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The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal

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There's this terrible thing about DRM
One of the reasons I joined the Baen's Universe magazine project is Baen's uncompromising stand against Digital Rights Management. I've cheered as Jim Baen and Eric Flint took on both the platitudes and certainties of the copyright industry and turned them on their heads.

I have a very personal reason for doing this. Recently, I had the opportunity to share this reason with Jim Baen (who already knew it) and with Michael Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg. The reason is my daughter Andrea. Andrea is 17 and a half, and very bright. When we finally got her IQ tested orally, it was about 136. Taking the test the normal way, she measured out at about 93. Why the difference? Andrea is extremely bright, and also extremely dyslexic.

She's quite lucky, of course, that her dad's an editor and knows a bunch of writers. For years, Eric Flint, Mercedes Lackey, and other writers have kept Andrea supplied with manuscripts. Why manuscripts? Because she can use a simple Text-to-Speech reader to help her read them. Thanks to Webscriptions and Project Gutenberg, she has been able to read a lot of varied fiction, and some non-fiction.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies that don't share Jim Baen's and Eric Flint's enlightened attitudes.

This semester, Andrea is taking a World History class. The textbook is Glencoe's World History (Illinois version). The Glencoe rep swore up and down that she could be able to use it via their website...but almost two months into the term now, we find out that, according to Glencoe, "the website PDF version is locked for copyright protection."

No, it isn't.

It is locked because Glencoe thinks that every single one of its customers is a thief.

So now, through the goodness of their hearts, we have to pay another almost $120 to buy a CD that is NOT locked to text to speech.

What if Andrea's dad wasn't somebody with connections, and with enough money to be able to buy the damn book?

DRM hurts poor people, handicapped people, parents, and teachers.

It so happens I agree with Michael Hart. DRM shouldn't be either the law of the land nor illegal. People should have a right to do with their intellectual property what they want...and pay the price if they deal with it stupidly.