DRM  

Adobe has just given us a graphic demonstration of how not to handle security and privacy issues.A hacker acquaintance of mine has tipped me to a huge security and privacy violation on the part of Adobe. That anonymous acquaintance was examining Adobe’s DRm for educational purposes when they noticed that Digital Editions 4, the newest version of Adobe’s Epub app, seemed to be sending an awful lot of data to Adobe’s servers.My source told me, and I can confirm, that Adobe is tracking users in the app and uploading the data to their servers. Adobe was contacted in advance of publication, but declined to respond. Edit: Adobe responded Tuesday night.And just to be clear, I have seen this happen, and I can also tell you that Benjamin Daniel Mussler, the security researcher who found the security hole on Amazon.com, has also tested this at my request and saw it with his own eyes.

via Adobe is Spying on Users, Collecting Data on Their eBook Libraries – The Digital Reader.

So, Did Tim Ferriss’s BitTorrent Book Gamble Work? – ReadWrite.

So, Did Tim Ferriss's BitTorrent Book Gamble Work? – ReadWrite.

Last night, robots shut down the live broadcast of one of science fictions most prestigious award ceremonies. No, youre not reading a science fiction story. In the middle of the annual Hugo Awards event at Worldcon, which thousands of people tuned into via video streaming service UStream, the feed cut off — just as Neil Gaiman was giving an acceptance speech for his Doctor Who script, “The Doctors Wife.” Where Gaimans face had been were the words, “Worldcon banned due to copyright infringement.” What the hell?Jumping onto Twitter, people who had been watching the livestream began asking what was going on. How could an award ceremony have anything to do with copyright infringement?Bestselling science fiction author Tobias Buckell tweeted: tobiasbuckell@tobiasbuckell Oh, FFS. Ustream just shut down live worldcon feed for copyright infringement.2 Sep 12 ReplyRetweetFavoriteAnd then it began to dawn on people what happened. Gaiman had just gotten an award for his Doctor Who script. Before he took the stage, the Hugo Awards showed clips from his winning episode, along with clips from some other Doctor Who episodes that had been nominated, as well as a Community episode.Wrote Macworld editorial director Jason Snell: Jason Snell@jsnell Ustream just shut down the #Hugos live stream because they showed clips of the TV nominees. Automated copyright patrols ruin more things.2 Sep 12 ReplyRetweetFavoriteThis was, of course, absurd. First of all, the clips had been provided by the studios to be shown during the award ceremony. The Hugo Awards had explicit permission to broadcast them. But even if they hadnt, it is absolutely fair use to broadcast clips of copyrighted material during an award ceremony. Unfortunately, the digital restriction management DRM robots on UStream had not been programmed with these basic contours of copyright law.

via How copyright enforcement robots killed the Hugo Awards.Last night, robots shut down the live broadcast of one of science fictions most prestigious award ceremonies. No, youre not reading a science fiction story. In the middle of the annual Hugo Awards event at Worldcon, which thousands of people tuned into via video streaming service UStream, the feed cut off — just as Neil Gaiman was giving an acceptance speech for his Doctor Who script, “The Doctors Wife.” Where Gaimans face had been were the words, “Worldcon banned due to copyright infringement.” What the hell?Jumping onto Twitter, people who had been watching the livestream began asking what was going on. How could an award ceremony have anything to do with copyright infringement?Bestselling science fiction author Tobias Buckell tweeted: tobiasbuckell@tobiasbuckell Oh, FFS. Ustream just shut down live worldcon feed for copyright infringement.2 Sep 12 ReplyRetweetFavoriteAnd then it began to dawn on people what happened. Gaiman had just gotten an award for his Doctor Who script. Before he took the stage, the Hugo Awards showed clips from his winning episode, along with clips from some other Doctor Who episodes that had been nominated, as well as a Community episode.Wrote Macworld editorial director Jason Snell: Jason Snell@jsnell Ustream just shut down the #Hugos live stream because they showed clips of the TV nominees. Automated copyright patrols ruin more things.2 Sep 12 ReplyRetweetFavoriteThis was, of course, absurd. First of all, the clips had been provided by the studios to be shown during the award ceremony. The Hugo Awards had explicit permission to broadcast them. But even if they hadnt, it is absolutely fair use to broadcast clips of copyrighted material during an award ceremony. Unfortunately, the digital restriction management DRM robots on UStream had not been programmed with these basic contours of copyright law.

