Ever come across a situation that just makes you think…. What the fuck is wrong with this world? This is one of those moments.
As I mentioned, Charlie Stross has written a book called accelerando and i’m reading it, and its good. He has released it for download under the creative commons licence. If you’re not familiar with the creative commons, its a creative licence (so its applied to things like music, podcasts, books) that takes inspiration from the open source movement. The most commonly seen creative commons licence is the no derivs, no commercialisation licence which basically means you can use the product (read/listen/etc), you can share it with friends and bounce it around the net, but you can’t change it, sell it or use it as a basis for your own work.
I’m not convinced yet of the future of creative commons when it comes to novels. Music, sure, because free music generates hype, publicity and popularity and thus more people go to your concerts and might buy your cd. Selective creative commons perhaps too, as it does the same thing. However some people say that people “Hate reading on a screen and will read a bit then buy the book.” Which isn’t always true. Look at me, I love reading on my pda.
In anycase, i’m getting off the topic. I went to fictionwise, my favorite ebook store, to search for more Stross books to add to my wishlist. See, that free publicity worked. I noticed that accelerando, the book that is released for free under creative commons, is also an ebook for sale. This by itself, whilst perhaps counter-intuitive, is not overly strange. There are people who give their work away for free and hope to make a living under the donations model, sort of like artists and patrons of old europe but in a wide-spread, techno sort of way. This could just be a variation of that.
However, this book, Accelerando, which is released for -free- under creative commons in a completely -unrestricted- pdf format is available for purchase at Fictionwise as a locked down, sewn up DRM protected version. This is just fucking stupid.
If you’ve been paying attention to my ranting at all, you’ll have an understanding of my views of DRM. It is my firm belief that they have no place in this world, and i’ve stated why on many occasions. I think this just goes to show how stupid people can be. Even with free versions floating around, the publishers still lock the sell version down under drm.
Now, I’ve never bought a drm’d book, movie, software or whatever that I couldn’t break. I do my research and if I can’t break the DRM, I don’t buy. When I do buy so called “Protected” books, before I read them what do you think I do? Thats right, I break the DRM. I don’t do it because I’m a massive super pirate (for a calm considered view on ebook piracy by the publisher who is leading the way and constantly breaking new ground in ebooks see the intro to the baen free library.) I don’t do it because I necessarly want access to denied functions. Since I have my pda now I don’t really have a need to print books and I don’t like the artificial voice in the “Read aloud” functions that are disabled. In fact, to me, theres very little difference between reading the drm book and one without drm.
I do it because I can. I do it because i’ll be damned if the publisher is going to tell me what I can do with the book I shelled out my hard earned bucks for. I do it because I might, later on in life, decide I want to read it as a pdf rather than a microsoft .lit file.
I do it to show them that artifiical restrictions on technology don’t work, and make them look as stupid as they are.
Now I -know- that Charlie Stross is smarter than this. Read the first half of accelerando and you’ll know it to, he recognises that current economics are based on economics of scarcity and that this may have to fundamentally change as society moves on. When a manuscript can, without cost, be duplicated a million times and passed out to a million consumers, you cannot base the cost or price on the old economics of scarcity. Scarcity no longer exists because the bits are free, its the bandwidth that costs. We don’t have the same limited resources involved in its creation – paper, ink, physical location – none of these mean anything in the production of an ebook.
With DRM publishers try to enforce scarcity on a resource that is not scarce. Charlie Stross knows this.
So I can only hope that this stupid situation occured because the publishers enforced it, not Charlie himself.
Otherwise…. Why Charlie – Why?