View Full Version : Solid State E-Books


yvanleterrible
09-08-2006, 10:09 AM
This is an idea built on a thread by NatCh. http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6271

It's about DRM again! :uhoh2:

I would agree on DRM only if it met this criteria. To be on a physical object. Bare with me:

As NatCh pointed out and we all know, SD is the more universally, more practically used media standard today. But there is no affordable way yet to use one card per book. Of course if it was one collection per card it would work but you'd be stuck with books you don't need or can't resell. And we all know that the real price of an SD is inflated because of demand.

Remember also that for a book all you need is 4 to 8 megs; nowadays quite cheap.

An other way this could work would be publicity. Just intersperse adds in a PDF book and that would pay for the card itself. Before you rage at the idea, remember that we geeks depend for information on loads of magazines filled with adds! :wink:

All this would be great but the caveat is that you have to physically get the card with the desired book, order it and wait for it in the mail. Of course you could also buy them in book stores(those not too "paper snob"). But if you are stuck in a far away place where even mail has trouble getting, these places where you really need books for mental survival, you're stuck...

Here is the idea...a new tool. With every e-book reader there would be an SD R/W device, onboard or separate.

This is how it operates. You buy cheap 10 meg or bigger SD interfaced blanks in the 2-5$ range or lower,(about the price of DVD blanks) and set them in this special chip controlled writer/reader. On the net you download your book (or multiple books)directly to the writer, and a lock is programmed on the card that prevents the content to be copied. These cards could only be read on a reader equipped with the right chip(after market retrofit possibilities). If the card is destroyed, burned stolen or lost, tough luck! Just like a paper book. But it would never depend on the device it was written too, like now, just on this specific SD card.

This is nothing new and is completely feasible.

By the way in that thread by NatCh someone mentionned losing these rather small expensive SD cards. Well here in Canada the 1 and 2 $ bills were replaced by coins. Everybody learned not to loose them...fast!


I am against DRM but this process is on a course similar to the "physicality" of a book. It would keep most everybody happy, keep the actual book world functionning (albeit in new ways) and also keep, the most important aspect to my mind, the practicalities of digital media minus the copy.

NatCh
09-08-2006, 11:17 AM
Well, I'm sure it'll be a shock, but I like the idea. :grin:

Another thing that someone previously mentioned as a drawback to the SD card idea was concern about SD cards not being around for the long term. I think that if we decided to make them the basis of books in some arrangement like this one, then they'd be around pretty much indefinately. The reason I think that is that print has supposedly been dead for a couple of decades now, and yet it still appears everywhere, go figure. :beam:

BTW I think that if the Pub industry decided they wanted them, 1~2 MB SD cards could be cranked out real cheap. Think about it: if Random House (for example) called up Lexar (for example) and said, "Hey, we want half a million 2 MB SD cards, and we'll want more again soon, what can you do for us?" I think Lexar would find a way to be accomodating. Having worked in the semiconductor industry, I know that smaller, simpler the devices mean that more can be made at the same time, which translates to lower cost per unit (once it's tooled up, of course).

Given really small capacity SD cards You could buy a stack of them at the local B&M (brick and morter) bookstore and use them 1 per book for your reading. The B&M could put in machines to download books onto the cards right there in the store for that matter.

It's just like anything else, it could work pretty, if enough folks got behind it. (shrug)

Bob Russell
09-08-2006, 11:20 AM
Cool idea. That would work great, except that any hardware is just as likely to become out-of-date and unsupported as software and e-book readers are. SD cards, for example, are not likely to be readable by most equipment 10 years from now. The trick is to find a type of storage that is likely to be nearly as long-lasting and compatible and durable and universal as paper is. Tough to imagine that, but like you said, we're talking about small bits of storage, so maybe there is hope for something like that in the future.

yvanleterrible
09-08-2006, 11:58 AM
Cool idea. That would work great, except that any hardware is just as likely to become out-of-date and unsupported as software and e-book readers are. SD cards, for example, are not likely to be readable by most equipment 10 years from now. The trick is to find a type of storage that is likely to be nearly as long-lasting and compatible and durable and universal as paper is. Tough to imagine that, but like you said, we're talking about small bits of storage, so maybe there is hope for something like that in the future.

A separate reader would do the trick, just like todays computers don't have 3 1/2" disquettes anymore. :)

rlauzon
09-08-2006, 01:04 PM
This is how it operates. You buy cheap 10 meg or bigger SD interfaced blanks in the 2-5$ range or lower,(about the price of DVD blanks) and set them in this special chip controlled writer/reader. On the net you download your book (or multiple books)directly to the writer, and a lock is programmed on the card that prevents the content to be copied. These cards could only be read on a reader equipped with the right chip (after market retrofit possibilities). If the card is destroyed, burned stolen or lost, tough luck! Just like a paper book. But it would never depend on the device it was written too, like now, just on this specific SD card.

But here's the problem:
What's the difference between reading the books on the card and copying the books on the card?

From a programmer's point of view: nothing.

If the reader can read the books on the card, then a "reader" can be created that will copy the books off the card - effectively removing the DRM.

So the next logical step is to control the reader - which means that it must be proprietary and closed.

That why there is no middle ground with DRM: If it's open, it can't perform its stated function: protecting the content from copying. If it's closed, it robs us of our rights.

yvanleterrible
09-08-2006, 01:15 PM
Remember this. A key is meant to keep an honest man out.

If pirates were not able to crash through a defense you would loose half your market.

If we don't find an alternative soon, we'll be stuck with what they impose.

Liviu_5
09-08-2006, 01:42 PM
And we still keep not buying it until they offer something we like.





If we don't find an alternative soon, we'll be stuck with what they impose.

