In response to Steve Job’s “Thoughts on Music” piece, Bill McCoy of Adobe has responded with regards to ebooks. While Adobe supports DRM:

The social DRM he refers to is the practice by some of marking each copy for the purchaser:

37signals also does this with their PDF of Getting Real. The copy I purchased has my name on the bottom of each page. While likely not that hard to edit off it is a mild deterrent to some to make quick copies (email to people, etc). After all, your not going to stop the determined regardless of the copy protection you use.

I came across another company that appears to be taking this to the next level for video. The service is called Streamburst and it allows people to sell their videos online in multiple formats and DRM free. They offer Mpeg-4 versions at both high quality and portable (ipod, zune, etc) and also mobile phone versions. What’s nice is that you get them all with your purchase and you appear to be able to download them as many times as you need. Here are the formats:

And of course, since it doesn’t use traditional DRM you can play it on any platform that supports Mpeg4. I played the file I downloaded on Windows, OSX and Linux without a problem. I went ahead and bought In Search of the Valley for $8. You have the choice of using Google Checkout or Paypal at this point. Once you’ve purchased it you have access to the download which then builds a custom version of the file for you. Here’s what the building screen looks like:

And here’s the opening screen of the movie file with my name on it:

They also apparently strip out a unique series of bits from each copy of a file downloaded so as to watermark it, but it should be undetectable. Again this won’t deter the determined but is for the “casual copying”.

I think it will be interesting to see if models such as this prevail (presuming some sort of protection remains) and how or if they will handle the lending arena in libraries. Many currently depend on things blowing up after a set amount of time, but some libraries already lend things out on players and this could go a similar route.