Sunday, September 28, 2008

An Anti-DRM Book Wrapped In...DRM

Lawrence Lessig is a brilliant man and a wonderful author. You can read my review of his book Free Culture here. Free Culture talks about the evils of digital rights management (DRM), so it's ironic that the book is now available for the Kindle, which means it's wrapped ever so tightly with Amazon's DRM. Blogger Paul Glazowski covers the issue in this insightful post.

As both a publisher and a consumer I'm less hung up on this dilemma than Glazowski. Why?

First of all, there's a convenience that comes with having a book like this available on the Kindle. Sure, I could grab a free PDF of the book here and it comes with no DRM, btw. I could then forward that PDF to my Kindle e-mail address, let Amazon convert it to Mobi format and have it wirelessly delivered to my Kindle. I've done that countless times now since I bought my Kindle, but the results are mixed. While all these converted files are readable, few of them come through the conversion process as clean as a native Kindle file.

Secondly, if I'm really hung up on the redistribution rights that come with the book's Creative Commons License, no, I can't just give another Kindle owner my Kindle copy of the book to read. But I can point them to that free PDF version and other free related resources on the book's website.

So is this situation a bit awkward? Sure, but there's no reason to criticize Lessig, the book's publisher or Amazon about it.