I really, really, REALLY hate DRM. Especially when it screws honest people.

I'm sure that many of you know that I hate DRM so much, it makes me want to punch babies. I have promised that I will never knowingly infect anything you buy from me with DRM.

So you'll probably be as surprised as I am to learn that Lulu put Memories of the Future, Volume 1 into the iBook store and into my Lulu shop (yay! awesome! Memories in a native eReader format!) but put that horrible, intrusive, disgusting, annoying, stupid Adobe DRM bullshit into the files.

I've heard from a non-zero number of readers who legally purchased MotFv1, and were (rightly) furious that they had to install some bullshit software they didn't want, just so they could read something that they paid for.

For example:

Adobe Digital Editions doesn't run on Linux and Lulu, like most companies who sell digital content (*cough* audible *cough*), doesn't care.
For Linux users like me there are three options:
a) Find a Windows machine or Mac at work or with friends, then install
ADE there (thereby also using one of my six devices I'm allowed to read
on for someone else's computer)
b) Spend hours getting it to work in wine on my Linux machine
c) Bittorrent it.

I think it's pretty obvious which one is the least work. If I'm inclined
to buy another ebook I'm much more likely to bittorrent it and the
donate on the author's web page than buying over Lulu.

I completely agree with this email, and others like it. This is the sort of thing that drives honest people to piracy, because the pirates are providing a better end user experience for them than the legal alternatives.

I tried to revise the file so that there is no DRM, but I can't do that without uploading an entirely new file. I tried to download the file Lulu made (which, other than the DRM bullshit is really nice and well-formatted; I would totally use their conversion service again in the future, if I was given the option to do it without DRM) so I can convert it to a non-DRM'd version and re-upload it, but it keeps telling me that there's an error with the file — yeah, no shit, that "error" is what I'm trying to eliminate! — and since I'm leaving for FedCon in just a few hours, I don't have the time to keep banging my head against the wall trying to fix it.

So: I want readers and potential readers to know that I'm aware of this problem, it is not my fault, and I'm doing everything I can to fix it … it's just going to be a week or so until I can.

The silver lining in all of this is that I was able to do a really neat .mobi conversion that I uploaded to the KDP store yesterday. If everything goes according to plan, you should be able to buy Memories of the Future, Volume 1 for your Kindle by the weekend.

31 thoughts on “I really, really, REALLY hate DRM. Especially when it screws honest people.”

  1. I’m not fan of DRM myself, but there are some bright sides to the Adobe crap. For one, as terrible as it is, the Adobe digital editions software does work just fine with Wine and installs just as easily as it would in Windows. Secondly, and most importantly, the DRM itself is joke. It’s completely broken and easily circumventable after 5 minutes on Google(though this does make if a bit more annoying to know that publishers keep using it). I actually get most of my ebooks from Google’s ebook store which uses Adobe DRM for the downloaded versions and on Linux I can have them downloaded, stripped of DRM and added to Calibre in just a couple of minutes.

  2. This image illustrates some of my experience. I -despise- lengthy garbage before a legally purchased copy of a movie. The pirated version, oh, actually freaking plays!
    I don’t need to see warnings in two languages. I don’t need to be told Interpol will waterboard me. I don’t really care if the movie is in THX {twitch} WHEN I ALREADY OWN IT! I think I figured that part out when I was shopping for it (as if there’s a choice between a THX version and a DTS version?).
    Anyway… yeah. The legal version of things needs to figure out how to be as friendly, easy, simple, obvious, and otherwise usable as the pirated version.

  3. I really appreciate the fact that you actually care as much as you do. It sounds kind of stupid, but thank you for doing your best to keep everything you do in line with your moral code instead of taking the easy way out. It would be nice if the world worked so that I didn’t feel a need to say that sort of thing.

  4. I pretty regularly use the conversion service to create nice compact PDFs. Lulu does it better than any software I have. I also will put the book up for the occasional tree killing but there’s no DRM in the print edition PDFs. If you’re looking for epub, you could try Epub2GO! which converts the nice PDF into an epub.

  5. It’s so cool that you care as much as you do for all of us normal everyday people. I(and we) appreciate you and all of your hard work so much. I have 2 of your books I am making the time for to read as we speak. You’re one of the best story tellers to date. :)

  6. Could it enable users to create an ebook without DRM in the first place? I just downloaded it yesterday, so I don’t know. I just tried it out once to convert a PDF of my Lulu book to an epub, and it inserted random numbers throughout the text. I have to figure out why it did that.