via How copyright enforcement robots killed the Hugo Awards.

Douglas County Libraries, in Colorado, is trying something new: buying eBooks directly from publishers and hosting them on its own platform. That platform is based on the purchase of content at discount; owning—not leasing—a copy of the file; the application of industry-standard DRM on the library’s files; multiple purchases based on demand; and a “click to buy” feature.Its new DCL Digital Branch is one outcome of this strategy. As of this writing, more than 800 publishers have signed up, and their works are seamlessly integrated into and delivered from the library catalog, rather than from third-party sites.After integrating the ebooks it owns into its catalog, Douglas County Libraries began installing digital branch hardware and software in six of its Colorado locations in February.In a physical library, the digital branch features interactive touch-screen technology that allows library patrons to browse digital content from multiple platforms, including eBooks hosted by DCL, Overdrive, 3M and Freegal music. It integrates seamlessly with DCL’s library catalog, patron database, and its mobile app, DCL to Go. This same experience is also available online.The digital branch allows patrons to view and explore digital content using their hands and eyes the same way they might explore a traditional collection, with added functionality like immediate access to staff recommendations, most popular titles, and new content. Digital branch technology and features will change and improve as Douglas County Libraries’ eContent collection grows and patron use of digital content evolves.Douglas County Libraries’ model for purchasing eBooks directly from publishers is gaining interest from more and larger publishers, with five more joining just in the last week. DCL’s revolutionary distribution model is attracting not just publishers, but libraries across the nation. Marmot Library Consortium on Colorado’s western slope and Anythink Libraries in Adams County will soon provide eContent hosted by DCL. Other library systems have shown interest as well, from regions including California, New England, New York and New Jersey, and the Colorado State Library has created eVoke, an internet portal for libraries wishing to replicate DCL’s eBook model.

via Libraries set out to own their ebooks – Boing Boing.Douglas County Libraries, in Colorado, is trying something new: buying eBooks directly from publishers and hosting them on its own platform. That platform is based on the purchase of content at discount; owning—not leasing—a copy of the file; the application of industry-standard DRM on the library’s files; multiple purchases based on demand; and a “click to buy” feature.Its new DCL Digital Branch is one outcome of this strategy. As of this writing, more than 800 publishers have signed up, and their works are seamlessly integrated into and delivered from the library catalog, rather than from third-party sites.After integrating the ebooks it owns into its catalog, Douglas County Libraries began installing digital branch hardware and software in six of its Colorado locations in February.In a physical library, the digital branch features interactive touch-screen technology that allows library patrons to browse digital content from multiple platforms, including eBooks hosted by DCL, Overdrive, 3M and Freegal music. It integrates seamlessly with DCL’s library catalog, patron database, and its mobile app, DCL to Go. This same experience is also available online.The digital branch allows patrons to view and explore digital content using their hands and eyes the same way they might explore a traditional collection, with added functionality like immediate access to staff recommendations, most popular titles, and new content. Digital branch technology and features will change and improve as Douglas County Libraries’ eContent collection grows and patron use of digital content evolves.Douglas County Libraries’ model for purchasing eBooks directly from publishers is gaining interest from more and larger publishers, with five more joining just in the last week. DCL’s revolutionary distribution model is attracting not just publishers, but libraries across the nation. Marmot Library Consortium on Colorado’s western slope and Anythink Libraries in Adams County will soon provide eContent hosted by DCL. Other library systems have shown interest as well, from regions including California, New England, New York and New Jersey, and the Colorado State Library has created eVoke, an internet portal for libraries wishing to replicate DCL’s eBook model.

via Libraries set out to own their ebooks – Boing Boing.

WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. We like to say that WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.

via WordPress › Blog Tool, Publishing Platform, and CMS.

Unfortunately, the side effect in this less-than-successful attempt to fight piracy is the hours it takes users to retrieve, rip, and back up their music when a services shuts down, is sold, or simply decides DRM wasn’t the right way to go sometimes in as little as five months. The following is a brief history of the rise and fall of DRM in music services.

via The DRM graveyard: A brief history of digital rights management in music | opensource.com.

“We’re a broken record on this,” Newell told me,. “This belief that you increase your monetization by making your game worth less through aggressive digital rights management is totally backwards . It’s a service issue, not a technology issue. Piracy is just not an issue for us.”And it’s not because Steam avoids regions of the world known for their software piracy, they actually embrace them.”When we entered Russia everyone said, ‘You can’t make money in there. Everyone pirates,'” Newell said.But when Valve looked into what was going on there they saw that the pirates were doing a better job of localizing games than the publishers were.”When people decide where to buy their games they look and they say, ‘Jesus, the pirates provide a better service for us,'” he said.So Valve invested in getting the games they sold there localized in Russian. Now Russia is their largest European market outside of the UK and Germany.”The best way to fight piracy is to create a service that people need,” he said. “I think publishers with strict DRM will sell less of their products and create more problems.

via Why Portal’s Publishers Don’t Fear Piracy, Competition.

LibraryGoblin sez, “HarperCollins has decided to change their agreement with e-book distributor OverDrive. They forced OverDrive, which is a main e-book distributor for libraries, to agree to terms so that HarperCollins e-books will only be licensed for checkout 26 times. Librarians have blown up over this, calling for a boycott of HarperCollins, breaking the DRM on e-books–basically doing anything to let HarperCollins and other publishers know they consider this abuse.”

I've talked to a lot of librarians about why they buy DRM books for their collections, and they generally emphasize that buying ebooks with DRM works pretty well, generates few complaints, and gets the books their patrons want on the devices their patrons use. And it's absolutely true: on the whole, DRM ebooks, like DRM movies and DRM games work pretty well.

But they fail really badly. No matter how crappy a library's relationship with a print publisher might be, the publisher couldn't force them to destroy the books in their collections after 26 checkouts. DRM is like the Ford Pinto: it's a smooth ride, right up the point at which it explodes and ruins your day.

HarperCollins has some smart and good digital people (they're my UK/Australia/South Africa publisher, and I've met a ton of them). But batshit insane crap like this is proof that it doesn't matter how many good people there are at a company that has a tool at its disposal that is as dangerous and awful as DRM: the gun on the mantelpiece in act one will always go off by act three.

And that's why libraries should just stop buying DRM media for their collections. Period. It's unsafe at any speed.

I mean it. When HarperCollins backs down and says, “Oh, no, sorry, we didn't mean it, you can have unlimited ebook checkouts,” the libraries' answers should be “Not good enough. We want DRM-free or nothing.” Stop buying DRM ebooks. Do you think that if you buy twice, or three times, or ten times as many crippled books that you'll get more negotiating leverage with which to overcome abusive crap like this? Do you think that if more of your patrons come to rely on you for ebooks for their devices, that DRM vendors won't notice that your relevance is tied to their product and tighten the screws?

You have exactly one weapon in your arsenal to keep yourself from being caught in this leg-hold trap: your collections budget. Stop buying from publishers who stick time-bombs in their ebooks. Yes, you can go to the Copyright Office every three years and ask for a temporary exemption to the DMCA to let your jailbreak your collections, but that isn't Plan B, it's Plan Z. Plan A is to stop putting dangerous, anti-patron technology into your collections in the first place.

