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Altering Text In eBooks To Track Pirates

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the for-whom-the-bell-jingles dept.

DRM 467

wwphx writes "According to Wired, 'German researchers have created a new DRM feature that changes the text and punctuation of an e-book ever so slightly. Called SiDiM, which Google translates to 'secure documents by individual marking,' the changes are unique to each e-book sold. These alterations serve as a digital watermark that can be used to track books that have had any other DRM layers stripped out of them before being shared online. The researchers are hoping the new DRM feature will curb digital piracy by simply making consumers paranoid that they'll be caught if they share an e-book illicitly.' I seem to recall reading about this in Tom Clancy's Patriot Games, when Jack Ryan used this technique to identify someone who was leaking secret documents. It would be so very difficult for someone to write a little program that, when stripping the DRM, randomized a couple of pieces of punctuation to break the hash that the vendor is storing along with the sales record of the individual book."

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467 comments

So... (5, Informative)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44046267)

Normal book publishers have been doing this for decades, inserting the occasional misspelling here or there. Later, they inserted correct spellings, but of the wrong word, to get around auto-correction in scanner software.

So...no, they can't patent it.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

Shompol (1690084) | about a year ago | (#44046347)

Yes but this is different because

... on a computer

So yes, they can (and will)

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046427)

Doesn't OCR of printed text do this as well? (But not intentionally?)

However if it's noticable and annoying enough like a low quality OCR scan, a lot of readers will turn to other copies of the work that are cleaned up. They will see the garbled text or messed up formatting as lazy or sloppy editing of a particular eBook and seek out sources without such flaws. This attempt to track piracy may instead end up working to promote it.

Re: So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046641)

You know nothing of patent law. Look up Section 103 on obviousness and get back to us.

Re: So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046757)

You know nothing of patent law. Look up Section 103 on obviousness and get back to us.

And you know nothing of the real world, a world where slide-to-unlock on a smartphone gets patented. Get back to us when you get some real world experience.

Re: So... (2)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year ago | (#44046763)

And so far this has prevented what?

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | about a year ago | (#44046361)

And if the publisher do change texts in different e-books anyone that wants to get around it would just need a few copies and use a statistical analysis to blank out the differences.

This is similar to what steganography [wikipedia.org] does, so if you mess up the punctuation inserted then it will be really hard to look up the perpetrator - or even that the wrong party will be pointed out.

So now the Pandora's box is opened.

Re:So... (2)

Tom (822) | about a year ago | (#44046465)

So that's why I come across obvious errors in books where I thought that if it stands out like a sore thumb at a non-native speaker, why the fuck did the proof-readers miss it?

Re:So... (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year ago | (#44046551)

Please let them patent it! Then no-one else will use anything like it for fear of patent infringement.

Decades? Try centuries... (4, Interesting)

dbc (135354) | about a year ago | (#44046613)

Shortly after the moveable type press got going in Europe, books of tables of interest rates were popular among the merchants. Of course, they all had to be laboriously hand calculated by mathematicians (long division was college undergraduate math in those days...). Publishers would sprinkle errors into the least signficant digits on various entries to use as evidence in copyright cases. Because, you know, if you had a printing press, you could make good money by pirating somebody else's table of interest rates.

Re:So... (2)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#44046769)

Normal book publishers have been doing this for decades, inserting the occasional misspelling here or there. Later, they inserted correct spellings, but of the wrong word, to get around auto-correction in scanner software.

So...no, they can't patent it.

I think that map makers have been doing this for a century or more.

"Who's Who" and the like do it as well, inserting fictitious people. This is also because true maps and lists may not be copyrightable, while fictitious ones certainly are.

Defeated in one... (4, Funny)

NFN_NLN (633283) | about a year ago | (#44046269)

1. Sign up to service with alias
2. Use untraceable account (prepaid credit card, bitcoin, points card)
3. