Following up on the big DRM thread, and prompted by Amazon’s
Announcement of its new music cloud service:
In the Mike Shatzkin article that I quoted, one of the publishers said this:
“There isn’t really a piracy problem but there isn’t really an
alternative to DRM except for the cloud. The cloud means that you buy a
product (NB: I personally would say you “license some content”, not you
“buy a product”) and you get to access it on every device that you own
— so long as you provide your ownership credentials. The cloud
effectively means that you work only within a platform and that
platform requires your credentials to access your works — so it is, in
effect, DRM — but it really isn’t. That said, in order for this to
work, it does need to protect files when they are downloaded — and that
is true DRM.
“The whole world is moving away from download and own, so DRM is a moot
point — only the library fanatics and the digerati care. The library
folks are freaked out by the fact that they have no place in a world
that makes all content accessible to single users anywhere, anytime —
and they think that DRM is the enemy of the good. The digerati hate DRM
because, well, they believe it is hindering their utopian digital
What I get from that is the following: publishers continue to reject the idea that they can protect the value of their authors books without DRM (of course everyone here thinks they are wrong but the publishers don't buy your arguments). At least some publishers think that the solution is to move away from the "download and possess" model to the cloud model. Shatzkin goes on to argue:
Can it work? Well, if you use gmail and you think it works, that’s your answer. Why wouldn’t it work for you to access the content you have licensed the very same way? And why wouldn’t it work to protect copyright if giving another person access to what you had purchased rights to see was equivalent to giving them access to your email? Based on experience, that would be enough protection to satisfy me. Any sharing that took place under those conditions would surely not be casual
Now lets squelch the first, instant objection: Shatzkin is proposing a cloud model in which you can read your ebook WITHOUT a persistent Internet connection. He explains it thus:
Cloud ebook access presumes downloading and caching in the browser to cover
the times when you're not connected. HTML5 apparently has the capability to
do that in such a way that the data is sprinkled all over the browser in
pieces that are very hard to reassemble into a coherent digital file for
passing along. So it works as DRM.
You're quite right that the cloud for ebook wouldn't work if you had to have
persistent connectivity to read a book.
(Hopefully, posting this will cut in half the numerous people who will show up to yell "I don't want the cloud model because I don’t want to be online all the time just to read")
OK, that objection aside, how do you think a “books in the cloud” approach will work? For my part I think that such an approach may quickly move from a "download and own" model to a subscription model (" Pay 15 bucks a month and you get to read X number of books from our catalogue" ).
For those who still want to buy books, there will likely be an option where you pay a premium price for a DRM free copy.
So, no DRM , the authors and publishers don’t worry about some guy sharing their bestseller with their Facebook friends and possibly you get to buy a book if you really want to. What’s not to like?