New Ebook DRM Technology Changes Words in Ebooks

Posted on June 19, 2013

Wired reports that German developers have created a new ebook DRM technology that changes the text and punctuation of ebooks so that each ebook sold is slightly different. The technology is called SiDiM, which means "secure documents by individual marking."

Wired says SiDiM makes very minor changes. Wired gives the example of some text in a book being changed from "very disturbing" to "not disturbing." This is actually a significant change because something that the author meant to be very disturbing is suddenly no longer disturbing at all. This could be a bad example as the SiDiM examples were translated from German into English.

If the new technology becomes widely used it means no one will have exactly the same copy of an ebook. Because every ebook is slightly different a pirated copy could be tracked to the original purchaser. The goal behind the technology is to frighten the owner of an ebook from wanting to illegally share their copy.

An obvious downside to the technology is people may read the ebooks in ways the author did not intend. Even changes intended to be minor could impact the books by changing meaning or making them harder to read by interrupting the author's intended rhythm. Another downside to this technology is that an owner of an ebook could get hacked and their copy could get stolen and shared illegally. Publishers may then blame the original purchaser of the book for illegally sharing their copy even though it was the hacker that pirated the ebook.
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