I don’t really have a problem with DRM. At least, I don’t have a problem with the IDEA of someone protecting their content from casual theft. The area that concerns me is when I buy a book from, say, Sony for their e-reader, and then decide that their technology isn’t any good. So I head off and buy some other e-reader. In todays’ environment, I would have to purchase the book a second time. I am most likely to purchase textbooks with a cover price at about USD$50 each and have about twenty of them. Let say it’s a thousand bucks. If I change e-reader, or want to read on my computer, I would have to spend that thousand bucks a couple of times.
Yeah, right. Wanna bet the publishers like that lazy arse idea.
I’ve already licensed those books once
It’s worth remembering that, in my case, I already have a copy of all these books, and have already paid the license fee to the author and publisher and the fee for the printing and delivery. A physical book is effectively a DRM protected unit of content. DRM in that it’s hard (not impossible, just hard) to copy, in a convenient format. The paper book is cheap to produce, robust in shipping, and usable in many places.
And it’s worth considering that some part of the purchase price is a license to read and use the contents of the book. So when I purchase them again for any e-reader, I have purchased a second license, at full price.
Not a nice feeling in my ‘book’ (pun intended).
Lets face it, at the end of the day someone will always work out a way to copy content. In it’s most basic form, I should think that people who simply scan every page of a book with OCR would easily circumvent any copy protection.
DRM really is about protecting against casual theft where something is so easy to steal that people just do that.
So, an e-reader should be able to give me a license to a book, and I should know that book can be transferred to another device in the future.
The lesson I learned from my iPod over the last five years, is that data portability is vital. Absolutely vital. I MUST be able to use the data on any device, computer, reader, player that I choose according to MY REQUIREMENTS and the current state of the marketplace. I refuse to be controlled by some vendor who wants to tell me how to consume content and what device I can use.
In the same way that I can use a book anywhere, anytime and in any situation, I want the same choice for the e-reader hardware.
I would rather not have DRM because this causes problem with using any device. Unless all the vendors of e-readers use the the same DRM system and is portable between platforms. Yes, it really is that easy, if they all used the same DRM, that solves my problem.
That doesn’t seem likely anytime soon.
Any Solutions ?
A download or transfer fee
I think could live with a transfer or download fee where I transfer my license from one device to another, provided that fee was no more than five percent of the purchase price.
Even though I know how difficult this is, the publishers should setup a clearing house that establishes my ownership of the book and that I own the license. This clearing house could then revoke licenses, and make them available for transfer to other devices.
Sure, that’s a difficult thing to do. Technically, it’s huge challenge, but it wouldn’t be impossible. At a business level, yeah, it’s probably impossible as they would all want to control the licensing standard. I doubt the publishing industry can even spell the word cooperation.
E-reader market is just starting out
I also think that technology is pretty limited. The Kindle is good idea, but does’t work so well globally. The pricing is wrong, and data capability isn’t all that great. The Sony E-Reader seems good, until you realise that Sony doesn’t have a history of treating their customers very well. They are ‘becoming’ open because they have lost the race against the Kindle and all the other readers (such as Barnes & Noble et al).
And where the Kindle looked to own the entire market last year, there are loads on new companies looking to become the ‘iPod’ of the e-reader space. So I’m also thinking that at least a couple of years need to go past before the technology is workable.
I’m waiting a bit longer
So for the studying and learning, I am holding off the e-reader purchase. Once the market settles down, and I have clearer idea that when I will be having a closer look.