Digital Rights Management, EBooks High on Agenda

SAN FRANCISCO (07/26/2000) - The major topics at next month's Seybold San Francisco 2000 publishing show here will be digital rights management and electronic books, event organizers said Wednesday. Microsoft Corp. is preparing a raft of announcements both prior to and during the event, including information about its own digital rights management product, according to a company spokesman.

Taking place at the Moscone Convention Center here, the Seybold San Francisco conference is due to run from Sunday, Aug. 27 until Friday, Sept. 1, while the accompanying vendor exhibition begins Tuesday, Aug. 29 and ends Thursday, Aug.


The organizers described the upcoming event as the biggest show, conference and keynote lineup in Seybold's history, as well as 20 percent larger than last year's event.

As pointers for how the digital publishing world is changing, Gene Gable, vice president and general manager of Seybold San Francisco, highlighted two key events -- the trial of Napster Inc. for alleged copyright infringement and U.S. horror novelist Stephen King's move to the Web.

"The opening of the Napster trial could really set the tone of how the Net is used as a distribution medium," Gable said during a pre-show teleconference briefing Wednesday. Napster has been sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which alleges that Napster's free-music downloads are resulting in lost music revenue for RIAA members and infringing the members' copyrights. The two faced off in a court hearing Wednesday with the RIAA seeking an injunction to stop Napster from doing business.

The digital music and book worlds are currently substantially different, Gable said. "Music turned digital before rights management was up," whereas books in digital forms are still an evolving process and one where copyright issues are under "fairly tight control," he said. However, "we will see that changing very rapidly," Gable added.

Gable also mentioned the success Stephen King has experienced with the Web-only release of his ghost story "Riding the Bullet," bypassing traditional publishing channels. Would-be readers can download King's story from the Internet for use on their PC, PDA (personal digital assistant) or eBook. [See "Stephen King to Release Online-Only Book," March 9.]Seybold San Francisco will also feature an eBook special interest all-day event with updates on the progress of the technology, eBook "war stories" from the likes of publisher Random House and a open-microphone session where eBook publishers, buyers and sellers can all discuss pertinent issues relating to the adoption of the technology.

Keynote addresses at Seybold San Francisco will include speeches by Apple Computer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs and Eastman Kodak Co. CEO and President Daniel Carp. Dick Brass, Microsoft's vice president for technology development, will take part in a forward-looking Web publishing keynote panel titled "Visions of the Future."

In his keynote, Brass will focus on two areas -- how Microsoft's announcements at Seybold a year ago are now coming to fruition and how to protect intellectual property in terms of both copyright protection and combating piracy -- according to Mario Juarez, a Microsoft spokesman. At last year's event, Brass talked about the Microsoft Reader software, which aims to improve the readability of text on computer screen. [See "SEYBOLD: Microsoft Cleans Up On-Screen Text," Aug. 30, 1999.]Looking at protecting intellectual property, Microsoft refers to the three "Es" -- encryption, enforcement and education, Juarez said. "You will see our digital rights management software soon in the marketplace," he added. The forthcoming Microsoft product involves technology licensed from the company's partner and digital rights management specialist ContentGuard Inc.

"We will meet the needs of publishers and sellers and consumers won't mind the product," Juarez said. In April of this year, Microsoft announced an investment in ContentGuard and plans for the two companies to collaborate on technology development. [See "Microsoft Invests in Xerox E-commerce Spin-off," April 27.]Since no form of encryption can be "100-percent bulletproof," Microsoft will work in the areas of enforcement and education to throw up obstacles to piracy, Juarez said. The software giant will be making a lot of noise next month about partnerships with industry organizations to begin to build a new publishing enforcement effort, he added.

Turning to eBooks, Microsoft is actively looking at supporting operating systems and devices other than its own, according to Juarez. He added that it's up to consumers to decide whether the main form of eBook access is via handheld devices or from desktop PCs.

Seybold San Francisco will also feature a keynote panel to debate what the publishing industry will look like in 20 years time. The panelists will be John Warnock, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Adobe Systems Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. Chief Researcher John Gage, John Seely Brown, chief scientist at Xerox Corp.'s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and Paul Saffo, director of Institute For The Future.

More information about Seybold San Francisco 2000 is available via the Internet at Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or via the Internet at

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