How readers experience books has changed drastically over the last 25 years. Not so long ago, copyrighted, protected content was primarily read by users in the form of physical material such as print books up to the turn of the century. However, today a large number of purely digital content is consumed via the electronic domain. And given the shift in how content is being consumed, it is likely that books would move online almost entirely sometime in this decade.
Unfortunately, ahead of this curve, unauthorized book distribution, also known as online piracy, has also followed the same path. Just as physical carriers or print books are pirated, so are ebooks – and with digital content, it is a lot quicker and cheaper to duplicate and distribute. Various channels coexist today that enable the unauthorized downloading and stealing of your creative work without your knowledge. Anyone worldwide can acquire and consume ebooks without having to pay money for them through these illegal channels. While having access to the many benefits that digital technology has to offer (cost-effective, simple to distribute, easier routes to market), authors and publishers continue to languish due to poor sales. Unauthorized downloads rip authors off and shut down their livelihoods while costing publishers billions of dollars annually.
Measures to curb online piracy
Illegal channels such as downloading, stream-ripping, and streaming from unlawful sources are done via technical devices that significantly impact the author’s or creator’s source of revenue. According to the UK Government’s Intellectual Property Office, over 17% of ebooks are consumed each year illegally.
Despite a vast arsenal of legal enforcement measures to deploy against users who illegally download and consume content, copyright holders still find it challenging to prevent online piracy. Many countries block websites that provide access to infringing material through civil or administrative measures. Infringers and platforms that deal with illegal downloading, hosting, or linking to infringed content are sent notices to remove or obstruct legal content. And in some cases, criminal measures are also enforced.
The legal and technical aspects of preventing online book privacy are complicated and fast-evolving. For instance, although taken down multiple times, persistent ebook pirate sites soon re-emerge with different domain names. A leading publisher reveals that at least 120,000 takedown notices were sent against a specific site, but it continues to pop back up again each time. Numerous organizations are now fighting to make the technology accountable to the law. For instance, the Publishers Association and The Society of Authors continue to push for legal provisions against online book piracy. At the same time, private companies also work with lawyers and law enforcement agencies to track down infringers.
A long way to go
But despite numerous legal actions, the overall effectiveness is still not visible. So even as local and national law enforcement agencies tackle online copyright infringement through enforcement measures, it does not necessarily mean that you will receive additional revenue as a copyright holder or that online piracy will be terminated entirely.
Still, all this can be exhausting for you as an author and even more overwhelming for your readers. Due to piracy driving down their sales to unsustainable levels, many authors lose their contracts, especially those who write series. On the other hand, mid-list authors barely scrape a living due to the risk of increased online piracy.
Practical and Proven: Ebook DRM
What if there is a proven and tested solution that proactively prevents online piracy from taking place? What could be the solution to shut down online book piracy, in addition to regulation, while getting readers to understand that book piracy is wrong, dishonest, and to kill the publishing industry. The answer lies in ebook DRM or digital rights management. Implementing a digital rights management system that is a systematic approach to copyright management can restrict your original works’ access and use. It prevents the unauthorized copying and redistribution of your content even and enables you to control what authorized users can do with it.
Making an ebook impossible to duplicate will ensure that fewer pirates attempt to get a hold of your creative work. Hence, with built-in protection against all functions that enable piracy, ebook DRM provides a cost-effective solution to prevent the chances of your content appearing for free on the Internet.
Besides, ebook DRM also addresses your legal rights as an author since it is established in law. So, you can pursue pirates using your licensed material illegally with a legal framework through DRM. And regardless of which digital shelf your ebooks reside on, ebook DRM solution will continue to protect your ebooks from theft and unauthorized distribution. Preventing unauthorized access to your e-book begins with proactive measures. To that end, your most effective defense against ebook piracy is ebook DRM that can give you peace of mind and legal recourse against online pirates.