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DRM Books

Adobe's New Ebook DRM Will Leave Existing Users Out In the Cold Come July 304

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the remember-when-sharing-books-was-normal dept.
Nate the greatest writes "Whether it's EA and SimCity, the Sony rootkit scandal, or Ubisoft, we've all read numerous stories about companies using DRM in stupid ways that harm their customers, and now we can add Adobe to the list. Adobe has just announced a new timeline for adoption of their recently launched 'hardened' DRM, and it's going to take your breath away. In a video posted to Youtube, Adobe reps have stated that Adobe expects all of their ebook partners to start adopting the new DRM in March. This is the same DRM that was launched only a few weeks ago and is already causing problems, but that hasn't stopped Adobe. They also expect all the stores that use Adobe's DRM to sell ebooks (as well as the ebook app and ebook reader developers) to have fully adopted the new ebook DRM by July 2014. That's when Adobe plans to end support for the old DRM (which everyone is using now). Given the dozens and dozens of different ebook readers released over the past few years, including models from companies that have gone under, this is going to present a significant problem for a lot of readers. Few, if any, will be updated in time to meet Adobe's deadline, and that's going to leave many readers unable to buy DRMed ebooks."
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Adobe's New Ebook DRM Will Leave Existing Users Out In the Cold Come July

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  • good riddance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:07AM (#46148789)

    DRMed content deserves to die, as collateral damage of killing the DRM. If people stop buying it, eventually it goes away.

    • Re:good riddance (Score:5, Interesting)

      by davecb (6526) <davec-b@rogers.com> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @10:14AM (#46149251) Homepage Journal
      They're training customers to distrust them. Remember Amazon's "delete 1984" fiasco? This may be Adobe's.
      • Re:good riddance (Score:4, Informative)

        by Enry (630) <.ten.agyaw. .ta. .yrne.> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @10:53AM (#46149553) Journal

        You don't remember the fiasco all that well.

        Someone who didn't have the authority to do so uploaded the book to Amazon for publishing. Yes, Amazon could have handled the communication a bit better, but the book should have never been able to be available for Kindle from that publisher in the first place.

        • Re:good riddance (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @11:12AM (#46149765)

          The point is Amazon can delete books you purchased from devices you own, for whatever reason, without your consent. That you think the deletion in this case was justified does not make people more trusting of this Orwellian ability to make publications disappear.

          • The point is Amazon can delete books you purchased from devices you own, for whatever reason, without your consent. That you think the deletion in this case was justified does not make people more trusting of this Orwellian ability to make publications disappear.

            Apple can do the same thing. In a similar situation they didn't delete any books from users' devices but paid a fine of over $100,000 to the copyright owners. (Some poster here used that in an FSF vs. Apple thread to make claims how evil Apple is, by allowing itself being tricked by criminals, and then facing the cost instead of making the customers pay).

            I'd expect them to delete software from my device if they reasonably know that the software will hurt _me_.

            • Re:good riddance (Score:5, Informative)

              by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@worfMOSCOW.net minus city> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:11PM (#46150413)

              Apple can do the same thing. In a similar situation they didn't delete any books from users' devices but paid a fine of over $100,000 to the copyright owners. (Some poster here used that in an FSF vs. Apple thread to make claims how evil Apple is, by allowing itself being tricked by criminals, and then facing the cost instead of making the customers pay).

                I'd expect them to delete software from my device if they reasonably know that the software will hurt _me_.

              Strangely enough, Apple is probably the only company that HASN'T removed content from users. Content has been removed, and if no local copy exists, that content is gone, but if a local copy is available, it still works.

              The only known ability is Apple can disable an app through CoreLocation (i.e., the app uses location services), but they haven't demonstrated that ability, either.

              Google, Valve (Steam), Amazon, etc., have shown they can remove apps and content from user's devices and computers.

              It's strange, really. You'd think Apple would've pulled the trigger by now. Google has, many times.

        • by rts008 (812749)

          Yes, we do remember that fiasco well, and the point still stands.

