Adopting Digital Watermarking to Protect Books

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A growing number of publishers are looking to adopt digital watermarking technology because of the ease in which a customer would be able to upload a purchased e-book onto the tablet, e-reader or smart phone. Currently, digital watermarking is considered to becoming the de facto standard in the European publishing arena.

A social DRM or digital watermark is undetectable to the average reader because of the fundamental technology that is concealed to the naked eye. Digital watermarking handles information in two distinguishable forms: personal data about the individual who has bought the e-book (such as his email ID), or a unique identification number – that the distributor can use to search for the user or the purchased deal in a database – which is otherwise insignificant.

There are a number of technology providers in the digital watermarking field that have received the most traction from publishers and have been chosen by some reasonably large organizations. A fairly new kind of antipiracy watermarking technology for publishing not only implants an inconspicuous watermark into electronic documents but also searches the Internet for watermarked content.

When a watermark is discovered, the technology provider offers alerts the publisher so they can perform a lookup against their own transaction records. Most technology providers who offer such kind of watermarking technology do not hold any personal or user data; they contain only anonymous digital user identifications.

Publishers are seeking new ways of safeguarding their watermarking technology by turning towards specific organizations that specialize in antipiracy measurements. However, sometimes watermarking technology can go too far and inadvertently make readers feel like felons. For instance, a new bookstore that was introduced in the Netherlands that made use of the customer’s name and email address on the purchased book’s cover art, title page, bibliography, copyright page and every page of the e-book. Many users were put off by this, and so this watermarking technique had to be withdrawn.

One area that digital watermarking technology providers need to look into is to protect against small-time file sharing between friends and peer groups that could help publishers and authors and boost further sales. Although lending or sharing books has been a fundamental practice of the conventional book reading experience, it is actually a frightening scenario for publishers and authors of digital content.

Nevertheless, most publishers and digital bookstores throughout Europe have opted for watermarking technology in order to protect content and increase genuine sales. Watermarking detectors can also be integrated in scanners, printers and similar such devices. Confidential documents containing watermarks can be prevented from being copied or duplicated through these devices. For instance, watermarks can trigger actions such as do not scan or copy, when there is an attempt to replicate the watermarked content.

The information integrated in the watermark can include the recipient’s data in every copy sold, so that the data that maybe intentionally or unknowingly shared can be easily traced back to the source. Moreover, organizations can also employ the use of specific detectors and email filters to look into digital watermarks within images and documents, and warn if an attack is made on the watermarked content in the form of uploading it onto the Internet or forwarding it to an illegal entity.

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