But, changing and improving is a very disruptive and complex undertaking. Many publishers understand the opportunity and need to change, but are reluctant to devote resources to it. Some take a hear-no-evil, see-no-evil attitude. Very few have fixed this in a good way, but just because it's hard to do. Many end up choosing a part of the problem that's especially worthwhile to solve.
6. What are some mistakes you see publishers make in trying to manage digital rights?
Especially in B-to-C [business-to-consumer], many publishers are on the receiving end of offers from the technology industry, and they sort of look at what vendors are offering and say 'yea' or 'nay,' as opposed to working with the vendors up front on the technology they need. I think that is a mistake.
As an example, a leading publisher in higher-ed was considering using a certain e-book technology for publishing textbooks in electronic form. The available technology allowed x number of copies for every person who purchased the book. That might be OK for trade books—an individual may want an extra copy for their handheld device or in case their PC hard drive crashes—but in the case of a class full of students, if multiple copies are available for each purchase, it could be a problem for the publisher. Every student should have to buy a copy. It is a lack of collaborative effort between vendors and publishers.
Another mistake is looking at DRM too narrowly—not managing rights in an effective way, looking at DRM as being limited to e-books.
In general, publishers need to get more strategic about technology and how it supports product development.
7. Can you manage digital rights effectively without purchasing software?
No. You need software. It doesn't mean you have to buy expensive software, but on the business side, you need a database. … You can't do it with pencils and paper, or spreadsheets. In B-to-C, not using software means not using protection against piracy. Piracy is a problem. It's an arms race between the hackers and the publishers.