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DRM: Invisibility in an opaque market
Posted on Sunday, June 10 @ 10:20:51 PDT by T

When your potential customers don't even know who you are...

Eric Flint's ongoing series of screeds against DRM has reached Part Seven. This time around, Flint argues that the opaque nature of the book market (i.e. one so saturated with products that consumers can't possibly make an informed choice) means that most authors are overlooked and invisible. Why on earth would any sane author want to impose any restrictions on his or her work which would further reduce the audience for it?

Flint doesn't quite come out and state it outright, preferring to stay coyly behind the term "fair use", but it's pretty apparent from reading between the lines that he sees copyright infringement as a valid marketing opportunity. I don't think he endorses it, but it certainly seems as if he accepts it.

Most people, when presented with an "illegal" copy of something will, if they like it, end up buying a legitimate copy for themselves. Some won't, but that's inevitable. Flint's view appears to be that the small numbers of lost sales from the "pirates" are vastly outweighed by the greater numbers of lost sales caused by the imposition of DRM; if you can't copy something to begin with, spreading the word becomes more difficult.

Instead of using unreliable technological gimmickry to stop all infringement, gimmickry which is more likely to inconvenience legitimate purchasers than prevent illegitimate copying, stop trying. Instead, trust the listeners, the readers, the viewers. Given a properly packaged - and sensibly priced - product, some people will always try to rip you off. But most won't.



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