[AI] E-book piracy: Is your download legal?

Sanjay ilovecold at gmail.com
Fri Aug 13 04:40:09 EDT 2010


Protecting media from illegal filesharing is essential for the film and
music
industries, but applying DRM to e-books could prove more trouble than it's
worth.

Tom Spring investigates

The publishing industry's worst nightmares are coming true: the e-book
reader's steadily increasing popularity has been matched by growth in
piracy.
Once relatively limited and dominated by technical titles, the pool of
illegally
downloadable publications available online now includes bestsellers from
Janet
Evanovich, John Grisham, James Patterson and JK Rowling.

We discovered virtual bookshelves stuffed with pirated titles, ranging from
copyrighted popular fiction and non-fiction to college textbooks and how-to
e-books.  All are ready for viewing on your reader of choice.

"We know e-book piracy is a problem and we are taking the issue very
seriously.
We've seen the music and film industry deal with this and it stands to
reason
we will grapple with it too," said Paul Aiken, executive director of The
Authors
Guild.

Aiken is concerned about the growth in the availability of copyrighted
e-book
titles online, but said he isn't convinced that the number of people
downloading the files is increasing proportionately.

Illicit e-books aren't as widespread or easy to acquire as pirated audio
tracks.  Such titles are also often poorly reproduced in PDF, consisting of
scanned-in page images rather than text.

Piracy concerns have kept many publishers and authors - most notably JK
Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series - from embracing the e-book
format.
But this refusal to provide sought-after titles in a digital format can
itself
drive piracy, warned consumer technology analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle
Group.

For little outlay, a determined pirate can convert any book into an
unprotected
text file, even if a legitimate e-book is never created.  "The fear of
electronic piracy is actually fuelling the piracy movement," said Enderle.

JK Rowling's fears have already been realised in this way, with scanned-in
PDF
versions of the Harry Potter series illegally available for use with any
e-book
reader.

DRM is no e-book piracy fix

Protecting e-books with digital rights management (DRM) is a simple
solution,
but the practice has faced criticism from the publishing industry and
consumers.
While publishers are wary of reports that the DRM technologies used by the
Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader have been hacked, consumers are hesitant to
buy
titles that are restricted for use on a limited number of readers.

Critics say that the two providers of DRM-protected e-books, Amazon and
Adobe,
are stunting market progress by selling their digital titles in different
formats.  Consumers who purchase a DRM-restricted AZW-format e-book for
their
Amazon Kindle won't be able to transfer that file to Sony's Reader, for
example.

DRM issues get thornier still when device makers such as Amazon start
negotiating exclusive e-publishing rights for their product.  For example,
Amazon has signed a deal with best-selling business writer Stephen R Covey
to
publish several of his books, including The 7 Habits of Highly Effective
People
and Principle-Centered Leadership, exclusively for the Kindle.  The company
has
also negotiated exclusive rights for Kindle e-books from author Stephen King
and
for a biography of America's first lady, Michelle Obama.

A more flexible DRM?

The idea that e-books are tied to devices, often exclusively, is akin to
consumers being allowed to play a new CD only on a certain brand of player.
Ian
Fried, vice-president of Amazon Kindle, claims that Kindle owners don't mind
its DRM.  We're not convinced.  In any case, this apparent acceptance could
all change as a predicted flood of rival readers hits the market in 2010 and
Kindle owners consider jumping ship.

Nick Bogaty, an expert in DRM technology at Adobe, said that the company is
yielding to critics who say its antipiracy technology is too restrictive by
loosening its grip on DRM.  Adobe DRM-protected books, which are used by
Sony
and Barnes & Noble, can be read on up to 12 different devices (six desktop
and
six handheld), meaning users can already share e-books with friends.

Marcia Layton Turner is one author who's more interested in making her books
available electronically than worrying about piracy, with potential new
revenue
reason enough to jump on the e-book bandwagon.  "I'd rather sell twice as
many
books and lose a few sales than miss out on those additional sales
altogether,"
said Turner.

And many others agree: piracy concerns take a back seat to the challenge of
getting people to read books in the first place.


Technical telepathy: 09969636745
Saints are not always saints; sinners are not always sinners.






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