The Momentum Blog
Posted June 18, 2013 by Anne
A recent article in the The Guardian discusses a new form of DRM being proposed:
“The new ebook digital rights management (DRM) system would, reported PaidContent, change certain words in the text of a pirated ebook – “invisible” could become “not visible”, for example, and “unhealthy” become “not healthy” – so that an individualised copy could be traced”
All of our books at Momentum are DRM-free, and we made this choice because as ebook readers ourselves we want our books to be as accessible as possible, meaning that legitimate users should be able to read the books they have paid for on whatever device they choose to read on. DRM restricts valid use of property, and we respect the reading community too much to put in place obstructions to an enjoyable book experience.
Tor dropped DRM around the same time we did last year, and Tor UK’s Editorial Director Julie Crisp recently announced their findings one year in, saying that not only did they not see an increase in piracy, but also that it helped to establish Tor as a publisher that listens and understands their readers, and that “we’ve gained an amazing amount of support and loyalty from the community”.
Proposing a new form of DRM for books, particularly one that directly interferes with the words of a text, is utterly redundant and out of date. As John Birmingham says, “Every book I’ve ever published in electronic format has been pirated. Every single one. And they all had DRM. It didn’t protect me from piracy and it won’t protect publishing in general. The best protection is to make your work as easily accessible as possible, everywhere, all at once, at the same, reasonable price. Is it possible? Nobody really knows, but we’re gonna give it a hell of a shake to find out.”
Other authors echoed Birmingham’s sentiments in the Guardian article:
Lloyd Shepherd “believes the only ways to tackle book piracy are cultural and economic. “You address it culturally by banging away, year after year, on how creators are people earning a living who should be compensated fairly – authors have a big part to play in that, by being present in social media and book forums, by being very obviously human beings capable of being damaged and not faceless entertainment ‘brands’,” Shepherd said. “You address it economically by taking a long, hard look at issues like ebook availability in international markets – the old geographic rights model has been fatally undermined by international data networks, and the licensing regime has to react to that.”
The award-winning Nick Harkaway, author of Angelmaker, was less concerned about textual changes, suggesting that it would be “pretty simple” to find words which could be switched, “unless you’re talking about a work of staggering poetic precision”. His problem would be “much more visceral”.
“I hate with a fiery passion the idea of making the text spy on the reader,” he said.
Harkaway called the new system “a clever technical fix and “a very silly idea”.
“The whole concept is forlorn because filesharing – piracy is a crime of violence and horror, filesharing is more like fly tipping – may not actually do any harm, and some evidence suggests it helps sales,” he said.
“The criminalisation of the reader is probably not the best model for the publishing industry generally, and it creates an adversarial relationship which increases the likelihood of copyright infringements; what one program can do, another can inevitably undo, and this particular version of the system raises the possibility of a ‘scrambler’ filesharing program which randomly alters additional words so that any subsequent court case must acknowledge the possibility, however faint, that the text did not, in fact, come from a given person but merely looks that way because of the scrambler – producing ever more garbled versions of the text.”
Momentum author Nathan M. Farrugia agrees, “if pirates are better at distributing your ebooks than you are, then you’re doing it wrong. The best way for publishers to fight piracy is with convenience.”
The only way to limit book piracy is to make your books as accessible as possible; globally available at a reasonable price. DRM is not the answer.
And thank you to Craig Hildebrand-Burke for bringing the Guardian piece to my attention.Tagged: digital publishing, digital rights management, DRM, DRM-free, john birmingham, Tor
Posted November 15, 2012 by John Birmingham
Nah, prolly not. There’s always been a lobby in Australia, especially on the conservative side of politics to atom up the sub force. It usually travels in lockstep with enthusiasts for base load nuclear power stations. And fair enough. If you’re going to run a nuclear powered sub fleet you’re going to want some sort of nuclear expertise and infrastructure in country. Otherwise you run the risk of finding yourself strategically dacked at just the wrong moment.
Let’s imagine, for instance, that the RAN did lease nuclear powered (but not nuclear armed) boats from the US. If, as suggested, none of the on shore facilities needed to maintain that fleet were here – if, as suggested, we simply leased the hulls and left everything else to the US – where would that put us in a confrontation with a foreign power that effectively divided the loyalties of our foremost ally?
It’s happened before. US and Australian interests do not always align. While leasing a fleet of nukes would be a good way of ensuring a reliable off the shelf design with all of the shake out work already done, off-shoring the crucial maintenance facilities potentially cripples the usefulness of the weapons system.
To say nothing of the fact that diesel subs do have certain inherent advantages over nukes, all of which you lose, along with control of your supporting infrastructure. Cost is one. Nukes are hellish expensive, compared to trad diesel electric boats. Just cos your leasing rather than designing and building, you don’t get to skip the cost.
