RH Audio Says “No Moes” to DRM

Can libraries look forward to offering downloadable audiobooks for iPods now that Random House will no longer encrypt their audios with digital rights management software? In a word, no.

In the Wall Street Journal on Monday [full article available only to WSJ subscribers], RH Audio publisher Madeline McIntosh explained why they’ve decided to abandon DRM, “If we insist on using DRM, our audiobooks can’t be sold to consumers who have iPods, unless they buy them from Audible or iTunes.”

The Journal article did not address the situation for libraries, but in a letter (posted on Corey Doctorow’s site, craphound.com) sent to agents on Thursday, RH Audio publisher McIntosh emphatically states (bold-faced items are in the original) that nothing will change in that area:

We are not making any changes at all to our library digital download program. That marketplace operates under very different conditions than retail. In the library environment, DRM is used not just to prevent copying, but also to control the limited borrowing privileges attached to the digital library edition. To be clear: all titles distributed in download form from our Books on Tape and Listening Library lists through our two existing library distribution partners, OverDrive and NetLibrary, will continue to have DRM.

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