back to article Apple to stick padlocks on books for iPad

Apple is dusting off FairPlay - the digital rights management used by iTunes - to protect electronic copies of books sold to iPad users. FairPlay irritated some iTunes users and was dropped for most music content last year. But when the iPad launches next month, along with the iBook store, copyrighted content will have some …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Apple playing with DRM??

    You must be joking!

  2. ShaggyDoggy


    Am I the only person thoroughly fucked off with Apple's addiction to prefix totally everthing with "i".

    It's just so 1990's.

    And I think they already used iBook, it was a laptop.

  3. LoonyPandora
    Dead Vulture

    Be Fair

    Come on Reg, at least report that the DRM is optional.

    It's up to the publishers whether they want to have their books restricted.

    1. Graham Keith Rogers

      More on DRM

      . . . and also mention the restrictions already in place with the Kindle and Sony readers, as well as those when users by via apps on the iPhone. Always a bit one-sided over at Glasshouse Street when it comes to Apple.

    2. Michael C


      Total fail on the author for not mentioning the DRM was optional for all publishers, and for selections from that publisher, and by default unless otherwise told, all works would be DRM free. The DRM is there for the paranoid publishers who think people would pirate their books so they'll actually join the service, however, small publishers, and authors against DRM, and unsigned authors (yes, you'll be able to essentially self publish, the same way small bands can get on iTunes, via an intermediary, and after spending a few bucks), likely they'll go DRM free.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Come off it

        Virtually every mainstream publisher will slather their books with DRM. Furthermore (as usual) it will be Apple's proprietary DRM so people dumb enough to buy books with it enabled can look forward to never, ever being able to view them on any non-Apple sanctioned device. I also expect that Apple will extend their ridiculous and draconian app restrictions to cover competing ebook readers & formats too.

        1. chr0m4t1c

          In what way does this make Apple special?

          As far as I can see this also applies to a number of eBook readers, most notably the Kindle. Pretty much all of the DRM systems in use today are proprietary.

          I know the Adobe system is in use by a lot of publishers, but it's still proprietary and if it bombs you'll still be in the same position a few years later when you can't access your content following some kind of upgrade.

          Your only choice at the moment is which system you want to get locked into, it's all a bit VHS/Betamax or Bluray/HD-DVD. Pick the wrong one and you're shafted.

          Yes, hate the DRM,but at least direct your anger towards the publishers as they are the ones making the decision to apply it.

    3. bygjohn

      And as for dusting off...

      "Dusting off" implies they stopped using it. Yes they did, for music, but they still use it for video and movies to pacify the paranoid publishers. So in fact what they're going to do with books is no different to what they're already doing with other media with paranoid publishers. Note that Jobs has publicly stated he doesn't like DRM and they dropped it at the first opportunity for music. Which makes them evil?

      And iBooks is going to be no different to all the other DRMed ebook platforms as others have stated.

      None of this is about Apple being uniquely evil, its all about book publishers being as stupid as the movie and music publishers before them.

  4. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge


    Isn't that word a bit of an oxymoron to describe a person who has just gone and spent $800 on a device that does less than a $400 laptop?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Ed, you're not getting the terminology here.

      Freetards like to complain about products that they will never purchase, that's the "tard" bit.

      1. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

        This was kind of my point

        Why would a freetard, who is after something for free, be complaining about the DRM on ebooks that are only available on an expensive, locked in product, which her (or she) wouldn't buy in the first place?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Fantastic! Yet another new ebook format

    This is really going to help the ebook market take off.

    1. Campbeltonian

      In a sense...

      It's not a new e-book format, it's ePub with Apple's Fairplay applied to it (as opposed to Adobe's ADEPT on many other e-readers).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I wonder...

        how many non-Apple ebook readers will support fairplay? The underlying format isn't really relevant if it is wrapped in an Apple-only DRM wrapper. Amazons Kindle format is basically the old mobipocket format wrapped in proprietary DRM.

  6. Miek

    What are the restrictions?

    Any reports of what restrictions are likely to be imposed ?

