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View Poll Results: What opinion do you have for/against Watermarks as opposed to full-scale DRMs
Both are equally BAD. 37 25.17%
Watermark is better than DRMs. 108 73.47%
DRMs is better than Watermark. 1 0.68%
Both are equally GOOD 1 0.68%
Voters: 147. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-27-2012, 08:13 AM   #16
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On some level I don't mind DRM in library books - a way of managing them. I tolerate it. Sometimes I borrow a badly formatted book and completely resent that it reads like crud on my reader, though.

But I have borrowed a few library books that are OPEN epub books (and no, they are not the gutenberg public domain - they are actual commercial books) - they are based on the honor system, that the user will delete when done. Quite useful since my current reader is a kindle.

Watermarking I couldn't care less about. I mostly care about the ability for "free as in freedom". Watermarking doesn't seem to prevent that afaik.
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:59 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by TheSFReader View Post
Do Mobi/azw "encryptionDRM" encumbered ebooks contain personal information which can be used to associate the ebook to it's customer, and is that information "cleaned" with the DRMs when the widely available tools are used ?
I don't know about personally identifying info, but I do know that the DeDRM tools only do the following for Kindle/Mobi:
  • Remove the encryption
  • Remove clipping limit
  • enable text-to-speech

so if there is any personally identifying info, the DeDRM tools don't remove it.
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Old 09-27-2012, 09:50 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
I don't know about personally identifying info, but I do know that the DeDRM tools only do the following for Kindle/Mobi:
  • Remove the encryption
  • Remove clipping limit
  • enable text-to-speech

so if there is any personally identifying info, the DeDRM tools don't remove it.
Thank you, that at least partly answers my question. I take it that it's the same for epub files : only the "locks" are defeated, the files are otherwise left untouched. Is that right ?
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Old 09-27-2012, 12:48 PM   #19
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Thank you, that at least partly answers my question. I take it that it's the same for epub files : only the "locks" are defeated, the files are otherwise left untouched. Is that right ?
Yes. I believe the developers' intentions have been to make as little change to the books as possible. (Presumably because that way there's the least chance of messing something up.)
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Old 09-27-2012, 04:36 PM   #20
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What is the point of watermarking? Is it just something that will allow the uploaders to file-sharing sites to be identified?

But isn't there still the problem of trying to identify all the pirated files in the first place out of the thousands and thousands of files on such sites?

It seems like watermarking wouldn't be onerous for the average person, but unless my understanding of it is flawed, it still seems rather useless.
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:09 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
What is the point of watermarking? Is it just something that will allow the uploaders to file-sharing sites to be identified?

But isn't there still the problem of trying to identify all the pirated files in the first place out of the thousands and thousands of files on such sites?

It seems like watermarking wouldn't be onerous for the average person, but unless my understanding of it is flawed, it still seems rather useless.
Yes, I agree. Watermarking seems (like encryption DRM) to be a solution in search of a problem.

I would like watermarking that had a perk for the person buying the book. e.g. part of the watermark being a nicely formatted bookplate page near the beginning, giving date purchased, where from, price paid, and purchasers name. It could have a generic inscription graphic from the author.

The best 'watermark' I've ever seen was in an excellent freebie from a MobileRead author. See this thread by Vintage Season (M. David Blake). My copy is #164.
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:19 PM   #22
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I have no idea what watermarking means in the context of an epub file. I assume it wouldn't produce a faint image over the text on every page, would it? If it just occurs in the cover image, or is just a comment somewhere in the HTML, it would be trivial to remove. So, what is epub watermarking?
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:29 PM   #23
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I have no idea what watermarking means in the context of an epub file. I assume it wouldn't produce a faint image over the text on every page, would it? If it just occurs in the cover image, or is just a comment somewhere in the HTML, it would be trivial to remove. So, what is epub watermarking?
It's a way of encoding identifying information into the ePub. While there may be some text in the frontmatter indicating that the ePub is watermarked, that's the tip of the iceberg.

There are an almost infinite number of ways to watermark a file.

Yes, HTML comments, but that's an elementary level. Similarly metadat entries in the OPF.

How about file names? Entity IDs in the Opf file? CSS style names? The order of certain tags in the HTML when the order isn't significant. Extra spans in the text, Meta info in JPEGs. Multiple CSS styles that are defined the same (or trivially different) and the order in which they're used codes info. Unused id attributes in XHTML tags.

I think you now get the idea. The only way to strip out watermarking would be to re-write the entire ePub, changing all names of styles and entities, changing the order or anything where the order is irrelevant, and manually checking for CSS styles that should be merged, and removing empty or unused tags and ids.

And even then there might be something that would get missed.

Good watermarking is very thorough. And completely pointless.
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:59 PM   #24
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Thanks pdurrant. Very informative! I'm also glad to hear that it doesn't affect the display of the contents, as a real watermark would.
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Old 09-27-2012, 11:54 PM   #25
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Actually, MY preferred watermark would have a visible part, aka pseudo-bookplate, perhaps straight after the cover image, and SHOWING the user that the ebook contains some nominative data, and perhaps explaining the what and why of the watermark.

