The Doctor is out, but his tactics are driving campaigns from Florida to Alaska.
Hardware issues have become less prominent since publishers have been more willing to format e-books for the devices people already have with them–PCs, laptops and handheld computers. Instead, concern about illegal copying of material is emerging as one of the biggest roadblocks to e-book adoption. Publishers have tried a bewildering variety of digital rights management (DRM) schemes, ranging from books that expire in 60 days to hands-off approaches that rely on customer honesty.
Bad experiences with heavy-handed DRM have soured many potential customers on e-books, said Mike Violano, vice president and general manager of eReader, which equips its titles with a security key based on the credit card number used to purchase it. The approach give wide latitude to the original buyer while effectively thwarting illegal copying, he said.
“There are far too many standards and ways of doing things now, and that’s a source of frustration for customers,” Violano said. “If they have a bad e-book experience the first time, where they have trouble reading something they’ve paid for, it’s hard to get them back.”
Analyst Bedford said nervous publishers have emphasized security over opening new markets.
“There’s no good DRM, period,” she said. “Publishers all want heavy-duty DRM, but the problem is that anything you do gets in the way of buying and using e-books. My bias is to use a lot of psychological DRM. You put a price on it; you have statements…making it very clear you can use this as you would a print book, and you rely on the fact that by and large, most people aren’t out to break the law.”
With DRMed digital media, backed by the DMCA, nothing plays for sure. Please, somebody start THAT campaign, rather than playing these silly games. Your digital media is forever tethered to the DRM owners and relevant copyright holders. Your digital media plays the way they say it can be played, that’s for sure. But you will never truly be able to use your digital media however you want on whatever device you want – we will never see true interoperability.
Related: Slashdot’s Microsoft Portable Media Center Reviewed
So the 35-year-old computer programmer from Ottawa, Ontario, wrote a piece of software that let him record the show directly onto his PC hard drive while he snoozed.
The software, TimeTrax, also neatly arranged the individual songs from the concert, complete with artist name and song title information, into MP3 files.
Then MacLean started selling the software, putting him in the thick of a potential legal battle pitting technically savvy fans against a company protecting its alliance — and licensing agreements — with the music industry.
MacLean says he is simply seeking to make XM Radio — the largest U.S. satellite radio service with over 2.1 million members paying $10 a month for about 120 channels — a little more user-friendly.
“The larger issue here is they came out with one lock and another creative person goes out to create a key,” said Michael McGuire, an analyst at technology research firm Gartner. “It’s very hard for policy and copyright law to keep up with the pace of technological change.”
A spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America said his organization had not reviewed the software, but said that in principle it was disturbed by the idea. “We remain concerned about any devices or software that permit listeners to transform a broadcast into a music library,” RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy said.