What Do you Mean, “DRMless”?

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It’s a way for content producers (publishers, television and movie producers, music production companies and artists) to control who can play or “consume” their work by embedding limitations in the content itself.

DRMless is a tag for posts about legally available digital content that is available for download without DRM. Should you be asked, DRMless (“without DRM”) should be pronounced Dream Less— because I very much believe that it is both imperative, and not just a dream, that high quality digital content be available without DRM — but still a source of genuine financial support for content creators.

While I absolutely and completely understand why artists and content producers and distributors want to control who can use their content, DRM just doesn’t work. Honest people will pay for content; dishonest people won’t. That being said, I am very much aware that there are a lot of people who do “try before buying,” and will download an ebook, mp3, or trailer, to see what the work is like. If they don’t like it, they delete the file; if they like it, they go buy their own version, either as a download or as “hard” media, in a the form of a printed codex book, a CD, or DVD.

I get that. I also know that there are a lot of us—yes I’m including myself in this group—who will not only pay for a digital version, but we’ll buy the “hard copy,” too, whether DVD, or printed codex book, or CD. I also think that there are reasons for using DRM for proprietary internal content—much the way we use encryption.

There’s a quotation from Steve Jobs from an interview he did for Rolling Stone magazine in December of 2003:

If copyright dies, if patents die, if the protection of intellectual property is eroded, then people will stop investing. That hurts everyone. People need to have the incentive that if they invest and succeed, they can make a fair profit. Otherwise they’ll stop investing. But on another level entirely, it’s just wrong to steal. Or, let’s put it another way: it is corrosive to one’s character to steal.

You’ll see posts associated with the DRMless category about the media, and the content, and the artists, who are providing digital content—TV shows, movies, ebooks, and audio files—that are DRMless. It’s also about the issues around DRM, and copyright, and the absolute imperative of making sure artists are paid for their art.