If you are a fan of the digital comicbook marketplace Comixology, you are probably also aware of the highly limited nature of how you can interact with your purchases. That is all changing, sort of, now that Comixology is part of the Amazon family. Starting now, some titles will be available with a DRM-free backup, in both PDF and CBZ formats.
Unfortunately, the DRM-free copies will not be available for all publishers or all titles. The publishers can decide if they want to participate, and which titles they will offer this way. So far, the list of publishers is: Dynamite Entertainment, IDW Publishing, Image, Monkeybrain, Thrillbent, Top Shelf and Zenescope, with more to follow, according to Comixology. If you have purchased anything from one of these publishers that will be available DRM-free, you will receive an email informing you of your new capabilities.
So, what does this mean for consumers? It means that, instead of having to read your within the confines of the Comixology apps or website, you can now read these select titles whenever and wherever. For example, if you have a Windows Phone, your only option is to read your purchase on the web, as there is no app for the platform. This means that if you are without service on your device, you are totally out of luck. With the DRM-free download, you can read it right in the PDF viewer on your phone.
The topic of DRM is a sticky one, however. On the one hand it protects the content creators from pirating of content, enabling them to continue to create further works. On the other hand, especially in cases such as Comixology, it can greatly inconvenience legitimate customers; sometimes to the point of no longer being customers and, instead, looking for the pirated content. If you are so limited in your capabilities that you must interact with content you have purchased through a platform you might or might not have access to at any given point, it could certainly drive a legitimate customer to extreme means.
It will take a long while before the big guys, Marvel and DC, even consider DRM-free content. It might work out for the smaller publishers, though, as new customers might decide to check out their work simply because of the DRM-free nature of their publishing. It could be an interesting new day for comics.