Intellectual property is critical to any company’s success. However, protecting that IP can be challenging, especially in an increasingly digital age. It’s easier than ever to copy and transmit content before copyright holders can respond. Digital Rights Management (DRM) software is specifically designed to solve that problem and can protect digital works such as novels, textbooks, and other content. This post examines how EditionGuard keeps your IP secure so you can focus on creating great content.

What is DRM?

DRM, or Digital Rights Management, involves various methods of protecting digital files from piracy, theft, or unauthorized access. In the publishing industry, DRM protection for e-books usually takes the form of password, watermark, and encryption-based solutions in order to protect against piracy. The level of e-book protection a publisher needs depends on the type of document being published, the intended audience, and the specific distribution channel. DRM solutions need to protect IP but must do so in a manner that is convenient and seamless for the customer. A DRM solution that completely secures content but is cumbersome and intrusive for the customer could ultimately hurt sales.

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(Source: Adobe)

What is Adobe DRM And How Does It Work?

Adobe approaches IP security with the attitude that selling e-books securely online should be easy and convenient. Whether it’s a brand name author or an up and coming writer, Adobe can support distribution with robust but easy to use software. Adobe’s DRM software is built on the industry standard Adobe Content Server technology used by major tech firms and book retailers such as Google and Barnes & Noble.

Why Adobe DRM Is The Industry Standard

The Adobe Content Server provides authors and publishers a platform to securely distribute and monetize their e-book library. Added flexibility allows for unit or subscription pricing, location-based pricing, and seamless fulfillment. Customers are authorized with customizable ID options, and publishers can make content available for specific windows of time.

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(Source: Adobe)

Cost Structure

Adobe DRM can have high start-up costs that could pose challenges for smaller firms. Those costs are detailed below:

Initial software license fee: $10,000

Annual maintenance: $1,500

Development and deployment: $5,000-$10,000

Cost per e-book download: $0.22

Adobe DRM also has a number of limitations. Users can access content on a maximum of six computers or mobile devices. If you need to reset your authorizations, you’ll have to call customer service and lose access to all devices tied to your Adobe ID.

Fortunately, there is a much more cost-effective solution to protect your content while still maintaining industry-standard security. EditionGuard allows you to securely sell your works online with Adobe DRM protection for a flat rate of as little as $120 per month. You can focus on selling your protected e-books without worrying about software installation and other technical issues. EditionGuard offers an all-in-one solution that can protect valuable content and easily integrates with your e-commerce platform through flexible APIs.

When a purchase is made, the customer is authenticated with a user ID and password. The customer can then securely access their content with virtually any internet-enabled device. Adobe DRM works behind the scenes to secure content without negatively impacting the reading experience. Adobe DRM strikes the perfect balance between protecting your content and ensuring customers can read their e-books whenever and wherever they choose.

DRM Alternatives

There are several alternatives to Adobe DRM for protecting EPUBs and PDFs. Password protection and social DRM/watermarking offer some security but have significant drawbacks. Let’s examine both of these alternatives in more detail.

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(Source: Adobe)

Password Protection

Password protection is the simplest solution to prevent unauthorized access to content. However, this solution offers no flexibility in terms of what users can access: they either have the password to access the whole file, or they don’t. In addition, password protection encryption is inferior to the industry standard. Password protection can be easily removed, often for free, using different online software tools. A more sophisticated hacker can use a brute force attack, which involves testing thousands of password combinations until the password is discovered. More complex electronic devices may have safeguards to prevent this kind of penetration attempt, but publishing applications typically are less sophisticated.

Watermarking Or “Social DRM”

Social DRM can take many forms but typically involves imprinting files with a visible (or possibly hidden) watermark. That watermark often contains the reader’s personal information, such as their name or an account number. Digital watermarking for e-books discourages unauthorized sharing, as a file containing the reader’s personal information can be easily tracked and attributed. Watermarking is prevalent in European countries such as Germany and Italy but is less commonly used in the United States. One significant exception is J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore, which uses watermarking on Harry Potter e-books. In addition, O’Reilly Media has been using watermarking to protect content for years.

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(Source: Adobe)

How Piracy Affects Authors

Piracy prevention for e-books is especially challenging. According to one study, almost 17% of online books have been pirated. Some authors have tried to combat the trend by appealing directly to readers. American author Maggie Stiefvater, who wrote the Shiver and Raven Cycle series, did just that. After her publisher decided to cut the print run of the next book in her series by half, she pleaded with fans to stop pirating her work and making it more difficult to make a living as an author. She even released a portion of her new book, The Raven King, to highlight the issue. Stiefvater had seen numerous forums where fans shared pirated PDF’s of her books. The PDF of the Raven King was merely the first four chapters and a message explaining how piracy harms her and other writers. After the message was released, the new book sold out within two days.

Some industry groups representing authors have explored new technologies to reduce piracy. The Alliance of Independent Authors is exploring using blockchain, the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies, to protect IP. A “literary blockchain” would theoretically be a digital ledger that would track an author’s intellectual property and commercial rights to a specific piece of content in real time. While the idea is in its infancy, a literary Blockchain could reduce piracy and ensure authors are paid for their work.

Publishers Are Embracing New Digital Business Models

Research suggests that illegal downloads of e-books cost publishers over $300 million each year. Part of that trend appears to be driven by the growth of digital titles, but other factors are also important. The growing prevalence of tablets and e-readers has made e-books more attractive than in recent years, further underscoring the need for better piracy prevention tools. Publishers have responded with different strategies including establishing best practices, lawsuits, and exploring new business models. The rise of Netflix, Spotify, and other modern content firms has highlighted the benefits of the subscription business model. Millennial customers are actually willing to pay for content if they pay a reasonable monthly fee for unlimited access. The New York Times and the Washington Post have seen significant revenue growth selling digital subscriptions and have successfully convinced millennials to pay for news. Rather than relying on ads or unit sales, publishers may be able to combat piracy by offering e-book subscription services that promise access to an extensive library for a monthly fee. Rather than trying to fight piracy with brute force tactics such as lawsuits and creating closed systems, adapting to changing customer tastes could eventually make piracy less attractive. In the meantime, protecting your IP with social DRM or industry-standard Adobe DRM protection from EditionGuard helps ensure that your work will not be illegally copied or distributed.

Final Thoughts

Digital piracy hurts everyone, from content creators to publishers and other distributors. Theft of film and music content is being mirrored in the publishing world, and it’s easier than ever before to share pirated content. Adobe DRM solutions are on the cutting edge of IP security software to preserve literary works and prevent piracy. Piracy is incredibly costly for content creators and investing in the right software is the best way to protect intellectual property. While there are a number of solutions available such as password protection and watermarking, those options don’t provide the same level of protection as Adobe DRM and are more easily defeated.

EditionGuard addresses these issues by making industry-standard content protection affordable for both small and established firms. Rather than pay significant upfront installation and maintenance costs, EditionGuard clients pay one low monthly fee and get industry leading content protection standards. EditionGuard allows its clients to focus on creating quality content for people all over the world to enjoy, and reap the rewards of all the hard work that went into creating and distributing it.