The publisher also issued a short statement: “HarperCollins is committed to the library channel. We believe this change balances the value libraries get from our titles with the need to protect our authors and ensure a presence in public libraries and the communities they serve for years to come.”

Josh Marwell, President, Sales for HarperCollins, told LJ that the 26 circulation limit was arrived at after considering a number of factors, including the average lifespan of a print book, and wear and tear on circulating copies.

As noted in the letter, the terms will not be specific to OverDrive, and will likewise apply to “all eBook vendors or distributors offering this publisher's titles for library lending.” The new terms will not be retroactive, and will apply only to new titles. More details on the new terms are set to be announced next week.

For the record, all of my HarperCollins ebooks are also available as DRM-free Creative Commons downloads. And as bad as HarperCollins' terms are, they're still better than Macmillan's, my US/Canadian publisher, who don't allow any library circulation of their ebook titles.

via HarperCollins to libraries: we will nuke your ebooks after 26 checkouts – Boing Boing.

Slashdot

“Ambiguity surrounds the real impact of digital book piracy, notes Brian O’Leary in an interview with O’Reilly Radar, but all would be better served if more data was shared and less effort was exerted on futile DRM. ‘The publishing industry should be working as hard as we can to develop new and innovative business models that meet the needs of readers. And what those look like could be community-driven. I think of Baen Books, for example, which doesn’t put any DRM restrictions on its content but is one of the least pirated book publishers. As to sales, Paulo Coelho is a good example. He mines the piracy data to see if there’s a burgeoning interest for his books in a particular country or market. If so, he either works to get his book out in print or translate it in that market.'”

Telegraph Blogs

 

If book publishers want to see the next decade in any reasonable health, then it’s absolutely imperative that they rethink their pricing strategies and business models right now. I hope this example will illustrate why:

I’m a big fan of Iain Banks’ novels; I always buy them in hardback as soon as they come out. It doesn’t matter what reviewers say, I need to have his books immediately. His latest novel, Surface Detail, came out a few days ago and promptly arrived at my office – all 627 pages of it. I lugged the thing home and began reading it this morning.

Surface_Detail_Hb_500x775

Being a Culture novel, it’s a real page-turner and I found it difficult to pull myself away from it. I didn’t want to lug it back to the office again, not least because I didn’t have any space left in my bag, so I did the unthinkable – I googled surface detail ePub so I could download and read it on my iPad (and iPhone).

I try doing this every six months or so, and I usually end up mired in a swamp of fake torrent links and horrible PDF versions; for what it’s worth, this was mostly out of curiosity, since six months ago I didn’t own an iPad.

This time, it took me 60 seconds to download a pristine ePub file, and another five minutes to move it to my iPad and iPhone. While this was going on, I took the opportunity to poke around the torrent sites and forums that my search had yielded, and discovered a wonderful selection of books, including:

Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen

Our Kind of Traitor, by John le Carre

Jump! by Jilly Cooper

The Fry Chronicles, by Stephen Fry

Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Solar, by Ian McEwan

Zero History, by William Gibson

Obama’s Wars, by Bob Woodward

Now, that’s not all of the current bestsellers, but it’s not a bad start. “Oh, but we’ve still got the backlist!” I hear some publisher cry. No such luck, because some helpful pirate has bundled entire collections of popular backlist novels into a single torrents, including:

Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels

Lord of the Rings

Narnia

Harry Potter

Artemis Fowl

Twilight

The Hunger Games

Every Ken Follett book

Every Stieg Larsson book

Every Stephen King book

Every Douglas Adams book

etc.

Pretty much all of these books are available in ePub, mobi, PDF and every other popular format (the non-fiction and literary selection is much worse though, which probably reflects the tastes of the people uploading the torrents – that’ll change soon enough).

