Wednesday, October 5, 2005

The Adobe Factor: Will Content Server's Absence Help Sun to Push its DReaM?

Preston Gralla has a nice post on TechWeb pointing out that scanned documents appearing in Yahoo's developing online archive of key library content will be displayed via PDFs, requiring dependence on Adobe's ubiquitous but sometimes troublesome Acrobat software. This limits display and use options, of course, but it also poses some broader challenges. As noted in our news analysis on this topic, effective rights management is going to be a key factor in attracting copyright holders to this and Google's library scanning efforts. Kind of strange, then, that Adobe decided earlier this year to drop support for its Content Server rights management tool, a move that sent eBooks suppliers and distributors into a scramble. There are any number of rights management suppliers that can fill this gap, but it is a reminder that many leading technology companies and publishers have failed to solve rights management issues effectively.

Interesting, then, that the announcement of Sun's software alliance with Google comes along on the heels of Yahoo's archiving announcement. The media focus on the Google/Sun alliance is mostly on Sun's Java-based OpenOffice office automation software, but let us not forget Sun's DReaM rights management project being promoted under its Open Media Commons initiative. With no widespread industry consensus on rights management standards and issues the Google contingent has just as much opportunity to solve this problem for publishers - and will have more copyrighted content ready to be exposed via such tools more quickly than Yahoo. Yahoo gains much by accommodating cautious publishing and media companies but what they don't necessarily gain is technology momentum to carry them forward to a solution to manage copyrighted content effectively on the Web. With an open and platform-less focus to its rights management solutions Sun may yet claim the day in enabling online archives to be both accessible and protected.
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