    1. John Lilburne


      If any book is found to an anti-hero called Steve your access to the book will be terminated.

  7. Julian Bond

    Music, books, videos

    DRM was killing music but we headed that one off. Now DRM is killing[1] eBooks, Videos and the mobile Apps market and it's still a rip off.

    Just say No to DRM. And if that means just saying no to Apple and Amazon then so be it.

    [1]Yes, I know the video and iPhone Apps market is not exactly dying. And I really hate the argument that "it's not Apple/Amazon's fault, they're being pushed into it by the copyright owners". Apple/Amazon are the retailer that we deal with and they're colluding in the lie that DRM works or is good for anyone.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley


      "Apple/Amazon are the retailer that we deal with and they're colluding in the lie that DRM works or is good for anyone."

      Steve Jobs has gone on public record as saying he'd rather *not* have to use DRM in his products. From Apple's perspective—they use their various 'stores' as marketing for their hardware, not as direct revenue streams—DRM costs money and has no advantages other than the purely political ones of getting publishers on-board.

      However, there is an alternative: publish directly to the store, DRM-free, and cut out the publishing middle-men. The down-side is marketing, but that's not proven quite as intractable as people first thought. (Witness the popular apps in the iPhone App Store created by one-man operations.) The Internet dramatically reduces the costs of production and distribution, so you don't *need* to sell millions of SKUs just to break even.

      The DRM imposed by the *publishers* is merely a carrot Apple are using to get them to the table and get their initial set of books out. Apple weaned music publishers off DRM in the iTunes store eventually; give them time.

  8. mark phoenix

    Fantastic - another lost opportunity

    DRM - I won't be buying any E-Books then, or an IPad

    I did'nt buy any music with DRM and I certainly won't be buying books which are only viewable on one one device. DRM is complete madness. I would advise everyone to wait until the DRM is removed. Then you can read your books on whatever device you want. ITouch, PC, IPad, ...

  9. Charles King
    Jobs Horns

    In the long run

    Of course Apple's DRM will be different to Adobe's DRM, which is different to Amazon's....

    At least when B&N decided to use a different scheme they worked with Adobe to roll it into their system and maintain compatibility. But Apple's more likely to make an iPhone running WM7 than co-operate with Adobe.

    It's this plethora of incompatible DRM schemes that led to music stores selling mp3s - so maybe in the long-run this is a good thing.

  10. REMF

    commited freetards

    "and probable fury from the committed freetards opposed to any form of content management."

    yup, that's me.

    i'll buy ebook when they will sell me them in unrestricted epub format.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Seem to be very worried about DRM. On the one hand they don't want books being pirated, but on the other they have seen what has happend to the music industry. In the long run I don't think ebooks will work for genral sale anyway.

    I can see one in the hands of every school kid and student, and being used by academics for refrence works, but for most people they fall in to one of two areas, either they buy the odd holiday book or best seller, so won't shell out £500, or even £100 on one, or they are book lovers who have an attachment to paper.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Books are already being pirated

      It's incredibly easy to obtain any book you like without any DRM and in a variety of formats. Sure the OCRing could be dodgy, but the reality is someone can grab a book for nothing in the space of a few minutes.

      If commercial ebooks is to compete with that, it had better get a clue. At the moment they are too damned expensive and DRM laden. There are too many formats too. Ebooks cost a fraction of the cost of a physical book to produce and sell and confer zero rights on "owners" who now just own a revokable licence to the content. The price needs to be cheaper, published in a common format, DRM free (or at least DRM'd to an industry standard) or ebooks will deservedly suffer to the pirates.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing link: publishers are big rights consumers

    There's a big difference between books and songs when it comes to rights, which rarely seems to get mentioned by internet commentators. While novels (like songs) are written by one author all the way through, most nonfiction books involve content drawn from lots of different sources. A reference book might be written by a couple of authors, have additional material drawn from a third, have block quotations from other sources, use photos from photo libraries, others commissioned from a photographer, illustrations from another company or organisation... and much of this content needs licensing.

