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Tim O’Reilly: e-books without DRM sell just fine

It is always refreshing to see Tim O’Reilly’s take on new media, especially with regard to the question of Digital Rights Management (DRM), in the latest Forbe’s he answers the question “Aren’t you worried about piracy?”

No. And so what? Let’s say my goal is to sell 10,000 copies of something. And let’s say that if by putting DRM in it I sell 10,000 copies and I make my money, and if by having no DRM 100,000 copies go into circulation and I still sell 10,000 copies. Which of those is the better outcome? I think having 100,000 in circulation and selling 10,000 is way better than having just the 10,000 that are paid for and nobody else benefits.

It’s refreshing to see a businessman who considers the old-mindset crime of  “leaving money on the table” a non-issue. ORA books are a must-read for people getting up to speed in any given technical field. I’m very happy to hear O’Reilly basically bless those who just want to learn using his books to go for it, and do something useful with it.  Here comes a key insight when it comes to ecommerce:

People who don’t pay you generally wouldn’t have paid you anyway. We’re delighted when people who can’t afford our books don’t pay us for them, if they go out and do something useful with that information.

I think having faith in that basic logic of the market is important. Besides, DRM interferes with the user experience. It makes it much harder to have people adopt your product. (emphasis added)



About the author

Mark Jeftovic

Mark Jeftovic is the creator of, founder and CEO of Canadian domain registrar and DNS provider and member of the indie rock sensations The Parkdale Hookers.

His personal blog is at

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