Producers of digital text often try to protect their "intellectual
" using encryption
and a proprietary
reader software (like
: http://www.microsoft.com/reader). The reader program
usually lacks the ability to copy & paste
, or only allows copying &
pasting small paragraphs. Of course such protection
s are very
annoying and IMHO
, readers should have the right to circumvent
The problem will get worse the more popular ebooks become (which is
largely dependent on display quality).
What is required is a general solution that turns screen text (which
can usually only be captured into the form of bitmaps) into normal
text. While existing OCR programs like OmniPage aren't totally
helpless when confronted with text captured onscreen, they are also
not really good at it. There will be a real market for a program that
allows users to capture & recognize any kind of text from their
screens, spanning multiple pages.
Since the letters displayed on screen are usually constant in their
appearance (with the exception of ligatures), it should be pretty
trivial to write an algorithm that, when supplied with the input
bitmaps for all letters, checks their re-appearance.
There is a program called Kleptomania (http://www.structurise.com)
that currently has something like a monopoly on screen OCR, but it
really doesn't make capturing large quantities of screen text easy and
relies completely on the rendering of fonts installed on the user's
system. This is good for small chunks of text in standard fonts, but
not for something like a complete book with an encrypted font hard-coded
into the program.
Instead, the user should be required to puzzle together the alphabet
with a screen loupe and a selection tool. Whenever a letter is added
to the program's alphabet, it is marked red on screen indicating that
it is recognized. Once you have added all letters, you can start the
OCR process and, voila, out comes the text file. The alphabets could
be shared among the users.
To allow capturing multiple pages, the program would require an option
to send a keystroke or mouseclick to a window after each screen
capture, possibly with a delay to accomodate slow computers.
Once such a solution would be in place, it would be impossible to stop
readers from copying&pasting the text wherever they like.