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Lulu Introduces DRM 222

Posted by timothy
from the damn-ridiculous-meddling dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Print-on-demand publisher Lulu recently announced that they're offering 'eBooks.' Since they've always offered downloadable books as PDFs, that takes some decoding to figure out what part is new: it turns out that it means now they're handling more formats, they've significantly increased the share they take out of the purchase price ... and for an additional fee, they now offer DRM. I have a few items published through Lulu myself; nothing forces me to buy the DRM, but I'm considering taking my business elsewhere on principle. This isn't what I expected from the people who, when I first signed up with them, were solidly endorsing Creative Commons."
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Lulu Introduces DRM

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 08, 2009 @02:41AM (#30019656)

    Amusing to see what happens when "information wants to be free" collides with "your bills are past due".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by g2devi (898503)

      Actually, "Information wants to be free" is from an essay and it's only half the idea.
      The basic concept is:
      * Information wants to be free, because it's hard to keep a secret (or as the old saying goes, two can keep a secret if one is dead)
      * Information wants to be expressive because knowledge is power
      * The next century will be a struggle between these two forces.

      This is still true and will likely always be true.

      This struggle appears within all people. Even the strongest proponent of "information wants to be

    • Does the DRM lockout blind peoples screen readers?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772)

      I see Lulu as in a very precarious position here. It's likely just as much a result of new competition in the market, and not just Lulu needing more money to pay the bills.

      The self-publishing market is very small. Lulu cannot afford to give up business to competitors, as there may very well be not enough of it to go around.

      Lulu sells or used to sell things via retailers Amazon.

      However: recently, Amazon is now in direct competition with Lulu through Amazon Publishing Services and CreateSpace.

      The new

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @02:42AM (#30019660)

    As you say, you don't have to use the DRM at all. I don't see any benefit in punishing anyone that simply supports that as an option for authors that don't know any better (or think they do). If people want the rope for whatever reason, just shake your head and let them buy it.

    • by Machtyn (759119) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @03:29AM (#30019782) Homepage Journal
      Free market in this case. The company is trying to appeal to the largest number of people at a time. If they can support Creative Commons *and* DRM users... then good for them. I'd suspect that the raising of Lulu's take would be more upsetting. (Again free market will bear out if that was a smart move or not.)
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Gerzel (240421) *

        The free market generally only looks at short term gain and always exclusively for those in control of conditions. Calling "Free Market" as a refrain more often than not ignores many valid and important factors that aught not to be ignored.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mr. Freeman (933986)
          In this case, the free market should do fine.

          The free market only has problems when:
          1) People are allowed to do unethical things
          2) Monopolies or oligopolies are created
          3) There's a moral hazard

          None of these conditions exist here. The difference is a product with DRM vs. a product without it. It's like the difference between cereal with new, poor tasting marshmallows or without them. No one is being forced into anything, there's no monopoly, etc.
          • by jopsen (885607)

            In this case, the free market should do fine. The free market only has problems when: 1) People are allowed to do unethical things

            And you don't think DRM is unethical... From where I'm see it, consumers doesn't understand the concept of DRM... And selling DRM "protected" products to people who doesn't know that they are being scammed is unethical...

    • by KTheorem (999253) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @03:32AM (#30019788)
      Already there are a lot of comments like this in the general form of "just because company A, whom you do business with, starts to do something B that you find objectionable doesn't mean you should inconvenience yourself, especially if B doesn't directly affect your business dealing with them." It quite frankly baffles me.

      What if the objectionable thing B was using slave labor for a product you do not use or buy? Does it suddenly become okay to continue the business relationship? I know there are huge differences in the offense, but the underlying argument is the same for both buying from a DRM encumbered goods provider and a slave created goods provider: "I don't directly deal in those products, so I will continue to buy other products from them and let the ones who DO buy them deal with the consequences."

