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Manny
06-21-2011, 10:19 PM
I am seeking to make a technical manual available as a paid-for download from our websites.

What I want is software (paid or free), that locks the download to the hard drive together with reasonable other inbuilt protections that would stump the average Joe, and the ability to have hyperlinks within it.

PDF I guess would be a pretty decent format as everyone can open that without dedicated ebook readers or spurious software. But are the facilities I seek available with PDF's somehow?

Any help appreciated. Suggestions that DRM is useless because [insert favourite reason] are not sought.

Medievalist
06-21-2011, 11:23 PM
You want Adobe's DRM. It's evil, and crackable, so I wouldn't bother, but it will do what you want.

http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/faq/

Manny
06-22-2011, 02:56 AM
Thanks for the reply.

That seems to require the end user to download the software? I need a pretty seamless solution really that we will not need to provide ongoing support for.

Also, reading their forums, it seems to have many issues.

kuwisdelu
06-22-2011, 03:19 AM
"Seamless" and DRM don't go well together, particularly with something I might want to move around as much as a PDF. You won't find anything as limiting as what you want that won't give people issues. If you go with your plan, particularly issues of the form "I bought and downloaded your manual, but I can't seem to open it on my other computer." Expect issues.

Medievalist
06-22-2011, 03:24 AM
Thanks for the reply.

That seems to require the end user to download the software? I need a pretty seamless solution really that we will not need to provide ongoing support for.

Also, reading their forums, it seems to have many issues.

All DRM is a tech support nightmare, honestly.

I'd avoid it. I'd go with generic .pdf files. The Acrobat reader is free, easily downloaded, and most people have a copy already.

I'd include a note in the beginning asking people not to upload it, etc.

Deirdre
06-22-2011, 11:54 AM
What pragprog.com does is watermark every PDF with the purchaser's name in the footer. I don't know if they do other watermarking, but it seems pragmatic enough.

Torgo
06-22-2011, 01:39 PM
I know you didn't want moaning about DRM in this thread, but:

As Medi says, Adobe DRM is basically what you're after. Yes, people need to download Digital Editions to read the file, but then you don't need to support ADE - Adobe do that. And if you're going to have some sort of DRM in the file, you need to have a software reader that understands how to unlock it.

Trouble is, Adobe DRM - like all ebook DRM - is so trivially easy to crack or circumvent that hoping the average Joe will be stumped is very optimistic. At the very least, the keyboard I'm typing this on has - like most keyboards - a 'Print Screen' button. Any PDF I can open full-screen on this PC can easily be saved as a series of screen shots and then stitched back together as a PDF afterwards, with no loss of quality. (I'd lose hyperlinks etc, I guess.) Tap 'Print Screen', turn the page, tap 'Print Screen', turn the page...Laborious but simple.

If Joe Average doesn't know how to do that, he probably knows how to google; and if there's a demand for what you're selling, Jane Slightly-Above-Average has already done it and uploaded it onto the internet.

Watermarking is interesting, but to be effective it really needs to go unnoticed by the user - you don't want people identifying the watermark and removing it. On the other hand I think you don't want it to be so completely invisible that screen-shotting the whole book effectively removes it. It's tricky. The sneakiest way seems to be a tiny unique mistake in each copy of the file (but then an attacker just has to get hold of two different copies and compare them... It kind of works for print books, but it's too easy to compare electronic files automatically.)

Terie
06-22-2011, 01:56 PM
If I bought an e-book of any kind that was locked to my hard drive so that, in the event of a hard drive failure or even just a simple computer replacement, I would lose the content or have to repurchase it, you can bet I would never buy another e-book from that author again, no matter how useful the content. I doubt I'm in a minority who would take this view.

Taking reasonable measures to protect your intellectual property from theft is understandable. Cutting off your nose to spite your face? Not so much.

veinglory
06-22-2011, 06:20 PM
So, an ebook I could use on a device I happened to buy it from? Make sure that limitation is in bold letters on the blurb, because it would be a deal killer for a lot of multi-computer users like me.

davidw
06-23-2011, 11:20 PM
What pragprog.com does is watermark every PDF with the purchaser's name in the footer. I don't know if they do other watermarking, but it seems pragmatic enough.

Hi Deirdre:-)

That actually seems to be one of the better solutions - if a book "gets loose", you know who to point the finger at. Of course, the 'guilty party' can always claim to have been hacked or something, so I don't know how it'd all work out legally, but it seems to be a reasonable middle ground.

Torgo
06-23-2011, 11:21 PM
Hi Deirdre:-)

That actually seems to be one of the better solutions - if a book "gets loose", you know who to point the finger at. Of course, the 'guilty party' can always claim to have been hacked or something, so I don't know how it'd all work out legally, but it seems to be a reasonable middle ground.

But if you were releasing it into the wild illicitly wouldn't you just crop out the watermark?

davidw
06-24-2011, 01:42 AM
But if you were releasing it into the wild illicitly wouldn't you just crop out the watermark?

In the Pragmatic Programmers books, they're scattered quite liberally through them, so it wouldn't be *that* easy. It's certainly not impossible either, but neither is cracking most DRM.

benbradley
06-24-2011, 02:28 AM
But if you were releasing it into the wild illicitly wouldn't you just crop out the watermark?
Yes, at least the VISIBLE watermark. As mentioned, there can also be additional watermarks that aren't (easily) visible and are far from obvious, as described here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steganography

Adding such encoding/encryption, and clear notices that it's not to be distributed by end purchasers and that voiolators will be prosecuted, bla bla bla, can at least be partially effective, and is still a lot less restrictive than tying a document to a physical computer.

Torgo
06-24-2011, 01:36 PM
Steganographic watermarking is a cool idea, but then doesn't the attacker just get two copies of the file with different watermarks and diff them? (Or just reduce a book to image files and then OCR, cutting out anything hidden in the code?) Not arguing really, just I'd love to find a really sneaky watermarking solution that gets round that stuff. I suspect one doesn't exist.

Cath
06-24-2011, 02:27 PM
Adobe DRM isn't locked to a single hard drive anyway, it's locked to a user account which can be activated on a limited number of computers and devices.