Just came across an Ars Techina article on DRM and e-textbooks. It reminded me of a recent situation I found myself in.
This summer I bought, read, and enjoyed Clay Shirky’s book Here Comes Everybody. Finishing chapter five I soon realized that several parts of this book deserve the attention of my high school technology classes. I set out to buy a digitized version at eBooks.com but was disappointed to find out that if I bought a copy, the Digital Restrictions Management would prevent me from using the book in useful ways with my students.
I wrote eBooks.com to explain the problem and they directed me to Penguin Publishing. Penguin Publishing said the DRM is on “all” of their ebooks and exists to “protect authors”. They stated that they wouldn’t sell me a copy that I could use with students in the ways I needed. Resulting in this “protection” was a canceled $26 US transaction and 60+ minds not exposed to Shirky’s ideas.
I wonder what Clay Shirky thinks of being “protected” this way. I also wonder if Penguin Publishing asks authors to opt-in to this “protection”. After all, if the intent is truly to protect authors, then each author should be free to request that Penguin Publishing distribute their ebooks with or without DRM. That is, they should be free to decline the offer of “protection”.