  7. Thanks for your efforts for us readers who want to legally obtain media for personal consumption without wading through the mess of DRM. Someday, there will be more platforms that don’t use DRM, but for now, it’s the evil that some feel they need to keep the pirates away.

  8. Thank you for sharing this and for all your hard work for your readers. I have a friend who uses Lulu and this will be good information to pass onto him.
    I also can’t imagine you punching babies. Evil Wil Wheaton…maybe. 😉

  9. I tried ordering MOTF Pt 1 twice with my device and once with my computer. I want the book, but am running into brick walls. I guess I just have to live with the wonderful MOTFuturecast. I love the podcast so much, but it’s too bad, as I know I’m missing all kinds of content. I wish Lulu would let me order the d*** thing…

  10. Wil, The Wellington Grey article on DMCA is no longer there and despite my best efforts I was unable to find a cached copy of it anywhere. I really wanted to see what it was all about.

  11. Wil,
    If you have already covered this in a more recent blog entry, I apologize in advance. I got MOTFv1 for Christmas and have almost finished it. I have enjoyed every snarky and insightful word thus far. Since I am at the last chapter, I must ask, when is Volume 2 coming out? I’m dying to read more, and sincerely hope I’m not the only one waiting. Is it possible that you’ve been nurturing Volume 2 in between your other projects? *hoping!!!* Just had to ask since MOTFv1 was brought up in your post.
    And thank you for being so careful about things like DRM. Your dedication to customer service and creative freedom is refreshing!

  12. I’m confuzzled about which books are offered where and in what format. I would have bought Dancing Barefoot, The Happiest Days of Our Lives and Memories of the Future last night if I had found .epub files. Read Just a Geek over Easter, really enjoyed it.

  13. I appreciate everything you said, but wouldn’t you know it, I just bought the PDF of Memories of the future last week and emailed it to Amazon to convert for my Kindle. :-)

  14. I’m pretty sure that in order to take advantage of some of the Kindle functionality such as variable font size, annotation, Text-to-Speech, etc. you have to convert it. You may be right; I’ve never tried to drop a PDF into my Kindle without forwarding it to Amazon for conversion.

  15. How did the conversion come out? Were you happy with it? I've heard mixed reviews from people who have done that with PDFs.

  16. I’ve done a few conversions, and while it’s convenient, I’m not really a fan. The font never seems to come out right. Since you’re limited to stepping up the font in fixed increments (150%-200%-300%) almost any way you enlarge the type causes the pages get cut up in weird ways that make reading difficult. I will say that changing the orientation of the Kindle (on either side) solves the font problem and pretty much resolves the cut up pages, although each printed page is now two and a-strange-piece-of-a-page long. I finished reading the first show this afternoon; and it’s great!

  17. I would be interested to hear what your stance on libraries and Overdrive, and their use of Adobe Digital editions. Our library provides ebooks for patrons through Overdrive, but our patron computers run off of linux. Also, we are now restricted by HarperCollins in how many times we may check an ebook out to a patron.

  18. Awesome – thanks Wil! Bought it just now – I prefer the Kindle format since I have so much stuff there from the last few years (though my wife and son have nooks so we have loads there also … damned ‘walled gardens’!).

  19. Hey Wil,
    Regarding the DRM thing, I was just thinking that, being as you are Kind of a Big Deal on the intertubes, a more direct approach with Lulu might be in order.
    Have you tried contacting this guy?
    He’s their CEO and founder, and also one of the founders of Red Hat, the company that makes one of the earliest and most successful Linux distros. I seem to remember some time ago when he left Red Hat to found Lulu, that part of his ‘mission’ was to enable creators to release their works with whatever rights they want to.
    Perhaps a direct email to him would stir things up, asking why it is so difficult for you and other authors to make your work available un-DRMed, or to change that decision later.
    He is Kind of a Big Deal over there, so it could work.

  20. Wil says: “A few years ago I was captured by Adobe. I was assimilated into their collective. I was part of their hive mind. Every peice of my individuality erased. I was part of them. So you can imagine, my dear, I have a unique perspective on their DRM and I know how to fight it. Now if you’ll excuse me I have work…”
    Puts on sunglasses
    “… to do.”

  21. Hey Will,
    It is cool you are going against the DRM mindset in a bid to help your clients. The term ‘piracy’ is misleading, (please read: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html#Piracy) but when people such as yourself take a stand, vendors are likelier to listen. I have heard of Ubuntu tablet devices in the works by companies such as Freescale (they got some cool prototypes if you google ’em). I hope that makes it to the mainstream. As a client though, I always prefer hard copies of your work.

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