Report: Apple's iPad e-book store to use DRM

Apple's iBook store may offer books that use FairPlay copy protection software, report says.

The iBook store, the marketplace for electronic books on Apple's forthcoming iPad, will sell e-books wrapped in digital rights management software, according to sources quoted in the L.A. Times. Apple phased out DRM songs from the iTunes store a year ago, but a majority of publishers are expected to use FairPlay copy protection software for their e-books.

E-books for the iPad have been the subject of debate since Steve Jobs announced the tablet in late January. First, there was the spat over e-book prices, with Apple's agency model taking Amazon by storm. Many said that Amazon's DRM was a drawback, but now reports say Apple will use similar technology for its iBook store.

The L.A. Times report quotes unnamed sources from the publishing industry saying Apple is preparing to use the FairPlay copy protection technology, previously used to protect songs in iTunes and now movies and other content, to curb piracy in the iBook store.

Apple's FairPlay system is used to restrict the number of devices that can access content you purchase; it's usually set to 5 computers, iPods or iPhones, and so on. Music from the iTunes store was the first to see this system dropped in 2009, though other types of content from the marketplace still use FairPlay.

The iBook store on the iPad will sell e-books in the ePub open standard, something that Apple has been praised for. Yet the ePub standard allows for proprietary DRM tools, such as FairPlay. And as e-books are starting to take off, wrapping them in DRM could deter some from pirating the e-books from the iPad iBook store.

The five publishers that already inked deals with Apple to sell e-books on the iPad -- Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette -- are said to have opted in for FairPlay in their e-books, the L.A. Times report implies. Some publishers though, such as O'Reilly Media, are said not to embrace FairPlay

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Daniel Ionescu

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