NatCh
09-08-2006, 01:54 PM
... or, they give up on the whole thing as a bad job -- unlikely, I agree, but possible. :(

bingle
09-08-2006, 02:12 PM
Here's an idea for DRM. It's also physically based:

When you want to buy the ebook, you simply go to the store and purchase an analog text-transfer medium - Prepared Analog Pulp-based Electronic Reader. Then you feed the medium into the ebook kiosk, which downloads the text and writes it to the medium, in a way that's very hard to digitally copy. Almost entirely secure, in fact. The benefits of this method are that it's device independent, doesn't require any special software, and is very close to immune from copying.

;-)

yvanleterrible
09-08-2006, 02:16 PM
Here's an idea for DRM. It's also physically based:

When you want to buy the ebook, you simply go to the store and purchase an analog text-transfer medium - Prepared Analog Pulp-based Electronic Reader. Then you feed the medium into the ebook kiosk, which downloads the text and writes it to the medium, in a way that's very hard to digitally copy. Almost entirely secure, in fact. The benefits of this method are that it's device independent, doesn't require any special software, and is very close to immune from copying.

;-)
:happy2: :happy2: :happy2:
Last time I tried it worked great with a copier! :happy2:

rlauzon
09-08-2006, 06:39 PM
When you want to buy the ebook, you simply go to the store and purchase an analog text-transfer medium - Prepared Analog Pulp-based Electronic Reader. Then you feed the medium into the ebook kiosk, which downloads the text and writes it to the medium, in a way that's very hard to digitally copy. Almost entirely secure, in fact. The benefits of this method are that it's device independent, doesn't require any special software, and is very close to immune from copying.

Actually, it has exactly the same problem.

The reader must be able to display the book to you. After all, if you can't read the eBook, it's worthless. Since the reader can read it, a program that acts like the reader can read it and turn it in to non-protected content.

yvanleterrible put it well
Remember this. A key is meant to keep an honest man out.

The stated goal of DRM isn't to keep the honest readers (the majority) from getting to the content. It's to keep the pirates from getting to the content. Without some entity controlling the reader - and making it closed and proprietary - DRM cannot meet its stated goal.

bingle
09-08-2006, 07:13 PM
Actually, it has exactly the same problem.

The reader must be able to display the book to you. After all, if you can't read the eBook, it's worthless. Since the reader can read it, a program that acts like the reader can read it and turn it in to non-protected content.

yvanleterrible put it well


The stated goal of DRM isn't to keep the honest readers (the majority) from getting to the content. It's to keep the pirates from getting to the content. Without some entity controlling the reader - and making it closed and proprietary - DRM cannot meet its stated goal.

Yeah, you're right. DRM can't do anything to protect content. In my opinion, not even with an entity controlling the reader in its entirety - anything that can be read can be copied, although it's possible it will be a slow and laborious process. That still doesn't stop it, though, as can be seen by the proliferation of pirated print books, VHS tapes, and so forth that eventually end up on the internet.

My point with my new DRM scheme (the, uhh, PAPER based one, for anyone who missed it ;-P) is that by tying an ebook to a physical medium, you're not really getting much of a benefit from the "e-ness" of it. And you can't ever beat the security of paper with a digital medium - if you're not going to reap the benefits of the medium, why do it at all?

One of the big draws of ebooks is the fact that they can be easily copied. Almost all of their benefits depend on that. By restricting the ability to make copies, you remove the *point* of the format. Especially by tying it to a physical medium, as print books are.

NatCh
09-08-2006, 07:39 PM
And you can't ever beat the security of paper with a digital medium - if you're not going to reap the benefits of the medium, why do it at all?Because pubs think they need DRM, and they won't get into the water without it. We're just trying to come up with an approach that will let us keep most or all of the perogatives we have with a pbook on an ebook. ( :shrug: ) :beam:

rlauzon
09-08-2006, 07:52 PM
Yeah, you're right. DRM can't do anything to protect content. In my opinion, not even with an entity controlling the reader in its entirety - anything that can be read can be copied, although it's possible it will be a slow and laborious process. That still doesn't stop it, though, as can be seen by the proliferation of pirated print books, VHS tapes, and so forth that eventually end up on the internet.

Which is why I use the term "The stated purpose of DRM". People more knowledgeable than I have proven that DRM cannot fulfull its stated purpose.

So the "real purpose of DRM" must be something else. The only purpose we can see is to lock honest users into a closed, proprietary system.

My point with my new DRM scheme (the, uhh, PAPER based one, for anyone who missed it ;-P) is that by tying an ebook to a physical medium, you're not really getting much of a benefit from the "e-ness" of it. And you can't ever beat the security of paper with a digital medium - if you're not going to reap the benefits of the medium, why do it at all?

But pBooks aren't that secure either. Within 12 hours after the new Harry Potter book was available on paper, it was available in an unofficial eBook version.

While it would take one person a long time to digitize one book, it takes much less time and effort for 40 people to digitize a chapter each.

One of the big draws of ebooks is the fact that they can be easily copied. Almost all of their benefits depend on that. By restricting the ability to make copies, you remove the *point* of the format. Especially by tying it to a physical medium, as print books are.

I wouldn't use the term "big draws" to describe the ease of copying.

The biggest benefit of eBooks is convienence. They are much lighter and much more compact. I can, theoretically, carry around my whole O'Reilly reference library on my iLiad, for example.

The ability to easily copy an eBook is actually a drawback - because it causes DRM to seem to make business sence.

bingle
09-08-2006, 08:30 PM
Which is why I use the term "The stated purpose of DRM". People more knowledgeable than I have proven that DRM cannot fulfull its stated purpose.

So the "real purpose of DRM" must be something else. The only purpose we can see is to lock honest users into a closed, proprietary system.


Yes, I entirely agree. Control of the formats is probably the most likely reason for DRM.


But pBooks aren't that secure either. Within 12 hours after the new Harry Potter book was available on paper, it was available in an unofficial eBook version.