      Obviously—I hope—refusing to buying from a company with some products manufactured by slaves, even if the products you would be interested in aren't, would be a reasonable action. It is therefor clear that what people using the argument really mean is that they don't care about DRM enough to stop purchasing on priciple and don't thing you should either, and not that they actually think their argument really applies. In which case, they should really stop making the "boycotting is hard so don't do it" argument.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nametaken (610866)

        I actually kinda like that Lulu is offering it. I don't expect it, but I hope that the sales numbers illustrate authors getting a solid f'ing black eye by opting for DRM. Then perhaps it could serve as a lesson to them... hate on your customers and they'll hate on you right back.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And yet you buy from adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, DaimlerChrysler, Nestlé, Procter&Gamble and Siemens although they profit from torture, slavery, illegal medication trials on humans, political and social discrimination, destruction of resources and the environment.
        And you do not actually want to hear that.

        Source: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwarzbuch_Markenfirmen [wikipedia.org] (where is the English equivalent? Don't they criticize globalization where it is due?)

        • I don't generally. It's actually really fucking annoying how many evil companies there are and how little punishment our society gives them. I'm always amazed that non-smokers are willing to buy items from cigarette companies. Or the number of people who bring that chocolate bar up to the cash register after I say "You should get Fair Trade chocolate instead since that one is made with slave labor.

          • by russotto (537200) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @01:10PM (#30023044) Journal

            I don't generally. It's actually really fucking annoying how many evil companies there are and how little punishment our society gives them. I'm always amazed that non-smokers are willing to buy items from cigarette companies.

            Eh? If they want to supply suicide sticks to others, that's fine with me.

            Or the number of people who bring that chocolate bar up to the cash register after I say "You should get Fair Trade chocolate instead since that one is made with slave labor.

            Maybe they just don't believe you. Me, I figure they're both made with slave labor, and the Fair Trade schtick is just a way to get suckers to pay the slavemasters more, but I'm a wee bit cynical.

      • by kklein (900361) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @04:29AM (#30019940)

        I am very tired of people trying to write rules for life. There is no algorithm; there are no unassailable truths. Being totally consistent in all things does not actually make any sense, because there is no one right answer to be applied to all cases.

        We like to think that a totally logically consistent pattern of behavior will yield better results, but it won't, for two basic reasons:

        1) This idea is inherited from religious/magical thought and is, as far as I am concerned anyway, a crock of horseshit already, because it doesn't scale. You end up with fundamentalist Muslims killing people with rocks over petty shit, or evangelicals who believe that Jesus erases all their sins and that, therefore, even the most offensive crimes against humanity can be fixed with prayer and Kleenex.

        2) This is actually part of the first reason, but these patterns don't exist in any objective way. They are applied after the fact by humans as shorthand. Religions made up simple rules to get people's minds off the big things so they could improve everyday life, and the cracks only start to really show when life is so good that we can take another look at those rules. Math doesn't exist. Numbers don't exist. Grammar doesn't exist (don't tell Chomsky). Ideas and meaning don't exist. They are all just tools to make our monkey lives better. We can't be frustrated when people's behavior is not logically consistent. It really shouldn't be.

        So yes, you're right, it is logically inconsistent to call for the boycott of a company that uses slave labor, but not one which violates your geek religion's creed against DRM. But most people are smart enough to see that those things aren't even slightly similar, and only a crazy person would apply the same logic to both.

        That being said, if you are living in the developed world (and if you're reading this, you probably are), guess what? Virtually every product you enjoy has slave labor tucked away in it somewhere. You can't live high on the hog without slavery. We've just gotten very good at hiding it so we can feel superior. There's always a slave. Always.

        And that doesn't bother me. I don't like it, but I don't think it can be avoided, and to try to do so would make my life incredibly inconvenient.

        Maybe there's logical consistency after all.

        • So what? DRM still sucks. If it catches on, it will make life really, really, bad for the rest of us. There is no case where DRM is a good thing. It is always bad. By supporting companies who use DRM, you are making the world a worse place. Why do you feel the need to support this? It isn't geek religion, it's practical reality.
          • by c0d3g33k (102699)

            DRM still sucks. If it catches on, it will make life really, really, bad for the rest of us.

