Digital Rights Managment to be dropped by Tor and other Macmillan sci-fi books

Digital Rights Management software was originally meant to restrict pirating of e-books, but many complain because of the restrictions it places on users.

“Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time,” says Tom Doherty of Tom Doherty Associates, publisher of sci-fi authors like 'Ender's Game' writer Orson Scott Card. “They’re a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance to them.

The publishing division Tom Doherty Associates, the section of Macmillan that releases science fiction and fantasy books through Tor, Forge and others, announced that it will stop selling e-books with Digital Rights Management (DRM) by July of this year.

The DRM system aims to stop users from pirating e-books, but many have complained because the DRM technology stops them from transferring a digital book they’ve legitimately bought from one e-book reader to another, such as from a Kindle to a Nook.

Tom Doherty, founder of Tom Doherty Associates, noted this problem in his statement about the change.

“Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time,” Doherty said. “They’re a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance to them. It prevents them from using legitimately-purchased e-books in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another.”

Fellow sci-fi publisher Baen Books has also supported taking DRM off e-books and sells their own electronic titles in multiple formats, setting the titles at costs that are the equivalent of or less than the price of buying the book in paperback form.

Tor author John Scalzi wrote on his blog that he’s never seen DRM be particularly useful.

“DRM hasn’t stopped my books from being out there on the dark side of the Internet,” Scalzi wrote. “Meanwhile, the people who do spend money to support me and my writing have been penalized for playing by the rules…. So the idea that my readers will, after July, ‘buy once, keep anywhere,’ makes me happy. “

Bookseller Magazine editor-in-chief Neill Denny told the BBC that he’s heard opinions for and against DRM software in the publishing industry.

"Some people think that it is an impediment and has been cracked anyway so we don't need it,” Denny said. “But others say that it continues to restrict piracy.”

After the change takes place, Tor titles will also become available at e-book merchants that only stock DRM-free titles.

Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.

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