[aarontech] Fw: Publishers Phase Out Piracy Protection on Audio Books

  • From: "Valiant8086 \(on laptop\)" <valiant8086@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <aarontech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2008 07:39:52 -0400

This forwarded to BCT, where it was originally sent by Neil Ewers.
----- Original Message ----- From: "Neal Ewers" <neal.ewers@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: "Bct" <bct@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2008 11:07 AM
Subject: [BCT] Publishers Phase Out Piracy Protection on Audio Books


In that many of us read electronic books, I thought some may be interested
in this article.

Publishers Phase Out Piracy Protection on Audio Books

By BRAD STONE
New York Times
Published: March 3, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - Some of the largest book publishers in the world are
stripping away the anticopying software on digital downloads of audio
books.

The trend will allow consumers who download audio books to freely
transfer these digital files between devices like their computers,
iPods and cellphones - and conceivably share them with others. Dropping
copying restrictions could also allow a variety of online retailers to
start to sell audio book downloads.

The publishers hope this openness could spark renewed growth in the
audio book business, which generated
$923 million in sales last year, according to the Audio Publishers
Association.

Random House was the first to announce it was backing away from D.R.M.,
or digital rights management software, the protective wrapping placed
around digital files to make them difficult to copy. In a letter sent
to its industry partners last month, Random House, the world's largest
publisher, announced it would offer all of its audio books as
unprotected
MP3 files beginning this month, unless retail partners or authors
specified otherwise.

Penguin Group, the second-largest publisher in the United States behind
Random House, now appears set to follow suit. Dick Heffernan, publisher
of Penguin Audio, said the company would make all of its audio book
titles available for download in the MP3 format on eMusic, the Web's
second-largest digital music service after iTunes.

Penguin was initially going to join the eMusic service last fall, when
it introduced its audio books download store. But it backed off when
executives at Pearson, the London-based media company that owns
Penguin, became concerned that such a move could fuel piracy.

Mr. Heffernan said the company changed its mind partly after watching
the major music labels, like Warner Brothers and Sony BMG, abandon
D.R.M. on the digital music they sell on Amazon.com. "I'm looking at
this as a test," he said. "But I do believe the audio book market
without D.R.M. is going to be the future."

Other major book publishers seem to agree. Chris Lynch, executive vice
president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Audio, said the company
would make 150 titles available for download in an unprotected digital
format in "the next couple of months."

An executive at HarperCollins said the publisher was watching these
developments closely but was not yet ready to end D.R.M.

If the major book publishers follow music labels in abandoning
copyright protections, it could alter the balance of power in the
rapidly growing world of digital media downloads. Currently there is
only one significant provider of digital audio books: Audible, a
company in Seattle that was bought by Amazon for $300 million in
January. Audible provides Apple with the audio books on the iTunes
store.

Apple's popular iPod plays only audio books that are in Audible's
format or unprotected formats like MP3.
Book publishers do not want to make the same error originally made by
the music labels and limit consumers to a single online store to buy
digital files that will play on the iPod. Doing so would give that
single store owner - Apple - too much influence.

Turning to the unprotected MP3 format, says Madeline McIntosh, a senior
vice president at the Random House Audio Group, will enable a number of
online retailers to begin selling audio books that will work on all
digital devices.

Some bookstores are already showing interest. The Borders Group, based
in Ann Arbor, Mich., introduced an online audio book store in November
using D.R.M.
provided by Microsoft. Its books cannot be played on the iPod, a
distinction that turns off many customers.
But Pam Promer, audio book buyer for Borders, said the company welcomed
moves by the publishers and planned to begin selling MP3 downloads by
early spring.

A spokesman for Barnes & Noble said the retailer had "no plans to enter
the digital audio book market at this time."

Publishers, like the music labels and movie studios, stuck to D.R.M.
out of fear that pirated copies would diminish revenue. Random House
tested the justification for this fear when it introduced the
D.R.M.-less concept with eMusic last fall. It encoded those audio books
with a digital watermark and monitored online file sharing networks,
only to find that pirated copies of its audio books had been made from
physical CDs or D.R.M.-encoded digital downloads whose anticopying
protections were overridden.

"Our feeling is that D.R.M. is not actually doing anything to prevent
piracy," said Ms. McIntosh of Random House Audio.

