An American Colony Called Canada

May 9, 2011

Please Uncle Sam…Can we watch your TV shows & videos online?



Book Publishing and DRM

November 29, 2009

Mike Shatzkin once again nails a tough topic with his blog posting, “Some thoughts about piracy.” DRM remains a tough subject for all, be they music, film, periodical or book publishers. Of course each face the challenge in somewhat different ways, both by dint of economics and because of practical realities.

As Mike points out, “the question of DRM-or-not in the ebook world is a very complicated one, although opponents of DRM often paint it as very simple.” Of course it’s not.

For fiction writers, not currently thinking of their text as subject to revision, the problem looms large. But for non-fiction authors, as Mike points out “every editor knows plenty of authors of non-fiction books that wanted to keep writing and changing and adding past every deadline the house presented. Let the new process start with those; there will be plenty of candidates.” Quoting the generally on-topic Tim O’Reilly, Mike notes, “obscurity is a greater threat to most authors than piracy.”

Check out (and subscribe) to Mike’s blog. It’s always thought-provoking. And as all topics on the future of publishing are intertwined, you will always be informed.

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The Best Blog on DRM

May 2, 2009

My colleague, Bill Rosenblatt, could be nicknamed (perhaps inelegantly) “Mr. DRM.” He remains, as far as I know, the leading American expert on the topic, having dealt with it in his work at various publishers since 1994, and writing extensively on the subject since 2001, including a website, newsletter, and now an excellent blog, Copyright and Technology. He also authored the standard text on DRM, Digital Rights Management: Business and Technology (Wiley, 2001) (with Bill Trippe and Stephen Mooney), as well as contributing a chapter (“Digital Rights and Digital Television”) to the new volume Television Goes Digital (Springer, 2009).

Bill explains his position on DRM this way:

My philosophy is that digital rights technologies are fundamental to the future of the Internet and other digital networks as viable media for news, culture, and entertainment. And my definition of rights technologies spans much more broadly than the “classical” definition of DRM: it includes technologies such as fingerprinting, watermarking, content identifiers (such as the DOI), and rights licensing schemes. (For example, my view is that Creative Commons is a rights technology — and a very successful one at that.)

As Lawrence Lessig says in his book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, technology is one of four empirical forces that determine how people and businesses conduct themselves, others being laws, markets, and societal norms. We can argue about how those four forces do or should balance each other out, but my belief is that when it comes to digital content, markets and technology are ultimately the most powerful forces. Many attempts to manipulate the other two to control them are doomed to failure, especially when they are driven by people who fundamentally do not understand or appreciate technology and how it interacts with market forces.

The issue of digital rights management will be with us long after numerous seemingly-urgent technological challenges have been resolved. Every publisher, indeed everyone in the larger electronic publishing sphere, needs to keep a close eye on this topic as it evolves, and Bill Rosenblatt is who I’d recommend you turn to first.

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There is No New Media

October 24, 2008

I was greatly inspired today to encounter this quotation from YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley at the MIPCOM Conference in Cannes, France on October 15th:

“There is no old media. There is no new media. There is one media with one common purpose; to inform, move and inspire the world through information, art and entertainment.”

MIPCOM is billed as “The World’s Audio/Visual Conference” so of course it was an appropriate venue for Mr. Hurley to speak.

His speech is transcribed on this blog, and it’s well worth reading for Hurley’s insights into online video and the ongoing challenge of digital rights management associated with this controversial topic.

As reassuring as the comment above is his remark “From the printing press to the blog, from the record player to the iPod, and from the stage to the home theater, the way content has been produced, distributed and consumed in the world is constantly evolving.”

Are we on the same page?

Hurley’s exposition of the YouTube business model and its ideas around digital rights management in this most contentious field make it well worth reading the entire transcript.


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