Yeah, I noted this. But the fact is that paper is still the most secure form of wide-distribution book there is - and is presumably the standard against which new DRM should be measured, as the current "state of the art". It's certainly far from perfect, though.



I wouldn't use the term "big draws" to describe the ease of copying.

The biggest benefit of eBooks is convienence. They are much lighter and much more compact. I can, theoretically, carry around my whole O'Reilly reference library on my iLiad, for example.

The ability to easily copy an eBook is actually a drawback - because it causes DRM to seem to make business sence.

Well, the reason I said that is because most of the benefits of ebooks rely on it being easy to copy. They're compact and light because they can be moved from one digital storage medium to another. You can have all your O'Reilly ebooks on your Iliad because you don't have to bring around one object for each, you can copy them onto a single piece of memory. You can download them over the internet rather than walking to the store because they can be copied from the server, through the routers, to your hard drive.

Because they're bits, transmitting, displaying, and really doing anything at all with ebooks means copying them. "Trying to make bits uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet.", to probably misquote someone or other.

pdam
09-21-2006, 06:46 AM
The original idea in this thread seems good, keeping the physical ownership token is well understood, but as with all DRM, it'll be annoying to buyers, who don't want any and will be limited by it.

Some commercial software reader vendors offer a similar service ... however it gets complicated because I want to read the same thing on my PC and my PDA (or in future eBook), the solutions I have seen have a complicated software solution that allows me to install 2 copies on already on my SD card and I can transfer one onto a HD of my PC....while I have network connectivity.

I then change my PC ... have to re-initialise all the books I had, and go off the whole idea ...

Also - When I leave my paperback lying around it's big enough to find again with a bit of hunting, with an SD card or similar I'd have to be a lot more organised! (I usually have 2-3 books on the go at once ...

I'm not sure the physical token, although intuitive, is the way to go - a universal online personal library would work for me. The idea is that books I own are registered with the librabry. I have a book on a device and it gets authenticated for say 3 months, if I own the book it simply get re-authenticated every 3 months (in a similar way to DHCP). I can put it on another device as I wish (say a max of 3 copies which is reasonable). I can sell the book second hand (as I could with a paper book, it simply gets taken off of my personal list). The cost of the library is built into the cost of the book.

So this would mean I don't HAVE to be online to read my books, I can shift them around easily enough with occational access, I can sell them and the DRM is universal - I don't have lot's of different kinds ...

...well you can always dream ...

rlauzon
09-21-2006, 02:31 PM
I'm not sure the physical token, although intuitive, is the way to go - a universal online personal library would work for me. The idea is that books I own are registered with the librabry. I have a book on a device and it gets authenticated for say 3 months, if I own the book it simply get re-authenticated every 3 months (in a similar way to DHCP). I can put it on another device as I wish (say a max of 3 copies which is reasonable). I can sell the book second hand (as I could with a paper book, it simply gets taken off of my personal list). The cost of the library is built into the cost of the book.

Actually, this is unworkable too. While this gets around the reselling/give-away issue, it has all of the same drawbacks as any other proprietary solution.

In order to really make it work, you have to have DRM. That means that the reader must be locked down. Now, if the prices they charge are reasonable, these may not be an issue to most people. But so far this hasn't been the case (except for libraries).

If the Universal Library goes under, or has a data loss, you lose your book investment.
If the UL doesn't support the device you want to read your eBook on, you are out of luck.
If the UL drops a book you want, you can't re-authenticate to read it and you can't read it again.

Basically, the Universal Library gets to control what you can/can't read and where/how you can read the eBook. Therefore whoever controls the Universal Library can control what you can read. That's a bad thing in a free society.

pdam
09-22-2006, 07:16 AM
I agree, in the real world a UL is likely to be inpractical ... but while still dreaming ...

If the Universal Library goes under, or has a data loss, you lose your book investment.
If the UL doesn't support the device you want to read your eBook on, you are out of luck.
If the UL drops a book you want, you can't re-authenticate to read it and you can't read it again
...
That's a bad thing in a free society.

Absolutely a worry about a Universal Library (more a bookshelf actually while I think about it) going under. Ideally it would be a not-for-profit quango, with a government support net, backed by major publishers, giving it more longevity.

I wouldn't see the device or reader being a major issue - more the docuemnt format - this would probably support a limited number of open standards, it's DRM schema should also be open - thus standardising DRM on an open system (if you have to have it, best it is open and common) and also driving format standards - the question would be more about your device supporting the content standard rather than the UL (I'd envisage the openDRM element built into the content wrapper - you put the complexity hear, simply have a minor communication protocol at the device level).

Dropping books - again, in an ideal world, the repository would be abstracted from the DRM serving mechanism - this would be a publicly owned store - so nothing ever gets dropped or deleted and there would be no chance of it going under (without servre political turmoil).

Well that's a bit more detail to the dream, and it's major drawback is that it relies on , albeit infrequent, internet access.

rlauzon
09-22-2006, 01:00 PM
I wouldn't see the device or reader being a major issue - more the docuemnt format - this would probably support a limited number of open standards, it's DRM schema should also be open - thus standardising DRM on an open system (if you have to have it, best it is open and common) and also driving format standards - the question would be more about your device supporting the content standard rather than the UL (I'd envisage the openDRM element built into the content wrapper - you put the complexity hear, simply have a minor communication protocol at the device level).

DRM cannot be open. It's either DRM and closed/proprietary, or open and no DRM. There is no middle ground. This isn't a political statement - it's a logical one.

OpenDRM means that the lock used to lock up the content and the key to unlock the content are known to everyone. Since the reader must unlock the content for you to view, someone can create a reader that simply writes the unlocked content to your hard drive. Therefore, there is no OpenDRM.