Amazon and Audible would not comment on whether they would preserve
D.R.M. protections on their own audio books, citing Securities and
Exchange Commission restrictions surrounding the recent acquisition.


The trend will allow consumers who download audio books to freely
transfer these digital files between devices like their computers,
iPods and cellphones - and conceivably share them with others. Dropping
copying restrictions could also allow a variety of online retailers to
start to sell audio book downloads.

The publishers hope this openness could spark renewed growth in the
audio book business, which generated
$923 million in sales last year, according to the Audio Publishers
Association.

Random House was the first to announce it was backing away from D.R.M.,
or digital rights management software, the protective wrapping placed
around digital files to make them difficult to copy. In a letter sent
to its industry partners last month, Random House, the world's largest
publisher, announced it would offer all of its audio books as
unprotected
MP3 files beginning this month, unless retail partners or authors
specified otherwise.

Penguin Group, the second-largest publisher in the United States behind
Random House, now appears set to follow suit. Dick Heffernan, publisher
of Penguin Audio, said the company would make all of its audio book
titles available for download in the MP3 format on eMusic, the Web's
second-largest digital music service after iTunes.

Penguin was initially going to join the eMusic service last fall, when
it introduced its audio books download store. But it backed off when
executives at Pearson, the London-based media company that owns
Penguin, became concerned that such a move could fuel piracy.

Mr. Heffernan said the company changed its mind partly after watching
the major music labels, like Warner Brothers and Sony BMG, abandon
D.R.M. on the digital music they sell on Amazon.com. "I'm looking at
this as a test," he said. "But I do believe the audio book market
without D.R.M. is going to be the future."

Other major book publishers seem to agree. Chris Lynch, executive vice
president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Audio, said the company
would make 150 titles available for download in an unprotected digital
format in "the next couple of months."

An executive at HarperCollins said the publisher was watching these
developments closely but was not yet ready to end D.R.M.

If the major book publishers follow music labels in abandoning
copyright protections, it could alter the balance of power in the
rapidly growing world of digital media downloads. Currently there is
only one significant provider of digital audio books: Audible, a
company in Seattle that was bought by Amazon for $300 million in
January. Audible provides Apple with the audio books on the iTunes
store.

Apple's popular iPod plays only audio books that are in Audible's
format or unprotected formats like MP3.
Book publishers do not want to make the same error originally made by
the music labels and limit consumers to a single online store to buy
digital files that will play on the iPod. Doing so would give that
single store owner - Apple - too much influence.

Turning to the unprotected MP3 format, says Madeline McIntosh, a senior
vice president at the Random House Audio Group, will enable a number of
online retailers to begin selling audio books that will work on all
digital devices.

Some bookstores are already showing interest. The Borders Group, based
in Ann Arbor, Mich., introduced an online audio book store in November
using D.R.M.
provided by Microsoft. Its books cannot be played on the iPod, a
distinction that turns off many customers.
But Pam Promer, audio book buyer for Borders, said the company welcomed
moves by the publishers and planned to begin selling MP3 downloads by
early spring.

A spokesman for Barnes & Noble said the retailer had "no plans to enter
the digital audio book market at this time."

Publishers, like the music labels and movie studios, stuck to D.R.M.
out of fear that pirated copies would diminish revenue. Random House
tested the justification for this fear when it introduced the
D.R.M.-less concept with eMusic last fall. It encoded those audio books
with a digital watermark and monitored online file sharing networks,
only to find that pirated copies of its audio books had been made from
physical CDs or D.R.M.-encoded digital downloads whose anticopying
protections were overridden.

"Our feeling is that D.R.M. is not actually doing anything to prevent
piracy," said Ms. McIntosh of Random House Audio.

Amazon and Audible would not comment on whether they would preserve
D.R.M. protections on their own audio books, citing Securities and
Exchange Commission restrictions surrounding the recent acquisition.




Neal Ewers
Ravenswood Productions
Madison Wisconsin
Local phone: 608-277-1995
Toll Free: 888-544-8332
email: neal.ewers@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Web: http://ravenswood.org <http://ravenswood.org/>
FTP site: ftp://ftp.ravenswood.org <ftp://ftp.ravenswood.org/>
Skype name:  neal163

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