Adobe Digital Edition – Digital Piracy and Opportunity Costs

This is one of those fun little debates I get to see all the time on reddit. As a personal choice, I generally avoid piracy these days. Certainly hasn’t always been that way, but I’ve had to come to terms with what I feel is and isn’t acceptable. Every once in a while I come across something that reminds me why it’s such a staple activity of the internet, though.

I’ve been really slowly working on a bit of a research project, helped along greatly by the fact that as a student I have access to the Galileo system. This is a digital library operated by the University system here in Georgia and contains a rather wide variety of books, publications, journals, and studies. I have also learned that the local college library is well integrated with it and allows me to check out electronic copies of books. Previously I was reading articles and studies online on the galileo site itself, but this is inconvenient for larger works.

I am, as they say, “happy as a pig in shit” going through this material and gladly leap at the chance to check out an ebook and read it on my phone. It allows for more efficient use of my “I pretty much have to stand here and wait” time.

The process of downloading and setting up the Adobe Digital Edition DRM app itself was fairly straightforward. I already had an account and everything. It absolutely refuses to verify and download the book in question though. I’m not the only one with this issue, it seems, as it’s been asked about many times over many years on what I now refer to as their “lack of support” forums. I spent all morning arguing with it, discovering among other things that this is a mobile issue. Works as expected on desktop.

That’s really what led me to the thought to begin with. This should have been super easy to do on my phone. Instead, it’s sitting at a 2.1/5 rating on the play store because people like myself either couldn’t get it to work or did so by using the back entrance. The purpose of DRM should be to increase the “opportunity cost” of piracy while keeping legitimate use as unimpacted as possible. They have done the opposite here.

At this point, my time would have been better served pirating the book for a fraction of the time this has required. Instead of reading and working on the thing I intended to work on, I’m on the internet complaining about your problematic app. Good job guys, you should be embarrassed.

Fortunately for me, there appear to be quite a few workarounds to my specific issue. I’ll sort those out when I get home, I guess.

Y’all take care, and keep an eye on that DRM over there. It’s watching you.

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