          Do you think that the people that had '1984' deleted from their Kindle were aware of your little fact?
          I don't think so. To those persons, what they saw was this:
          Hey 1984...cool! pay for it(in good faith), jump through Amazon's hoops, have it deleted...WTF?

          I would say you had a point if everyone that had bought and downloaded the book KNEW that it was improper beforehand, but they didn't know.
          They purchased '1984' in good faith, jumping through

          • Re:good riddance (Score:4, Informative)

            by Enry (630) <.ten.agyaw. .ta. .yrne.> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:32PM (#46150643) Journal

            Purchasing stolen goods is a crime and the purchaser is required by law to return the stolen goods, even if they didn't know it was stolen. The users impacted by this got their money refunded and got a legal copy of the book.

            • If you are going to spout law, at least get your terms straight. Improperly applied licenses is not stealing in any sense of the word.
        • Re:good riddance (Score:4, Informative)

          by taustin (171655) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:47PM (#46150813) Homepage Journal

          You don't remember the fiasco all that well, either. The books (there were two, not one) was uploaded legally in the country in which it was uploaded (Canada, IIRC), as it was in the public domain there. It was offered for sale in the US (where it was still under copyright) by mistake - whose mistake, nobody knows - and deleted when the US copyright holder objected.

          The real point is that Amazon initially responded to criticism about Kindles being a book rental system, not a purchase system, by saying that they couldn't delete stuff remotely without your permission, then demonstrated that simply wasn't true by deleting stuff remotely without permission.

          This is, of course, a completely different situation, since this will apparently not affect books already bought on existing devices. What it will do, if this editorial rant is accurate, and we don't know that it is, is kill ebook sales until publishers agree to either go DRM free or switch to something else. And they will, when someone like Barnes & Noble says, "You know, we don't really make any money off of ebook sales anyway, so we'll just stop selling anything with DRM on it and rely on brick & mortar sales instead. That's where our profits are anyway."

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          However if this had been a mistakenly published paper book, then Amazon never have resorted to sending out strong-arm goons to yank back the books out of children's hands, instead they would have had to suck up the cost and learned a valuable lesson. Instead with DRM Amazon just pushes the "reload from last saved game" button and undoes their mistake at no cost. The fact that they could do this is a very bad thing, it does not matter if the books were incorrectly licensed or not, the ability to yank the b

      • They're training customers to sue them.

        FTFY

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:11AM (#46148803)

    There couldn't be a clearer example of why DRM on books is a bad f***ing idea.

    • by bberens (965711)
      I can reasonably see DRM on "rental" content such as Netflix or library books. However, if I purchase a digital copy of a movie from Amazon/Google I should be able to download that movie DRM free, same for books.
  • In other words... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Noryungi (70322) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:13AM (#46148811) Homepage Journal

    Hate him or love him: Richard Stallman was right! Read it and weep: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy... [gnu.org]

    The whole thing was written in 1997, for pete sake - when ebooks where still pretty much prototypes.

  • *Shrug* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by magic maverick (2615475) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:15AM (#46148825) Homepage Journal

    I don't buy DRMed shit. I do buy titles from Baen Books and Tor, but they aren't infested with digital restrictions management. If I want a title, and I can't find it from a publisher that doesn't use DRM, I just pop over to my favorite torrent website. And normally I'll find what I'm looking for. (If I don't, I'll find it at my second favorite torrent site, easy.)

    I.e. DRM doesn't work. Moreover, it has the opposite effect, rather than preventing copying, it encourages more copying!

    (I might buy DRM infested titles, if Adobe made their software work on */Linux. But probably not. But considering I don't run anything else, there is no point in my forking over money for something I can't read or use.)

    Oh, and ignoring all the above: why should I have to update the firmware or software on my ebook reader? It's an appliance. I don't expect to update the firmware on my TV, microwave or rice cooker. Why should I? It works now.

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      Oh, and ignoring all the above: why should I have to update the firmware or software on my ebook reader? It's an appliance. I don't expect to update the firmware on my TV, microwave or rice cooker. Why should I? It works now.

