Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Microsoft Announces It Will Stop Selling E-Books Which, Due to DRM, Will Make Existing Customer Libraries Unusable

Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing:

Microsoft has a DRM-locked ebook store that isn’t making enough money, so they’re shutting it down and taking away every book that every one of its customers acquired effective July 1.

Customers will receive refunds.

This puts the difference between DRM-locked media and unencumbered media into sharp contrast. I have bought a lot of MP3s over the years, thousands of them, and many of the retailers I purchased from are long gone, but I still have the MP3s. Likewise, I have bought many books from long-defunct booksellers and even defunct publishers, but I still own those books.

I remember when the iTunes Store was controversial because songs purchased from it were encumbered with DRM. In 2007, Steve Jobs pointed out that using some form of copy protection was a label requirement, not Apple’s decision, and that the company’s preference was to have DRM-free music. And, over the succeeding two years or so, pretty much every song on the store became DRM-free.

In the subsequent ten years, we have somehow regressed. We are now increasingly dependent on subscriptions where DRM is more understandable, and we have fewer choices for non-DRM downloadable versions. I think this shift will be deeply regrettable over the long term.