libraries ebook drm

Libraries & Ebook DRM

Controlled Digital Lending: Publishing Ebooks Securely with DRM Security

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Using Ebook DRM to distribute library ebooks securely

The digital publishing challenge for Libraries – controlled digital lending

Libraries are expected to act as repositories of a nation’s heritage and to provide and administer large collections including easily damaged works that cannot be replaced.  It does not seem unreasonable to allow a library to recover the costs of conservation from the users of the documents as well as from the nation state.  Historically it has been considered reasonable for authors to recover income from lending, although now that electronic document copying is trivial, the nature, function and role of lending libraries seem increasingly under question by some.

Libraries also have to be able to account for the number of individual copyright books read a year and to make sure that lending items are recovered or replaced.  There is no ‘free-for-all’ or giveaway to all comers.  It is not the Internet model of use anywhere copy everywhere.

Libraries have a strong tradition for being impartial and making knowledge available without fear or favour.  They still have larger collections of published work than the Internet currently has available.  That information could be made generally available if the economic case can be made.  Libraries using ebook DRM technologies such as those provided by Locklizard to administer their rights may be able to increase their readership and their income as well as recovering necessary costs for storage and conservation.  Locklizard facilitates controlled digital lending by ensuring ebooks cannot be given away outside the authorization of the library.

   Converting Physical Books to Ebooks

Libraries have previously controlled documents by not allowing them to leave their premises except under controlled conditions.  But that creates serious limitations on facilitating academic study and review.  This poses the question of how, in the digital age, books and documents can be distributed and controlled (controlled digital lending) without harming the economic mechanisms needed to pay for their support infrastructure.

Using Locklizard ebook DRM it is possible to convert to a model where physical copies are hardly ever touched or distributed except for academic study or for public exhibitions, and all lending is done using DRM controlled digital versions.

Some have considered that libraries should be able to operate in two modes.

  1. The easiest to address is where the documents are already produced in PDF format.  This has been the format of choice for print publishing for a long time now and is very well catered for.  Storage requirements and costs for electronic copies are much lower and cheaper.  Locklizard ebook DRM products exclusively handle the native PDF format, and can apply key controls for monitoring and accounting.
  2. Existing documents are more complicated.  But thanks to document scanning systems you can scan existing documents direct to PDF with reduced possibilities of damaging the original (any exposure to bright light is not considered good).  The key difference as against documents prepared in PDF is the art of the bookbinder in producing the covers, the binding, the inclusion of illustrations and their technical preparation, the endpapers and so on.  These combine to produce a work of art quite separate from the text and flat printed illustration.  They also produce a depth that is absent from electronic works.  So although they will all have scanned editions the originals will still have their place.  A fine example of this point may be found by looking at the World Heritage Site entry on the history of the Magna Carta, two copies of which have been in the British Library since the 1620’s.  But for lending purposes having PDF versions of the originals greatly decreases cost of storage and availability.


Why you should NOT use passwords to protect ebooks from piracy

  1. users can share passwords and thus ‘protected’ ebooks with others
  2. passwords are easily removed with password recovery software
  3. once the user has the password they can unprotect the ebook and do what they like with it

“The ROI on our Safeguard ebook DRM program has taken us into areas of the world and among people groups we could have never reached before with printed versions of our resources.

Our authors rest easy knowing their books are not being illegally distributed, and this alone is attracting new authors to our publication division.

Finally, the reduction in labor to authorize a new customer on the Locklizard servers and send them an ebook is seconds compared to the time required to pick, pack, ship, and track a package of printed books.”

Controlled digital lending & controlling ebook use

How DRM can help stop ebook piracy

Converting to electronic books can save on administration time and costs.  By adding ebook DRM you can then securely control digital lending – usage, enforce lending due dates automatically, and restrict the locations where ebooks can be used.

Locklizard ebook DRM can help with:

  • Tracking use

    Monitoring the number of times ebooks are opened (read), when, by whom and from where.

    Recording each time an ebook is printed.  Being able to count the number of prints made of non-copyright works might be a useful addition when looking for raising extra revenues.

  • Expiry & Controlled Digital Lending

    Controlling the amount of time ebooks may be borrowed for.

    Borrowing periods may be varied after the book is out on loan for each user – expiry can be changed on both an ebook and user basis.

    • Set a specific expiry date
    • Set a specific number of days – the expiry period only starts when the user first opens the document
    • Set a specific number of views and/or prints
    • Integrate our ecommerce API with your system so that when a user downloads an ebook it grants limited access to the document at that point

    Expiry is automatic, and when an access period has finished, access to the ebook is no longer available.

    Both user and ebook access can also be instantly revoked manually at any time.

  • Printing control

    Allowing or denying printing.

  • Watermarks

    Adding a watermark to viewed content to make it unattractive to take screenshots (i.e. by a cellphone) by identifying the user of the review copy.

    Watermarks should not be so obtrusive that they prevent reviewers from being able to carry out their role effectively.  Locklizard ebook DRM provides a wide range of watermarking capability to support this.

  • Location Locking

    Limiting use of ebooks to inside a library.

    Generally libraries have been limiting access to a specific IP range, being that of the library network but that has been by network access control.