            No it won't. Mildly frustrating and inconvenient, maybe. But really, really bad? That's just fear of being deprived of things out of a sense of entitlement. First, we're talking entertainment here, not food, shelter or health care. Second, plenty of (legit) alternatives exist, so I'm sure your library, local bookshop, art gallery etc. will be happy for your patronage and the better for it too. The worst that might happen is you can't buy the likes of Transformers 2 (no great loss, IMHO) on terms you f

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mr. Freeman (933986)
          Saying that consistent behavior isn't a good thing because people go to war in the name of religion doesn't make sense. I have yet to see anything in any religion that says "Thou shalt kill everyone that doesn't believe the same things as you". All these religious wars are done by people acting AGAINST critical portions of their own religion. "Thou shalt not kill" is pretty universal and yet people are killing each other in the name of religion. That's not consistent behavior.
          • I think the whole "religious war" charge by the left wing is a bunch of crap. If you look at nearly every war that has ever been, religion at best was used as an excuse but the real reasons were always about money, and about preserving one's way of life, and those are plenty good reasons to fight a war.

            I mean, the irony of things is that if there is no God, what's really the moral crime of invading another nation and taking it over. What's the difference between killing a fetus that I can't see or droppin

          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            Hm. The bible certainly has some stories that suggest "thou shalt kill everyone that doesn't believe the same things as you" isn't something that God really disagrees with. Even in the new testament. In the old it's pretty much in the theme song. And by the way, it's thou shalt not murder, which is different.

            Nevertheless, nobody ever really goes to war over religion. Religion can lower the barrier of entry, but the real reason is almost always economic. Either you want something they have, or you've g

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            I have yet to see anything in any religion that says "Thou shalt kill everyone that doesn't believe the same things as you".

            There may not be a commandment that reflects those ideals, but it's sure as hell implied very frequently in the Christian bible. Moses was commanded by God to, with his army of Levi priests, slaughter 3000 Israelites who had started worshiping a golden cow at the bottom of Mount Sinai. (Exodus 32). Sounds like God-directed ethnic cleansing to me.

            Later, Moses takes his army and goes to war against the Midianites. After his soldiers report that they've killed every man in the city but spared the women and chi

          • by vadim_t (324782)

            The modern interpretation of "Thou shalt not kill" is "You shall not murder", where "murder" means "unlawful killing"

            So if the scripture says you should kill the heathens, or stone somebody for some offense, assuming the scripture equals law, such a thing is lawful, and therefore not murder.

            Taking "Thou shalt not kill" literally would imply that for instance Christianity should be an extremely pacifistic religion, when the Bible is full of killing, including animals for sacrifices and children.

        • So yes, you're right, it is logically inconsistent to call for the boycott of a company that uses slave labor, but not one which violates your geek religion's creed against DRM. But most people are smart enough to see that those things aren't even slightly similar, and only a crazy person would apply the same logic to both.

          You are probably familiar with the lawsuits brought up by Monsanto, against farmers who had their farmlands "infected" by Monsanto seeds, or against farmers that were making their own seeds. In either case, the farmers were sued for copyright infringement. Some of these farmers tried to fight and finally had to settle when the legal expenses exceeded a couple hundred thousand bux. With this tactic, Monsanto has coerced farmers into buying their seeds in perpetuity - or just bankrupted them.

          From this example

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheMCP (121589)

        Are you SERIOUSLY trying to equate DRM to slavery? Have you COMPLETELY lost your mind?

        • by KTheorem (999253) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @05:00AM (#30020026)
          No. I was not. Since you are the third person to have misinterpreted what I was saying, I must conclude it is my fault.

          I was trying to point out that the reasoning behind opposing boycotts based on a company's support of DRM was flawed, by applying it to something damn near everybody is opposed to vehemently.

          I don't think they are in any sane way comparable. I was using that fact to show that what the people who opposed boycotting because of DRM really meant was "this doesn't bother me enough to boycott and inconvenience myself" and not "you shouldn't boycott if it inconveniences you" as was implied by the wordings of many of the posters who thought that boycotting because of DRM was silly.

          I really don't give a damn if anyone boycotts Lulu for any reason. My only goal was to point out the flawed reasoning being used.
          • by mounthood (993037)

            Since you are the third person to have misinterpreted what I was saying, I must conclude it is my fault.

