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Key words: eBook Digital Rights Management, DRM, protection, copyright, pirating, ereader, Self-Publishing, Adobe PDF, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iPad, Ron Kurtus, School for Champions. Copyright © Restrictions

eBook Digital Rights Management

by Ron Kurtus (23 August 2011)

Digital Rights Management (DRM) consists of software restrictions that limit copying, printing, and sharing of ebooks. This can include limiting the use to a certain number of e-reader devices, similar to some software licenses. DRM goes beyond copyrighting the content of your ebooks, such that they are protected from being physically copied and distributed.

DRM schemes vary with the ebook file format and device used. Using DRM may increase sales and prevent pirated copies of your ebook being distributed. However, there is a trend toward not including DRM in ebooks, since it is often unpopular with customers and can be hacked and bypassed.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.



DRM schemes

Digital Rights Management (DRM) on an ebook may prevent copying or printing parts of the ebook or preventing use on other ebook readers.

There are three major ebook formats: PDF, MOBI and EPUB. The DRM for them depends on the ebook reader, whether the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iPad, or other devices, as well as the Adobe Digital Editions software.

Note: Microsoft recently dropped support of its LIT format and the MS Reader, so it is no longer a major format and its DRM will not be discussed.

Adobe Adept DRM

Adobe has the Adept DRM, which is applied to EPUB and PDF ebooks. It is used by Adobe's Adobe Digital Editions software, Nook, Sony Reader, and other ebook readers.

PDF files may require a password if protected by DRM.

Apple Fairplay DRM

Apple uses the Fairplay DRM, which is applied to EPUBS that can only be read by Apple's iBooks app on iOS devices.

Amazon Kindle DRM

The Kindle can read MOBI and PDF files with various DRM applied. For a while Amazon required DRM on their ebooks, but they not sell many ebooks without DRM.

Opinion in favor of DRM

The main argument to include DRM is so that you will not lose sales due to pirated copies of your ebook. While a copyright or warnings can discourage illegal use of your material, DRM can actually prevent someone from printing out your works or giving others free copies of your ebook.

The ebook version of a best-selling title may be readily pirated and shared or even sold without DRM. Thus, it is certainly worthwhile to include the protection. However, it is questionable whether a person could find pirated versions of less popular ebooks, unless from a friend.

Opinion against DRM

One argument against including DRM in your ebooks is that it is unpopular with customers. In fact, many people will not buy an ebook if it includes DRM because of the hassles involved.

Also, some ebooks include links to the author's and publisher's websites, as well as links to products and services offered. If the strategy for the ebook is to get people to purchase other products or services, DRM is not used.

Instead of actually preventing printing or distribution of an ebook, some authors simply include a note saying something like, "You MAY NOT resell or redistribute any of these materials." However, that probably won't stop those inclined to do so.

Finally, there are legal tools that allow people to remove DRM from ebooks that they purchased. In that case, adding something that may discourage some people from purchasing, while others can still make copies, can be a futile exercise.

Note: My personal view is that it is not worth the trouble. I want as many people as possible to access my ebooks, even though I may miss some sales.

Summary

Digital Rights Management (DRM) consists of software restrictions that limit copying, printing, and sharing of ebooks.

DRM schemes vary with the ebook file format and device used. Using DRM may increase sales and prevent pirated copies of your ebook being distributed. However, there is a trend toward not including DRM in ebooks, since it is often unpopular with customers and can be hacked and bypassed.


Be honest in your actions


Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials

Websites

Digital rights management - Wikipedia

eBooks and Digital Rights Management (DRM), for ePublishers - TinHat.com commentary

The end in sight for ebook DRM? - From FutureBook

Inhibiting "Sharing" of eBooks - Opinions of subject from SpeakerNetNews

Publishing Resources

Books

Top-rated books on Self-Publishing


Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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Self-Publishing topics

eBook Digital Rights Management




Self-Publishing topics

Organize business

Decide to start business

Organize business

Printing preparations

Printing

Sell books

ePublishing

Prepare to market

Convert format

Check Copy in eReader

Submit

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