Blockchain technology may lead to true ebook ownership
peter.suber's bookmarks 2019-04-22
"The vast majority of publishers use DRM to encrypt their ebooks and some retailers like Amazon have their own formats. Publishers have mandated that when you purchase an ebook, you are merely licensing it. There is no true sense of ownership. This has led to a crisis in confidence in the digital format because ebook stores can go out of business, shut down their systems and anyone who purchased an ebook is out of luck. Blockchain technology might change the game when it comes to ebooks, finally giving us true ownership....
The basic concept behind today’s e-book/blockchain startups is to emulate ownership — as a practical, technical matter — more closely than existing digital content distribution systems do. The idea is to use two properties of blockchains that help facilitate digital ownership. First, blockchains are ownerless, so that a record of file ownership on a blockchain is not controlled by a central distributor such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Second, blockchains are immutable, so that if a system puts an entry on a blockchain that you own an e-book, that entry is there to stay forever, even if the vendor whose technology you used to buy the e-book goes out of business. And if you sell the e-book to someone else, another entry goes onto the blockchain that also stays there, unaltered, in perpetuity.
In other words, blockchains enable transfers of ownership that are secure and not controllable by a third party after the fact. But there are other aspects to emulating ownership, such as not being able to send copies to your million best friends or keep your own copy after you’ve alienated it. For this, DRM is necessary. ..."