|05-28-2006, 02:48 PM||#1|
Join Date: Oct 2002
Device: Sony PRS-650 / Nexus 7 / Kindle PW
Microsoft e-book DRM revisited
Some people like to spend their weekends dressed up as Laurel and Hardy while blasting each other with paintball guns. And then there are others (truly yours included) who can think of nothing better than to go rummage online patent filings for something interesting. So this is how I came to discover that Microsoft has been awarded a couple of patents not so much time ago related to the generation and distribution of DRM-protected e-books. Some of them, but not all:
Microsoft has currently five different levels of DRM for e-books, which are (in order of increased protection):
In general, with DRM 2-5, content in an e-book is encrypted by a symmetric "content" key, which itself has been encrypted and/or sealed. The key is sealed with a cryptographic hash of meta-data, or, in the case of DRM 5 titles, with the public key of the user's activation certificate. This key is then stored either as a separate stream in a sub-storage section of the e-book file ("DRM Storage") or, in the case of DRM 5 titles, in the license (the license is a XML construct (based on the Extended Rights Markup Language XrML format which also defines the rights that the user can exercise upon purchase of the title). Attached figure 8 is a flow diagram illustrating the process of activation.
Note that most publishers provide their commercial e-books in DRM 5, where the encrypted license requires you to activate your computer for Microsoft Reader before purchasing and reading these e-books. In general, publishers also prohibit you from copying and pasting text from owner exclusive e-books into other applications, and also from using the Text-to-Speech functionality of Microsoft Reader. Well, according to totally baseless and unfounded rumors (crickets chirp) there are ways to circumvent these restrictions as well...
The server architecture of a typical Microsoft e-book distribution system includes
DRM Target Groups
Microsoft targets three user groups with its DRM system:
Some debatable statements
"There is need for an improved digital rights management system that allows of delivery of electronic works to purchasers in a manner that protects ownership rights, while also being flexible and ease of use."
The digital rights management system described claims to "protect the intellectual property rights of content owners and allow for authors or other content owners to be compensated for their creative efforts, while ensuring that purchasers are not over-burdened by the protection mechanism."
"The success of the electronic book industry will undoubtedly require providing the existing book-buying public with an appealing, secure, and familiar experience to acquire all sorts of textual material. This material may include "free" or low-cost material requiring little copy protection, to "premium-quality" electronic book titles (herein "eBooks") requiring comprehensive rights protection."
"The present invention makes purchasing an eBook more desirable than "stealing" (e.g., making an unauthorized copy of) an eBook. The non-intrusive DRM system minimizes privacy risk, while increasing the likelihood that any piracy will be offset by increased sales/distribution of books in the form of eBooks."
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