Apple Set to Deploy FairPlay Digital Rights Management on iPad eBooks?

The Los Angeles Times reports that Apple is planning to bring back its FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) technology for use on eBooks made available through its iBookstore for the iPad.

Veteran iTunes customers will recognize the locks as FairPlay, a digital rights management software that once limited how many times digital songs can be copied onto different computers. (Apple phased out FairPlay a year ago, and now sells unfettered tunes.)

Next month, Apple will be dusting off those digital cuffs for books, according to sources in the publishing industry.

According to the report, many but not all publishers are likely to take advantage of the FairPlay technology in order to combat piracy of their content. O'Reilly Media, publisher of technical books and an outspoken critic of DRM, is one publisher likely to eschew such an implementation. Apple has remained silent about its DRM plans for its eBook content, although it is clear that control over content usage is highly desired by most publishers.

Apple's iBooks application and iBookstore will take advantage of the open EPUB standard for electronic books, but such files can also include a wrapper such as FairPlay to restrict usage of the material. Adobe has also deployed a DRM solution for EPUB content known as Content Server, but Adobe's and Apple's solutions would not be compatible with each other, allowing Apple to pursue its own integrated eBook ecosystem much as it did with FairPlay-wrapped iTunes music and the iPod before making the shift to DRM-free music last year. FairPlay continues to be used, however, on TV show and movie content available through the iTunes Store.

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