DRM Protection for E-Books in PDF

Before we consider the possibility of e-Books protection against illegal copying, distribution and copyright infringement, it is necessary to understand what an e-Book is.

First, a word about files that actually are the subject matter of intellectual property. All of e-Books files are released in two formats:

  • executable file (EXE), which can be opened only on a PC running Windows.
  • file formats specially designed for all the kinds of mobile and stationary devices - PDF, ePub, fb2, and Java.

However, the last two can be removed from this list, because fb2 does not support a copy protection and was created for free distribution, and Java is an obsolete format.

PDF is the most common file format for electronic books and digital magazines. Thanks to its flexibility, this format is able to keep an original layout while opening on any device.

There are several methods to protect e-Books:

  • Set a password;
  • Copy protection via clipboard blocking;
  • Protection against printing;
  • DRM.

The first three methods are not effective separately. Therefore, we consider that the most powerful tool for PDF electronic books protection is DRM.

DRM (Digital rights management) is a class of software tools that are used to restrict or inhibit various actions with data in electronic form (copying, modify, viewing, etc.)

The basic idea of DRM is to provide a publisher or a copyright owner an opportunity to decide whom and on what conditions can be granted an access to their content and perform this decision with the help of technical means.

Many publishers have switched to this type of protection because of widespread copyright infringement and revenue losses. DRMsystem prevents copying of e-Books and/or their parts and protects them against illegal distribution and leakage.

On the other side, if a user buys an e-Book without protection, he/she may think that this eBook of little value. Then the question arises if this book is worth paying for.


How DRM works

Usually a publisher provides a special viewer to a customer, so a user doesn't feel discomfort while reading a book.

By the way, most major retailers use their own DRM-systems, except Google Play Books. This online store protects placed e-Books using Adobe Content Server.

DRM protection has some disadvantages. For example, the purchased e-Book binds to the device parameters and may have some restrictions for transferring to other devices. It makes it difficult for a user to use purchased content outside the binding object.

Publishers use DRM systems to protect e-Books in PDF file format against copying and illegal distribution, because currently there is no protection more resistant to cracking. This kind of protection works continuously unlike a simple password. Every time when you open a protected e-Book, the data of the protected document with information about the device are compared with the data that were sent to the DRM server at the first time during the activation. If the comparison is successful, DRM gives to a reader a right to use the purchased materials.


StarForce PDF DRM

StarForce Technologies has also developed its own DRM system used in several products, including StarForce Content, online service that is used by publishers to protect their electronic books against unauthorized viewing, copying and printing.

Using StarForce DRM system, a publisher can not only safely protect the intellectual property but also manage activations, collect statistics, study sale reports, monitor the spread of released materials. All these features are available in a personal StarForce's account online. Especially important thing for publishers is the ability to control the work of distributors and partners by examining the collected statistics of sales and the activations for electronic books.

The advantage of using the DRM systems is uncontested in spite of minor minuses, with which a user and a publisher may face. The application of DRM aims to maintain the balance between the classical scheme of sales and the widespread use of portable devices together with the freedom of  information access in the Internet. In the age of digital technologies it is very important to ensure the preservation of intellectual property rights to encourage authors to create new works, and publishers to search for talented writers. And StarForce Technologies, in its turn, will provide publishers and authors a higher level of income.