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Old 01-03-2009, 07:16 PM   #1
alehel
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Who is allowed to use ePub DRM?

I'm quite confused as to who is allowed to support the DRM used in ePub files. When I buy books from waterstones they are in epub and drm protected. As far as I've understood they can only be read by Adobe Digital Editions and Sony's recent ebook readers. Recently though, can't remember where I read this, I discovered that the Sony 505 is running some kind of version of DE. This is giving me the impression that the only program that supports this DRM is DE.

Recently I've been trying to find an ePub reader for Palm. I have an old Palm Zire 71 which I thought I would take advantage of untill I aquire my 505 in a few months time, but it seems that reading DRM files are impossible. ePub is supposed to be much more open, but as soon as this DRM is attached, surely it's no more open than any other ebook format out there? At least mobi files can be read on most kinds of devices.

Are software makes able to pay licence fees to support the ePub DRM, or is it only Adobe who can support it? To be frank I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with that, but Colin Dexter's novels don't seem to be available in anything other than ePub DRM'ed ebooks.
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Old 01-03-2009, 09:00 PM   #2
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The DRM is in principle separate from the ebook format, although most DRM is tied to one format because each company develops their own format and DRM. Adobe is the only vendor currently adding DRM to ePub, so Secure Adobe ePub is only readable by Adobe Digital Editions (on Windows or Mac Desktops and on the Sony Readers). This is unfortunate, because ADE isn't a very good product and it isn't available on most device types.

FictionWise has said that they will be adding ePub to eReader, including ePubs with eReader DRM. However, this may take a year to implement (and companies change their minds all the time). The unknown is whether publishers will support ePub with alternative DRM schemes. In some ways it simplifies their production stream, but it also potentially magnifies consumer confusion.

Anyone can implement ePub, and it even has its own "standard" encryption scheme (which no one is using). As you say, the reader software providers make their money out of DRM so they have no incentive to change this part of the publishing chain.
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Old 01-03-2009, 10:27 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
Anyone can implement ePub, and it even has its own "standard" encryption scheme (which no one is using).
Actually, the OCF spec (the part of EPUB describing the "container" format) only provides a framework for encryption schemes, not an encryption scheme itself. Adobe's DRM is one example of a spec-compliant encryption scheme.
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Old 01-04-2009, 06:06 AM   #4
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Surely two different DRM's for ePub would just cause to much confusion. I don't want to download an ePub for my 505 and discover that it's the wrong DRM.
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:18 PM   #5
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Actually, the OCF spec (the part of EPUB describing the "container" format) only provides a framework for encryption schemes, not an encryption scheme itself. Adobe's DRM is one example of a spec-compliant encryption scheme.
I assumed that Adobe PDF and Adobe ePub used the same encryption scheme, but having downloaded my first Secure Adobe ePub I am less sure. I see that you are correct that Adobe is following the ePub spec for encryption, with each file in the ZIP container separately encrypted. Adobe identifies the encryption method as AES with a 128 bit key.
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:42 PM   #6
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I don't have a problem with how DRM works as it doesn't get in the way for me so far. But what worries me is what might happen in the future. There is no guarantee that Adobe won't drop support for their DRM, and what then? Sony did this for it's music store and Microsoft did this to "plays4sure" or whatever it was called. I would feel a bit more comfortable if the publishers would promise us redownloads if such a thing happened.
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:03 PM   #7
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None of this is helped by the fact that some companies don't tell you their ePub books are DRMd. The Penguin Books website is guilty of this, and several Bebook owners have been caught out, thinking that, since their device supports ePub, they can buy ePub Penguin Books. Though the fact that the Bebook manual doesn't expain DRM doesn't help matters.
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:20 PM   #8
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What I really cannot understand is why Penguin ebooks such as Pride and Prejudice are DRM'ed when you can get exactly the same thing for free. Personally I find the ones on Feedbooks to be extremely well formated and find them really enjoyable to read. Not only does Penguin expect you to pay 6.99 GBP for it but they won't let you read it freely. But that's a different discussion altogether
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Old 01-05-2009, 07:01 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alehel View Post
What I really cannot understand is why Penguin ebooks such as Pride and Prejudice are DRM'ed when you can get exactly the same thing for free. Personally I find the ones on Feedbooks to be extremely well formated and find them really enjoyable to read. Not only does Penguin expect you to pay 6.99 GBP for it but they won't let you read it freely. But that's a different discussion altogether
At the risk of getting involved in a different discussion altogether... Don't Penguin Classics normally have a long academic introduction and extensive notes? Doesn't quite justify the prices they're charging, but may explain the DRM.
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:26 AM   #10
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At the risk of getting involved in a different discussion altogether... Don't Penguin Classics normally have a long academic introduction and extensive notes? Doesn't quite justify the prices they're charging, but may explain the DRM.
My paper copy have that at least and I re-read the book a couple of days ago and the notes are really usefull. I think this is an example were the notes would have worked better in an ebook (they were end notes in the paper book) and a case were I can pay more for the ebook.
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