    Ebook DRM controls provided by Locklizard include use limitation by an individual IP address or by a range of IPs.  This can be set at the system level or the customer level, allowing you to sub-license other libraries with their own restricted licenses.  This may address the use of BYOD devices that would have to use the library hot spot to login, and thus be limited by the range of the WiFi transmitters, and still retaining control if the ebook is taken out of the library locality.

  • Offline use

    Allowing offline use (no Internet connection required) whilst still enforcing DRM controls.

  • Selling Ebooks

    Enabling ebooks to be sold.

    Although libraries sometimes sell off books from their collections it is feasible through DRM to be able to convert from a ‘lending’ license to selling an electronic book.

    Locklizard ebook DRM has the flexibility to provide for one or more ‘lending’ periods that can be converted if an ebook is purchased by allowing the end date of access to be altered or providing a different copy with unlimited access.

  • Making available whole collections

    Making available whole collections as well as individual works on a single device.

    Locklizard ebook DRM supports this by allowing a library to lock documents onto a USB stick, along with the decryption keys and a Viewer (so users do not need to install any software to view protected ebooks).

    Ebooks can be licensed piecemeal – so thousands of ebooks can be protected to USB but only those the user has paid for (or borrowed) can be accessed.   This is a very cost effective way of making available (for an appropriate fee) access to major literary collections whilst getting a return for the librarian costs of maintaining them.

So there are many positive benefits that can be realised by libraries using Locklizard ebook DRM solutions for controlled digital lending – enabling you to easily control access to and use of your classical and modern collections.  Perhaps the most important are the ability to maintain a positive relationship with the Copyright Collecting Societies whilst embracing digitized publication, and the ability to create new income streams to help defray the costs of conservation and the work of curators in maintaining the great classical collections that are the bedrock of our literary and artistic history.  Also, being able to vastly reduce the amount of physical storage needed for modern publications that do not require printed copies for distribution or for archive would be a positive contribution to cost reduction.

Adding DRM to eBooks with Safeguard PDF security

How to add DRM controls to a PDF ebook

Right-click on a PDF file to select Safeguard Secure PDF Writer.  Then choose your DRM controls:

  1. Stop printing, allow printing or limit the number of prints.
  2. Add dynamic watermarks to viewed and or printed pages.  Dynamic variables replace actual user and system data when the ebook is viewed/printed so you only have to protect the ebook once for all users.
  3. Make the ebook expire on a specific date, after a number of views, after a number of prints, or after a number of days from opening.
  4. Allow or stop screen grabbing (even from remote connections) applications and prevent use of Windows print screen.
  5. Log views and prints.
  6. Allow or deny offline use.
Safeguard’s default ebook DRM protection
  • Stops users editing, copying and pasting content
  • Locks ebooks to specific devices so they cannot be shared with others
  • There are no passwords for users to enter, manage, or remove
  • You can revoke ebooks at any time regardless of where they reside

Sharing ancient manuscripts securely – protect against piracy, theft & misuse

Ancient manuscript protection and document control

A key function provided by libraries is to make their collections available to users (borrowers). And this may be currently published work (books, pictures and illustrations), and just as, or perhaps more importantly, making accessible ancient manuscripts.

Ancient manuscripts may be the ‘jewel in the crown’ for a library, but making them available may also be an ‘Achilles heel’ because they tend to be delicate, rare and almost impossible to repair if they are damaged through carelessness or malice.  Typically they can only be studied in the library, and possibly only by appointment or under supervision.  This can seriously reduce availability for ancient manuscripts, and, say with the restrictions in force during a pandemic, reduce access to almost nothing, owing to a shortage of both librarians and users.

One route forward worth considering is to scan ancient documents and pictures to the PDF format, converting them into digital documents.  The PDF format is particularly helpful in that it can cope with the differing document formats (ancient manuscripts have different conventions and few standards) whilst PDF gives a consistency across multiple operating systems and screens/printers.  Tablet technology available today allows for simple image re-sizing when a user wishes to examine scanned text and/or images.

But that is not to say that making documents available means necessarily giving them away.  There may be terms and conditions that have to be met that were agreed with the original document owner.  So it can be very important to be able to prevent copies of documents from being made, especially if they can be faked and inaccurate versions circulated without any control and if there is no attribution as to ownership.

Granting a user a controlled period of access to documents may be important rather than giving free access away forever.  Ensuring a level of income from charging for access may be a requirement in order to pay for the storage and curation of ancient manuscripts, and the costs of scanning them.  Maintaining controlled access may also require placing watermarks on printed copies to identify the user distributing unauthorized copies whether captured on a camera or taken from a printed copy.

Locklizard is well placed to assist the librarian in sharing ancient manuscripts securely with controlled digital lending.  We provide DRM controls that protect ancient manuscripts from piracy, theft and misuse by stopping unauthorized sharing and controlling document use.  You can prevent protected PDF documents from being used outside of the library network, or can lock them to specific USB devices and/or machines/users.  Start and stop dates for documents are supported, or access can be granted for a number of days (or views) after first use.  Actual document use and printing may be logged to support input to charging mechanisms or usage monitoring systems.  Printing can be forbidden, and watermarks can be added dynamically to both screen images and print-out.  Documents cannot be saved or saved as and the original PDF format cannot be recovered.

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