If you're a parent, chances are your iPhone is littered with apps you bought for your kids -- and no way to transfer them. Got a Kindle? The lending feature is so limited that siblings and spouses will find sharing books difficult. I posted a look at some of these issues, along with a hope they'll get better.
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- No DRM will ever be good enough. If you can read it, see it, or hear it you can always copy it.
The problem is that these guys have been sitting on scarcity for generations and now that it no longer exists they are panicking. They need to come to grips with the fact that their customers aren't the enemy. The content creators who get that concept and embrace it are the ones who will survive and do well... Look up folks like Cory Doctorow or if you want to see folks who get it...
What happened when Amazon and iTunes got rid of their DRM? Music sales soared and piracy rates dropped. Why? Because most people are fine with paying a fair price for something they find value in...Nov 27, 2011
- I'll second Charlie Hoover - No DRM will ever be good enough. I don't know of a DRM scheme that hasn't been cracked within a day or so of release.
And the purpose of DRM has been shifting. Consider Amazon, who applies DRM to titles you purchase from them. The intent isn't really to prevent piracy - it's to lock you in to Amazon as the vendor. If you have a Kindle or Kindle app, you have to purchase your content from Amazon. Content purchased from elsewhere can't be read unless it isn't encumbered by DRM, or you strip any DRM it has.Nov 27, 2011
- So, you're saying the difference between Kindle content and Nook content is mostly DRM? Not file format?Nov 27, 2011
- Not at all. The first difference is file format. A Mobipocket file and an ePub file are very different animals. If you have a Kindle, you need Mobi format. If you have a Nook/Kobo/Sony Reader, you need ePub. But if DRM isn't in the way, it's trivial to convert one to the other. And if you have something like a tablet, smartphone, ot netbook, you can get apps that will let you read both on the same device. It's also fairly trivial to strip DRM.Nov 27, 2011
- I guess I go far enough back that I recall the WordStar/WordPerfect battles where each could read the other's file format. But, as additional features were added, WordStar died because the WS format couldn't support some of the newer features. Pre- Word/WordPerfect dueling. So, I consider file format more a programming choice rather than DRM.Nov 27, 2011
- I go back that far as well. and learned WordStar back in the says when it was the second PC editor you used, because the first might not be available on the PC you had to work on, but WS likely was. I still have several editors installed that use WS keystrokes, and once had Gnu Emacs customized to use WS commands to avoid retraining my fingers.
WordStar died for the same reason other outfits like MicroPro did: they took their eye off their core product and allowed it to lag while they tried to diversify. They then had to play catchup, and couldn't.
I never said the file format was intended as DRM. The file format choice was a matter of necessity. Electronic volumes already existed via Project Gutenberg, but they were largely plain ASCII text. They had the advantage of being readable on nearly anything, but lacked support for color, text attributes, fonts, embedded images, and hyperlinks. Ebooks really needed formats that offered that.
Back when Amazon decided to dive into the deep end of the ebook pool, there was no real standard. Various things existed, like the PML format devised by Peanut Press, an early commercial ebook operation targeting Palm organizer devices. (The format lives on as a legacy format supported by the B&N Nook.)
Amazon bought a French ebook outfit called Mobipocket in 2005, and used their ebook format (an HTML subset wrapped in a compressed metadata wrapper) as the basis for their Kindle offerings. There's some evidence they did this because Adobe had withdrawn from the market an electronic publishing solution they had previously offered, leaving Amazon with the choice of rolling their own our buying an existing one. Mobi had a Creator app for Windows and viewers for a wide range of devices (pretty much everything save Macs), so there were as close to an established standard as was available.
Meanwhile, the International Digital Publishing Forum was at work developing a standard format for electronic publishing called ePub (with Adobe a major player in that effort.) The Barnes and Noble Nook used ePub as their default format. The early Sony Reader models used a proprietary format called BBLF, but shifted to ePub later as the spec became mature and widely adopted. Had ePub been available when Amazon decided to offer ebooks, they might have adopted it.
There has been speculation Amazon might shift to ePub. ePub is a container, and what it contains doesn't have to be text and still images. We are seeing "enhanced" ebooks including audio and video appearing. The native Mobipocket format lacks that support (though I've heard tell on Amazon editions using a custom extension of the Mobi format to approximate what can be done in ePub.)
We'll see, but from where I sit it's a typical standards effort.Nov 27, 2011