Apple & Audiobook Firms Insist On DRM

from the this-never-ends dept

We’ve been discussing the trouble that’s been going on in the world of ebooks, as publishers are still coming to terms with the ebook era, and it seems that there are similar problems in the older world of audiobooks. TorrentFreak points us to an article by Cory Doctorow at Publisher’s Weekly, where he discusses the difficulty he has had in publishing a DRM-free audiobook. Even once his publisher got on board, there were problems. First it was with Audible, the main audiobook seller — who flat out refused. Yet on a more recent book, Audible was willing to go DRM-free, but Apple turned them down. Yes, Apple. The company that at one point claimed DRM was bad and should be ditched, and convinced the record labels to ditch DRM. Yet, as we’ve noted in the past, outside of music, Apple is still a huge DRM supporter. So it is with audiobooks apparently. When Doctorow, his publisher and Audible all told Apple they wanted to put a DRM-free copy of his audiobook in iTunes, he was told no. Other audiobook publishers are just as bad, if not worse, apparently requiring ridiculous license agreements, DRM and even software downloads. One of these days, the audiobook world is going to have to come to terms with what pretty much every other digital content provider has realized: making life more difficult for customers is not a way to succeed long term.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: apple, audible

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Apple & Audiobook Firms Insist On DRM”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

The hell?

“I came up with what I thought was an elegant solution: a benediction to the audio file: “Random House Audio and Cory Doctorow, the copyright holders to this recording, grant you permission to use this book in any way consistent with your nation’s copyright laws.” This is a good EULA, I thought, as it stands up for every word of copyright law. Random House was game, too. Audible wasn’t.”

Why the hell not?

Daemon_ZOGG (profile) says:

"Apple & Audiobook Firms Insist On DRM"

Which is why many listeners of audiobooks prefer the DRM-free Torrent networks! DRM sucks! Always has, always will. Plays on one proprietary device if your lucky, but not someone else’s brand device. Converting from one file format to another, so it works on all your other stuff? DRM proprietary hardware? I don’t think so. Sick of it. }:p
It’s DRM-free products all the way. 😉

Jim (user link) says:

Apple did not convince the majors to go DRM-free

Jobs wrote his “Thoughts on Music” missive on 2/6/07, in which he said the music biz would be better off without
DRM. EMI announced they were ditching DRM on 4/2/07. Jobs was present in London at the EMI announcement.

Things don’t happen that fast in big companies. When Jobs wrote his letter, He ALREADY KNEW what EMI was going to do. The letter was meant to PRETEND that he cared about customers.

Expect another letter at some point from Apple recommending that the movie industry ditch DRM. When that happens, you can be sure that Disney will make an announcement a month of so later. Apple uses DRM to lock competitors out and customers in. They’ll only move away from it when it suits their interests, not their customers’.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says: ?

I wonder if Cory knows about, which does offer DRM free (serialized) books, but in that case, it’s donations-driven. You get the books for free, but are encouraged to leave a donation (and 75% of that donation gets sent to the author of the book)

And as Cory releases a lot of his own book in serialized audio form already. It would be a good fit, I’d say.

BoloMKXXVIII (profile) says:


Am I missing something? Why bother to DRM an audio book? Everybody and their brother can simply record from the analog out port. If you loose a bit of fidelity, so what? It is an audio book. It matters with music, but not with someone reading aloud. Apple proved that people will pay for something they can steal if the environment is right. Adding DRM is not the right way to go. Making the process of finding the right audio book, buying it and using it at a reasonable price is the road map to success.

vastrightwing (profile) says:

Reselling content over and over and over

The answer is that DRM is NOT about preventing people from copying content. Everyone knows you can’t stop that. It’s about making copying difficult to do. It’s about controlling the media and forcing manufacturers to pay to license the format. Publishers know people can and will copy the content. DRM is intended to lock down the format so a manufacturer must pay a license in order to build a player or to sell media. The licensor can dictate what the device can and more important, can not do. For example, Sony pays to have the DVD logo on its DVD players. Sony is told what the device is allowed to do and is not allowed to do. Samsung pays Sony to display the Blu-Ray Logo and so on. Content companies want DRM so consumers will have to re-purchase the content all over again. Even though you can copy/RIP/Transcode content easily, there is a large amount of money to be made by selling the same content to people who already purchased it, if it’s easier to re-buy it again rather than transcode the content. Content publishers will never agree to have Sony/Samsung build a consumer device capable of transcoding content. Notice that eBook readers all have their own proprietary format. This is what publishers want. They don’t want hardware manufacturers building eBook readers that use plain text as a format. That would kill them. Instead, build an eBook reader with a format that won’t work with any other eBook reader. This is what publishers want. It’s a chance to resell the same book again and again.

Jerry Hall says:


Good luck donating your e-books to libraries too. That’s being killed as well. I still remember the dumbfounded looks at an e-book conference in San Diego when the industry stared at me like I was an alien.

Apparently nobody told the industry that some of us like to donate our books so others not so fortunate might have access to them.

This still needs to be addressed. We have a for-profit industry effectively cutting off a significant level of donations. What’s next, excess food being burned so we can’t feed the homeless?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...