Sunday 15 June 2008

Audio books: is there a brave new world after DRM?

Also in World Media Law Report is an analysis by Monica P McCabe and Krista Sirola (DLA Piper US LLP, New York) of the suitability of the digital rights management (DRM) model for audio books -- a genre of recorded work which consumers have so far been more reluctant to acquire via new digital technologies than sound recordings and films.

The authors note that several major US book publishers have announced that they plan to abandon DRM as their IP exploitation model in an effort to boost consumer interest and sales. Sales of audio books have continued to rise, with downloads accounting for 14% of audio book sales in 2006. However, piracy levels are substantially lower than for recorded music and movies.

Those who write the content of audio books have commented very little on the DRM issue, though they have much to gain or lose if the business model for the exploitation of that content goes wrong. In contrast with the music industry, where performers and composers may derive less income from royalties than from other revenue streams, authors’ income is typically closely tied to the number of books sold. To this end, Random House -- which is abandoning DRM for a DRM-free business model -- promises to continue offering DRM at the request of its authors. How this will work out in practice is however open to conjecture.

No comments: