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Cory Doctorow Convinces Amazon, B&N, Kobo To Sell DRM-free Titles


Cory Doctorow has won a move in his anti-DRM quest. In a column that he penned this week in Publisher’s Weekly, the author promoted his quest with the new Doctorow’s First Law: “Any time someone puts a lock on something that belongs to you, and won’t give you a key, they’re not doing it for your benefit.”

The blogger and author recently convinced Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo to sell his eBooks unencumbered by DRM coding, so that consumers can transfer the files that they purchase across devices. Apple and Sony were not so open and if you purchase Doctorow’s eBooks from either of these retailers, they will be encrypted with DRM.

Amazon’s Audible has been more complicated. The retailer will sell some of his titles DRM free, however, this doesn’t apply when they are distributing books through Apple’s iTunes store.

Doctorow shares his failed strategy: “I tried to remedy this creatively by asking Audible to allow me to add some preliminary language to the audio edition, something that said, ‘notwithstanding any agreement you clicked on to buy this book, Cory Doctorow and Random House Audio, as the copyright holders, hereby give you their blessing to do anything that is permitted by your local copyright law.’ In other words: don’t break the law, but feel free to do anything else—the same terms under which your car, dishwasher, and every traditional book on your bookshelf was sold to you. Again, Audible declined.”

While the tech blogger is known for his philosophy on giving away content for free, he admits that it might not be for everyone. Still, he thinks the copyright holders should have more of a say than the retailer. He continued: “Now, there are some writers, agents, or publishers that want DRM and restrictive EULAs. And though I can’t understand why, we are at least in agreement on this point: it should be the copyright holder’s choice. When it comes to which restrictions copyright law should place on e-book readers, the copyright proprietor—whether the author or the publisher—should call the shots, not the retailers.”

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