One of the conversations that we return to time and again is eBook DRM. DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is technology that puts you in control of your content. It lets you manage who can access your digital content, as well as when and how it can be accessed. It continues to be a point of consternation in the industry. Some indie authors and readers are wholly supportive of DRM. Others refuse to consider it. This argument will likely continue to be a central component of digital publishing.
Why eBook DRM?
Most publishers do not allow their ebooks to be distributed (sold or lent) without DRM due to piracy and control concerns. Indie authors who self publish lose $300 million a year to pirated ebooks. DRM protects ebooks from unauthorized copying and distribution.
Smaller ebook publishers struggle with DRM, because the capital investment and technical aptitude needed to setup a DRM system are quite high. For instance, look at the most widely used Adobe Content Server DRM solution that the EditionGuard service is based on, purchasing the software license alone is in the ten thousand dollar range. It's also a very sophisticated and complex piece of server software. A good knowledge of technical mumbo jumbo like Java J2EE, servlet engines, RDBMS, server OS, and web development are required - not to mention setting up server hardware and its management is a job by itself. These technical aspects usually come with high development and deployment costs.
Leveling the Playing Field for eBook DRM
Now, many large ebook carriers like Google Editions or Simon & Schuster have fat wallets and large IT teams of their own. They are perfectly capable of implementing and managing DRM. But how about the online ebook store startups? Or blogging self publishers who want to use DRM? They can't afford to invest $10,000 or more obtaining licensing rights for Adobe DRM. It is because of this inequity that EditionGuard was born. EditionGuard is a web service created to make ebook DRM more affordable. Our main motivation is to help smaller ebook sellers to break into the market and have an opportunity to be profitable.
Is DRM On Its Way Out?
DRM may be on the way out within the next decade. DRM, by its very nature, is a disruptive mechanism. It makes accessing ebooks less user friendly due to its added security layer. However, it looks like DRM will continue being a requirement for certain types of publications and certainly makes it easier for libraries, corporations, and universities to manage and protect intellectual property.
DRM Options Increase
Rather than see DRM go away completely, we suspect that more indie authors will choose to use something less restrictive than Adobe DRM. EditionGuard's social DRM solutions
allow authors to more subtly discourage unlawful sharing without disrupting the reader experience.