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Tor-Forge Reaches First Anniversary of Plans to Go DRM-Free – Reports No Increase in Piracy

Tor-Logo[1]Late last week Tor UK posted an update on their efforts to go DRM-free.

It’s been just over one year since Tor-Forge Books announced plans to distribute their ebooks without DRM (and 9 months since the DRM was officially removed), and the move has seen a lot of support by both authors and readers.

But the more important news today is that Tor UK is also reporting that they haven’t seen any correlation between DRM and piracy:

As it is, we’ve seen no discernible increase in piracy on any of our titles, despite them being DRM-free for nearly a year.

DRM has long been the bugaboo of this digital reader so I plan to trumpet this from the roof tops.

I have long said that DRM doesn’t stop the determined pirate (thanks to the ready availability of DRM removal tools). All that is accomplished by adding DRM to ebooks is to restrict and punish the legitimate customer. So when Tor UK announced that they hadn’t seen an increase in piracy I was not at all surprised. Pleased, but not surprised.

Tor Books UK

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David April 29, 2013 um 1:45 pm

You said: "Amazon sells books anywhere they can, so I’m sure that they would like to sell ebooks to anyone with the money to buy, no matter whether the customer has a Kindle ereader or app."
Not quite true. Some books are not available from Amazon if you are in the "wrong" country. You may be able to buy a certain book from Amazon UK if you live in the UK, but not if you live in USA. Similarly you may not be able to buy a certain book from Amazon USA if you live in the USA, but not if you live in UK.
This gets really silly sometimes.
For example, I can travel to USA and go into a traditional bookshop and buy any book they have there. BUT, if I go to the USA and try to buy an eBook from Amazon while I am there then I am sent to Amazon UK where the book may not even be available. Crazy!

Becca April 29, 2013 um 2:14 pm

David, those geographical restrictions are set by the publisher, not by Amazon.

Becca April 29, 2013 um 1:50 pm

Since stripping DRM is so easy (even I can do it), I’m not sure how good DRM is at stopping anything other than casual sharing type piracy.

Wasn’t the point of the bookseller’s lawsuit against Amazon (which looks like it’s going to be thrown out) that it allowed Amazon too much control at the expense of the independent booksellers? I think controlling what device you can read a book on is behind B&N’s and Apple’s draconian versions of DRM. And certainly Amazon wants you to only read Amazon’s ebooks on Amazon’s devices or apps. Even Kobo seems to be on the our-device-only bandwagon with their kepub format.

yuzutea April 29, 2013 um 5:00 pm

IIRC they say that it’s the casual piracy they want to stop and don’t think it will stop the really serious piracy.

Nate Hoffelder April 29, 2013 um 5:11 pm

Casual filesharing is just the fallback position once one has to admit that DRM doesn’t actually stop piracy. It’s a red herring.

yuzutea April 29, 2013 um 4:59 pm

Well, if fear of Amazon brings about an end to this type of DRM, then many will rejoice.

However, even if e-ink readers are opened up, how much actual effect there will be is going to depend on how easy it is to transfer books. If it’s an involved process, the most important effect will probably be that people in ebook blogs and forums will stop complaining about DRM as much, but the majority of users won’t do it because it’s complicated.

If it’s easy, I think there might be a decline in Nook and Kobo e-ink readers in the US. But even this might not have this much impact, because IIRC it’s projected that people aren’t going to buy that many new e-ink ereaders anyway?

Peter Turner April 29, 2013 um 5:07 pm

Don’t we have to differentiate between use of piracy sites and casual file sharing? Seems like these are very different dynamics. As a former publisher, our concern was if casual file sharing would adversely effect paid sales and hence justify DRM. Pirating is unstoppable regardless, as is often pointed out.

Nate Hoffelder April 29, 2013 um 5:12 pm

Did you really worry about casual file sharing? I don’t see how it could be worse than existing issues with paper books.

Peter Turner April 29, 2013 um 7:32 pm

I concluded casual file sharing was likely to be a net positive, but it was a concern, a question, which we know we couldn’t measure. I had always thought that DRM free eBook files could be distributed via eMail to a list. Paper is clearly different (if that’s correct) as readers (non-pirates) won’t bother to scan the paper book to make a file to share.

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