Is DRM more costly than Piracy? It’s an interesting question, and one that Brett Sandusky takes a look at in this article. He looks at some common misconceptions surrounding piracy and DRM and also suggests some ways that getting rid of DRM might be a potential benefit to the publishing industry.
One thing that Sandusky addresses, which a lot of people don’t, is that there are potential benefits to getting rid or DRM. Now some of the possibilities that he considers are a little 1984-ish for my taste, like his idea that in order to lend a DRM free e-book to a friend, you’d have to enter their e-mail address and basic information (age, gender etc)upon lending, and then the publisher could use that information for marketing purposes. To me, that’s a bit of a gray area in terms of privacy, that I’d rather stay away from. But there is great benefit to the basic word of mouth that be generated through the loaning of books (in e or physical form) between friends and family.
I’ve gotta say, that with a little market research, publishers and the purchasers of e-books would likely be able to agree on a decent number of loans within the DRM of an e-book. All that publishers would need is a simple survey on their home pages asking their customers how many times they lend their average book? By conducting a quick survey, publishers can open a dialogue between themselves and their customers and they wouldn’t run the risk of coming across as trying to punish people who purchase their e-books through legitimate means. I think that customers will be honest and realistic in their responses, and appreciate being a part of the decision making process. Honestly, I can’t think of a book that I’ve lent out more than five times, but that’s just me.