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Protect eBooks from Piracy


February 24, 2020

Protecting ebooks from piracy is about more than just copyright infringement. As an indie author or publisher, you may already be very familiar with the frustration of book piracy. Not only does it have a financial impact with lost revenues, but there is an emotional cost for the author as well. When you pour your heart into your work and rely on book sales to keep fueling your passion, the last thing you want to have happen is for someone to steal the content and make it freely available to anyone who is unscrupulous enough to download the PDF.

Digital Publishing and Piracy

While piracy is not a new topic (we’ve all seen the FBI warnings at the beginning of DVDs), it has become more prevalent in the age of digital publishing. In the ebook industry alone, piracy accounts for losses of more than $300 million. It’s extremely difficult to get control of piracy after the fact – websites pop up and disappear, change owners, and change domains with such frequency that it could become a fulltime job to keep up. The only way to protect ebooks is to employ these recommended security measures.

Publish Your eBook in All Common Formats

One of the reasons ebook piracy happens is because an ebook is only available in a specific format. For example, it might be easy to just self-publish on Amazon, but if someone uses something other than a kindle, they may be tempted to simply download a free PDF version. By broadly publishing your ebook on a variety of platforms, including Kobo, Smashwords, etc., you can prevent theft. Even more useful is controlling sales of your ebook through your own website but offering it in a variety of different formats there.

Monitor Your Book

You can set up Google alerts to monitor mentions of your book. This is a good practice for marketing and engaging with your audience anyway, but by monitoring mentions, you’ll also know immediately if your book has been pirated. If it has been, it is worth filing a DMCA complaint. A DMCA takedown notice allows content creators or publishers to request that an ISP, web host, or other web manager removed copyrighted material. In order to initiate a DMCA request, the content creator or publisher must identify the pirated content and prove ownership. It’s advisable to take time-stamped screenshots of the pirated content to preserve evidence. The request is then sent to the service provider’s DMCA agent, which all providers must appoint and register with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Protect eBooks with Digital Rights Management (DRM)

One of the most effective ways you to protect ebooks is by using DRM to prevent the ebook from being inappropriately shared or distributed. Implementing DRM protects your ebook from being pirated. The level of e-book protection you use depends on the type of book you are publishing, your audience, and how you distribute it to readers.

Here’s a rundown of the 3 most commonly used, industry-standard DRM solutions:

Password Protection

Using various apps, such as Adobe Acrobat or the native MacOS alternative, Preview, you can password-protect your PDFs and e-pubs. There is no flexibility in terms of what users can access - they either have the password to open the file or not. This can deter users, but the encryption is less than industry-standard and can easily be removed for free using various services and solutions.

Watermarking or “Social DRM”

Social DRM is implemented in various ways but typically involves imprinting your PDF or e-pub with a visible or invisible watermark containing the user’s personal information. This discourages sharing, as a file with your personal information attached to it means any copy of it is trackable and attributable to you.

Industry-Standard DRM Protection

DRM protection with secure encryption and the versatility to control what users can and cannot do with your PDFs and e-pubs will cost you money. The security of these services relies on them constantly being one step ahead of the thousands of people attempting to decrypt their solutions for their motives, be they business or personal.

We delve further into protecting your content here.

If you are an author or publisher looking to safeguard your digital assets, get in touch with us to start a 30-day free trial. Our services are easy to integrate with your website, with the more popular e-commerce environments supported by our turnkey solution. EditionGuard offers industry-leading DRM solutions at affordable, fixed monthly installments.

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