As such, it would already be a quite enough "deterrent" for the vast majority of the "casual sharing" that is targeted by DRMs, without the freedom-loss due to cryptography based DRMs.

If the information is also included invisibly inside of the books, I don't really see it as problematic.

In France, one of our ebooks distributors (Immateriel) does two kinds of Watermarking :
The first is completely hidden. I find it disturbing that there is no visible mention of the watermark.
The second adds a "visible" (but greyed out) mention at the end of each "HTML" page-break. This one is also not really good due to it's intrusiveness when reading.
However, even if not satisfying, I find them MUCH better than cryptography-based DRMs, and thus push for them.

The biggest problem however with the situation, is that while the distributor supports Watermarked (and DRM-Less) ebooks, on it's e-library and sale streams, the biggest e-retailers (Kobo, Amazon, Apple ...) don't, with the consequence of "upgrading" the protection to cryptography based DRMs.
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:07 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
What is the point of watermarking? Is it just something that will allow the uploaders to file-sharing sites to be identified?

But isn't there still the problem of trying to identify all the pirated files in the first place out of the thousands and thousands of files on such sites?
Nobody needs to identify "all the pirated files." Nobody owns nor has the right to control use of "all the pirated files." Each copyright owner only needs to track down his or her own files--and if those are distributed watermarked versions, tracked down the point-of-sale, and take action as desired.

It's possible the legit buyer of the ebook has a computer that was hacked, or some other situation that boils down to "did not release those books." In which case, fine; our courts have methods for dealing with "your ID is attached to this thing we found in an illegal setting." The courts know that your fingerprints on the weapon doesn't mean you used it to murder someone, and your watermarked ebooks on a torrent site doesn't mean you uploaded them... but that is enough evidence to investigate further.
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:36 AM   #27
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Nobody needs to identify "all the pirated files." Nobody owns nor has the right to control use of "all the pirated files." Each copyright owner only needs to track down his or her own files--and if those are distributed watermarked versions, tracked down the point-of-sale, and take action as desired.

It's possible the legit buyer of the ebook has a computer that was hacked, or some other situation that boils down to "did not release those books." In which case, fine; our courts have methods for dealing with "your ID is attached to this thing we found in an illegal setting." The courts know that your fingerprints on the weapon doesn't mean you used it to murder someone, and your watermarked ebooks on a torrent site doesn't mean you uploaded them... but that is enough evidence to investigate further.
It would be very hit-or-miss; it would require the authors to be downloading suspected files themselves--which could also be considered copyright infringement on their part--it would require initiating time-consuming and costly legal action. Would it really be cost effective?

Seems like the dedicated pirates would find some way to eliminate/alter the watermarking anyway.

Since it would not affect me, I don't much care if it's instituted, except that implementing it presumably would be added cost that is passed on to the consumer.
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:47 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
What is the point of watermarking? Is it just something that will allow the uploaders to file-sharing sites to be identified?

But isn't there still the problem of trying to identify all the pirated files in the first place out of the thousands and thousands of files on such sites?

It seems like watermarking wouldn't be onerous for the average person, but unless my understanding of it is flawed, it still seems rather useless.
I think it is also a "subtle" reminder for the reader that the book is sold to ONE person, and that while sharing is possible, it should be restricted to close ones.

Yes, I know, you precise word-nitpickers will point out that in fact the book is not what's sold, that would be the license to read the book... And that's absolutely right.

As a customer, I quite understand the difference between buying a book and buying a personal, non-resellable license to read the ebook, but I consider that --with conditions, one of them being no cryptography based DRMs-- taken in balance with all other pros and cons of ebooks, such a change is acceptable to me.
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:54 AM   #29
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It would be very hit-or-miss; it would require the authors to be downloading suspected files themselves--which could also be considered copyright infringement on their part--it would require initiating time-consuming and costly legal action. Would it really be cost effective?

Seems like the dedicated pirates would find some way to eliminate/alter the watermarking anyway.

Since it would not affect me, I don't much care if it's instituted, except that implementing it presumably would be added cost that is passed on to the consumer.
Absolutely right, dedicated pirates WILL find ways to get rid of the watermarks. However, big publishing has shifted its target from dedicated pirates (who get to be hunted from their "commercial" side) to "casual sharers", your pop-mom-cousin or co-worker who just forwards their latest acquisition to the entire town.

And since they've given up hope to win the cryptography war with pirates, I think Watermarks has the same effects as crypto-based DRMs, but not as many defects.
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Old 09-28-2012, 01:49 AM   #30
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Absolutely right, dedicated pirates WILL find ways to get rid of the watermarks. However, big publishing has shifted its target from dedicated pirates (who get to be hunted from their "commercial" side) to "casual sharers", your pop-mom-cousin or co-worker who just forwards their latest acquisition to the entire town.

And since they've given up hope to win the cryptography war with pirates, I think Watermarks has the same effects as crypto-based DRMs, but not as many defects.
But the casual sharers wouldn't be stopped at all by watermarking, so, again, what's the point?
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