Thanks to its dominance in non-Kindle ereaders Adobe is the biggest name in ebook DRM, but it's not the only name. Some niche app developers like Oyster (and even Kobo) have adopted or developed alternate DRM solutions, and now the practice has spread to two of Adobe's leading partners.
DBW has a press release up yesterday which announces that Datalogics, one of Adobe's partners, is now using Sony's proprietary DADC DRM. This follows Bluefire's adoption of the DRM late last year.
Neither company is abandoning the use of Adobe DRM; instead they are adopting Sony's DRM in niche use cases.
Bluefire, for example, is using Sony DADC DRM in its new CloudShelf "shared library" service. This is not a retail platform but instead is a way for an organization to create and manage a shared library of ebooks which can only be accessed by its members. (The service is in beta. Contact Bluefire for more info.)
Datalogics, on the other hand, is offering Sony's DRM as an option in its whitelabel Active Textbook platform. For example, this is the DRM used by iFlipd in the digital textbook rental program it launched last month. iFlipd lets students rent textbooks by the week on a rotating basis, with prices ranging from $2 to $20 a week. You can find out more on the iFlipd website.
Launched last year, Sony's DRM has any number of potential uses, including used ebook sales (assuming the publishers agree). But its chief value is that the DRM costs less to license. I was told it was considerably cheaper than Adobe's DRM costs, which effectively has a monopoly on its part of the ebook market through its lock in via its rendering engine.
Sony's DRM is obviously not compatible with Adobe's DRM, and that is going to limit its usefulness. But in cases where you can keep the content in a walled garden that will not be a problem.
image by Steve A Johnson