Last week, I was privileged to attend an event in Paris sponsored by Numilog, a book content provider located in France. The event was attended by French book sellers, libraries and others considering the fate of how eBook content was to be protected going forward.
There is a growing desire by French publishers to use LCP protection, which is based off of a password key for a book. For example, you buy an eBook, you put a password on it, and it’s protected. LCP was developed by the same consortia that developed the Readium technology. And while one can truly appreciate open source, the attempt at simplification, and password access, there are some real concerns that were addressed at the Numilog event that anyone considering LCP protection should weigh carefully before moving forward.
Long term sustainability
Currently, there are a very small group of developers (less than 5) who support LCP in the world. If there is an issue, an update needed, additional market requirements, it is questionable if LCP can be guaranteed to be sustainable for the long haul.
Password hacking and sharing is a real thing
Just ask anyone who has had their computer hacked. So if LCP is based off passwords, I wonder how acceptable this protection will be to content creators.
Indemnification support is nonexistent
Suppose a store uses LCP to protect content and this content is hacked, shared, gets online, etc. If a suit is brought against a provider, who will stand up in court to defend LCP, the volunteers who make up the development committee?
PDF content is not supported
I read a stat that more than 50% of e-content in the marketplace is still in PDF format. If LCP does not support this, publishers have a lot of work to create an infrastructure that supports LCP.
Flexibility in how content can be shared is limited
Today, we are having conversations about the need for new business models for how content is shared. There is a tremendous desire to have flexibility in the way an eBook is licensed, shared, distributed, and the models keep changing. There is concern as to whether LCP can keep up with modern needs.
LCP will likely not receive international acceptance
Of course, we do not have a crystal ball, but it is unlikely that in places where there exists a litigious nature to society, LCP will be considered a serious contender for content protection due to the indemnification issues.
It lacks administrative tools providers need
LCP lacks a device administration tool, sample stores, permission administration, and distributor specific permission methodologies. This means that there is potentially more labor associated with deploying and maintaining a working solution.
So to be fair, I need to include the benefits that LCP is intended to satisfy, otherwise, you might question my motives.
It’s cheaper to license
LCP is designed as an open source method and therefore is intended to provide a cheaper means of protecting content.
Rights are easier
Everyone can make a password, remember a password, and use a password, so this is content protection for everyone.
It’s better than watermarking
A popular protection often used in Europe is watermarking content, which isn’t protection at all, but simple acknowledgment of the copyright.
There is no limit to the number of devices that a user can read the book on
Just a download and a password are all that are needed to find the book forever.
There are pros and cons to every eBook method of protection, but many folks stood up at this event to express caution regarding LCP. It is considered the lightest, most basic of protections. There was a caution that anyone considering this method should tread carefully into this, and really consider what their capital investment and business model will look like five years from now, and if LCP has a place. The speakers also discussed other content protection options, specifically Sony DADC URMS which offers strong, flexible DRM protection.