The German book / ebook distributor BooksonDemand (BoD) announced on Thursday that they were adding new DRM options. Authors who distribute ebooks through BoD can now choose to either use encryption DRM, digital watermarks, or release their works with no DRM at all.
BoD had previously offered two options, either encryption DRM (like Adobe or Amazon) or no DRM, but now authors have the option of splitting the difference between DRM-free (no protection against piracy) and "hard" DRM (onerous, but ineffective protection).
A digital watermark is a tiny bit of unique code that is added to a copy of a file when it is (ideally) sold to a customer. The code doesn't impact the reading experience, and it can be used to identify the customer who bought the file should it turn up on a pirate service.
BoD is not the first ebook distributor to offer digital watermarks as an option; that title should go to CB Logistics, a Dutch company.
Digital watermarks are quite commonly used in music sales, and they're growing increasingly common in ebooks. Recently Holtzbrinck and Bonnier decided to opt for the lighter form of DRM, and they are rather late to the game. Watermarks are already the most common form of DRM used on Epubs in the Dutch ebook market, and we have seen publishers and retailers adopt it in growing numbers since Pottermore popularized the idea in 2012.
Still, digital watermarks are the exception and not the rule in many markets. For example, encryption DRM is still the more common type of DRM used in the US.
image by ActuaLitté