DRM / School booksales on digital editions / Opinions

This is a rant about something that’s been going on around here lately. Not necessarily criticism on our recent curriculum reform, but on our local Printing and Publishing Industry and maybe something on our Government.

<Rant>

I noticed a tweet from our local Pirate Party, about a news article on MTV3 (translation on Google Translate).

To summarize (You know, TL;DR) – essentially some local school book retailers have run out on Digital Edition books and the delivery time for new books is three weeks, just because they can’t print out codes to download books.

This is just utterly and completely fucking retarded. The reasoning behind this complete mindfuck is, that essentially you need a code to download the digital edition of the book. Well, okay, this is fine and dandy – no worries. But since the publishers use some archaic shitty technology – the codes to download the books are delivered only on paper – not on email or in any other electronic form. To top this shit all up – you can’t read the books unless you’re connected to the servers.

This is complete and utter bullshit. Not only does our local school system force High School students to buy all new books this year (because of a completely new curriculum, which I call bullshit), this electronic bullshit is years behind global technologies. Hell, I can get manufacturer made books (say, like HPE Certification Books or practically any other Certification book) in under minutes without the use of retarded codes on paper to download from publishers own servers and without the need for a constant goddamn network connection.

Jesus. And we wonder how the fuck we (as a country) get further and further away from the leading edge?

Now that our government is making (or has made) cuts on the education sector in anyways (retarded cuts, but hey – we chose our asshole politicans, right?), useful leading edge stuff like Scientific Research and education gets cut down. On Wednesday I was on our orientation class (I started Bachelor of Engineering (IT) in one of our¬†Universities on Wednesday), and we were told we’re the last class that does multi-form (or Evening studies) on our degree program, at least in this form.

Reason: Budget cuts from the government. I can only wonder how much useful, beneficial R&D gets dumped in the trashcan with these policies?

What really would benefit the government?

 

I don’t actually have an answer to this. But I do know, that cutting from the education sector as well as the R&D side make us less competitive, more stupid and soon, we’re going to be cheap labor to some country that’s on a strong economic boom.

</rant>

On to the technical wondering of this DRM.

Why on earth would a publisher want to do a constant connection a requirement for the Digital Edition of the book? Because their engineers thought it’d be a good idea.

The publisher probably didn’t want to pay for a proper DRM scheme, such as Adobe’s DRM, which could benefit them and the users. I’m thinking someone got money hungry and thought of something similar, probably a dedicated hardware (single server) that runs a web frontend. What they didn’t figure out, is that Bandwidth costs money – hardware costs money – upkeep costs money – server OS most likely costs money ¬†– and the certificate to the server costs money (Seriously, if they’re not using SSL, they’re stupid).

Now I understand if Adobe Content Server isn’t all that appealing (and stripping the DRM from ePUB-files is trivial) as such, as the software itself runs around 10k USD (single time fee), installation 5-10k USD, 1500 USD yearly maintenance and 0.22 USD per book activation (first time the book is accessed). Yeah, I can see why not do it yourself. But there are people who run this shit as a service and costs are (from what I can see from a single example) not that bad.

Easiest would be to just turn to (in this case, since this is about School books) open source educational material. Wiki-style editing, always up to date and best of all – free for all. This DRM madness we’re currently running is just an attempt from the publishing industry to make them needed. There’s no real reason anymore. The material should be written by teachers and professors. Sites like KhanAcademy help on this – hell, it even helped me on my entrance exam (which was practically all maths and an english test).

All in all – if this doesn’t change soon and people just keep bending over, nobody is going to go to school anymore. Who’s that going to benefit?

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