Random House DRM-free a hoax?

While it seems many are rejoicing over the supposed announcement of Random House going DRM-free, it also seems this could be hoax. BoingBoing, care of Cory Doctorow, brought the story to light. But something doesn’t smell right…

Don’t get me wrong – this would be groundbreaking and very fast for an industry that doesn’t usually take big risks. But there’s a lot bordering on the edge of too-good-to-be-true and not sitting right.

Cory Doctorow broke the story on BoingBoing.net, where he claims to have gotten hold of an announcement. The announcement isn’t available anywhere else on the net.

The content of the letter is downright mouth watering for folks looking forward to DRM-free content.

“The results: we have not yet found a single instance of the eMusic watermarked titles being distributed illegally.”

Seriously? Not a single one? Were there no sales? There will be piracy with any content. Everyone expects this. The issue is not whether it will happen or not, but whether DRM-free content leads to increased sales, increased profits, and increased customer love. The statement that not a single instance occurring is hard to swallow.

I’m not saying it’s a hoax – only that I’m looking forward to getting more facts and seeing how this plays out. I’ve written to Random House for comment but have not yet received a response.

UPDATE: Madeline McIntosh, Random House publisher and author of the letter, confirmed this morning via email that the letter is not a hoax (also confirmed in the comments below). This is exciting and game changing news in the audiobook industry.

9 thoughts on “Random House DRM-free a hoax?

  1. What about this sounds like a hoax?

    Random House Audio currently sells DRM-free audiobooks through emusic.com. (via: the Random House Audio website;

    “Unlike Audible and iTunes, eMusic provides audio files which do not employ Digital Rights Management technology, or DRM. This means that there are no restrictions placed on the audio files you download. You can play them anywhere, create multiple CDs, and store them on multiple computers or listening devices.”

    Also, the CD audiobooks Random House Audio sells are DRM-free. That’s not a hoax.

    Lastly, I think it’s Apple and Amazon (after the Audible.com purchases closes) who will be making announcements — not Random House Audio.

  2. I don’t certify it to be a hoax, but without further information it smells fishy. There aren’t any details beyond Cory’s PDF download on his own site. Here are my other responses:

    Yes, Random House has a sampling of ~400 titles on eMusic. It has been a test run, not an all-out DRM-free release.

    All CD audiobooks are DRM-free.

    That Random House would make an announcement this big is also part of the reason it seems like a hoax. Shouldn’t it come from eMusic or another outlet? Did Cory scoop this before that could happen?

  3. My agent, Russell Galen (http://scglit.com/) emailed me that letter, which had been sent to him by the contracts person at RH with whom we had just done our deal. I emailed him back and asked if it was bloggable. He affirmed that it was, so I uploaded the PDF and linked to it.

    If you want confirmation, you could email or call the person at RH whose name is at the bottom of the PDF.

  4. Thanks Cory for added details. I emailed Madeline at Random House for confirmation (it’s a snowy Friday in NYC so it’s not surprising I haven’t gotten anything back yet).

    I don’t disagree that the move is taking place, but it’s important to bring to people’s attention the speed and level of adoption. The feeling of the read is edging on too-good-to-be-true… If real, barriers are being broken down faster than DRM-free proponents could have hoped.

  5. Hi, I’m actually the publisher of Random House Audio, and I’m happy to verify this is not a hoax. Sorry I wasn’t able to email you back yesterday, Sol (my inbox got a little overloaded once this news was released). The document Cory links to is legitimate. We didn’t send this out as a press release, but rather as a letter to the agents we work with. That’s why it’s not available elsewhere on the web. Given the level of interest, we’ll post it on our site next week.

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