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Old 02-18-2005, 10:33 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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SanDisk BookLocker - flash drive for e-books

Looks like SanDisk, flash memory data storage specialist, is planning to win a share of the e-book market with the introduction of its BookLocker USB Stick. BookLocker is a flash drive that aims to securely stores electronic textbooks. Reading electronic textbooks with BookLocker is supposedly as easy as plugging the BookLocker device into any PC and opening the reader application. No installation or software download are required.

SanDisk claims that the BookLocker offers "unparalleled safeguards" to protect publishers' content from being replicated. How does it work? BookLocker devices are divided into two distinct memory areas: An open zone for the student's files, and a secure zone, which is used to store copyrighted content. The secure zone cannot be accessed by the student or operating system. Content is stored on a trusted BootLocker server network using AES encryption. When the content is downloaded to a BookLocker device, it is encrypted with that device's unique hardware key. The server also keeps track of the number downloaded electronic textbooks. Publishers can get up to date reports on the number of electronic textbooks available and sold. When deployed at schools, school administrators and librarians can see how many books are in use and how many are available for lending to students. Unlike software only DRM solutions, BookLocker's patented security measures utilize both hardware and software elements to protect the publishers' IP.

SanDisk is running several pilots at the University of Denver, College of Law. In fall 2003, a BookLocker pilot was launched with students for a Corporations Law course. The BookLocker devices were loaded with course materials such as textbooks, case studies and statutes. The next semester, another class was added to the pilot. This time, students were given laptops and BookLocker devices with textbooks for a Trial Advocacy course. In fall 2004 the third BookLocker pilot was launched with additional students in 2 courses – Torts and Lawyering Process. The BookLocker devices were distributed with textbooks from leading publishers such as Lexis Nexis and Aspen.

My personal opinion: this is not really what we were looking for - another proprietary DRM solution to further alienate potential e-book customers.
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Old 02-18-2005, 12:16 PM   #2
Colin Dunstan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander
My personal opinion: this is not really what we were looking for - another proprietary DRM solution to further alienate potential e-book customers.
Exactly my opinion as well. Why, all the time, do companies focus on "improving" DRM (i.e. making it more difficult for consumers) instead of trying to improve the overall e-book experience? I think e-books are technically still very immature - there are no standards and there are no e-book reading devices that would be technically up-to-date - and until someone manages to change this situation, bringing a new DRM system on the market is just not going to make it any better.
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Old 02-18-2005, 01:19 PM   #3
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Like I say frequently..the paradigm is still yet to be set for DRM, and it could go a lot of different directions based on who gets to influence it. Once a method gains traction and market, it will be hard to overcome. Unfortunately, it might be determined by niche markets with money, like education, rather than the avid ebook readers. Contrast this with the overwhelming power of the interested song-listening masses insisting on MP3s, which even caused Sony to acknowledge they had to handle MP3 format music on their portables.

But even music is starting to backtrack with the DRMd online services. It's like you really don't own what you buy. Reminds me of the old RealOne software I used to play cds on my computer once. When my PC had to be reloaded from scratch, including the OS, I lost all my rights to those mp3 files. I'll never use Real software for music files now, no matter how much they change that.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid that ebook controls are going to be more about revenue protection than usability. It seems to have a lot of support from lawmakers across the world.

But don't assume all content providers are evil. Here's a very interesting article by a content provider about the p2p "enemy"...
http://www.blogmaverick.com/entry/1234000890030093/

It's written by Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball franchise. I'm a big fan of his. He's also an owner of an HDTV network, so he's speaking as a content provider. He basically says that content owners are passing up on great opportunities for revenue and opportunities to make things better for consumers because they are so focused on hanging onto what they have, and prosecuting to keep it. They need to open their eyes and be creative instead of calling in the henchmen and hiding their heads in the sand.

Wow, if only all content providers would think more like he does. Life would be wonderful for all of us consumers, and people would still be making a bundle of money. And he's not a novice to the computer world either... he's the founder of broadcast.com which started off the whole internet broadcast industry.

At least with ebooks we can always retreat to free text that's in the public domain!

