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DRM

Digital Rights Management

Audible.com offers great audiobooks, lousy player applications
February 14, 2015 | 10:45 am

Audible has a great selection of audiobook downloads, and reasonable prices—especially if you buy during one of their frequent sales, using the discount offer for buying them together with certain Kindle e-books, or using one of their monthly credits. But since Audible’s books contain DRM, in some respect they are only as good as their player—which, sadly, is not all that great. I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately. It’s something I can do during the parts of my day job that don’t require a lot of brainpower, and it’s fun to hear a good book reading....

Cory Doctorow on the parallels between DRM and cybersecurity policy
January 19, 2015 | 4:25 pm

IMG_20150115_174108In the course of my recent extended interview with Cory Doctorow in Budapest, I asked him whether he saw parallels between post-Charlie Hebdo government attitudes towards cybersecurity and Big Publishing/Big Media attitudes towards DRM. This was his response. The way to understand how big publishers think about DRM is not that they think it really prevents piracy. If you press them on this, their standard answer is that it's imperfect but better than nothing, it's a speed bump, it slows things down. None of those arguments actually hold water: they're not evidence-grounded. What we need to distinguish when we talk about what DRM...

Apple music DRM case wraps up with final witness
December 14, 2014 | 11:07 am

The Apple iTunes DRM case proceeds apace. After finding a replacement plaintiff to supplant those who were found not to have bought iPods during the required time period, the case moved forward, hearing reluctant testimony from a former iTunes engineer who worked on blocking the interoperability of competitors’ music DRM with iPods. (The engineer basically rehashed the same arguments Apple’s made all along: Apple had to lock out competitors because the music labels demanded it.) This was the case’s last witness; it will go to jury deliberations next week. As I’ve said before, this case could potentially have profound...

Judge Cote rules DRM removal for fair use is not copyright infringement
December 10, 2014 | 8:52 pm

The Apple anti-trust case continues to have some interesting fallout. The EFF today issued a press release concerning Judge Denise Cote last month dismissing some charges in a related case, trumpeting that Cote had ruled that stripping DRM for fair use purposes is legal. I’ve read the 20-page opinion, and I’m not so sure. Here’s what I know. The case pertains to Abbey House, the operator of the “BooksOnBoard” e-book store. In March, 2014, Abbey House (and two other defunct e-book store operators) filed suit against Apple and the Agency Five alleging that their implementation of agency pricing...

Apple iPod DRM case heats up, but might still fizzle
December 7, 2014 | 12:37 pm

The wheels of justice grind slowly, and sometimes a bit of grit gets stuck in the gears. This seems to be the case with the ten-year-old lawsuit against Apple over the DRM policies it used to enforce on iTunes Music Store music and iPods. Over the last couple of weeks, it’s started moving again, and the testimony and depositions have been interesting to follow. But now it looks as though, just as it’s getting started again, it may come to a complete halt. Locking Out Competitors At heart, the case has to do with the way Apple continually...

Why we need an e-book DRM DMCA exemption
October 30, 2014 | 8:54 pm

It’s that time again. Ars Technica reports that the Copyright Office is accepting petitions on activities to exempt from the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions, making it legal to crack DRM for certain restricted purposes. We’ve reported on this procedure a few times over the last few years. The way it goes is that various people or organizations make proposals and the copyright office considers whether to grant them for the next three years. The exemptions then have to be requested again at the next session if they are to continue. Public Knowledge will be submitting requests to legalize...

Barnes & Noble removes ability to download its e-books outside of the Nook ecosystem
September 18, 2014 | 9:54 pm

I’m hesitant to believe this story Nate’s reporting, even after clicking the links and reading the sources for myself. How could anyone in the modern e-book market be this dumb? But the writing seems to be on the wall. Barnes & Noble has removed the “Download” button from its e-book library,  [Update: Nate’s posted another piece indicating B&N cited “security” as the reason for the change.] It’s no longer possible to download a book directly from the B&N web site to your hard drive by saving it from your B&N e-book library through your browser. And that...

How cell phone book clubs could help get young people reading and change their lives
September 10, 2014 | 2:25 pm

BertelKingNote: Although David Rothman posted the article, he says the author is really Bertel King, Jr., SF/fantasy novelist and a journalist. Read about Bertel at the end of his cogent essay. Go here to learn how to start your own cell phone book club. Also check out related essays here and here. In 2008, I graduated from Southampton High School, which did an admirable job of preparing me for college. I say “admirable” because at the time I had no idea just how disadvantaged my county was compared to the wealthy suburban schools of Northern Virginia and Richmond that populate most...

Webcomic ‘Help Desk’ takes on e-book DRM
July 23, 2014 | 11:20 am

drm-rollIf you could use a good chuckle, webcomic “Help Desk” has just started a storyline focusing on e-book DRM. (The storyline then continues here.) It seems to have been inspired by the letter that Cory Doctorow received from Hachette about DRM. Since some authors publish with Tor in the USA but Hachette in the UK, and Tor went DRM-free two years ago, this means the US edition of their book would be DRM-free. Hachette didn’t like that, and wanted authors to insist that Tor put DRM on that edition to protect the sales of their UK edition. The letter was actually posted...

July Author Earnings report surveys DRM, genre sales
July 18, 2014 | 3:34 am

ae-julyHugh Howey and Data Guy have done it again, producing another interesting report on a sample of data scraped from Amazon. The July report re-runs the numbers for their main chart based on the new data, then branches out into a couple of interesting new measurements—including one that I specifically asked for back in May. The main measurements show basically incremental change from the last few reports, In terms of daily revenue to authors (taking into account royalty percentages from publisher sales and Amazon revenue percentages from self-published works), Big Five authors take 37% of total Amazon daily revenue...

Dumping DRM is not a panacea
June 20, 2014 | 12:23 pm

As I’ve watched the e-book market develop, I’ve gradually lost a good deal of patience with the argument that DRM is the thing keeping people locked into the Amazon Kindle ecosystem. The latest example to pop up comes via Cory Doctorow’s latest column in The Guardian (found via BoingBoing). Doctorow feels Hachette is hoist by its own petard because of the DRM it insists Amazon (and the other e-book stores) use. It’s an old, old argument. And make no mistake, I don’t like DRM myself and would be just as glad if it all went away tomorrow. But Doctorow...

Whither the Kindle Killer?
May 29, 2014 | 7:01 am

Broken-KindleFound via Slashdot: Larry Press plaintively wonders why nobody’s come up with a “Kindle Killer” yet. He notes a whole host of ways the Kindle falls short of perfection—lack of voice recognition or full interface capability with a computer, for example—and thinks such a device really should be a “low-hanging fruit” for one of the big device makers. I’ll tell you why, Larry. The demand isn’t there. Maybe folks like you who like to get the most out of their devices would want such a thing, but the vast majority of the lowest-common-denominator general public—the ones who actually buy...