HarperCollins now uses invisible watermarks to combat ebook piracy

Brittany A. Roston - Sep 15, 2014, 8:30pm CDT
HarperCollins now uses invisible watermarks to combat ebook piracy

Battling piracy has proven difficult, but that hasn’t yet stopped companies from trying, and as such it isn’t surprising that a couple publishers have turned to a new option in an effort to pinpoint where, exactly, ebook uploads are surfacing from. Using Digimarc technology, the publishers’ ebooks will be tagged with an invisible — and traceable — watermark.

Both publisher HarperCollins and ebook distributor LibreDigital have decided to use Digimarc’s new Guardian Watermarking for Publishing technology, which, says the company, provides a unique invisible watermark that can be traced if necessary.

The new anti-piracy technology works by adding the watermark to ebooks at the time of transaction; it is compatible with PDF, EPUB, MOBI, and other popular ebook formats. Says Digimarc, its technology is “extremely difficult” to remove, giving would-be pirates a big hurdle to jump over. The customers, obviously, won’t be aware of the watermark’s existence, and it is said to take only seconds to apply to a book.

To find these digitally-stamped ebooks, Digimarc constantly crawls the Web and flags pirated content, sending a notification to the publisher. Says the maker, the information sent to the publisher is a unique identifier and not personal information. HarperCollins US is using the tech on its global catalog.


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