      Nothing is forcing you to upgrade, since you know what you are doing and can find "alternate" sources. For the millions of ebook readers that don't have a clue what they are doing and think that they must buy their ebooks from Amazon, B&N, or whatever their device is configured to u

    • Re:*Shrug* (Score:4, Interesting)

      by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:39AM (#46148987)

      I buy DRM-infested titles, but that's because the current DRM scheme can be decrypted if the provider goes belly-up or does an Amazon-style "1984" on them. I'm not interested in piracy, but I AM interested in protecting my investment.

      I don't but into the "rental" concept of book "purchases". If my bookseller starts using a DRM scheme that does not meet the criteria I just listed, they can expect me to stop buying ebooks.

    • Re:*Shrug* (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Walterk (124748) <dublet@[ ].org ['acm' in gap]> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:42AM (#46149019) Homepage Journal

      It would be useful if there was a list of retailers that sell these DRM books, so they can go on my boycott list.

      • It would be useful if there was a list of retailers that sell these DRM books, so they can go on my boycott list.

        There isn't one because it's usually the publisher who mandates it, not the retailer.

        Barnes and Noble sells ebooks from many publishers. Some, like HarperCollins-we-want-ebooks-to-wear-out are real jerks. Some, like Baen, have been DRM-free from the get-go.

        B&N generally notes on the purchase information when a publisher has requested DRM-free format. So far, however, they've not felt obliged to list whose/what DRM format the other books are in.

  • And... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:19AM (#46148847)
    The new 'hardened' DRM will be broken quickly and be of little use. If it is not broken, those who wish to pirate will get the material through other channels.

    Meanwhile, customers get alienated, pissed off, pissed on, anally probed, and money taken from them. Those that get tired of it will add to the masses that go to pirate.

    Models like Netflix, Steam, and iTunes show that light or zero DRM can work, and it allows customers easy access to products they want. You make it painful, difficult and costly, potential customers turn to other avenues. That may be forgoing that entertainment and going elsewhere, it may be pirating. The HBO/Game of Thrones model is a good example.

    I have money in my wallet. I am willing to spend it, if the price is fair, and I do not have to get butthurt for it. Provide me that opportunity and you have my money. Do not, and you will not. There will always be a portion who steal or pirate, either because they are broke, or because they can. No amount of DRM will stop that. Instead you make yourself a target for those who politically do not like your methods, break your protection/racketeering schemes then provide it to everyone.

    However here on /. I am largely preaching to the choir, so while my rant here may do little, remember this slash kiddies. Vote with your wallet, do your best NOT to support companies that do these things. Explain it to your family and peers. Even if they disagree, maybe you sparked a seed of thought that was not there before.

    • Re:And... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TWiTfan (2887093) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:44AM (#46149025)

      Models like Netflix, Steam, and iTunes show that light or zero DRM can work

      Netflix doesn't really apply here, as they're quite up-front about the fact that their streaming service is only all-you-can eat rental and that their content can disappear at any time (and frequently does). There is a big difference between that and companies that claim to sell you content that you presumably "own" into perpetuity--only for you to find out later that you were actually just renting it long-term.

  • by geogob (569250) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:20AM (#46148851)

    I'm having a hard time following the train of though behind such moves. What do they expect the people will do once they are not able to buy ebooks and read them on their device. Worse, what do they expect people will do once they actually buy ebooks and then notice they can't read them on their device due to DRM?

    It almost feels like dark scheme to push people towards piracy and undermine the profit of the compagnies. It somewhat reminded me of how Garmin handles its customer with its mapping product. I had a map installed on a handeld device and on old car device. After I bought a brand new device from that exact same company, I couldn't install the map on that new device as it was already installed on two device, one being the old car GPS replaced by the new one. The officiel support answer was "sorry, we can't help you. You can buy a new copy of the map _here_". With such a policy, they lost a good customer that was happy up to that point. I expect the ebook users to experience about the same kind of feeling being put in the situation that lays before them.

    • by davecb (6526)

      You're trying to re-use something. The (book) publisher's model is "read once and throw away". They don't care that it's not applicable to music, movies or even books other than "summer blockbusters".

