Bill Rosenblatt has been dealing in digital rights management (DRM) since before DRM even had a name. He has helped develop industry DRM standards, he has penned a book called "Digital Rights Management: Business and Technology," and he edits the newsletter DRM Watch (www.DRMWatch.com). For him, DRM isn't only about protecting online content from piracy, it's a way of doing business in today's digital marketplace.
Rosenblatt spent some time answering some of our questions about DRM and how it can impact your future.
1. In today's marketplace, what does digital rights management involve and why is it important to book publishers?
There are three definitions of DRM that are used. The narrowest is protecting content to prevent piracy. The slightly broader definition would be protecting content to support online business models that would otherwise create opportunities for misuse of copyright. The difference is in whether we are doing this to put our existing content online or to create new business models online, as far as repackaging and delivering. The latter is much more useful.
The third and broadest definition has to do with, instead of 'digital rights management,' more a 'digital management of rights.' It's about creating databases of rights you have to your content so you can automate rights processes, such as granting rights, as a revenue possibility.
You could derive revenue from your titles in an automated way rather than what was traditionally confined to trade shows, phone calls, and that kind of thing. If you have [your rights] organized in a certain way, you can make them easily accessible and can automate the purchasing of [them]. There are entire online businesses that do this, like RightsCenter, which is an online exchange for book rights—things like language-translation rights and foreign redistribution rights.
2. Wouldn't DRM that is used to protect online content really be a separate issue from selling the rights to content and developing new online business models?