Protecting E-books: Looking at Realistic Answers

The market for e-books is growing exponentially. Since it first became popular in 2008, the e-book market grew by more than 1000% in 2010 and by more than 500% from 2010 to 2013. While the combined categories of print books declined by over 25%, over the same period of time, sales figures reveal that e-book sales in the month of January 2011 alone increased by over 170%!

locks

This poses a huge dilemma for publishers: how can the distribution of e-books continue to rise, while preventing them from being spread illegally by the customer? How can e-books be protected with effective Digital Rights Management, while not enclosing users in trapped and closed arrangements of specialized reading tools?

If publishers choose to immobilize e-book publications within a claustrophobic ecosystem, doing so will not only rile the customer but also spread negative publicity, thus hampering the popularity and sales of the books.

In addition to incorporating Digital Rights Management in e-books, it is also imperative that publishers look for legal executions against the forces that promote e-book file sharing. Legal experts suggest a blend of existing DMCA rules, along with document DRM to render a degree of protective covering that is minimally needed to impose against pre-owned e-book stores, resellers and libraries.

Currently publishers employ heavy DRM in the e-book market that has helped to a certain extent in preventing the distribution of the books openly. Along with existing legal mechanisms, even clever copyright breakers will find it almost impossible to indulge in widespread distribution.

The answer to publishers’ dilemma maybe thus: e-books may be created in the format of the publisher’s choice (PDF, epub etc.), with watermarks located arbitrarily throughout the book – both noticeable and concealed. The watermark would hold the personal details of the buyer who purchased the book with a legal caution not to resell or circulate the book in any way. The buyer who has bought such an e-book would have to accept the terms and conditions that would forbid the circulation and replication of the book, along with a message that the buyer’s personal details would be conspicuously exposed on the book as a warning against circulating or replicating in infringement of the arrangement.

The idea of placing a watermark that captures the buyer’s personal details is to initiate a deterrent for the buyer from transferring the book to unidentified arbitrators, thus appointing the buyer to function as a ‘door’ guard, warding the book from unlawful circulation. If the buyer attempts to remove the watermark from the document, it becomes an infringement of the DMCA laws.

The publisher could also embed serial numbers of the e-book and publisher information within the watermark. This could further provide an additional blanket of security to the wrongful circulation of the e-book, as it falls under the DMCA laws wherein removing publisher information is prohibited.

This form ofEnterprise PDF DRMis not only unique but also strengthens the protection of the PDF document. What is of prominent importance to the e-book publisher is that there should be a way of distributing e-books with as little obstruction as possible, while ensuring that publishers can institute legal proceedings against pirates and prevent the unlawful resale, illegal rental and file sharing of e-books. Implementing DRM along with DMCA laws is one way e-book publishers can help in unlawful dissemination of their e-books.