    The terms on these licenses are often startlingly restrictive, because licensing an image (or indeed text) for global print and unrestricted electronic use in any number of editions is mind-bogglingly expensive and no publisher can afford it. A non-fiction publisher might privately admit they don't want the hassle and bad name DRM can cause, but have no choice because a majority of what they produce uses licensed content that won't allow them non-DRM release whether they want it or not.

    All of which is something of a nuisance, because reference books are potentially great candidates for e-books, and the iPad might even be better than an e-ink reader for that sort of content.

    1. Mike Moyle
      Thumb Up

      Well, yes...

      But if all of those evil, greedy writers, artists, and photographers weren't so foolishly fixated on actually making a living from their work then they wouldn't be imposing all of those evil licensing restrictions and it would all be unicorns and cotton candy -- didn't you know that?

      Now stop being logical on the internet, or they'll ban you!

      Seriously, though, I agree with your point; electronic versions of reference books and textbooks would be the obvious uses for something like the iPad -- I would have enjoyed not lugging around Janson's "History of Art", in my college days -- but I can see where licensing the photos from museums around the world (who count on income from sales of postcards/prints and licensed use of their collections to help cover expenses) would be... difficult... without some way of controlling re-distribution of the images.

      Still, as others have pointed out, once these books DO come out in e-versions and the sky doesn't fall on our collective heads then perhaps DRM will quietly go away on them as it largely has on music.

  13. ZenCoder


    If they want me to invest in an ebook library, I expect to still be able to access that digital library for the rest of my life.

    Given the current state of DRM that involves repurchasing everything every 3 years as my current ebook reader becomes ridiculously obsolete.

    Hopefully they will wake up and realize that even if people are dumb enough to fall for that once, they will wise up once they repurchase the same content 2 or three times.

    Then maybe they will drop the DRM, drop the proprietary formats and then I'll gladly invest in an ebook library.

  14. genericallyloud

    If it follows the pattern of music

    Then DRM seems like a necessary step to get publishers into the game. The first step is that ebooks have to take off. That won't happen unless the content is there. Content won't get there without DRM. After ebooks get as popular as music, the DRM issue will become more obvous - the same way it happened with music. The backlash will open opportunities for more non-DRM formats. At least that's one way of looking at it.

  15. Vladimir Plouzhnikov



    I'm prepared to pay for things I buy, which is what I do.

    If someone, as a "rights holder", is not prepared to sell these things to me but wants the same price for letting me look at them, sometimes, if he feels like that, from his own hands and only for as long as he feels comfortable with - well, he is not going to see MY money.

    You put DRMs (any DRMs) on stuff - you are not *selling* them, so don't complain and stop calling me names, paytard.

  16. DrXym Silver badge

    How long before...

    Someone dismantles an ereader, wires the page turning buttons to a computer, lays the ereader on a flatbed scanner and rips pristine screen grabs of every single page. So much more convenient than ripping pages out of a book - just set and go.

  17. zenkaon

    Give me a paperback any day

    I know it's all very low tech, but I like paperbacks. They feel good, don't run out of battery, it doesn't really matter if you spill tea on them and you can happily throw them at people/cats/out-of-the-window without much worry.

    I have the right to sell my paperback, I wonder if apple would offer me the same terms?

    I can also take a paperback out of my local library and return it after I've read it, I wonder if apple will let me do the same?

    I can easily lend my paperback to my mate, who can then lend it to his mate to read after he's finished. Will apple let me do this?

    I'm sure the iBook store will be very shinny, but I miss a rummage at a car boot sale

  18. ceebee

    and what about iTunes itself....

    One of the hidden restrictions apart from DRM with e-books on the iPad... is the fact that I will have to use my local iTunes store ie I cannot grab a book on sale in the US or Sweden or wherever; I am only going to be allowed whatever Mr Jobs and the publishers decide I may buy and whatever price they set for my "local" iTunes store.

    If I order a book online from one of the big book retailers, including Amazon, I pay the US or UK price plus postage. The same goes for CDs and DVDs ..despite "big content's" love of region coding and have have access to the far greater range available, particularly for DVds, in the US.

    I have far more concerns about this than DRM.

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