A confrontational panel on digital copyright protection, the "failure" of Web business models and the surging importance of print-on-demand were just a few of the highlight topics at the Text One Zero digital book publishing conference held in Brooklyn, N.Y., last week.
In a panel on digital rights management and piracy, Pat Schroeder, president of the Association of American Publishers, found herself on the opposing side of critics of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which prohibits removing encryption protection from digital content. Schroeder elicited a hiss or two from the audience when she noted AAP's support for the DMCA and for tight DRM restrictions in general.
Jim Griffin, CEO of Cherry Lane Digital, a firm specializing in digital music delivery, argued against any DRM restrictions, noting that publishing has been transformed from "a product to a service. It's not about controlling products, but growing your audience." Griffin said, "Persuasion works better than coercion. We make more money when our content is out of our control." Panelists continued to hector Schroeder about the DMCA, calling it "flawed" and "unconstitutional," or offered their own version of a DRM-less future, where digital content is easily passed between consumers, generating interest and lots of new revenues.
But Schroeder was unconvinced. She acknowledged that "some publishers will need tighter DRM than others," while emphasizing that publishers, not pirates, will decide what business model to use. "How else do you protect intellectual property? Publishers are the stewards of authors' rights," said Schroeder, over the shouts of an argumentative fellow in the first row. "There will be many business models," she said, "but publishers will decide what works for each of their products."
For more coverage of Text One Zero's conference, see E-publishing, June 4.