The only way that DRM can meet its objective of preventing unauthorized copying is to be closed and proprietary.

Dropping books - again, in an ideal world, the repository would be abstracted from the DRM serving mechanism - this would be a publicly owned store - so nothing ever gets dropped or deleted and there would be no chance of it going under (without servre political turmoil).

Right. There are a nice big list of "banned books" over the years that public pressure forced out of libraries and local bookstores.

Based on the political pressures of today, I'd say it's a good chance that many "free" countries will start banning (from a legal level) books that they deem "indecent" (like books that criticize certain political stands).

yvanleterrible
09-22-2006, 01:15 PM
Politics can not have control over internet, whatever frustration level it comes to. Internet is worldwide and anarchic, like VD. You can only protect yourself not the others.

NatCh
09-22-2006, 01:27 PM
Politics can not have control over internet....I wonder if they know that in Beijing? :wink:

VillageReader
09-22-2006, 02:21 PM
This might be a silly question - I know I ask enough of them.

Fictionwise sells both DRM and open format e-books. Anyone have a contact there to see which does better in the market?

Kosst Amojan
09-22-2006, 02:24 PM
Hereís how I see it:

Off the bat we need standards, SDís cards are a good start for the books; I think tying them to a physical card is crucial. On the file side we need a standard e-book format or set of formats that every reader can read. Finally commercial cards need to locked by software AND hardware...let me explain.

Make commercial e-book SD cards (EBSDís) slightly physically different then regular SD cards so that an e-book reader can read both but a regular SD card reader can only read regular SD cards. (The EBSDís can have a bulge where they are inserted like this:
( ] instead of [ ]. The EBSD reader would have a corresponding concave bulge to accept it.)

Oh and the bulge would contain some circuits so if you tried the floppy hack it wouldnít work. Now if the reader is DRM protected then it would be limited to just reading and not copying. This entire scheme however would depend upon cooperation of hardware makers not to make EBSD readers (or USB converters) outside of DRM protected e-book readers. This can be hacked but it would involve a bit of cutting and soldering so most people wonít do it.

The best part would be the EBSD cards can be created easily with a special machine and then would be able to run on any compliant reader.

NatCh
09-22-2006, 02:54 PM
At one point I considered the idea of embedding a microprocessor on the SD card (If they can cram 4GB in there an 8086 processor shouldn't be a challenge :smile: ). The processor would gatekeep the contents and only allow them out if it liked what the card was connected to. Maybe it would even serve up the information only in page-sized chunks.

Possible? Probably. Feasible? :shrug:

Bob Russell
09-22-2006, 03:01 PM
Don't we have the same problems with a physical SD card copy protection as you would with software DRM schemes?
-- No backups
-- Once the technology advances, you can't read it anymore
-- The DRM can be broken, especially if it's a universal protection scheme (because all the DRM-breakers are focused on one scheme, unless there are stricter legal constraints, which are certainly not good for consumers.)

The only thing you seem to gain from physical protection is being able to share the file with another person. But schemes (e.g. eReader protection, or even the nightmarish .lit protection) already allow for that on a limited basis. And however "universal" EBSD might get, the same would be possible for any SW protection scheme.

Also, imagine if you want to mix music and e-books on a single SD card and leave it in the reader all the time. With EBSD protection and one book per SD card, now you probably can't combine your e-books and music on the card with the protected e-book.

I just don't see the advantage, other than the tactile benefit for some of storing the e-book files on an SD card. But you could do that yourself with schemes like eReader DRM... just put the books on SD cards. One book per card if you prefer to organize them that way.

Even more severe hardware protection, say fingerprint verification on an SD card, or the dreaded security dongle, seems to fall short. The book is only accessible if you are personally there. But then you still have issues unless the reader software honors the controls (i.e. doesn't copy it). Which puts you back to the same position again as if it was software DRM, doesn't it? You are then still dependent on a select set of software for reading, and therefore dependent on a specific set of technologies or you can't read the e-book.

I'm trying to understand, but you can see why I'm having trouble seeing how hardware helps. Unless maybe it's in conjunction with the reader. But isn't that similar to the original intent of DVD protection, which basically required "collusion agreements" between DVD reading hardware manufacturers? Or it may be similar to rumored protection for new Intel based Vista PCs, that tie the protection to hardware in PCs. Again that requires some "collusion", this time the PC makers, and probably the software running of the PC. It seems more limiting than freeing for the consumer of content.

But if it requires that "collusion" between any DRM file and the reading, how is that better if it's hardware based than software based? In fact, maybe it's worse, because at least older software technology can be emulated. Hardware can't. Software controls only tie a file to reading software. Hardware introduced a third tier of control and doesn't really seem to release the other two. (Granted, in some way maybe you could trade file encryption for hardware control, but I don't see how that helps either.)

At least iTunes allows you to burn music to a CD. It may not be the same quality, and it may be both inconvenient and cost you the blank media, but it is one way to allow users to feel secure about their music and yet provide a simple hurdle to prevent mass casual copying. That's the sort of hope that I have for the future of e-books. The publishers just need to discover that there are as many or more sales to be gained by trusting consumers than by locking everyone down so much that it scares consumers away. We'll see lots of experimentation and various degress of protection (like in the CD protection schemes that have been getting tested). But I don't see completely DRM-free e-books for the newly published book market (in the near future), and I think customers will balk (eventually) at strict DRM controls. The latest novels might be fine because most people just want to read the book. They don't want a time limit, but they are probably willing to reluctantly accept eventual obsolescence of the technology that the e-book is based on. We could argue all day with whether or not that is acceptable, and it's certainly not ideal, but until publishers are willing to allow completely unprotected content, I don't see that as a widespread solution. It may be a great goal, but a lot of paradigm shifts would have to happen to get there.

