Are you sure you own your ebooks?
In the COVID-19 era, digital reading exploded, and ebooks, which were once described as “disruptive,” are once again the focus of attention. Do you ever wonder if you actually own the ebooks you buy as readers or consumers? Are you able to buy them at other online stores, even Amazon-owned ones?
We must first comprehend how the digital book publishing industry functions before we can answer the million-dollar question.
First, I want to state that I am aware of everything regarding ebook development; as a publisher, I have created hundreds of ebooks. In addition to providing printed books to libraries, I converted these into ebooks and then distributed them to ebook stores. That means I’ll be able to shed some light on the situation.
Digital Rights Management (DRM) and watermarking are often used in ebook sales on platforms such as Amazon, Google Play Books, and Kobo. Though some publishers opt out of using them, this is true of most ebooks, as DRM (digital rights management) is only employed by a minority of e-publishers. You can read the article I wrote on the intricacies of ebooks and DRM, if you don’t already know about them. Alternatively, if you are in a hurry, let me summarize for you: Protection of digital content such as music, movies, ebooks, and the like, through the use of technology, is referred to as DRM.
Watermarking is a process that embeds recognizable marks in e-books to help trace the owner.
In the last decade, these two kinds of protection have become industry standards. Digital Rights Management (DRM) is most effective when used to lock down ebooks, such as ePub, so that they can not be read by anything other than the intended recipient. If the publisher decides to put DRM on their ebooks, Amazon applies DRM so that you can’t transfer DRM-protected ebooks to another platform.
“Digital rights management” (DRM) restricts the books you buy by putting limitations on your digital files. It grants you access to the content, but it does not let the raw copy to be downloaded. You don’t own the ebook since you can’t physically have the book. The license you purchased just allows you to read the materials.
The issue surrounding digital ownership began when Microsoft said it was ultimately closing its ebook store in 2019. Doesn’t it seem strange?” You pay for those books if you’re a Microsoft client. Congratulations! They’re yours. The BBC stated in a comment, “Except, I’m afraid, they were not, and they never were.”
Watermarking, sometimes known as soft or social DRM, is another name for watermarking, which employs an alternate type of technology such as a watermark or other kinds of visual branding. Your ebook is still yours, but because it is recognizable, you can’t share it on the web. Depending on how large your circle of friends is, you may or may not choose to share your mark with them. In this case, publishers would be able to figure out that you were the one who submitted the writing to them.
Protecting DRM and ebook piracy
Because of the digitization of society, piracy has never been more common. Piracy applies to ebooks as well, but it is more frequently connected with music and movies. In reality, $300 million is being lost each year by U.S. publishers due to ebook piracy. What clever readers do is employ powerful digital-rights-management (DRM) cracking programs to “crack” ebook files and earn money from them – which is unlawful.
On the other hand, while DRM is the sole effective method of protecting copyrighted materials from unlawful reproduction and distribution, it occasionally results in undesirable outcomes.
In her book The Ebook Revolution: A Primer for Librarians on the Front Lines, author Kate Sheehan referenced research to assert that DRM incentivizes the piracy of content. Another content protection company, Viaccess Ocra, also agrees. Blocking the motivation for customers to seek out pirated materials is a widely used method to deal with piracy, they write on their blog.
Discover the steps to claiming ownership of your ebooks without dealing with piracy.
DRM-free ebooks are by far the most effective method of truly owning your books. More and more small- and medium-sized independent publishers are willing to release ebooks without the mentioned technologies. Authors can also sell their ebooks through Smashwords and Kobo. Project Gutenberg releases all of its e-books with DRM-free formatting.
The aforementioned sites provide users with the ability to maintain their downloaded ebooks even after their devices have been changed or been lost. For the most part, you own your digital stuff in a real sense.
A second alternative is to avoid buying ebooks altogether, and this may not be an option for everyone. However, until we can find a new security technology that satisfies both sides, the publisher and the reader, we are unable to progress and will be trapped by the DRM of yesteryear.