Berlucchi’s anti-DRM plea backed by Coates

Berlucchi’s anti-DRM plea backed by Coates

Digital Rights Management (DRM) on e-books has been labelled as “expensive” and “ineffective”, with publishers encouraged to loosen the protection, and instead create “universal e-books” that would enable e-book buyers to use digital books across different devices.

Speaking ahead of a Financial Times media conference, “The e-book (r)evolution”, Anobii chief executive Matteo Berlucchi told publishers to scale back DRM, telling them that to compete with Amazon they should replace DRM with a protection like watermarking, before the publishing industry sees a similar backlash to that seen in the music industry: “It’s more than plausible to think that e-books will follow a similar evolution to digital music. Readers expect to be able to do with e-books what they do with physical books; lend them, share them with their partner, etc. And with the e-reader market dominated by Amazon, it is becoming increasingly important for all e-book retailers to be able to sell e-books to Kindle users.” He warned: “It took five years after the launch of the iPod for music to go universal [DRM-free]. The Kindle was launched in November 2007, four-and-a-half years ago.”

Berlucchi was backed by Tim Coates, founder of Bilbary, the international online consumer site for the sale and lending of e-books. “There needs to be a constant evolution of the method of protection, and it needs to be able to protect work on any device,” he said. “We have become confused between the needs of copyright and the commercial objectives of device manufacturers.” Coates added that there was “a whole set of issues” with DRM: “Even if one accepts the need to protect the content from copying, the current standard DRM is far too expensive, and it is likely, in time, to become ineffective.” 

According to a TabTimes report from the event, Tim Hely Hutchinson, group chief executive of publisher Hachette in the UK, said e-book revenues made up 1% of its revenue in 2009, but were 10% of its total sales 2010. "We believe that some publishers are now reporting eBook sales as to contributing 30% to their annual revenue.” He added that these sales were mostly a substitute for the printed book, with the most vibrant e-book growth among children and young adults. Google’s Santiago de la Mora, meanwhile, pledged that the search giant was behind a number of initiatives to make VAT fees even across Europe by 2015.