Sunday, May 20, 2012

Social DRM Makes News

Most buyers of digital media purchase through a very select few outlets:  Apple's iTunes and Amazon being two of them.  These huge sites have cornered such a large share of the market that content creators and rights holders are looking for new ways to reach their markets.

One aspect of the clout of these retailers is through "locking" purchased files to specific readers or hardware.  What if a creator has developed innovative materials that can't be read with Kindle e-readers?  Currently, these can't be sold through Amazon.

While file locking mechanisms are touted as a way to prevent piracy, publishers are increasingly questioning their value.

They point to the recent success of the Harry Potter ebooks that are now sold exclusively through the Pottermore Store.  We wrote an earlier article about the shift away from retailers and the use of social drm methods.

Now, the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) has set about to define a standard for social drm.

..."there’s a growing recognition among publishers that DRM has aspects that work against their interests, including its lack of user-friendliness and eBook distributors’ use of the technology to ‘lock in’ consumers.”

We see a trend developing here.  It might take time, but limiting formats purely for use with readers provided by certain retailers limits development, creativity and new forms of expression.