Yesterday Image Comics announced that it's going to start selling digital comics from its own site, independent of third-party distributors, in standard formats and DRM-free.
There are a lot of reasons for Image to pursue a DRM-free option. Chief is that DRM doesn't fucking work and anyone who wants to get the latest issue of The Walking Dead illegally can get it whether Comixology's version has DRM or not. Second is that this rampant piracy of The Walking Dead has somehow failed to prevent it from being a sprawling multimedia bestseller.
But I think what really precipitated this decision isn't The Walking Dead at all -- it's Saga.
More specifically, Saga #12 and its asinine, albeit temporary, ban from the iOS version of Comixology.
I wrote about the story back in April. Gist is this: Saga #12 was an arguably-slightly-dirtier comic in an inarguably-already-pretty-dirty series; Comixology decided not to sell it in the iOS version of their app out of a reasonable but, it turns out, false presumption that it would run afoul of Apple's vague, capricious, and arbitrary content guidelines.
In a nutshell, it was an object lesson in the one thing DRM actually is good for: locking publishers into a single distributor who may not always have their best interests at heart.
You know, for those who needed an object lesson because they were too busy scratching their balls to notice how this exact thing caused a problem for the music industry and then later for the book industry.
But hey, it may have taken Image awhile, but this still puts them way the fuck ahead of all the other major publishers, and they absolutely deserve praise and encouragement for doing the right thing. And they deserve your business for it.
Only problem is, it's still early days and the Digital Comics section is looking a little sparse. I'll plan on coming back with links when my favorite Image books are available -- those'd be the aforementioned Walking Dead and Saga, plus Chew and Prophet, off the top of my head.
This is good news, and I hope and expect it will be just the first step in the comics industry realizing what the music industry already has and the book industry is starting to: that standards-compliant, DRM-free formats aren't just better for consumers, they're better for publishers, too.