Harper Collins is implementing digital watermarks to curb e-book piracy

Internet piracy is easy, e-book piracy is even easier because the files are so small and the publishers haven’t got round to tackling it in the same way that record companies and film studios have. Well Harper Collins is taking some steps to try and curb the problem by adding digital watermarks to its e-books.

Known as Guardian watermarking, the system adds an invisible watermark to each e-book that’s sold. By tracing the watermark present in pirateable e-books, the publishers are then able to take action against the leak and prevent it from happening again.

According to CNN:

Digimarc’s anti-piracy service then crawls the web 24×7 searching for watermarked content. When a watermark is detected, Digimarc provides the unique identifier to the publisher to match against its own transaction records. Digimarc Guardian Watermarks do not contain any personal or user information; the Digimarc Watermarks contain only anonymous digital IDs.

But unlike DRM this system has no negative impacts on the consumers who actually buy their e-books legitimately, it’s just a simple way to track down the people who are uploading the e-books to torrenting websites. Digimark itself says the watermark is incredibly difficult to remove, which likely means that a number of people will have fund different ways of removing it before the end of the month.

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Tom Pritchard