Digital Raven (digitalraven) wrote,
Digital Raven

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DRM and RPGs part 2

Posted thisw last night in response to this entry on eyebeams' journal. Reposting here, as itis a lot longer than I expected and I want to be ablew to find it again.


That the game industry is universally using DRM is something I disagree with. For new books, or for hot products being given away for cheap or free, where an easily-swapped electronic version will stab profits through the heart, the DRM solution is the only viable one at present.

For older books, I don't think it's so necessary. Fewer people are going to have heard of the book, fewer are going to want it, odds are they are going to be the kind of fan who would willingly pay for the book in the first place.

Blanket DRM treats the consumer as a criminal. This is not a new thing. What is new to many people — especially those making the decisions — is that for some people circumventing DRM is the only way that they can access their legally-purchased information.

I use linux. There is flat out no way for me to view any file I buy from DriveThruRPG while it remains unencumbered by DRM. The standards are proprietary, so any of the open-source PDF readers cannot incorporate any way to read the file without breaking a slew of laws. Adobe's support for linux is as slow and unresponsive as their own reader, and chances of getting a capable reader in less than six months are low. I'm not about to [buy|copy] and install an inferior operating system, something which would cause me a hell of a lot of hassle, just to read some books.

Ultimately, I have a dilemma. I can buy the books I want now or when they are on sale, with the hope that one day I will be able to use what I have already purchased, or I can not buy the books. If I do that, when a viewer later gets released I'll have missed out on a lot of the offers — I'll have to pay to get any of the books that I want that are now available for free.

However, this near-paranoia marks the absolutely-tiny games industry as far different from the publishing industry. Cory Doctorow's novels are released in their entirety under one of the most permissive creative commons licenses. His second book was released online in this manner at the same time it was released in print. Neither he nor his publishers have noticed a significant alteration in sales. Publishing is a big business but people get the idea that it is small because publishers work closely with authors, there's a lot of credit goes to authors which rightfully deserves to be with other people. This pans out with other studies of films and music sales: For big business, treating the customer like a criminal only hurts sales, far more than sharing information can.

Tangent: The gaming industry is a small subset of the publishing industry, but it has to make itself seem big to survive. One of the ways it does this is by image: the role of the writer is played down, the role of creative team is played up. The game company name is always on the spine, in bigger type than the names of writers and artists (if they are there at all). This dehumanises the process. It gives rise to a feeling of ideological similarity with the illegal and unethical practices of the RIAA — that the industry, because it is more impersonal, can somehow afford to be stolen from. Most people know that bands get very little of the price of each CD, and assume that this applies to gaming books because the game companies have painted themselves to be monoliths that they are not. Nobody wants to violate the copyright of a writer that they like, even the really rich ones, as the publishers have a greater deal of transparency, the audience doesn't see them. The audience does see the RIAA and MPAA, it does see the game companies.

ObSubject: People can generalise copyright violation when dealing with a monolith much easier than they can when dealing with real people. This is one of the main reasons that people outside of the core cracker groups believe they have a "right" to free books from gamers when they wouldn't make such demands of their favourite authors.

The industry needs protection, especially for newer products. This is a good thing.

The protection it has no is reiforcing an image which in the long run means it will always need more protection. This is a bad thing.

I need more vodka before I really rant about IP. I also need a position where me thinking about these things means something. Not having either is a depressing thing.

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