            This is a false premise in many environments including slashdot, political rallies, FOX news, and anywhere that kids gather.

        • Are you SERIOUSLY trying to equate DRM to slavery? Have you COMPLETELY lost your mind?

          No; he was choosing something that is clearly objectionable to everyone, unlike DRM. When a discussion isn't about some subjective quality of X, using Y which has fewer subjective qualities can simplify the discussion. And no, I'm not trying to equate X to Y here; they're two different letters of the alphabet, and I respect that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Angostura (703910)

        Ooo good. I love bad analogies. They're fun. Can I have a go too?

        What if the objectionable thing B was manufacturing blue M&Ms, a colour you dislike - even if you don't purchase M&Ms. Does it suddenly become okay to continue the business relationship? I know there are huge differences in the offense, but the underlying argument is the same for both buying from someone who makes confectionary in an objectionable colour and a slave created goods provider.

        Are you really surprised that people care more

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Searching for slaves? Buy them on eBay!

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        Don't get me wrong; I think DRM is stupid, that it drastically lowers the value of the product, and I think it harms the publisher/author more than it helps them, but I wouldn't go as far as calling it immoral.

        Slave labour is a terrible horrible thing. It harms people, directly, seriously, and without their consent. DRM doesn't harm anyone except the author stupid enough to use it and the customer stupid enough to buy it, and they both do so of their own free will.

        It's like calling a shoe company immoral be

      • by mounthood (993037)

        What if the objectionable thing B was using slave labor for a product you do not use or buy? Does it suddenly become okay to continue the business relationship? I know there are huge differences in the offense, but the underlying argument is the same for both buying from a DRM encumbered goods provider and a slave created goods provider: "I don't directly deal in those products, so I will continue to buy other products from them and let the ones who DO buy them deal with the consequences."

        DRM is a scam. Do you want to do business with people that scam their customers?

        • A scam involves dishonesty. DRMed content is sold with full disclosure with regards to how the format is crippled. It's poorly thought out and a scourge on the legal purchasers of copies of content but it's not a scam. EULA's are scam, an example of bait-and-switch, but DRM just sucks.
      • DRM is NOT slave labor. Hershey's, Nestle, Dove, M&M/Mars, and almost all other chocolate companies use slave labor. People also don't care about lying murderers (tobacco companies like kraft), or animal torture (the meat you can buy at your local supermarket). Why would you expect people to boycott DRM using companies when they're supporting slavers, killers, and torturers?

        DRM is annoying, but if you don't want it don't buy it. Even better, pirate anything with DRM.

        When Lulu offers DRM they get more au

    • I don't see any benefit in punishing anyone that simply supports that as an option for authors that don't know any better (or think they do).

      Isn't that a bit presumptuous? Each author has the right to do what he wants with his own work. It's his decision and your opinion is irrelevant.

      • "It's his decision and your opinion is irrelevant."

        Well, yeah. This is a discussion forum.... where people express OPINIONS. It's his decision to express his opinion, yours is irrelevant.
      • He's a potential buyer, so his opinion is not irrelevant. He's not saying the author doesn't have the right, he's saying the author is making a bad decision, and there have been multiple cases where removing DRM boosted sales, so it's not a crazy assumption.

    • by DrXym (126579)
      It's not for the author's benefit, it's for Lulu's. They make more money for every checkbox that people enable when publishing their vanity books. It would be tough to find many books on the service that people would actually want to read let alone copy.
    • If we followed that philosophy, we would not be making a stand against DRM. There is a big difference between passively resisting DRM as you suggested, and actively resisting by refusing to do business with a company that is promoting it.
      • > If we followed that philosophy, we would not be making a stand against DRM.

        Not everyone is. While the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA are pernicious DRM itself is a private matter. Authors don't have to publish their works at all: why should it be wrong for them to make them available only in encrypted form? They have as much right to be idiots as anyone.