So, anyway, I just don't see how a physical security solution, especially SD card based security, is addressing any of the problems, other than the non-rights related "comfort" of having a card with a book on it. Once hardware controls are introduced, it only seems to make things worse for the consumer.

How long are SD cards going to be around anyway? They are great right now, and I prefer to buy devices that use SD cards rather than the alternatives. But aren't they eventually going to be the cassettes or records or 8-track tapes of tomorrow?

I probably have a blind spot... because I know a lot of people seem to want a hardware control. What am I missing here?

NatCh
09-22-2006, 03:39 PM
:shrug: I don't know that you're missing much, Bob, you may just not find it compelling. :smile:

Regarding backups: you can't back up a pbook, so I don't really see that as an issue, per se. :tongue3:

Advantages to a "hardware" e-book, as I see them:
I own it.
I can lend it.
I can sell it.
I can give it away.
I get to carry something away from Barnes & Nobles when I walk out the door (which may be a big deal to a lot of folks).

I think that SD cards will be around as long as folks use them. If the pubs built their e-books around SD card availability, that would give SD a lot of staying power. :grin: You almost said it yourself -- you try to by SD card enabled devices when you can. Folks do that because it's a good, handy, usable format. The more they do it, the more entrenched SD cards become, the more durable the format is.

Did you know that up until a few years ago the 8086 chip was still the most produced chip in the world? They put them into everything from cars to toasters. Recently they jumped all the way up to 286 chips for that sort of simple, embedded application.

Displaying a text isn't that complex a task, relatively speaking, so there's really not that much reason to change that aspect. Given a generally accepted and used file type, I don't see why it can't last a really long time. TXT and RTF have been around quite a while. Yes there are other file types, but the Least Common Denominators remain. :shrug:

I'm not claiming it has to be that way, nor predicting that it will stay that way, just pointing out that there are a fair number of solid reasons for it not to change.

Somebody who comes along and wants to change it all just to make a buck is going to have a tough row to hoe -- just look at the resistance of folks who already have large libraries of, say, eReader texts who are complaining because the new batch of readers don't support those file types, but rather support RTF's! If we got a standard format into general acceptance and use, then I'd think the inertia of it would become well nigh unimaginable in very short order.

Floppies, cassettes, 8-tracks, VHS, vinyl, magnetic tape, punch cards. They didn't go away because they weren't liked, they went away because something better came along. Books have survived on paper, for cryin' out loud, since the switch from clay tablets! What pressure would there be to push them off SD cards if they settled there? And how many centuries might that take? Obviously we can't know the answers to those questions, but sometimes you have to make the best call you can on the information you have. So the only real question is: is this the best call or not?

I agree, no DRM would be ideal, but sometimes you've got to take the 'half' loaf in hopes the other guy will finally figure out the loaf was a lot bigger in the first place than he thought it was. :grin:

yvanleterrible
09-22-2006, 04:32 PM
The race for computer speed stopped a little while ago and was replaced with a race for multiple processors, starting an other war against consumers that promises to be quite long. The same will be said for data support standards. Bob is right in assuming that someone somewhere will decide that we can not maintain support an SD cards, they've already started with the newer 80gb sd .

Bob Russell
09-22-2006, 04:37 PM
Hmm, maybe I am still missing something...

If the files are going to be generic formats, then doesn't the protection also have to work in conjunction with the reading software and and/or the PC? (Otherwise what stops people from freely copying the SD card e-book and delivering it to their friends in non-protected form?)

As I understand it, here are the two choices being discussed:
1) Encrypt the file and force the reader software to verify identity or authority to the content.
2) Use generic file types, but force the SD card hardware to be present in order to access it, AND only allow authorized reader software to access it (software that has been pre-approved by the body managing the protection scheme) so that copies can't be made.

If the second option doesn't include the reader software in on the game, you can't prevent copies from being made of unprotected files. Or alternatively, you have to encrypt the files, which puts you back in the same case as #1, except you now have to have a dongle (the sd card) instead of a password to authorize it's use.

In the SD card case #2, it seems like you have added a layer of protection, not eased anything. They only change is that now you use the SD card as a dongle in the sense that it verifies authority to use the file. But all the other overhead is still there.

You do have the benefit of being able to pass your book to someone else, but is that worth the extra requirement that you can't read any book unless you have the SD card dongle in addition?

Think of the SD card collection as being software DRM, but with one password per book, and the password is the SD card! I could be wrong, but I think people would really hate being backed into a corner about how they could use the book.... requiring them to carry around a collection of cards instead of the freedom to use one card and a password, and the freedom to make (encrypted) backups or to re-download files from the online store the book was purchased from.

Back to my example, suppose you buy 50 books. Either way you have proprietary reading software required. So do you prefer to be forced to keep 50 physical SD cards with the option to loan them, or do you prefer to be able to put the files on one SD card and have one password? (Even the option to give or loan a book is still possible with software DRM schemes, so that's really not a benefit, except maybe that the controlling organization can die and you would still be able to give away a book in the hardware version -- until the technology goes away. And unfortunately that's the niche security technology, not the standard file layout or SD card technology!)

So I guess what I'm saying is not that nobody would want to keep the SD card books, but that for the vast majority of people, it probably wouldn't make a lot of sense to be constrained that way, and that either way we're probably stuck with the proprietary software to read. The encrypted file approach seems to actually give MORE flexibility than the SD card approach, with the possible exception of the potentially grey area related to giving away a book to someone else.

But I still know that I'm only starting to think about this topic, so I do suspect I have blind spots with regard to the discussion. I don't mean to pound out my points. It's just the only way I can see it at the moment. But I'd love to learn more from "EBSD" card advocates if there's more to the whole thing!

