HarperCollins dashed my hopes today when they announced that they were spending even more on DRM. This publisher isn’t just using DRM to try to lock down consumer copies; they’ve expanded the idea with the false hope that they can use digital watermark DRM to make their supply chain more secure.
Although the system is capable of identifying consumers who download e-books illegally, HC is using it to make sure that its e-tailers “are using the highest degree of security possible,”Restivo-Alessi said. If the Guardian Watermarking finds e-books that are being downloaded illegally, they will ask that e-tailer to either upgrade their security efforts or risk being dropped as an account, Restivo-Alessi added.
The addition of the watermarking initiative to regular DRM efforts “is another control we have in the digital supply chain to assure authors we are doing all we can to protect their content,”Restivo-Alessi said. HC has been aggressively growing its sales of e-books overseas and just last week signed an agreement with JD.com to sell e-books in China.
This story came across my desk a couple weeks ago as an embargoed press release. I’ve had some time to think about it and I have to wonder exactly what HarperCollins is trying to accomplish here.
On the face of it, I don’t see what HarperCollins will gain from knowing which ebook retailer was the seller of a pirated ebook. The most they can do is either demand the retailer use an industry standard DRM or be cut off.
But what if HC finds a pirated ebook and tracks it back to a retailer which is already using an industry standard DRM? What then?
All of the common types of encryption DRM, from Kindle to Adobe DE, have been hacked already, and adopting one of the uncommon types would likely cost a retailer a lot of money and customers.
This leads me to wonder if perhaps HarperCollins is going to start forcing ebook retailers to also adopt digital watermark DRM on top of the Adobe DRM.
I frankly don’t see what else HC will be driving for, do you?
Or is there something I missed?