        • Idiocy is bad for society, as I am sure you have noticed. A world in which I need to get permission from the authors every time I was to read a book is not a world I want to live in. A world in which I am unable to share a book with a friend is not a world I want to live in. Those are the most mild affects of DRM -- Lulu even suggests that authors could use DRM to restrict the number of times you can read a book:

          http://www.lulu.com/en/help/drm/?cid=us_ebk [lulu.com]

          The idiocy of the authors and of Lulu is de
  • Non issue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 08, 2009 @02:45AM (#30019666)

    So... a publishing company is giving authors the *Option* of using DRM? I'm sorry, but I don't see a problem with that. If the Authors are silly enough to want that, then it's in Lulu's best interest to offer their clients what they want.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Especially as the DRM version costs more. If I published any books via Lulu I would make both the DRM-free and DRM-encumbered versions available and charge a few dollars more for the one with DRM.
  • by Afforess (1310263) <afforess@gmail.com> on Sunday November 08, 2009 @02:47AM (#30019676) Journal
    This move has nothing to do with DRM. Lulu figures that by adding a new option for authors that says it will "protect" their book from theft online, for a "small fee" that they will get an increase in profit, for no real added cost to themselves. In reality, if you are publishing through Lulu, I think DRM and book theft is the last thing you need to worry about.

    If you want to know why someone does something, follow the money.
    • for no real added cost to themselves

      Actually for Lulu the costs are very real and add up quickly:

      1) Assume they need a DRM server, that must have 99.9% availability.
      2) Need to test DRM to ensure it actually works
      3) Need support staff to deal with authors and developers not understanding why they cannot access content.

      I'm assuming they put a lot of thought into this, there must be a pretty compelling business case or else they would not incur this burden.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by a302b (585285)
        To be perfectly honest, why use LuLu in the first place? There are plenty of cheaper "Print on Demand" (POD) publishers, including Amazon's Booksurge, which lists books on Amazon. I can't see why authors would accept traditional publisher & distributor markups (typically >40% of the retail price) and then add a retailer markup, all for the privilege of selling a book electronically or via POD on LuLu! Find a cheaper POD publisher and sell it yourself, or if a sales page and distributor access are vi
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Runaway1956 (1322357) *

        Is there a DRM that DOES WORK? I've found that anything a person could ever want is available on the web, already stripped of any restrictive code. Maybe I haven't looked hard enough. Maybe there are some schemes that really work. But, it has often times been pointed out that DRM only frustrates legal users.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Stormwatch (703920)

          Is there a DRM that DOES WORK?

          From the user's point of view, that is a contradiction. The very purpose of DRM is to make things cease to be fully functional.

        • Yes, Kindle DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @04:40AM (#30019976)

          Is there a DRM that DOES WORK?

          The Kindle DRM works about as well as any can (for eBooks).

          By that I mean, from the users point of view it doesn't get in the way, and from the authors point of view it's hard enough to strip that it appears to offer some protection.

          Also from the policy side, Kindle books are actually very user friendly - if you purchased a book but decide you want to "return" it, you can. Yes there was that whole mess with 1984, but even there at least the people got refunds. Personally I am still very reluctant to buy any book with DRM whereas I have and will buy PDF's without much of a qualm. I still mentally consider any DRM purchase merely a rental, no matter how long the digital version might be owned by me I live knowing it could go away any time for a variety of technical reasons.

          • User friendly (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Mathinker (909784)

            > Kindle books are actually very user friendly

            • So if I buy one, but have two or more Kindles, I can read it on all of them?
            • After I'm finished reading, I can indefinitely lend a Kindle book to a friend of mine in Brazil who also owns a Kindle by sending him something over the net?
            • After I'm finished reading, I can sell my Kindle book back to a used Kindle bookstore?
            • I can print out a chapter of a Kindle book to take to read at the beach?

            I doubt this (well, maybe the first one is doable, I don't have any Kin

          • by jasonwea (598696) *
            1984 is available on the Kindle. 1984 has always been available on the Kindle.
        • Sure. Look at modern games console DRM (PlayStation 3, for example).

          Of course, "perfect" DRM is only theoretically possible for things where the experience is unique for each user, like software. For books the best you're gonna get is making it as annoying to pirate as a real paper book. That's probably good enough - short of special cases like student textbooks, I rarely see somebody reading a pirated book. Go down to the beach and I don't see photocopies in use.

