DRM for your HTML5 eBooks

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ebook publishing New developments at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) have given the green light to DRM for HTML5, along with approval from Google, Microsoft and Netflix. What does this ‘approval’ mean for digital publishers?

The W3C is an international community which works to develop agreed standards for the Internet to make it a better place by facilitating it’s “full potential” We blogged on language compliance recently about how HTML5 as a language itself was en-route for full approval by the W3C. In January of 2013 the W3C announced that HTML5 was complete.

Digital rights management (DRM) is a ‘tricky’ area if we look to Wikipedia we see a suggested definition as “With First-generation DRM software, the intent is to control copying; With Second-generation DRM, the intent is to control viewing, copying, printing and altering of works or devices. The term is also sometimes referred to as copy protection, copy prevention, and copy control, although the correctness of doing so is disputed.”

DRM as a feature of your publication may or may not actually be worth doing. The Amazon variation of .mobi files in AZW format for example are extremely difficult to add DRM to. One question a publisher might ask themselves is whether the cost of DRM is worth it. When JK Rowling launched the Pottermore.com site to launch new Harry Potter books in 2011 the content was DRM free, albeit stamped. For details on J.K. Rowling’s unique pottermore.com check out that blog here.

HTML5 flip magazine

There are (naturally) advantages and disadvantages to DRM. These have been outlined in this reelseo article the general consensus is that content which has already been paid for will now be secured potentially to those who have already paid for it. DRM also increases the cost for producers. DRM will not remove piracy either only wrapping a thin layer of security around the publications.

It appears that the focus for this round of approvals from W3C is focused more on Video than the printed word. What we do not wish to see happening is the increase of security across the web unnecessarily. Publishers are entitled to their cut of course and securing this shall always be important.

The other side of the coin is – couldn’t a traditional book always be shared? By physically passing the book from one person to another! In the console ‘wars’ Microsoft’s decision to block the sharing of games was the centre of jokes from Sony, with the eventual u-turn of the Big M. Sharing Games is a much newer experience than sharing books.

By Michael Maloney


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