Wednesday, May 6, 2015

DRM Free sale, and a rant about DRM

Packt, publisher of my book 3D Printing Blueprints is doing a stupid good sale on e-books. So go check it out.

I wish I had known today's day against DRM was coming so I could prepare a video for it, because there's a video I've wanted to prepare for a long time about the subject. But since time is short let's just make a blog post about it.

DRM is stupid.

For over 30 years everyone has been been so afraid that someone was going to take their hard work that they've spent hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars and man hours to develep copy protection. These days we call it DRM, but it still the same story. And it's the same result. The thing you're trying to protect becomes harder for your paying customers to use, the hackers get a new challenge. They release their hacked product, for free, of course, and now there's 2 nearly identical products, one that's easy to use and free, and one that's hard to use and expensive.

Which one would you choose?

It's not the hacker's fault. They're just fixing something that's broken. Nothing wrong with that. The problem is that something was released intentionally broken in the first place.

DRM on anything simultaneously creates and promotes it's own biggest competitor. Is done so with software, is done so with music. And how 3D printing is following the same path. There is in development right now 3D printing file formats with DRM built right in. Why? 3D printing is supposed to be disruptive. So why are we accepting this?

I was told recently that "high value content owners" are hesitant to get into the 3D printing arena because they have no way to protect their IP, and the DRM laden formats are being created for them. I'm gonna call it now. These "high value" types are going to get the supposedly watertight DRM they want, enter the market, but being late to the market they're going to have to spend a lot on advertising. Loss 1. Then customers will have a hard time using their format, which will drive them to discover the pirated, easy to use options. And maybe their moral centers will keep them buying something before they download the free and easy copy for their own use, but eventually paying will just be an annoyance. Sales will drop off and the high value content owners will blame the market, the pirates, or anything else they can think of when the fault lies with them and the copy protection they insisted on motivating the market away from them.

DRM is a choice motivated by fear. That alone should be enough reason to realize it's a bad idea.

Someone needs to tell these high value content owners that it's okay to let the public have a no-strings-attached home 3D printable file of Olaf or Rainbow Dash. They will be so excited that they will pay you money for it and even better they will do your advertising for you, better than a million dollars and the top advertising firm in the world could do. And by and large they will not make 30 copies of it and sell them on eBay. And the one person that does, they're violated the terms of the copyright agreement and react to that, go after them, and go after them hard. I'd bet that it would end up costing less to hunt down and take out the one or two violations than it will be to treat your hundreds of paying customers like criminals, and the ramifications that go along with that.

But what do I know. I'm just a guy making awesome stuff who's not afraid to share it.

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