Apple to offer publishers FairPlay DRM for iPad books - report

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Apple's FairPlay digital rights management will be an option for publishers who sell e-books the iBooks application on the forthcoming multi-touch iPad, according to a new report.

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Apple will use the DRM to prevent piracy of titles sold on the multimedia device. Apple abandoned restrictive DRM for music titles last year when it removed FairPlay from the iTunes Music Store.

FairPlay restricted the number of devices that could have access to purchased content. Its use was the subject of great debate and criticism until Apple removed it in 2009.

However, while the entire music store is now DRM-free, the Apple-created FairPlay technology remains in effect for movies and TV shows purchased through iTunes. Now, similar restrictions could reportedly be extended to some e-books sold for the iPad, though the article suggested publishers will have a choice.

"No doubt some publishers, including O'Reilly Media — which has vociferously argued that digital locks are harmful to sales — will opt not to deploy FairPlay. (O'Reilly, which puts out technical books, was not on the list of five publishers during Apple's announcement of the iPad, but is discussing a deal with Apple)," the Times noted.

"But the majority of publishers are expected to embrace FairPlay, along with other copy protection software such as Adobe's Content Server 4, as a means to squelch incipient book piracy as the e-book market begins to take off."

When it introduced the iPad last month, Apple highlighted five major publishers that will offer content for the device. The iBooks application includes the iBookstore, where bestsellers are expected to be priced between $12.99 and $14.99.

The price range has been the subject of debate for publishers, who were previously unhappy with the standard $9.99 price for new hardcover bestsellers sold on the Amazon Kindle e-reader. Amazon has reluctantly agreed to publisher demands, and higher e-book prices are expected to coincide with the release of the iPad in March.