Saturday, September 14, 2013

BPN 1660: Every Dutch e-book buyer is a potential pirate


Dutch book publishers fear for piracy. Lagging behind the music, movie and game industries, it thinks that it will be able to eradicate e-book piracy. From now on, the data of every buyer of e-books with a watermark will be registered and kept in a database for at least two years. The watermark will have the name of the buyer on every page and a few invisible marks.

The Dutch entertainment police BREIN has made it mandatory for internet booksellers and book distributors, using the distribution platform eBoekhuis of CB , formerly Central Book House, to register e-book customer data  and to provide those to the foundation BREIN, when asked for. The booksellers in the Netherlands and Belgium will have to retain the data for two years.

Recently, a large number of Dutch e-book publishers disbanded DRM , the lock on e - books. They were convinced that the DRM lock hindered selling e - books hinders. E-books could not be copied to multiple devices. With a watermark in Adobe EPUB and PDF formats , distribution over more than one platform is possible. Through the watermark the book can be traced back to the original buyer, who does not need to be the uploader. The 2,500 participating booksellers in the Netherlands and Belgium are required to sign an agreement with the foundation BREIN to exchange the data in case of abuse .

This obligation seems to conflict with the privacy of the e-book buyer. BREIN says it will not chase private uploaders, but it will go after identifying (commercial) uploaders of particular torrent sites.
MP Astrid Oosenbrug of the Dutch Labour Party has asked parliamentary questions to the Minister of Security and Justice whether e-book shops are allowed to register personal data and keep these data for at least two years .

Doubts about the BREIN method
In the Dutch language book publishing world there is doubt as to the method BRAIN wants to apply . The largest e-book webshop Bol.com has already indicated is not sign the agreement. Academic publisher Springer SBM states that illegal copying and distribution of e – book, has not affected  sales. Also General publisher Meulenhoff Boekerij does not believe that  watermarking will eliminate piracy, but it may help to reduce piracy . On Tweakers.net a publisher of Meulenhoff Boekerij says: " Piracy often arises from dissatisfaction. You need to offer the buyer a good price and no hassle" .

The question is now whether the watermark , registration and data retention will deter pirates from copying and distributing. The e-book buyers , who have paid for an e - book copy , will not easily pass the book for duplication. In addition, most online webstores store purchases in personal libraries for the reader in case of loss.

The question is now whether e-book buyers will shy away from a purchase due to the registration and data retention. For now every Dutch buyer of a watermarked e-book  is a potential pirate. Besides you can wait for it: one day in the near future a collection of personal data  of buyers of a watermarked e-book will be found in a street on the street, just as happens to government and banking data.

1 comment:

Almansi said...

As a 60+ female digital immigrant not particularly into piracy nor tech, whenever I come across a thusly watermarked e-text:

1) if the text is copiable, I copy it, save it as .txt, edit out the bits about the watermark, then reformat it;

2) if the text is not copiable, I make screenshots of it, OCR the screenshots to get a .txt version, then as in 1.

Then, more often than not, I just delete my watermark-less version after reading it, to save space on my hard disk. However, were I piratesquely inclined, I could share it.

About OCR (optical character recognition): though state-of-the-art OCR necessitates fairly expensive desktop software, there are now perfectly decent, for free, online OCR apps. newocr, for instance, also offers Dutch as recognition language (among many other ones).