Sony Developing New eBook DRM Platform, Exploring the Idea of Used eBooks Sales

Sony Developing New eBook DRM Platform, Exploring the Idea of Used eBooks Sales DRM Sony may have gotten out of the consumer ebook market in May of this year, but that doesn't mean they lost all interest. A new report is coming in today that, in addition to developing a new ebook DRM, Sony is looking into used ebooks.

Details are still scarce, but lesen.net reports that the new project is being developed by Sony DADC, a completely different part of Sony from the previous ebook efforts. This firm is primarily interested in DVDs and CDs (they also made LaserDiscs way back when) but Sony DADC also develops the DRM and related tech used on those physical disks, and they have recently turned their attention to ebooks.

Sony isn't sharing very many details, but they are saying that under their system, the seller will be able to transfer a sold ebook to the buyer and in the process lose access to the file. I can also report that this new DRM platform is indeed based on the work of Marlin, the cooperative DRM development group that Sony has been investing in for the past several years.

The Marlin ebook DRM platform, which I have reported on once or twice in the past, doesn't have a huge presence in the market but it has shown up here and there. The platform supports consumers lending an ebook to their friend, and it also supports library loans and on the fly renewals.

And yes, it also supports the option of reselling a used ebook.

Sony hasn't said how wide the interest is in the new DRM, but they did report that the first contracts with publishing customers have already been signed. The system is due to go live in the next 3 to 6 months.

To be honest, I think my source is overstating the possibility of used ebook sales; at this point we don't even know who is planning to adopt the DRM and to what degree it will be supported, so it's far too early to suggest that consumers will be able to resell ebooks.

eBooks are actually licensed and not sold, but it is arguably legal to sell them in the US and in parts of Europe. But since this issue hasn't been decided either in the courts or by legislators it is too early to say whether it is a practical possibility.

And then there's the question of publisher and retailer adoption, without which you have nothing to resell.

But in spite of the unanswered questions, I do expect to see this DRM platform show up here and there. FBReader announced earlier this year that they will be integrating Marlin DRM into their app. This should enable the app to support ebooks bought from ebookstores which (I assume) are working with Sony support this DRM.

I doubt Sony new DRM will supplant Adobe in the larger ebook market, but that doesn't mean it won't be used. Adobe might be the most visible DRM when it comes to Epub ebooks but they're not the only one. Kobo, Google, and Apple all use their own unique type of DRM internally, and so does Oyster, the subscription ebook service.

image by Steve A Johnson

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

12 Comments

  1. neuse river sailor30 October, 2014

    I have a long memory. I’d be very hesitant to buy a book with Sony DRM.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_copy_protection_rootkit_scandal

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder30 October, 2014

      Indeed.

      Reply
  2. Angélique30 October, 2014

    I don’t know for eBooks but in video games, when you buy a DRM-protected games you most of the time get a “non-transferable license”, as said in the EULA. I imagine it would be possible to make this license transferable: technically, it’s possible (that’s what libraries do when you borrow an eBooks). However, I’m not sure publishers would be really enthusiastic about this.
    In any case, I’m afraid a new DRM is not going to be widely supported, just like Kindle eBooks are only for Amazon eReaders and computers/tablets (if you install their app), but not competitors eReaders.

    Reply
  3. Feda30 October, 2014

    Absolute waste of resources.

    Reply
  4. TheGreatFilter31 October, 2014

    Sony are morons.

    Reply
  5. […] Sony is developing a new DRM that would allow the sale of used ebooks. […]

    Reply
  6. Deborah Smith31 October, 2014

    I’m confused. I keep being told that my ebooks should be dirt cheap because they aren’t real books — they have no physical presence. But Sony says they’re real enough to be labeled as used and resold. I feel like I’m in a Kurt Vonnegut novel.

    Reply
  7. Sony Developing New eBook DRM Platform, Exploring the Idea of Used eBooks Sales - The Digital Reader - MioBook.4 November, 2014

    […] Source: the-digital-reader.com […]

    Reply
  8. […] news of Sony's new ebook DRM plans crossed my desk in late October, I wasn't sure whether to take them seriously. The news came to me second hand and seemed focused […]

    Reply
  9. […] lose the ability to access this object until the borrower returns it or I buy a new one. Sony is rumored to have created a new DRM version that will revoke the seller’s access to the e-book once […]

    Reply
  10. […] platform also has benefits for users. Sony told me last year that consumers will be able to combine all of their ebooks on to a "common bookshelf". Library ebooks, gifted ebooks, and ebooks purchased from stores which […]

    Reply
  11. […] 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 […]

    Reply

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