A new type of DRM could make it easier for publishers to find out who pirated their books, while potentially removing the current barriers that prevent customers from moving legitimately purchased titles between their own devices. BooXtream’s social DRM concept has been around for a while, but it seems to be finally gaining traction.
BooXtream is a new type of DRM that uses a kind of digital watermark to individually identify downloads. This means that if a pirated copy of a particular title emerges on torrent sites at a later date, copyright owners should be able to analyze the watermark and determine where the copy originated, in which case the original purchaser might be in big trouble. Notwithstanding the possibility of faked watermarks, it’s easy to see why this type of DRM might be favoured by publishers.
Digital watermarking isn’t entirely new. It was used for the recent Harry Potter ebook releases from Pottermore, and forums were filled with consumers asking how to remove the watermark. Obviously the whole system would be undermined if even one determined pirate managed to remove a watermark, and I’m sure determined pirates would find a way around pretty much any DRM system.