Microsoft fears e-book piracy

As electronic books (eBooks) really start to take off, the worries about content piracy also begin to escalate, according to Dick Brass, Microsoft's vice president of technology development. Giving a keynote address at the Seybold publishing conference this week, he characterised such piracy, which effectively takes away the ability of authors and publishers to make money on eBooks, as "screwing with the golden goose."

The easiest way to "kill" a publisher is the "casual redistribution of popular content," Brass said. "It's up to publishers and authors to determine whether they want to be distributed."

One of the features in Microsoft Reader, software that enables users to read eBooks, is a rules-based copy protection system, he explained. Authors and publishers can set limitations on the use of their eBooks, such that a reader is allowed access to a certain electronic title for a week or forever, or two readers are permitted to read the same copy of an eBook.

However, any system can be hacked into, Brass pointed out. "Reader has very strong encryption; we've been out (with the product for) three weeks, so far, so good," he said. "We aimed high -- I said I wanted one week (without being hacked) at least," he quipped.

The key to piracy prevention is to "establish an honest market first," Brass explained. "The principal mistake the music industry made was they chose not to be first" in electronic music dissemination, he said. "I think our industry (book publishing) won't make the same mistake and we will beat the pirates."

It's vital to educate the market on a massive international scale. "To a large number of people, stealing bits is not seen as stealing," Brass said. "That monstrous falsehood provides righteous justification for widespread thievery." He explained he had been stunned by the attitude of some students doing internships at Microsoft recently. "They all used Napster and said it was just sharing," he said.

Brass described the stealing of music, video, film and book content as no less an action than "interfering with the engine of progress for the twentieth first century". He had harsh words to describe those people issuing countermessages that engaging in such acts is OK -- "trust fund Marxists," who have made their money already and don't mind other folks losing out to pirates, and "digital defeatists," who believe that the technology is so far ahead of any type of regulation that it's impossible to prevent it. "I don't believe information wants to be free," Brass said. "I believe authors want to be paid."

Going hand-in-hand with an honest market and education is the need for enforcement to stress that such piracy is breaking the law, according to Brass.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Clare Haney

PC World
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?