and then decide to check the format of the ebook, epub – excellent! epub with drm – doh!!! OK, how about other e-book publishers – ebooks.com for instance? Nope, all drm'd to the hilt and require a certain combination of operating systems and hardware. Their formats page explains a bit more. There are also geographic restrictions with a lot of providers which is just depressing. . Unfortunately this means I am not able to read this on my android phone as I have been unable to find an ebook reader with drm support and would not be too happy about limiting my purchase to one device anyway. Are there options for those of us in this situation? Answers on a postcard, via comments below or to @szlwzl. This leaves me with a couple of options:

  1. Wait for amazon to ship me the book and then lug the hardback to and from work on the train in my already heavy laptop bag
  2. Fire up my old iphone and buy it using stanza or a.n.other ebook reader and therefore carry yet another piece of technology.
  3. Buy the physical book and then download a non-drm'd book from "elsewhere"
The best option would of course be able to buy the book in a format I can read when and where I would like but it seems this isn't available to me :( 

The problem is that by doing option 3 I will be breaking the law and under the new Digital Economy Act I could be subject to having my internet connection disconnected as well as face a potential fine and a criminal record despite having bought the book!!! For me, this highlights the problem with DRM and the Digital Economy Act – lots of us are willing to pay for our downloads but need the flexibility to enjoy the products. We would be declared guilty without a proper trial and have to prove our innocence, this goes against everything our justice system is supposed to stand for.

If we move on to other situations such as downloading TV shows – I pay for Virgin V+ HD(XL package) and I pay my license fee but would love to be able to watch the shows in my own time, on my laptop or streamed around the house using my XBMC installation. If I download them, I am considered a "pirate"(ARRR!!!!) and could once again face disconnection and a criminal record. The itunes store is impressive but doesn't consider those of us who use "alternative" operating systems like ubuntu and requires a tie-in to apple and to the iproducts, something which some of us aren't prepared to do.

Does every download equal a lost sale? No. The figures quoted by the BPI etc for sales lost to illegal downloads were shown to be false and over-inflated and do not, I'm sure, include situations like the above where actual money has changed hands. 

What would Reacher do? Probably kick some corporate BPI ass, fall in and out of love with the beautiful lawyer/policewoman/distressed lady and then get on the last bus out of town with only the items in his pockets and a desire to see the world. 
What would szlwzl do? I've already fallen in love with the beautiful Arts Manager and am not planning on skipping town anytime soon so all I can do is continue to campaign to my MP(when elected) and all the candidates about this issue and hope that somewhere along the line the corporations wake up to what we as consumers are asking for. We shall see.