Sunday, November 16, 2003

David Rothman has another great idea – an open common standard for e-books.

In my view an open standard for formatting the content of e-books almost exists. SGML is an open standard for document mark-up and XML is a more manageable implementation of SGML. A well-defined DTD might just finish the job. The Universal Consumer eBook proposal covers a lot of this ground. It also seems to me that an end-user mark-up language could be defined at the same time so that the consumer could transfer bookmarks, anchors, and notes from device to device as they move the book around. It would be then up to the technologists to make the latest gadgets handle these common mark-up standards.

What muddies the water are attempts to combine rights management (media control) with document formatting and mark-up. If rights management is needed at all it should be implemented at a separate level as a common rights management system for all digital information (text, music, video,..)

The collective rights regime calls for a common identification standard (a relatively simple goal), argues that rights control of identified products is unnecessary and predicts that the combination of these persistent identifiers and a common mark-up language will provide guarantied accessibility now and in the future.

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