The future of O'Reilly and DRM

O'Reilly is a major publisher of technical books. Previously an important player in working towards a DRM-free world, they spent years as one of the largest participants in the International Day Against DRM. They maintain a vast selection of DRM-free ebooks on everything from AI to design, operations to security, and many things in between.

While O'Reilly releases most of of their technical books under proprietary licenses -- preventing users from sharing and improving the text -- we also recognize that they have taken a strong and helpful stance against DRM.

Like many Defective by Design (DbD) supporters, we were surprised to hear that O'Reilly is moving away from selling DRM-free ebooks on their Web site. Now, their ebooks are only available through Safari, which requires proprietary software to use.

We wanted to know whether users could download books. O'Reilly does allow book downloads from Safari, which are accessible only through a continued subscription. This must be done through an app, which is only available through the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, both of which are proprietary. Thus, it is not possible to access Safari, and O'Reilly publications, without proprietary software.

While O'Reilly closed their shop, DRM-free versions of O'Reilly books are still available -- just not through O'Reilly.

As avid readers and free software advocates, we're excited for the time when a fully free ereader becomes available. When that happens, we will be learning from freely licensed ebooks available unencumbered by DRM, and we hope O'Reilly will change directions and again become one of the publishers meeting that need.

As always, feel free to contact the Defective by Design team with any further questions. If you want to learn more about which publishers are still DRM-free, there is a list on the Guide to DRM-Free Living.