The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Could Watermark Provide DRM Solution?

Publishers can’t be blamed for trying to safeguard their assets with digital rights management protection on their e-titles, particularly against large-scale file sharing.

The problem is DRM does not really deter anyone determined to share files, which led Dana Robinson, a adjunct professor of law at the University of San Diego School of Law and partner with Techlaw LLP, to propose a solution in an article for Digital Book World. His solution would be to create e-books with a watermark place throughout the book.

The e-book’s buyer would have to provide personal information for the watermark by agreeing to terms and conditions that would prohibit the resale or distribution of the title.

“The point of making a watermark that shows the user’s personal information is to create a disincentive for the user to pass the book along to unknown third parties, deputizing the user to act as a gatekeeper, protecting the book from wrongful distribution,” Robinson wrote, adding that removing the watermark could then be a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Robinson points out that his watermark solution would not prevent people from sharing their book with family or close friends, but that they’ve always done that with printed books. His watermark is aimed at individuals trying to gain financially from someone else’s work.

“What e-book publishers need is a way to distribute e-books with as little hassle as possible, while ensuring that the publisher can sue pirates and stop e-book sales, rental, and large-scale sharing,” he said.

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