Originally Posted by Hellmark
How is the invisible watermark any different than a serial number? Your laptop has one, your cellphone, your car, your... well, pretty much everything. The manufacturer or the retailer cannot track your product via the serial number like GPS or anything, and neither can the publishers via the watermark. Nothing phones home. The only thing that happens, is that if the item turns up in the commission of a crime, the authorities can find out who the owner is, be it your gun or your ebook. If there was something reporting back, or anything like that, I'd be against it, but with this, it is something that is entirely passive and pretty much exactly like something already in wide spread use.
Nobody is going to copy your laptop and upload it to the internet. Dell are not going to lookup your serial number and take court action against your for copyright infringement.
In some cases, the retailer and manufacturer have no idea what the serial number was on the item they just sold to someone who either paid cash or they didn't track it anyway. Unless you register your laptop + serial number at a later date.
Watermarks could work fine, but copyright owners need to be reasonable in their actions when they do find an infringing copy with watermarks intact.
Only the retailer should be able to tie that watermark to an individual, copyright owners should have to go via the courts to get access to the information and to pursue the infringer and really there should be sufficient time spent making sure the infringer is not actually just a victim themselves of another. Which as has been discussed in many previous threads is not a simple exercise and without police involvement (which would mean making it a criminal offence which has even more implications) there's going to be people who just give in to the extortion letters despite having done no wrong because they can't afford to prove otherwise.
Reasonable, is something we've not seen happen in the past with people suspected of infringing. Letters/fines were sent to extort money or go to court based on nothing more than an IP appearing in a list. Innocent people (and in some cases printers) have been accused of copyright infringement.
I just hope retailers implement watermarks correctly. The information needs to be resistant to faking otherwise there's even more potential for innocent people to get mixed up in cases. By that I mean, retailers should use a salted one way hash of the order details. There should be no way you or anyone else can determine even if you knew what book I've bought, when, where, how much and even what the order number was, what hash should go into the book.