Awesome Conferences

"DRM-free" scares the s*** out of me

Stop the Hollyweb! No DRM in HTML5.

Today is the International Day Against DRM.

As an author, and one that is currently living on unemployment insurance payments, DRM-free scares the shit out of me. Every book I've ever published has been pirated. Some I have even found in the "/tmp" directory of open HTTP servers. Every time I see my books pirated I die a little inside.

Writing is very difficult for me. People don't realize how hard it is. How do I stop procrastinating and sit down to write? I eliminate everything else "tempting" from my life for a year or two until the book is done. Do you know what's more tempting to do than writing? Everything. This basically means anything fun... eliminated. It kills my nights and weekends. It kills my social life. I say "no" to every invitation, movie night, gaming night, etc. When the book is done I always hold a big party to celebrate but also to re-introduce myself to my friends and loved ones that I've haven't seen in so long.

While DRM-free media scares me, I know it is important to be able to store media on all your devices, move it around and so on.

Producing DRM-free media is about trust. It is the author showing trust in the readers that they will do the right thing when it comes to paying for what they use (if there is a charge) and trust that people will abide by whatever copyrights the creator has placed on the work. It is the customer showing trust in the producer that they set reasonable prices.

I want to live in a world with that kind of trust. Publishing books without DRM is, to me, an experiment in seeing if that is the kind of world we can create.

That's why I support the "Day without DRM".

Sign the petition.

O'Reilly demonstrates this trust. It publishes Time Management for System Administrators at a reasonable price. You can download it in many formats, as many times as you wish. You can read it in HTML on Safari Online.

This is a critical moment in the fight against DRM. A proposal currently being considered by the W3C would weave DRM into HTML5 -- in other words, into the very fabric of the Web. This would be bad. If there is DRM on the web, let it remain as proprietary plug-ins, not a requirement of owning a web browser.

Sign the petition.

I'm against including any DRM in HTML5. I hope you are too.

To celebrate "Day Against DRM" you can purchase "Time Management for System Administrators" and 5000+ other O'Reilly eBooks for half price. Use discount code: DRM2013. Deal expires May 3, 2013 at 11:59pm PT.

Sign the petition.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Book News

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

10 Comments | Leave a comment

if you hate writing so much why do you even do it?

Those people who were pirating your book were never going to pay for it in the first place. This is the same, tired, bullshit argument for DRM we hear from video game publishers. A piracy does not equal a lost sale.

I agree with you 100% Tom! I own 2 of your books, Time Management for sysadmins and TPOSANA, both great books. I bought both as hard copies and the ebook versions from O'Reilly.

I know how hard it is to write, heck I often feel like writing something interesting on my blog once in a while and never get to it. I like writing in general but it's hard work to write a book, and as you say it takes a lot of dedication.

Unfortunately, I don't think this trend of finding your work in /tmp directories on random servers and being shared in other places will ever fully end. This is not always because of unscrupulous people who want to steal, from what I have seen personally from first-hand experience it's because of:

1. People who are in countries where it is impossible to buy the book. They will readily scour the web or other places just to get a badly photocopied version, doesn't matter if it's not aligned properly and skewed :-)

2. People who are in countries where there is a huge market in knock-off copies of books. These are books that are somehow re-printed (maybe from photocopies) and rebound and sold as if they were the original books. These are of much lower quality, both in terms of paper and the binding. Why do these exist? It's because the people in these countries can't afford to pay for the original version, and also because in most cases the original is not available, and all bookstores only carry the cheap knock-offs.

3. Students who can't or won't pay.

4. People who just don't realise or don't care even if you explain to them how hard it is. They are too used to being able to bittorrent everything, and think that it's cool to say "print is dead" as if it died 15-20 years ago. They feel ashamed when their friends say to them: You paid for that? You idiot!

Let's see how things go though. One thing good about ebooks I suppose is that you could charge less and distribute easily in poor countries, but that is usually up to the publisher, and a lot of them are not so enlightened it seems.

he never said anything about hating it. just because you love doing it doesn't mean it magically stopped being difficult.

Hmm, I feel your pain, but its a really tough problem to figure out if having your stuff distributed far and wide by piracy is a net gain or a net loss. I lean towards net gain, but I can't prove it.

I may be atypical, but I have anywhere from 50-100 real, physical, subject to gravity books on my shelves SOLELY because I could quickly download them and give them a quick scan when my interest was piqued by something online. Had I been required to go to the library or a bookstore to do that quick read, it would likely not happen, and neither would the follow-up purchase.

I also have several hundred virtual books scattered around my file system that aren't purchased and likely never will be, because they didn't pass the quickread test or weren't what I needed.

However, consider the fact that I now know of this book, its author and a little about the content. I will never purchase it, but I may well tell others about it. In this scenario, I believe its obvious the author has come out ahead.

That said, I think it truly sucks that we've never figured out a usable micro-payment system to reward content creators.

So, writing is hard? Yes. But so is practically any other job.

There's no god given right to earn a sustainable income doing the things you like, but still you chose the job, so you gotta live with it's ups and downs.

Teaching children is hard and only sometimes rewarding, but it kills your knees and back. Still, they don't whine to the generally public.

There's never been a working DRM-scheme and there most probably never will be, deal with it. Stop writing and complaining or get another job, sry, but that's the reality of life.


Just wanted to drop a note and say "thanks" for taking the high road here and, despite your fears, helping to support a DRM-free world.

It's nice to be able to read your books via whatever device I happen to have on me - my Android phone, my iPad, or my PC - and via whatever app I like to use on each. Or via a dead tree, should I be feeling excessively hipster-ish. :)


He does not hate it, he is just saying that it takes effort. Even when you do something that you love, and i am sure he loves writing, it takes effort to schieve results.

I know I first read your pirated books and later bought the dead trees version because they were so good. But if I now want to read them on my e-reader in epub format, I would have to re-buy them again.

Thank you for your books. I wish more sysadmins read them.

Look I support the downfall of DRM the fact u got caught in the crossfire is unfortunate hell i dont even read books I just wanna say if u were a game developer with DRM on ur game that would make u my enemy,but ur not so im not gonna hate on u ( i feel for u) also ,Down with DRM !

Leave a comment