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Why Copyright Protection Isn’t Protecting E-Books

E-book publication is threatened by the assumed “free” nature of the internet. For individual publishers, attempting to protect their work on their own, it’s nearly impossible due to the internet constantly changing. Authors want to to be able to put their books out but manage it as well.

Effects of Piracy for the Author

 According to E-book Piracy Is Rampant And Impossible To Stop, there are situations where an individual is publishing a novel and, moments later, finds pirated copies through a mere Google search.

The Authors Guild explains “how the major contributing factor to the rise in book piracy and counterfeiting is that the law does not hold internet platforms accountable for the illegal activities that occur through their marketplaces…” The acting policy’s lack of foresight puts the burden of fighting piracy on the backs of authors.

The first suggestion is to ignore piracy altogether. Then there is the suggestion to contact the site manager directly. Dave Chesson suggests that it is easier to reach the poster of the pirated work, or the host site, rather than attempting to contact the DMCA.

The What To Do If Someone Steals Your Book offers the final suggestion to submit a formal complaint with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

For authors, the effects of e-book piracy can be devastating. As recently as July 2019, Adam Rowe on wrote about the loss of money through e-book piracy. According to U.S. Publishers Are Still Losing $300 Million Annually To E-book Piracy, “$300 million in publisher income is lost annually as a result of online piracy.” Even if an author only loses $500 to e-book piracy, that can be a month’s groceries or rent.

Protection for Authors

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was enacted in 1998, at the beginning of the digital age. DMCA is not an autonomous system, but one that authors must submit notices of piracy to, along with a host of other information. An individual contacting a government organization is hardly a drop in the water, compared to the larger corporations they deal with daily.

However, there is an organization called DMCAForce which provides anyone with the capability to be proactive about protecting their content, rather than retroactive, as with the government organization. The article mentions “unique algorithms we create a digital fingerprint of your content.”

DMCAForce is perhaps one of the most accessible forms of protection against e-book piracy. It gives the author copyright protection for up to 5 pieces of content. They also provide higher levels, of increasing prices, for individuals with more copyrighted material, or corporations.

Digimarc, founded in 1995, provides several innovative solutions for attempting to protect authors against piracy. They are well-known for their digital watermarking, along with their specific technology used to locate these watermarks. Although they are invisible to consumers, Digimarc actively searches various well-known piracy sites for these watermarks, for individuals that use their services.

However, they work for larger corporations, so they do not provide services to self-publishers. Digimarc has partnered with companies like Walmart and Rakuten OverDrive to “identify and understand emerging market needs and demonstrate immediate and sustained return on investment.” They are marketing their company of fighting piracy as a significant return on the cost of their services. Digimarc decreases the likelihood of obtaining these e-books for free, thus rerouting people from paying for them.

Kitaboo suggests that individual publishers should set up Digital Rights Management to protect their E-books. DRM “ensures that the digital documents, e-books, and web-based content protects against data leakage, theft, and misuse. It’s a data encryption method which prevents anyone from accessing content without a proper access key.”

CapLinked protects PDF’s and Microsoft Office files through their DRM’s, which blocks downloaded content behind a wall where users must sign in to view the document. The author can revoke access to downloaded materials through this service, which might help with fighting against piracy, for those who attempt to put up protected e-books on piracy sites.

Why Are These Efforts Not Working?

Piracy is evolving and refusing to truly cease-and-desist. As a result, E-book piracy is still taking up to $300 million from publishers in the United States alone.

Michael Kozlowski writes extensively on the poor job done by the government, or anti-piracy companies, attempting to fight against e-book theft. Pirates can instantly provide free downloads for books as soon as their published on the internet.

Once these downloads are found, individuals may attempt to contact the publisher, citing the copyright issue and asking for the content to be taken down. If that does not work, then the next step is to fill out government forms.

Most people wish publishers would fight harder against piracy. According to E-book Piracy is on the Rise in 2019 publishers, “take pirates to court and shut down entire sites instead of arguing over individual titles.”  Kozlowski writes about the newest form of piracy for 2019, which is mainly undetectable by traditional forms of copyright detection. The article mentions pirates “provide adverts that for a small fee can send a list of requested E-books, right to your email address” and “since there are no links to infringing content, the entire process is immune from most anti-piracy laws.”

For individual publishers, attempting to protect their work on their own, it’s nearly impossible due to the internet constantly changing.