Kosst Amojan
09-22-2006, 05:15 PM
Just to be clear, I just made up the ďEBSDĒ but hey it seems to work. Imagine it this way: you have a special DVD that canít be read by normal DVD players (grooves are too wide or something). A specialty player is only sold as part of a standalone DVD player, not as separate PATA or SATA drive. The new player and DVDís cost the same as normal DVDís and players but the player can read normal DVDís also.

Now the solution to get around that protection is to simply use the DVD playerís video out. But an e-book reader wouldnít have any output function and if you canít write to or from a EBSD card and only read it in a reader, it would be difficult to get that data off.

About the SDís cards, uh have you ever held one? You can fit like 100 in you hand. Maybe they can have some slots on the back of the device to hold half a dozen or so and of course at least one could be a regular SD card to hold like another 100 books and documents.

NatCh
09-22-2006, 05:17 PM
Ah, now I think I see what you're asking, Bob. Keep in mind, I'm not saying this is the best solution, only that it seems worth considering. :smile:

Just one quick aside:

As I understand it, here are the two choices being discussed:
1) Encrypt the file and force the reader software to verify identity or authority to the content.
2) Use generic file types, but force the SD card hardware to be present in order to access it, AND only allow authorized reader software to access it (software that has been pre-approved by the body managing the protection scheme) so that copies can't be made.

I didn't say generic file types, I said a generally accepted and used file type. It doesn't even have to be human readable, and could include whatever extra it needed. That would eliminate the need for proprietary software, yet keep the key to the encryption safely unavailable for duplication ('cause it's the identity of the card the text is on). Your security dongle, if you like. :beam: I like the word "dongle" -- it's fun to see the looks on people's faces when you say it.



I see what you're saying about carrying around a bunch of SD cards. Maybe there's a middle ground. What if you could copy the whole file off the SD card onto your reader (which had no output method, aside from the display)? Then you could put whatever texts you were planning to read onto your reader and leave the SD cards back at home. You'd only need it to load the text. That would open them up to you passing the SD card along before you read it, but you could only read it until you deleted it, and then you'd have to have the card back to read it again. Hmm. Pubs wouldn't like that either, I don't think.

I think I'm just trying to keep the concept of a book as a discrete object, and trying to preserve the flexibility that it entails. :shrug:

And that may not be possible, or even desirable.

Bob Russell
09-22-2006, 05:52 PM
I think I'm just trying to keep the concept of a book as a discrete object, and trying to preserve the flexibility that it entails. :shrug:

And that may not be possible, or even desirable.I'm starting to see where you guys are coming from. Thanks.

As far as the book concept, I think you can do that today with eReader. with the exception that there are limits wrt giving the book away. You could pass on the book, and enter the code on the other person's pda or computer (it's your credit card used to buy the book, so you wouldn't want to actually give it to them in most cases). But if they have to reload the handheld from scratch or switch devices, they'd have to get the code again from you. And of course I don't know whether that kind of flexibility is intended by an eReader book sale.

So all you have to do is put one book per SD card right now. That becomes your library, and you pop the card in for the book you want to read. As long as you stick to authenticated devices (no limit, but they have to have your code entered), it's analagous a physical book. But you just aren't able to, say, sell it on eBay (nor would the Motricity folks be happy with that either). And you can't read it on devices that don't have eReader available on them, but a similar situation would occur with protected EBSD card books also. (Yes, I did catch that you made this up, KA, and it's a really handy way to refer to the idea in this thread where people likely know what we mean!)

The idea of limiting the EBSD card readers to dedicated devices seems interesting, but if you limited the ability to read the book so much that you can't read on the computer at all, that might be a bit limiting. And would the industry really support a new hardware standard at reasonable prices just for e-books? It would be a more expensive proposition, I would think, even if you could manufacture on the same equipment as regular SD cards, and just tweak it slightly. But with economies of scale, maybe. An intriguing idea, anyway.

rlauzon
09-22-2006, 06:19 PM
Off the bat we need standards, SDís cards are a good start for the books; I think tying them to a physical card is crucial.

I understand what you are attempting with this idea, but tying an eBook to something physical makes eBooks less useful. Unless you can put several books on the card, you end up having to have several cards with you. While better than carrying paper books, it's far less useful than just carrying the reader.

Oh and the bulge would contain some circuits so if you tried the floppy hack it wouldnít work. Now if the reader is DRM protected then it would be limited to just reading and not copying. This entire scheme however would depend upon cooperation of hardware makers not to make EBSD readers (or USB converters) outside of DRM protected e-book readers. This can be hacked but it would involve a bit of cutting and soldering so most people wonít do it.

So, other than make eBooks less useful, how is this better than software DRM?

I see no benefit here. You are still locking eBooks to a single solution controlled by a single group. Just like to make a DVD player, you have to get a CSS license, I see that in order to make a EBSD eBook reader, you need to get a license. Such a license may say that you will put defects into your eBook reader (just like CSS does for DVDs).

I just don't see how this solves anything other than reselling/giving away/trading eBooks. I certainly don't see how this will permit me to read an eBook 10 years from now.

rlauzon
09-22-2006, 06:25 PM
At one point I considered the idea of embedding a microprocessor on the SD card (If they can cram 4GB in there an 8086 processor shouldn't be a challenge :smile: ). The processor would gatekeep the contents and only allow them out if it liked what the card was connected to. Maybe it would even serve up the information only in page-sized chunks.

Possible? Probably. Feasible? :shrug:

Nope. I write a program to "read" the book from the card programatically and write it to a standard format file.

Protection gone.

NatCh
09-22-2006, 06:51 PM
Actually I meant for the data to be behind the microprocessor, and the microprocessor's program would take a look at what it was connected to, and decide whether to open up or just shut down and stop talking or listening to anything until it's pulled & plugged again. One of the things that would make it clam up would be trying to access it progammatically. :wink:


I get that you're catagorically opposed to any and all DRM, rlauzon -- I even agree that we would be better off without it. I'm also getting the idea that you believe that there isn't any way that copy protection of any sort can work in a way that protects the content owner's rights as well as the customer's.

