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.