In a move likely to be followed by other large book publishers, Tor/Forge, one of the largest publishers of science fiction and fantasy in the world, announced plans to drop DRM from all its e-book releases by July 2012. Although used by most large publishers and online retailers, digital rights management software, which is designed to prevent digital copying, is generally considered ineffective at stopping digital piracy as well as being a nuisance to legitimate consumers.

While smaller digital-only publishers like romance house Carina Press or the large technology house O’Reilly Media, have long dropped DRM—O’Reilly believes digital copying and sharing actually leads to more sales—Tor/Forge looks to be the first major New York trade house to drop DRM from their books. The plan to release DRM-free books also includes Tor imprints Orb, Starscape and Tor Teen.

The change will not affect titles from Macmillan, Tor/Forge's parent company, which will continue to be released with DRM, at least for now.

Tom Doherty, president and publisher of Tor/Forge, said the Tor/Forge titles will be available from the same retailers that currently sell their e-books and he expects to add new retailers that sell only DRM-free titles.

“Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time,” Doherty said. “They’re a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance to them. It prevents them from using legitimately-purchased e-books in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another.”