How ePublishing "Should" Work

Imagine an ePub system that wasn't a tool for "digital rights management" (DRM), rather it were a tool for digital rights protection. (DRP) The difference is one of perspective, DRP is artist focused, it would allow copying and distribution but, like shareware of old, it might require payment to access all chapters or all tracks. It would be an applet that allowed a creator to drag-and-drop the work on it, enter a private key of their choosing, that would lock the work against piracy, yet allow free sharing.

How copy and paste from such might work is, a reader/viewer/listener could copy and paste passages or parts, but those copied parts would only be pastable as PNG images (in the case of text or still) or as short audio or video files appended with credit voiceover (audio) or appended with a credit clip at the end. In case of text, you could never quote less than a paragraph of text (or more than 2), the attribution and date is inherently included and it would be uneditable. In the case of audio or video media, it would be overlaid with the credit. (Subtitled for video, appended voice for audio.)

The tool to create such a document, should be end-to-end encrypted, the document itself should be an encrypted applet that runs standalone on all major platforms. iOS might be a tricky nut to crack to make this possible, such that artists don't need an Apple Developer account to have the code "signed" per creation, so maybe it's an encrypted browser document. Ugh, Javascript "wins" again, but digital rights PROTECTION as opposed to management. The artist, plus "authorware", produces a secure, standalone file that is inherently their work. No NFT, capitalist, web 3 bullshit. Democratised publication, democratised distribution, fair quoting AND free distribution.

Here's how I see it working.

  • The artist creates a work and saves their master copy as a standard file format,
  • They drop it on the "producer app", which encrypts the file and loads it into a copy of the "output applet,"
  • The "producer app" asks if they want payment (and how) for the complete work, and if so, where they want the payment break to be, then adds those details to the encryption process,
  • Finally, the "producer app" builds a universal copy of the "media app", probably as a javascript app that opens the file in a web browser,
  • The artist then distributes the "media app" however they want to, on their blog, on a fileshare, by email or txt message attachment or even sneakernet!

I'm on record as a bit of a "duino dude" but Javascript breaks my brain, so I'm probably never going to be able to create this app that builds rich media reader/player applets, but it could be done. I've seen things that come close to this, I'm pretty sure there's nothing I know about programming that would make it impossible. Anybody who can program in JS, Rust, etc want to have a crack at it?

Here are some points I'd like to see honoured in its creation...

  • The app, and any applets it creates, should be completely free and open source (FOSS),
  • Maybe it could fund the FOSS project via a strictly 10% component to the price of buying a licence to full access where the applets have paid content, this would be additional to, not from the artist's price,
  • Maybe the project could also create a completely free distribution community for artists to distribute their works, and fans could find those works. (All payment revenue generated solely from paid media applets.)
    • Somebody want to create an ethical publishing industry that empowers independents, while still being profitable as a service to artists and while being more accessible fans, without actually taking over the artist, their copyright nor denying the fans participation in sharing and distribution? Wish I had the skills to do this.

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