      The level of willful blindness is getting a bit high (;-))

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      They just don't understand that they have to compete with piracy. They get mired in the moral issue and overlook the simple economic one: it's an alternative option that people can choose that for many forms of media is so much better in convenience and price that it's worth the vanishingly small chance of a comically inflated financial penalty. The "No You Shouldn't" blind spot is killing them.

  • foot ... aim ... fire!

    Product "upgrades" always sound compelling to software "product managers" but are always less-so to customers. The managers do not suffer the upgrade costs (which are always far greater than relicence costs, especially when backwards compatibility is not advertised).

    Any upgrade is always marginal -- the initial app solved the problem and captured most of the benefits. An upgrade hunts for scraps. Many upgrades are forced by obsolescence -- if customers could keep the old system run

  • So, we all know how well this worked out for Dmitry Sklyarov [wikipedia.org] last time. Learning how DRM is a self-defeating technology is kinda like the cycles in the fashion industry: everything old is new again. The stakes just get higher and higher with all the maximalist lobbying that goes on between each cycle.

    • DRM cannot work (Except in the USA) the logic is, here is a locked box, and here is the key, please only use the key how we say ... (in the USA it can be illegal to use the key except how specified! )

      The fashion industry is an perfect example of why copyright is not needed... there is no copyright on clothing design, yet the fashion industry still exists and makes lots of money ... but is forced to continually come up with new ideas, which because there is no copyright quickly propagate around the entire

    • by DriveDog (822962)

      Yep.

      "...we can add Adobe to the list."

      Ridiculous statement—Adobe was a charter member.

  • How much of a market share does Adobe DRM have in the eBook world? I didn't get a clear picture from any of TFA's (yep I read them) as to how prevalent this DRM is.

    But yeah, if I had an affected system I would be pissed, and rightly so.

    • by magic maverick (2615475) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:40AM (#46148993) Homepage Journal

      Adobe Digital Editions and Adobe DRM is used by virtually all publishers (that actually use DRM) and device makers except Amazon. I.e. it is everywhere (sort of like how ePub is used by virtually everyone except Amazon). But, you don't have to use it. No device that I know of requires that an ePub file has DRM.

      Two publishers in the SF/F field that don't use any DRM at all are Tor and Baen Books. Baen Books is excellent for other reasons, including their Free Library (you can download and read the first book in most of their series'). Tor is just part of one of the Big Six, and so otherwise has nothing to distinguish them from any other publisher.

    • Most of the ebook industry uses either ePub or is an Amazon Kindle, many if not most DRM on ePub is from Adobe

      Note this will also affect some unexpected devices - iPhone, iPad iPodTouch ...

    • How much of a market share does Adobe DRM have in the eBook world? I didn't get a clear picture from any of TFA's (yep I read them) as to how prevalent this DRM is.

      But yeah, if I had an affected system I would be pissed, and rightly so.

      It's a stealth thing. They provide DRM under the covers for a lot of ebooks and e-magazines, in addition to the more obvious lock on PDFs. The common ebook formats have places to plug in DRM, and thank goodness, publishers such as Baen, Tor and O'Reilly don't use them. Anybody can create and inject a DRM scheme into an eBook, but Adobe pretty much owns that market.

      Overdrive, the ebook lending service does use their DRM, and their DRM reader. The particular schem that they use not only has the text encrypted

      • by tibit (1762298)

        You'll like to hear, then, that there are multiple projects that routinely, in a fully automated fashion, photograph said library-lent ebooks and torrent them. That's my take on what's going on, at least. The so-called analog hole doesn't diminish the quality of the reconstituted digital version in any shape or form, as long as we're talking about text only, or text-with-tables. All you need is a computer-controlled SLR and a couple RC servos to push the buttons on the reader. Books are very different from

  • Unless this effects the Kindle or Nook, how many books could this even be? I wasn't even aware that Adobe HAD an ebook format. Realistically, how many books does this expiring DRM even effect, a few thousand, maybe?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Unless this effects the Kindle or Nook, how many books could this even be? I wasn't even aware that Adobe HAD an ebook format. Realistically, how many books does this expiring DRM even effect, a few thousand, maybe?