I am not a torrent-finding genius – I just know how to add ‘ePub’ to the name of a book or author. I don’t need a fast internet connection, because most books are below 1MB in size, even in a bundle of multiple formats. I don’t need to learn how to use Bittorrent, because I already use that for TV shows. And Apple has made it very easy for me to add ePub files to my iPad and iPhone. So really, there is nothing stopping me from downloading several hundred books other than the fact that I already have too much to read and I think authors should be paid.

But why would the average person not pirate eBooks? Like Cory Doctorow says, it’s not going to become any harder to type in ‘Toy Story 3 bittorrent’ in the future – and ‘Twilight ePub’ is even easier to type, and much faster to download to boot.

After Christmas, tens of millions of people will have the motive, the means, and the opportunity to perform book piracy on a massive scale. It won’t happen immediately, but it will happen. It’ll begin with people downloading electronic copies of books they already own, just for convenience’s sake (and hey, the New York Times says it’s ethical!). This will of course handily introduce them to the world of ebook torrents.

Next, you’ll have people downloading classics – they’ll say to themselves, “Tolkein and C. S. Lewis are both dead, so why should I feel bad about pirating their books?” Then you’ll have people downloading ebooks not available in their country yet. Then it’ll be people downloading entire collections, just because it’s quicker. Then they’ll start wondering why they should buy any ebooks at all, when they cost so much. And then you go bust.

(In case you think this is just a scary story, think again – a conservative estimate this month suggests there are 1.5-3 million people looking for pirated eBooks every day [nb: this is a link to a PDF]. A suggestion: If you gave away a free eBook copy with physical books, that might help things. A bit.)

But of course I’m exaggerating. Most publishers won’t go bust. eBook prices will be forced down, margins will be cut, consolidation will occur. New publishers will spring up, with lower overheads and offering authors a bigger cut. A few publishers will thrive; most publishers will suffer. Some new entrants will make a ton of cash; maybe there’ll be a Spotify or Netflix for books. Life will go on. Authors will continue writing – it’s not as if they ever did it for the money – and books will continue being published.

Three years ago, I wrote a blog post called The Death of Publishers. Back then, most commenters didn’t believe that eBook readers would ever rival physical books for convenience and comfort. They didn’t think that it would ever be that easy to pirate books. The post caused a splash at the time, but it didn’t change anything.

Here’s an excerpt:

Book publishers have had a longer grace period than the other entertainment industries. Computers and iPods had an easy time besting DVDs and CDs, but it’s been difficult to make something that can compete with a book. It may be strange to hear, but a book is a fantastic piece of technology. It’s portable, it doesn’t need batteries, it’s cheap to print and easy to read. This has led many publishers to complacency, thinking there’s something special about books that will spare them from the digital revolution. They’ve seen so many poor or substandard eBook readers that they think it’ll never be done properly.

They’re wrong. eBook readers are about to get very good, very quickly. A full colour wireless eBook reader with a battery life of over a week, a storage capacity of a thousand books, and a flexible display will be yours for $150 in ten years time. If this sounds unbelievable, consider this – the first iPod was released only six years ago and cost $400. Imagine what an iPod will look like in four years time.

How wrong I was! It’s only taken us three years to get the Kindle 3 at a mere $189, with a battery life of a month and a storage capacity of 3500 books. Sure, it doesn’t have colour or a flexible display, but it does have global wifi and 3G, and it’s a lot lighter than I thought it might be. Give it another year or two and we’ll have that colour as well.

(I was also wrong about scanning and OCRing being the main way of pirating books – turns out it was people cracking the DRM of eBooks that publishers had helpfully formatted and distributed themselves!)

But I was right about the complacency of publishers. They’ve spent three years bickering about eBook prices and Amazon and Apple and Andrew Wylie, and they’ve ignored that massive growling wolf at the door, the wolf that has transformed the music and TV so much that they’re forced to give their content away for practically nothing.

Time’s up. The wolf is here.

 

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