And in my mind there's a bigger question... why in the world should we be giving copyright protection after 5yrs on content? Do you really believe content will stop being produced if it becomes public domain in 5yrs? Can you imagine what a wonderful thing this would be for the public if movies were freely available after 5yrs! Movie studios would still make lots of bucks, and I'd sure be willing to give up an occassional movie that they decide not to make because of not having that ongoing revenue. The benefit of all that content for free far outweighs the very slightly reduced incentives to produce. If it's all about incentive to produce, why don't we charge everyone on the internet a $100/yr fee that goes to the content producers based on their sales. That would really increase the incentive to produce content, but it wouldn't make sense because consumers lose... just like with the current copyright laws!

--- End of Rant ---
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Old 02-18-2005, 02:59 PM   #4
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Movie companies...and the future of eBooks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobR
Can you imagine what a wonderful thing this would be for the public if movies were freely available after 5yrs! Movie studios would still make lots of bucks, and I'd sure be willing to give up an occassional movie that they decide not to make because of not having that ongoing revenue. The benefit of all that content for free far outweighs the very slightly reduced incentives to produce. If it's all about incentive to produce, why don't we charge everyone on the internet a $100/yr fee that goes to the content producers based on their sales. That would really increase the incentive to produce content, but it wouldn't make sense because consumers lose... just like with the current copyright laws!

--- End of Rant ---
As someone who works occasionally in the Film/Video production business, I know that movie companies don't want to make "lots of money," they want to make "all the money." It's not about saying, "You know, we've made enough money, let's back off now." It's more like, "How can we continually milk this cash cow?" (I'm glad that they finally laid off of that silly campaign to make us stop "pirating" movies by trying to attach a human face to the theft. You know the ones, "I'm a set carpenter and I met my wife on the set of "The Big Chill" and when you pirate movies you take food out of my family's mouths." They're so phony because the crew got paid during the principal photography. After the movie's made, only the studio loses money from pirating. I'm not advocating piracy, but I'm glad that they finally stopped mis-representing the situation.)

So, the main thing to remember is that it makes sense from a greed standpoint to do whatever it takes to raise the bottom line. Regardless of what the company "says" it's main focus is to make as much money as possible. Even if they were to do the "altruistic/politically correct" thing like consider the customers, what they're really doing is considering the customer's pocketbooks.

I'm not into DRM'ed eBooks, but I'd rather convert my own Gutenburg titles for reading on my Z2. That only works for me because I'm a neo-geek and I can do it. People to whom it is too difficult to understand DRM and conversion and the proper gadgetry necessary for this or that are perfectly fine with the tried-and-true method of curling up with a good book in paper form.

I'm not sure what the answer is for the future of eBooks, but I know that it needs to get easier to use and understand (and overall, cheaper including the necessary hardware) and provide a necessary service over and above what paper books provide. Some wonderful selling points are being able to read in the dark with the backlight on while other people are sleeping and the autoscroll feature. Drawbacks include the high cost of the hardware (compared to the relatively low cost of the published book), the need to charge the hardware, the delicateness of the hardware (when was the last time you dropped a book and your heart sank?), the innate "coldness" of the hardware, and the need to completely understand DRM and why you can't just lend "your" "book" to a friend.

Someone enterprising will analyze the challenges and make a ton of money by giving the people what they want in the way they want it.
POL9A

Last edited by Pride Of Lions; 02-18-2005 at 03:01 PM. Reason: Corrected mis-spellings.
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Old 02-18-2005, 06:59 PM   #5
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What OS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander
My personal opinion: this is not really what we were looking for - another proprietary DRM solution to further alienate potential e-book customers.
I agree. I was unable to see anything about an OS requirement for the device.

Will this work under Linux? Mac? Anything non-Windows?

I bet not.
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Old 02-19-2005, 10:39 PM   #6
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As a general rule, unless it says it supports anything other than Windows, it doesn't.

The words "PC" and "Windows" have, unfortunately, become synonymous. Games with a "PC CDROM" label on them (for example) mean Windows. Because Linux runs on "PCs", but the games don't.
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