Buying books to read and enjoy has been a centuries-old practice that continues today even in the ever-popular electronic domain. That is, until recent times. Piracy in print has been a raging issue for decades and is not so different on the Internet. With millions of people downloading copyrighted content for free from peer to peer networks, creators, producers, marketers, and distributors of ebooks continue to suffer losses each day. High-value material being distributed without acknowledging the creator or paying for their works has increased a cascade of events risking the livelihood of professionals involved in the content creation space.
A casual search of the Internet reveals how popular content titles are available for free through peer to peer programs even before they are launched or sold on the Internet.
The Role of Content
On September 23, 2004, John Malcolm made a testimony on worldwide piracy before the House Government Reform Committee. He said the copyright industries employ around 3.5% of the American workforce and create jobs at a rate faster than the rest of the economy. He also claimed that this workforce earns a greater amount of money than the agricultural, automobile and aircraft sectors.
The role of content is crucial to the economic health of national and local economies. It is also central to some of the world’s largest organizations. According to a recent study conducted by the International Intellectual Property Alliance [IIPA], copyright industries contributed approximately $800 billion or about 8% to the 2001 gross domestic product of the United States.
And while ebook creators and content providers view piracy as a major issue, the use of unlicensed content has grown tremendously in the last few years. It threatens to undermine the very basis of conventional businesses, single content providers, entrepreneurs, and even large corporations. Given the high-speed Internet connections across the world, a growing number of content providers and owners are finding it challenging to address the issue.
Before the onset of the electronic world, pirates typically served mostly local or regional markets and were engaged in the wholesale infringements of copyrighted works. But with the Internet, the distribution of infringed content works today can reach all parts of the globe, regardless of where one is located, and with great ease. And since distances and borders are no longer an issue, what can you do as an ebook creator or content provider before piracy spins irrefutably out of control?
Some of your options could include:
- Sitting back and doing nothing. A fatalistic approach that content on the Internet must be free and hence, since it cannot be stopped is one option some people choose to follow. They then look at earning revenues from other sources, such as marketing merchandise and advertising.
- Fighting back. Yet, some others opt to influence legal and regulatory authorities to fight against electronic piracy. Given the persistent efforts of content providers over the years, some prominent international treaties and conventions came to effect. These regulations protect intellectual property, unauthorized copying, and the circumvention of copyright protection devices, and illegal distribution of electronic content, thus making criminal activity punishable by law. By taking a stand to enforce reliable and consistent rules and regulations in place, you could rally like-minded content providers and ebook creators to push for stronger laws. However, they still need to be enforced somehow.
- Safeguarding and monetizing your content. Make use of the right technology to institute reliable copy protection of your ebooks. A proven and robust deterrent in that regard is ebook DRM or digital rights management. Ebook DRM allows you to specify the level of security you need to protect your ebooks including only allowing authorized users (i.e. those that have purchased) to access them and controlling how they may be used (for example whether users can copy text and images, print pages, etc.).
The above options are one or a combination of all that almost every ebook creator or content provider adopts. However, if you are a content producer or distributor, your focus would be to see that your consumer receives an ebook that is easy to read, offers choice and convenience with ease of use while perceiving the purchase of the ebook as a good deal.
The Case for Ebook DRM
Since the Internet is almost impossible to regulate, having unauthorized access to copyrighted ebooks can be challenging to control.
Among the three steps mentioned above, protecting your content through ebook DRM can work as a protective barrier for your creative property and save you time in having to enforce your copyright by legal means. In the same manner, as digital music and films are safeguarded through their own unique forms of DRM, ebook DRM stops unauthorized users from copying, printing, distributing, and downloading your ebook. This means ebook DRM can be a useful tool in protecting your revenue streams, ensuring your ebooks are purchased rather than pirated.
If you perceive ebook security only as an afterthought or overlook it altogether, you may find it a costly mistake. Ebook DRM can ensure that your customers gain access to your online works legally, while they enjoy the benefits of an instant delivery system. All the time, ensuring that you receive due credit for your hard work.