Monday, 21 June 2010

Touched by Piracy

As recently suggested I became a member of the upcoming Melbourne science fiction convention (known as AussieCon4) for the sole purpose of putting my hands on digital copies of all the works nominated for this year's Hugo award, the most prestigious award in the science fiction community. The cost was $59, which I consider to be very good value for money for the amount and variety of material received (including books, short stories and graphic novels).
The question I had in my mind was whether the material is protected by some nasty piece of DRM (Digital Rights Management) installed by the providers to ensure I can't move my books between various computers/readers of mine. Worse, they could have put a nice time bomb that renders the digital files useless after a certain date; say, after voting for this year's Hugo has concluded.
I am happy to report this is not the case. Indeed, all of the downloaded files come with a Read Me file that includes the following statement:
The works in this package are presented without Digital Rights Management because the authors and publishers trust that you will use this Hugo Voters Packet as it was intended -- for yourself, to aid you in your voting for the Hugos and Campbells. Please do not share this Packet with others outside of your household. Your willingness to do this makes a difference in convincing authors and publishers to participate in this packet, both now and in the future. Thank you.
I have to say I'm touched. I'm touched because when a collection of copyright holders is willing to let go of silly DRM nonsense and allow for fair use instead then something good is happening in this world. That, if you ask me, is exactly the way things should be: the contents should be sold for a non greedy price, and the users are allowed to do use what is now theirs without any annoying limitations and without Big Brother looking behind their backs.

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