          Whether anybody has succeeded in making suc

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Maybe they would like to say: "Look, you can put DRM on your books to try to protect your copies, you don't need to go elsewhere. But be aware that that make some legitimate users unhappy -- as it did with music -- and they will opt to non-DRM ... making you lose money."
      If they wouldn't offer the option, they wouldn't be able to let publishers try out.

      OTOH, I have no clue about ebook publishing ;-)

    • by Twinbee (767046)

      I think it's more optimistic to reverse that. If you want to know why someone follows the money, see why they want to do something. Money is used as a mechanism, but it doesn't take any worth away from the pursuits and items that need that mechanism.

      I realise that may not fully apply with some of the more 'greedy' / short-term profit companies though.

  • by TaggartAleslayer (840739) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @02:48AM (#30019684)

    It's like threatening to not let a dealership sell your line of cars because they offer LoJack as an option on other models.

    DRM is not the devil. It is a tool. The sooner we stop crying about buzz words and instead actually do something about how they are used, the better off we will all be.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Iceykitsune (1059892)
      Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. DRM has the potential to give companies/governments absolute control over what you see and hear.
      • by jim_v2000 (818799) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @03:35AM (#30019802)
        DRM is nothing more than an attempt make digital media more like physical media. For example, you can't easily copy a book to give to a friend. You can, however, easily give a copy of an ebook to a friend. DRM makes it so you cannot easily give a copy of an ebook to a friend. DRM, when done right, is fine with me. But we rarely seen it done right, and honestly, I'm not entirely sure what it would look like.
        • Except if I buy a paperback copy of 1984 from Amazon, they can't physically come to my house and take it from my shelves.

    • by syousef (465911) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @03:33AM (#30019792) Journal

      DRM is not the devil. It is a tool.

      Yes, it's a tool to shut people out of using what they bought. Supposedly it prevents criminal copyright infringement but there is always collateral damage on legitimate use. That damage doesn't stop with the current owner either. In the future there will be entire groups of historians specialising in breaking ancient copyright to get an incite on our culture.

      The sooner we stop crying about buzz words

      DRM isn't a buzzword. It describes an intent to restrict the use of a resource. If you ask me we're not crying loud enough. The boiling frog analogy may not be scientifically correct but it's as good an analogy as any.

      • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Sunday November 08, 2009 @06:41AM (#30020348) Homepage

        Dude, try a substitution - "the police" are a tool to punish innocent people who annoyed those in power. Supposedly they prevent crime as well but there's always collateral damage on legitimate behavior.

        DRM is only necessary because piracy is so widespread that it's impossible for humans to police it. If piracy was as rare as murder, then it'd be possible to have humans investigate every case and make a nuanced decision on whether it was legitimate and beneficial or criminal. This is an extremely sad state of affairs, but it's the reality in which we live.

      • by nurb432 (527695)

        . In the future there will be entire groups of historians specialising in breaking ancient copyright to get an incite on our culture.

        I doubt it. One of 2 things will happen :

        1 - they really wont care...
        2 - they will be advanced enough that any DRM we cook up with be child's play to get around ( as it is now with current DRM tech. )

    • DRM is not the devil. It is a tool.

      Like a pitchfork, or a giant blast furnace...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stephanruby (542433)

      Speaking of bad car analogies

      No, not LoJack, it's more like you're buying a 2005 SUV especially because you know it has an OnStar system on board, and then a few months later, GM decides to change the format on you, and you basically have no recourse [yahoo.com] (and no one willing to buy that truck from you, because by now everybody knows about the discontinuation).

      First generation Zune owners and Walmart DRM music customers should know basically what I'm talking about. You don't own the music you buy, and if you want

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @04:45AM (#30019994)

      DRM is not the devil. It is a tool.

      DRM is the Devil's tool.

      • DRM is one thing: a tool. It's also used by the devil.

        DRM is two things: a tool, and used by the devil. It is also problem-causing to legitimate users.

