Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Setting audiobooks free of Digital Rights Management

Good news for libraries that are weary of trying to explain the intricacies of Digital Rights Management to patrons. DRM is a digital lock that encrypts downloaded files – get more info here from Defective by Design, a group that opposes DRM. Library patrons care about DRM, as it is the reason why they can NOT download audiobooks to an iPod as a free “digital checkout” from their public library – something that, until now, only Windows-based media player owners could do.

OverDrive, the leading online distributor of audiobooks to public libraries, has announced that they are now supplying unlocked MP3 downloads of thousands of titles. Read the good news here. The MP3 titles are currently only about 15% of OverDrive’s total catalog, but the company promises that the numbers will quickly increase, as the rollout is put into place. This means that those DRM-free titles can be loaded onto any type of media player – iPod, cell phone, Creative Zen, whatever. Overdrive will also be providing the downloads through Borders, both online and in free-standing kiosks in the store. I am sure that this news will boost OverDrive’s school-focused digital book collection as well.

Kudos to the move by Random House to remove DRM from their audiobooks, along with Blackstone Audiobooks, Hachette Book Group, Books In Motion, CSA Word, Audio Evolution, Audio Realms, and others. I can’t wait until all audiobooks have been set free!

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