Evaluating the Future of eBook Content Protection

As criticism mounts over the use of digital rights management (DRM) for electronic books (ebooks), the digital book publishing industry must move swiftly to evaluate the future of ebook content protection or face a backlash from consumers.

DRM is software commonly used by manufacturers and publishers to restrict the unauthorised redistribution of digital material after sale. During the last decade, DRM protection for electronic publications was touted as a panacea to piracy. However, it is becoming increasingly obvious that there are serious shortcomings to this method of content protection.

One severe failing is that DRM-protected books cannot be freely distributed, device-shifted or shared (unlike a physical copy), even by the legitimate purchaser. The Guardian’s Cory Doctorow warns that this limitation of a user’s ability to consume a purchased title in a manner, at a time and on a device of their choosing has serious implications. In a world where the electronics industry relies on people buying upgraded, new devices every 12-24 months, it is predicted that a DRM-protected book purchased today will be unreadable for that person in five years. This is because consumers cannot transfer their ebook libraries from one device to another with DRM-protection, forcing them to re-purchase their books on any new e-reader. The fear is that many segments of the ebook market will be alienated because of these restraints, driving customers away or to turn to pirated ebooks instead.

Recognising these flaws of the DRM system, many organisations (and individuals) have begun to take a stance against its use on ebooks, including the publisher Tor and the author J.K. Rowling. Rowling’s books are now watermarked and permit up to eight downloads. Such revolutionary approaches have propelled DRM use back into the discussion forums. DRM protection was a hot topic at this year’s BookExpo America.

While DRM still has a place in ebook content protection, I believe that we need to move away from a general reliance on DRM protection on ebooks. It can no longer be viewed as a solution to the issues faced by rights holders in the digital sphere, a ‘one size fits all’ – we need to consider tailoring protection to ensure a happy equilibrium between rights holders’ interests and users if we are to combat piracy in any meaningful way. While Tor and J. K. Rowling’s actions may seem bold and even radical, they represent a considered understanding of the way readers wish to consume ebooks balanced by the need for an industry standard that ensures against the use of over-sharing. A system that eases restrictions on user behaviour, and allows titles to be viewed on multiple kinds of e-readers is not only sensible but necessary. A new industry standard should also include provisions to allow for the protection and ease of library e-lending. Of course, any relaxation of protection should be set against a backdrop of effective enforcement of regulations, which must be implemented to penalise unauthorized commercial distribution in order to protect rights holders’ interests.

The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) is currently developing a system that occupies ‘a middle ground between strong DRM and DRM-free’. If you are interested in vocalising your position on this issue, they are accepting comments regarding the new industry standard here. I strongly encourage you to lend your voice to this issue.


Anthem Library of the Month | STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA

© 2009 Kelly Makepeace

“During a recent trip to Melbourne, I found the State Library of Victoria a beautiful architectural environment in which to work. The Library is a lively focal point in the city for students, workers and visitors and also has in its southern wing the Wheeler Centre where regular literary events, debates and awards are held and organisations such as SPUNC, a body that represents independent publishers like Anthem Press, are based.”
—Tej P. S. Sood, Publisher and Managing Director, Anthem Press


Visit Anthem Press at New Delhi World Book Fair 2012 and other leading global book fairs this year

Every year Anthem Press exhibits at leading publishing industry fairs around the world including the Frankfurt Book Fair and London Book Fair.

We cordially invite you to visit us at one (or more!) of these fairs.

The first major book event of the year is the New Delhi World Book Fair 2012 (Pragati Maidan) and begins next weekend. You may find us in Hall 8-9 at Stalls 12-13.

The Importance of Reading Classics

Classics. They seem to be eternal. We all have read them. We all want to read more. Anthem Press will be launching its own series of Classics in 2012. Watch this space!

In the meantime, here are some takes on Classics by well-known writers…

  • “Definition of a classic: a book everyone is assumed to have read and often thinks they have.” – Alan Bennett
  • “A classic is a book that doesn’t have to be written again.” – Carl Van Doren
  • “A book is never a masterpiece: it becomes one. Genius is the talent of a dead man.” – Edmond and Jules De Goncourt
  • “A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.” – Ezra Pound
  • “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” – Italo Calvino
  • “The light that radiates from the great novels time can never dim, for human existence is perpetually being forgotten by man and thus the novelists discoveries, however old they may be, will never cease to astonish.” – Milan Kundera
  • “The classics are important not because they are old but because they are always being renewed.” – Michael Dirda
  • “When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before.” – Clifton Fadiman
  • “A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” – Mark Twain

Anthem and the History of Political Economy Project

In October 2009, The Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) was formed through a grant of $50 million from financier and philanthropist George Soros. From this cornucopia emerged INET’s Inaugural Grant Program, a bold response to the recent economic crisis. The program aims to encourage new economic thinking, and it has the drive and resources to do so. 

On 17 Novermber 2010, the Institute awarded a grant, as part of the Inaugural Grant Program, to support Sophus Reinert and Francesca Viano of Cambridge University in the creation of two book series dedicated to the publication of critical editions of major but often neglected economic texts. The series, Economic Ideas that Built America (ed. F. Viano) and Economic Ideas that Built Europe (ed. S. Reinert), are being produced through a collaboration between Anthem Press and The History of Political Economy Project and are already well underway.

Both series will be defined by high quality texts enriched with introductions, explanatory footnotes and bibliographies. The wide selection of volumes produced will grant readers the opportunity to encounter a diverse range of key historic works with an aim to refining their comprehension of economics both past and present, in keeping with INET’s chief objective – to ‘return economics to its core mission of guiding and protecting society.’