        DRM is three things: a tool, used by the devil, and problem-causing to legitimate users. It is also.. well, let me think about this a bit more.

        • by selven (1556643)

          At least it doesn't have fear, surprise or efficiency. It is pretty ruthless though. And fanatically devoted to the pope.

    • DRM is not a tool, it is an attempt to maintain the old way of life for publishers. You know, back in the days when the majority of people could not make copies of a creative works? Now we live in an age where anyone can make a copy of a creative work, spending very little money in the process; instead of finding a new business model that is appropriate for that new reality, publishers opted instead to make it harder than ever to share a creative work with a friend.

      Instead of the Internet ushering in a
    • I have cheap paperbacks I bought in the '70s, with copyright dates in the '60s, that I can still read. They're not in great condition compared to even older quality bound hardbacks, but they're still completely readable.

      I have digital books I got in the '80s (mostly fanfics, of course) and the '90s, I can still read.

      I've got a CD somewhere with some DRMed books I got about seven or eight years ago, they were free downloads that came with a PDA, used part of the credit card number I use to download them as t

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      It's like threatening to not let a dealership sell your line of cars because they offer LoJack as an option on other models.

      DRM is not the devil. It is a tool. The sooner we stop crying about buzz words and instead actually do something about how they are used, the better off we will all be.

      voting with your pocket book would be one appropriate way of 'doing something'.

    • by russotto (537200)

      DRM is not the devil. It is a tool.

      Sure, it's a tool. A tool with the power of the largest governments in the world behind it. Without the DMCA and its cousins around the world, DRM would be revealed as the scam that it is, even to those now using it. And the DMCA _is_ evil.

  • Applying DRM (optional, eBooks only) adds $.99 to the base price to offset the fee charged by our DRM provider. To reiterate, authors never pay to publish, these fees are reflected in the list price and are only charged to the purchaser at purchase time.

    Note to self: Never use Lulu.

    • by tsa (15680)

      Why not? You can still buy printed books there.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @06:28AM (#30020306) Journal
      What's wrong with charging extra for DRM? DRM costs money to create and passing that cost on to consumers directly seems like a very good way of highlighting exactly what is wrong with DRM. Get the book in DRM-encumbered form for $11 or DRM-free form for $10. Highlight the fact that the cost of the DRM is hidden in the purchase price when you buy something like a BluRay disk.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Unless, of course, the DRM restricted version is the only one that is available. Then you do not see a price difference for difference versions of the book, you see a price difference for different books -- pretty standard -- and do not feel the hurt of the restrictions until after the sale.
  • by tsa (15680) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @03:41AM (#30019812) Homepage

    As has been said many times in this thread already, you don't HAVE to use DRM. I guess there are a lot of people who publish on Lulu who don't want a free-to-spread PDF of their work roaming around the world, diminishing the profits from their hard work. Now they have an extra option to offer people their work and get paid for it. Most people don't care about DRM at all, so what is the problem?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      "diminishing the profits from their hard work"

      Sounds like a good time to find a new business model for books. You know, there was a sweeping technological change over the past 30 years, and technological changes usually force the marketplace for affected goods and services to change in turn?

      "Now they have an extra option to offer people their work"

      No, now they have an extra option to restrict access to their work. Instead of making the work more available to their readers, DRM makes it less avail
  • And, while I'm asking this kind of question, does anyone know of a good place to get hard-copies of books from GutenPrint?

  • by Michael_gr (1066324) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @08:40AM (#30020766)
    I'm with the people who don't think DRM is necessarily evil. Remember: Lulu is a *print-on-demand* outfit. You want a non-DRM'd version of a book? buy the print version and do whatever you want with it. I don't see why we should force writers to give their work in a format that can be duplicated too easily. If you write technical manuals, software guides, that sort of thing... you're in a market where piracy is very, very strong, to the point you may never make any money on your book, while it may be pirated by thousands or tens of thousands of users. Just look a the book section on Pirate Bay. Yes, I would have preferred if there was some global DRM scheme which was vendor-agnostic and internationally maintained by some non-affiliated organization, so we'd have some assurances our DRM'd media isn't going to just go away one day. But all the arguments I hear against DRM are about the specific implementation, not the idea in general. The idea is... well... necessary if you want people to bother writing professionally.
    • by dido (9125)

