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# 255514 15-Aug-2019 13:46
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I belong to a not for profit organisation that sells manuals and similar documents to its members. 


We want to make these available in an electronic format (probably PDF) and also be able to deliver them online. We also wish to protect our IP and copyright. Traditional  DRM methods generally tie you to a particular distribution network, i.e. Amazon, etc and in the process limit what devices can read or display the document. We would prefer to be able to deliver a product that is device agnostic and also allows download onto more than one device.


Digital watermarking seems to be a good way to go, while not being a DRM process it discourages copying and allows a more flexibility in how the document can be viewed. Something like this 


Has anyone had any experience with using digital watermarking and distributing documents in the manner I've described? 


Feedback and comments sought.



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  # 2299876 15-Aug-2019 16:33
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If it were me I would just add a watermark to the PDF when supplying it that way. In word it is super easy to add a background watermark or header/footer to each page. As it depends on if you want to stop people printing it, or only have it available online from a website.


Adding too much complexity to the delivery of the document just means that people will get grumpy when they can't read it or you make it too hard. Most DRM systems for electronic document publishing can be circumvented using Calibre and the various plugins that exist.


It really depends on what the value of the content is you are trying to protect. Most people are honest and if they want it will pay what you are selling it for If they aren't honest they aren't going to pay anything and no amount of DRM will stop them so why spend a significant amount of money to protect something that you weren't going to get paid for anyway.

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  # 2300043 15-Aug-2019 21:06
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Yes, I know watermarks can be added like you suggest and that most people are usually honest and will pay their way. However for various reasons just watermarking using Word or Acrobat hasn't been deemed an adequate/acceptable solution at this point. Hence the need to investigate the suitability of a solution as in the link in my original post.


Watermarking isn't DRM and doesn't bring with it the problems DRM brings with respect to being able read (or not) the document on various types of devices. Watermaking works in two ways, it "shames" the person who shares their copy and it can make producing a readable photocopy difficult. Yes, it can still be stripped out but it is still a deterrent.  


My understanding of the process is, it is seamless from the purchasers point of view, there should be no issues or hurdles compared to downloading and un-watermarked document.


The purchaser initiates an online purchase where they provide their name and email address (or other similar information). Using proprietary software the document is watermarked with the purchasers name and or email address which is coded into the document so that they are displayed on some or all pages of the document in the header or footer or other suitable place.


The purchaser is emailed a link from which to download their copy(s) of the document. The purchaser may have access to unlimited downloads or a predetermined number of downloads, (they may wish to have it on more than one device). The document format is device type agnostic so long as the device has for example Acrobat Reader installed. The document can be printed but may have another water mark added that makes any photocopies difficult to read. 




To enable us to make a decision on whether or not to use a watermark, I'd like to hear from anyone who has had experience using watermarks in this manner. 



Sony Xperia X running Sailfish OS. The true independent open source mobile OS 
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
Nokia N1
Dell Inspiron 14z i5

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