I just don't know nearly enough about the area to confidently reach that conclusion. There are simply too many possibilities for me to decline to examine them. I figure, who knows? Something might actually work. :shrug:

I'm also pragmatic enough to accept that for the nonce we're going to have to deal with some sort of DRM, even if it's just to the extent of choosing not to read certain texts so that as to not support their DRM. All we're doing here is trying to generate ideas that might get us a better balance than we have now. :smile:

And since it's rather unlikely that we're actually going to come up with any solution (however perfect it might be) here that anyone who makes such decisions is going to jump on any time soon, I suppose what we're really doing is passing time until the electronic-reader device of our individual choice comes out and we can return quietly to our lairs and read in peace. :grin2:

Now I'm off to the meditation thread. :tongue3:

Kosst Amojan
09-22-2006, 07:00 PM
I just don't see how this solves anything other than reselling/giving away/trading eBooks. I certainly don't see how this will permit me to read an eBook 10 years from now.

Really itís only the interface that has to stay the same. As a discrete device and as a practical limit, flash based cards WILL NOT get any smaller. And if weíre talking one book per card, transfer rates wonít matter much either. Thatís not to say the cards and readers wonít evolve (video e-ink) but as the tech gets cheaper but the interface stays the same, making readers backwards compatible would be simple.

As for DRM again, yes we would end up with a license agreement like DVDís. Why is that a problem? DVDís are freaking successful and thatís what we want for e-books. No one is worried if they can play their DVDís 10 years from now because we will. And none of this eliminates the possibility of future services to upgrade the tech.

rlauzon
09-22-2006, 07:24 PM
Really itís only the interface that has to stay the same.

It makes no difference. In 10 years, SD cards will only be a memory and my eBooks won't be readable in the devices of 10 years from now.

You are basing your assumptions that the SD interface is still useful 10 years from now. How long did it take for CF cards to fall out of favor?

As for DRM again, yes we would end up with a license agreement like DVDís. Why is that a problem?

Because, like DVDs, we end up with a single organization that can control how, what and where I can read.

DVDís are freaking successful and thatís what we want for e-books. No one is worried if they can play their DVDís 10 years from now because we will. And none of this eliminates the possibility of future services to upgrade the tech.

Really? I have several region 3 DVDs that I have to play in a special DVD player because CSS says that licensed DVD players must respect the (not law-based) "right" to control what country I can watch my DVDs in.

I am forced to wait until certain things are displayed after I put the DVD in my player. I am not allowed to fast forward, skip, etc., these things.

That's what the problem with DVDs is right now. Yes, it's successful - because it's a great improvement over video tapes - not because it's gives users what they want.

And, yes, 10 years from now, we may not be able to watch those DVDs (I highly doubt that they would do this, but...) if CSS refuses to license any more players and if they revoke the contracts of everyone who has a contract. As DVD players fail (and seeing how cheap they are, that'll happen in 5 years) you cannot get a player that will play your content.

One company can lock up all your content and not let you watch it.

yvanleterrible
09-23-2006, 11:25 AM
A couple of ideas about the practicality of lugging around a collection of SD cards.

First instead of full size SD cards; Micro SD. I've got a couple, they're as small as a dime, one of mine is 1gb. They come with a piggyback that fits in any SD slot.

Second, all these cards could be fitted in pouches sown on the reader's carrying travel case.

Third an SD Jukebox could be created at about the size of a PDA to contain at least 50 plugged micro SD cards.

An other thing missing on the market as far as I know is a wire with a plug that would fit in an SD slot. That would aid to plug an SD Jukebox to an SD slot.

The market so far was built around the fact that for bigger content the cards you use have to be bigger. But if a quantity of locked cards is a factor, nothing today exists to cater to this need.

And worse WE DON'T GOT DAT D....D READER YET!!! :happy2:

BuddyBoy
10-12-2006, 04:01 AM
How about franked or branded ebook content? There is another word for it, but for the life of me I can't remember it. Basically have the owner's information included in the encrypted content so that it displays in key places throughout the book. Then allow the owner to download a fixed, but significant, number of copies over their lifetime in whichever ebook format is supported at that time. This does curtail the resale market a bit, but allows for loaning books to friends.

And it future-proofs things a bit, so that, unlike me, you don't have to keep your Gemstar reader around to read your Gemstar content. :D

Bob Russell
10-12-2006, 07:07 AM
I think you're talking about digital watermarks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_watermark). It sounds attractive on the surface, but content owners have stated that they don't want to use it, it might be possible to strip, and worst of all the loan scenario is probably not going to work. (I'm no expert on this, so maybe all these issues could be solved, but they sound like a problem for now.)

My main point,though, is that if you allow limited loaning, then a watermark doesn't help anything because one you allow loans to one person, how do you use watermarking to punish for what other people did with something after you gave it away. Hard to hold you responsible, or anyone resonsible for some widespread copying. I think it has to be either technology (e.g. a DRM like eREader or Sony's DRM that allows limited copies, but restricts platforms because of limited implementation and support), or it needs to be morals/legal/convenience based, so people just tend to buy more than they share.

I bet the average music listener with an mp3 collection has a % split of bought and copied music. But if we were all "thieves" bent on copying only, it would be a 90%copied/10%bought split of their copyrighted music. But I think (of the music they really listen to and consider a part of their collection), most people I know have a 80%buy/20%copy sort of split.

The recording industry says they have stolen 20% of the profits. But actually, they have spent hundreds or more likely thousands on music, and I'm pretty sure that if not for mp3's and even sharing, most of them would have bought much less music in total. But it's a tough thing to gauge because it probably also depends on which particular people you run into and have the opportunity to talk to.

Since I've drifted so far that I no longer remember what topic I'm writing about, I will just stop here! Besides, it's much later than I thought it was also.

Steven Lyle Jordan
10-12-2006, 10:32 AM
After following so many of the DRM-related threads on this site, I think it should be clear by now that DRM cannot do the job it is designed to do. This is the mistake of the music and publishing industries, trying to impose an unworkable solution to maintain their current business model. They are simply not accepting that the existence of electronic media demands a new business model, or they are actively working to slow down the creation/acceptance of the new model that they know must come.

There's simply nothing convenient about DRM, short- or long-term, whether it is hardware or software based, so I can't see it being a part of the new model. It would be like printing paper books on special paper that cannot be copied, or even viewed by anything other than the human eye with genetically-matching glasses! The paper industry knows better than to do this to prevent books being loaned or copied, and it will eventually be clear to them that en e-book analogue will be similarly useless.

As Bob just suggested, the new business model must have an acceptable cost/convenience factor to make it easier to buy the content than steal it. The model will surely change the dynamic of book production, sales, and profitability, which will surely be painful or mortal for existing paper-based publishers. They will either adopt, or perish, according to their innovative abilities, flexibility, or deep pockets. If that's not enough reason to delay the new model with DRM tactics, I don't know what would be.

So we can't be surprised that all of this smoke is being blown up our collective skirts. We can only continue to wait, and deal with the status quo as best we can, until it all blows away.

slayda
10-12-2006, 11:13 AM
Steve & Bob have the right idea. Pirates exist to make money. There are two basic ways to fight them.

Make it difficult for them to work
Make it unprofitable for them to work

DRM is a way to make it difficult but like rlauzon keeps saying, if you build a lock, someone else can find a way to unlock it. We all realize here that that will not work in the long run.

A better way is to make it unprofitable.

- Laws are an attempt at that but in a world economy, sans a world government, that won't work.

- DRM lowers the profit for the pitate, i.e. they have to do more work to pirate something DRMed so their profit is less. But as already seen, that doesn't work.

- The only way it will work (and maybe this is wishful thinking) is to make ebooks cheap enough that the pirates profit is so low they will not go to the effort.

To a certain extent, this last alternative has already happened in the music industry with music brokers (e.g. Wal Mart) selling individual songs. With that mechanism you can buy, for e$0.88, just the songs you want instead of the CD bundle which, in my experience, has at least one song I hate & several that I don't particularly like. I buy the CD because of one or two songs I really like.

IMHO, reducing the pirates profit is the only workable solution.

bingle
10-12-2006, 12:07 PM
Steve & Bob have the right idea. Pirates exist to make money. There are two basic ways to fight them.


*blinks* I think that these days, most of the piracy content creators seem to be worried about is non-profit piracy - internet-based sharing, basically. DRM does nothing for commercial pirates, or even semi-dedicated hobbyists. It only prevents the most casual piracy.

NatCh
10-12-2006, 12:16 PM
IMHO, reducing the pirates profit is the only workable solution.Interesting theory, slayda, but I'm not sure that profit is what's driving this kind of "piracy." :shrug:

I remember that when Harry Potter #6 came out, it was scanned, OCR'ed and posted in under 24 hours (like 12?). It was posted free, and cost a fair amount of effort but it was spread over a number of folks. Profit obviously didn't drive that, 'cause there wasn't any. So cutting out the profit wouldn't work there.

So what did drive it? I think part of it was bragging rights, those folks feel they can strut a bit because of being part of that. But part of it was also that there is a demand for e-versions of such books as HP. Part of it was also that folks wanted the book now, and didn't want to wait for their Barnes & Noble to release it at their local midnight, or in a month or so when it got to their country.

So here's a scenario, What if they had also released it as an e-book at the same time? Those desparate buyers would have never waited for someone to scan the rascal or break the DRM and post it, they'd've all crashed the servers at 12:00:01 GMT trying to buy it at the same time! Okay, add more server capacity, and viola, you can't sell out of copies, you have virtually no shipping costs for those copies, and you haven't lost a single sale to these "Robin Hood" style pirates.

I really think that a lot of e-book piracy just isn't driven by profit, because nobody seems to actually sell the pirated copies. However, I admit to not having tried very hard to find such copies, so I could just be totally unaware of a burgeoning black market in e-books all around me. :grin:

I would love to have the HP series electronicly, BTW, they'd be so much more comfortable to hold that way. I'd consider re-buying them in e-version, if they offered one and the prices were reasonable. But I don't suppose that Ms. Rowling or Scholastic, Inc. (the publisher) are enlightened enough to read MobileRead. (sigh)

I'm reluctantly coming to the opinion that DRM that isn't too onerous (whatever that means, but it has to include allowing reselling & giving away) is probably necessary. If it's just as easy to buy your own, reasonably priced copy as break the DRM, I think that most folks will buy a copy. That's why I came up with what yvanleterrible dubbed the "solid-state e-book" idea, in the first place, it could be a pretty solid DRM that didn't impact reselling or lending in the slightest. I'm not saying it's a perfect idea, just that it's an idea. :beam:

Bob Russell
10-12-2006, 01:04 PM
I agree somewhat NatCh, although many people are not ready to give up on the idea that DRM can be gotten rid of completely. I think that the real key is what happens to copyright law. If content owners get the upper hand DRM will be onerous, as indicated by that government study about a year ago, which even went so far as to suggest that content owners should be able to control where and how content is used. The best hope is for an educated public to push an educated political body so they will not only be influenced by the united content contingencies. That's why libraries keep coming up... the extension of the current library role with paper to the electronic world requires a softening of DRM control and an increase in electronic fair use. Maybe that's something people can get behind.

Until then, we just have to hope for flexible DRM and support for common formats to be widespread.