The field of digital publishing is not well defined. Technically speaking it is the publishing of anything by digital means, whether that is film, music, sound, pictures or print. And that make it a little bit different from ebook publishing, which, by its name, suggests is just publishing books?
Of course that analysis could be rather too simple. We were told back in the 1990s that there would be a ‘blending’ of mediums, so that a book (such as an encyclopaedia) could contain a ‘much richer environment’ (cost more?) than a paper book – so graphic illustrations could move rather than be static, other illustrations could be practical (instrument sounds, animal noises and so on) and full video could be provided.
Well, today’s results are very pleasing, all considered.
But there are still gaps. eBook publishing tends to be – books. And when it comes to it, there are an enormous number of things that are digital publishing that you would not necessarily consider to be books. Analyst reports, laboratory results, healthcare reports, investment reports, training courses, workshop manuals, service manuals, consultancy studies, the list goes on.
One thing they all have in common is that, for quite different reasons, they need to be copy protected aka digital rights management (drm) protected.
The fact that something has been through digital publishing does not mean it’s a book (like What Katy Did, or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as works of fiction). And it does not mean it is for distribution to the public.
Most often, internal documentation produced by digital publishing needs to be very tightly controlled. It must be copy protected, and that means it must be DRM protected. The very last intention of the creator is to have this kind of eBook publishing on general release.
And, despite the broad principle that there are rights over published Copyright works (limited extraction, right to parody or criticize, private study) it would simply be wrong to say that any of these examples was created to allow these kinds of uses. If the automatic grant of Copyright access were true, then it would be impossible for government or industry to use digital publishing for any internal documents at all. Freedom of Information rights or not.
The fact of the matter is that not everything that is eBook publishing can be available for access by anyone and everyone. eBook publishing needs to be drm protected, and that includes ensuring that it is copy protected.
There may be technical issues where drm protected eBooks do not readily permit rights created in Copyright legislation. But that must be weighed against the harm created if one tries to deny digital publishing the right to be drm protected.
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