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Old 09-08-2006, 10:09 AM   #1
yvanleterrible
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Solid State E-Books

This is an idea built on a thread by NatCh. http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6271

It's about DRM again!

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!

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.
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Old 09-08-2006, 11:17 AM   #2
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Well, I'm sure it'll be a shock, but I like the idea.

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.

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)
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Old 09-08-2006, 11:20 AM   #3
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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.
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Old 09-08-2006, 11:58 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Russell
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.
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Old 09-08-2006, 01:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yvanleterrible
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.
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Old 09-08-2006, 01:15 PM   #6
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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.
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Old 09-08-2006, 01:42 PM   #7
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And we still keep not buying it until they offer something we like.



Quote:
Originally Posted by yvanleterrible

If we don't find an alternative soon, we'll be stuck with what they impose.
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Old 09-08-2006, 01:54 PM   #8
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... or, they give up on the whole thing as a bad job -- unlikely, I agree, but possible.
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Old 09-08-2006, 02:12 PM   #9
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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.

;-)
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Old 09-08-2006, 02:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle
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.

;-)

Last time I tried it worked great with a copier!
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Old 09-08-2006, 06:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle
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
Quote:
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.
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Old 09-08-2006, 07:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlauzon
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.
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Old 09-08-2006, 07:39 PM   #13
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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. ( )

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Old 09-08-2006, 07:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle
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.
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Old 09-08-2006, 08:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlauzon
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rlauzon
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rlauzon

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.
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