Operationally, diesel boats have been catching up with nukes in some areas. For instance they can remain submerged for up to a month now, where as previously they were forced surface much more frequently. When submerged, traveling on batteries, they are incredibly stealthy. Even more importantly, a diesel sub can go dark, powering down it’s engines and laying in wait for its prey on the ocean floor, an option not open to a nuclear powered craft.
In the littoral environments of Asia, where the RAN lives and works, the ability sneak about unseen in shallow waters is literally a killer advantage.
It doesn’t mean there are no arguments in favor of acquiring, or leasing nukes, but they’ve been examined and rejected for decades.
John Birmingham’s Stalin’s Hammer: Rome is the continuation of the Axis of Time series, which started with a 21st century battlefleet being dragged through a wormhole into the past.
Clearly JB is an expert on defence strategy, including but not limited to nuclear submarines, and you should read everything he has to say on it.
Tagged: AoT, Australia, defence strategy, john birmingham, nuclear submarines
Posted May 29, 2012 by Momentum Books
MOMENTUM BOOKS, Pan Macmillan Australia’s digital-only imprint, today announced that by early August all its titles would be released without DRM. DRM – digital rights management – is the software used on digital content to prevent casual copying by users.
‘The problem,’ said Joel Naoum, Momentum’s publisher, ‘is that DRM restricts users from legitimate copying – such as between different e-reading devices. We feel strongly that Momentum’s goal is to make books as accessible as possible. Dropping these restrictions is in line with that goal.’
The move by Momentum follows recent announcements by sister company Tor in the United States and the United Kingdom. Momentum is the first imprint of a major Australian publisher to drop DRM.
Momentum’s director, Tom Gilliatt, comments, ‘Momentum was set up to innovate and experiment. The decision to drop DRM is absolutely in keeping with this role, and shows once again Macmillan’s global commitment to be at the forefront of digital change and development.’
John Birmingham, who will be publishing a series of novellas with Momentum in late 2012 said, ‘Every book I’ve ever published in electronic format has been pirated. Every single one. And they all had DRM. It didn’t protect me from piracy and it won’t protect publishing in general. The best protection is to make your work as easily accessible as possible, everywhere, all at once, at the same, reasonable price. Is it possible? Nobody really knows, but we’re gonna give it a hell of a shake to find out.’
Nathan Farrugia, whose bestselling novel The Chimera Vector was released by Momentum in May, said, ‘One of the main reasons I signed with Momentum was their willingness to ditch DRM – something that very few other publishers would do. But I think if pirates are better at distributing your ebooks than you are, then you’re doing it wrong. The best way for publishers to fight piracy is with convenience. I’m excited to see Momentum HULK SMASH DRM.’
Launched in February, Momentum is the digital-only imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia. Momentum have now published over forty titles, including Mark Brandon ‘Chopper’ Read’s series of memoirs, Greig Beck’s fantasy horror Valkeryn and Lindy Chamberlain’s autobiography, The Dingo’s Got My Baby. All published titles are available globally and at highly accessible prices.
If you have any further questions about this change, please contact Joel Naoum on 02 8021 0705 or on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted May 14, 2012 by John Birmingham
I just e-mailed off a draft of the manuscript for Stalin’s Hammer: Rome. That’s the working title I’m going with for now. I got this idea that Stalin’s Hammer will play itself out over half a dozen books, most of which will be set in a different city, hence the subtitles.
I’m not going to get into any spoilers or even much in the way of detail about Rome. It still needs a fair bit of work, being only a first draft, and even more importantly being my first attempt at standalone e-book. It’s been kind of fascinating the ‘challenges’ that the new format has thrown up. Mostly in terms of structure and pacing.
Some things never change, however. Making stuff up and blowing stuff up is always great fun. One of the really interesting things I’ve had to grapple with in this project is ‘the shape of things to come’. Just where have technology and society developed on both sides of the Iron Curtain in the 10 years since the end of the war?
Again, no spoilers from me, but I did see this great piece in Wired the other day about the future of the Israeli Air Force. I’ll clip in the paragraph below:
“Nano drones that an infantryman can pull out of his pocket; helicopters piloted by robots who extract wounded soldiers from the battlefield; micro satellites on demand; large spy balloons in the upper reaches of the stratosphere; virtual training with a helmet from your office; algorithms that resolve pilots’ ethical dilemmas (so they won’t have to deal with those pesky war crimes tribunals); and farming out code to a network of high school kids.”
I can remember when I was plotting out the first part of Weapons of Choice how much time I spent poring over stories like this. It was partly what motivated me to write the book in the first place, the idea of mashing up old and new tech together.
I doubt that will be seeing many nano drones, even in The Zone. Ten years is just a bit too short an horizon to pull off a technological acceleration like that. But given how much military and civilian technology and information came through Manning Pope’s wormhole, and given that the world has had 10 years of relative peace and prosperity to exploit them, I’m fairly confident there would be some quite massive leaps forward over the original timeline. Even if it’s only a leap into, say, the 1970s.axis of time, ebooks, genre, john birmingham, nano drones, technology, weapons, weapons of choice, wired, writing