      Adobe's ebook DRM is used by OverDrive http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OverDrive,_Inc. [wikipedia.org] to let more than 27,000 public libraries and schools lend ebooks to citizens and students. They make than 1.8 million different ebooks from over 1000 publishers available to libraries and schools using this scheme.

      Adobe's termination of the existing DRM mechanism means that those thousands of schools and libraries will have to buy new ereader hardware and the students and citizens who borrow ebooks from them will have to bu

    • by xenoc_1 (140817)

      It's everything that isn't Kindle. Including the Nook, Sony, Kobo, iRiver. Everything.

    • by tazan (652775)
      I'm pretty sure Nook uses adobe.
  • Would someone knowledgeable about this—someone who can refrain from jumping on one finger-wagging bandwagon or another long enough to compose a sober paragraph—please jump in and sort out whether this is primarily a problem of older hardware not being able to handle newer publications, or of newer hardware becoming unable/unwilling to render older content?

    These are totally different things.

    This circus of layered tread marks is not shedding much light.

    • by davecb (6526)
      I read it as
      1. - old hardware being able to read old content already on the device
      2. - old hardware no longer having a source for (old format) content.
      3. - new hardware being unable to read any old content
    • by stoploss (2842505)

      This circus of layered tread marks is not shedding much light.

      Good lord, *where* do you shop for your metaphors?!

      • by eam (192101)

        There was a better metaphor, but it is DRM'd & we can't use it anymore.

    • by quixote9 (999874)
      That would be "B." Any hardware will become unable, at the software/DRM level, to render the previous content.
  • /sarcasm/ Good job Adobe. You really know how to encourage people to use your licenses legally. /sarcasm/
  • by avgjoe62 (558860) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:57AM (#46149135)

    ...that's going to leave many readers unable to buy DRMed ebooks.

    Oh no, it won't. They'll be able to buy all the DRMed books they want, just with the new DRM. And they'll have to, because they won't be able to use the old ones they purchased from a company that no longer exists. Do you think this isn't what they had in mind? You insisted on buying a copy instead of a license to use the content for a set time, so the publishers have found a way to make you pay again...

    • If you view a "purchase" of an ebook as a short term rental, and buy things you want to keep in paper, then it isn't so bad. Its deceptive advertising, but I'm OK with paying ~$10 to rent a book to read in a convenient (eg light weight) format when I'm traveling.

  • by Chas (5144) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @10:46AM (#46149505) Homepage Journal

    My company puts out gaming materials (as in tabletop, pnp). When we initially looked at putting out an ebook format ten years ago, we did look at DRM as a form of content control. At the time, though, the requirements to implement such a platform were...to be frank, ridiculous.

    So we decided to invest a little bit of trust in our community. We KNOW e-pub versions of our rulebooks and the like are shared amongst gaming groups. It's a given.
    But we've had great interaction with our player communities over the years, and they understand that if we're seeing everything popping up on BitTorrent, we have less incentive to put up new material in a timely manner.

    Now, we've had to issue a few takedown requests over the years. But only a few, and most of the stuff came down with nary a whimper. As such, we have pretty much ZERO impetus to move from standardized PDF distribution to DRM'ed versions. It's still a waste of time, effort and money. And it also would do damage to our relationship with our players.

  • I'm seeing quite a few comments about how this is really a good thing because will make customers angry about DRM, but I'm not sure. It seems to me that no-one in any of the following groups will be visibly affected:

    -Anyone who buys e-books from Amazon - they don't use Adobe
    -Anyone who uses buys books for a Nook, iDevice, Kobo, etc. using the official bookstores - they'll make sure they're in compliance because they have no choice
    -Anyone with an objection to DRM - they're presumably only buying DRM free bo

  • The only one I've looked into is the Nook, but it seems to me like it is fundamentally flawed. It has a lot of bits so it can't be brute forced. But, they use a pass phrase to generate the key. The phrase is your name and credit card number, so it's not as many bits. But if I get a hold of your Nook I can get your name from one of your screens. And the last four digits of your credit card. The first 6 digits of your card are not secret either and are determined by your bank and card company. If y

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