      The main argument against DRM is that it plain and simple doesn't work. No matter what scheme you come up with, you are doomed to failure because you're going against a natural law of the digital universe. It is the nature of digital information to be copied. Bruce Schneier (here [schneier.com] and here [schneier.com]) famously explained that "digital files cannot be made uncopyable, any more than water can be made not wet." You're giving away copies of a file, with some protection the expectation that the user's own computer will honor

  • Ok, then, so the problem is what again?

    They are giving people choice. That is good. When they start mandating, then we can talk.

  • Read some of the comments. There appears to be a lack of support for a boycott. Some because they don't consider DRM to be a problem or believe that it should be the authors choice, and some because they don't support the concept of consumer boycotts at all.

    Here is why I'm likely to boycott Lulu, and recommend against them whenever asked. I've already cleaned up my storefront [lulu.com] to only indicate this removal of support.

    First I offer http://www.flora.ca/own [flora.ca] for what I consider DRM to be, given there isn'

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      In the case of Lulu the blog article was clearly encouraging authors to put DRM on their content, making false (but common) claims that DRM would reduce infringement.

      Where is the evidence for this?

      I mean, I can think of example where things like "x3: reunion" piracy was reduced to barely anything as the only way people could get it to work was to use virtualization disc software and physically disconnect all their optical drives to get it start thanks to DRM. However, when Egosoft removed the DRM (like they

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @04:07PM (#30024550) Homepage

    I've been using lulu for several years now. As with most long-term relationships, there are some things I like and others that drive me crazy. In general, however, their positive attitude toward free information is one of the big pluses. They were founded by a former Red Hat guy. They have always offered CC licenses as an explicit option in the menus when you set up your book in their web interface. Also, if you set your own royalty to zero, they do not take their usual cut. (This is what I do, because I'm a college professor, and I feel that taking a royalty raises uncomfortable conflict of interest issues, since I'm using my books in my own classes.) After reading TFA, I updated one of my books to see what the deal was. I have always had my books set so that people can buy printed copies (with zero royalty to me) or just download them for free in PDF format. When I updated my book I got a page like this:

    Download
    Makes your content available as a download
    Sell My Download
    Base Price $ 1.49

    The base price covers file hosting, bandwidth, and credit card transaction costs.

    *

    My Revenue $
    Please enter a number between 0.00 and 999999.99
    Lulu $ 0.00

    Lulu's commission (20% of the total profit)
    Learn more about the Lulu commission

    *

    Price $
    Please enter a number between 0.00 and 999999.99
    Give My Download Away For Free
    To account for hosting and transaction costs, we had to add a base price of $1.49 if you collect a creator revenue. However, if you want to give your download away for free, Lulu will waive this base price.

    If you look way down at the bottom under "Give My Download Away For Free," you'll see that they are not going to charge money unless I do. Here [lulu.com] is the book, as updated today. You can still download it without paying any money.

    I do feel that DRM is evil. I'm not happy that lulu is supporting it. However, their over-all support for free information seems to me to be a lot better than you'd expect from Random Corporation, Inc.

    For the record, here are the things I like and dislike about lulu:

    Likes: They are the only POD or vanity publisher I know of that will let you set up and sell your book with zero initial cost. They handle all of the shipping and order processing, which was a huge hassle for me when I was doing it myself. They are relatively friendly toward free information.

    Dislikes: They have a business model sort of similar to Paypal, i.e., it is absolutely impossible to get a Lulu employee to talk to you on the phone, and very difficult to communicate with one in any other way, either. I have had repeated technical issues with them before, where the printer they subcontracted out to couldn't output a book that had outputted successfully for a long time before with other subcontractors; lulu wasn't willing/able to help me figure out a workaround, although I eventually figured it out myself. College bookstores have reported problems to me where lulu sent them bogus bills ($700 for books that FedEx tracking showed were shipped to someone's house in a different state), and made it an incredible hassle to straighten out the problem.

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