Thursday, May 24, 2012

E-books may take a page out of digital music's book (ars technica)

by Megan Geuss

On Friday, an association of e-book publishers—including major companies such as Harper Collins, Random House, and Barnes & Noble—issued a statement suggesting an outline for a new “Lightweight DRM.” This proposed Digital Rights Management standard could increase interoperability of books on hardware like e-readers.

Don’t get excited yet—the outline was only an invitation to a conversation that the association, called the International Digital Publishing Forum, wants to have. Still, it suggests the traditionally conservative publishing industry is learning how to do business in the Internet era. Hopefully, publishing is realizing something that the music industry has known for years: DRM is dead.

Of course, publishers aren't giving up entirely on DRM yet—they just want a different kind. But the IDPF suggested version of content management doesn’t require a lot of proprietary hardware or software to decrypt e-books (like the system we have today). In DRM’s current incarnation, books bought on a Kindle won’t work on a Nook, and books purchased on a Nook won’t work on a Kobo.

In the Friday statement, prepared by Bill Rosenblatt of Giant Steps Media Technology Strategies, the IDPF said a lightweight DRM option would lower production costs in terms of providing secure hardware and robust software. It would also reduce intensive client-server interactions. And of course, the IDPF suggested a new format would be favorable to consumers because it would be easier to use and understand.

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