Digital Rights Management Systems

In my last blog post, I poked fun at having my ebook pirated. Actually, there’s nothing funny about the pirating of anyone’s intellectual property, including my own. I suppose the party responsible believes they’re helping to fight counterfeiting by posting a valuable resource online for everybody.

Ebook piracy requires the circumventing of the digital rights management (DRM) systems used for copy protection. A DRM system is what prevents users of Amazon’s popular Kindle from engaging in eBook piracy. A user who purchases an eBook from Amazon for his Kindle cannot make a copy of the eBook without tampering with the DRM and also cannot sell the content. Apple, makers of the popular iBookstore, uses its FairPlay DRM. Adobe, best known for its open source Portable Document File or PDF, which is a free or open source download, has developed a DRM called Digital Editions Protection Technology or ADEPT. ADEPT is used by Barnes & Noble, Sony and other companies.

 Tampering or bypassing a DRM system is illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1998. Book piracy is a growing problem for publishers and authors. In 2012,, also called Gigapedia and, was shut down by court order for book piracy following legal action from seventeen publishers. The site is believed to have hosted 400,000 ebooks with a revenue that exceeded $10 million.


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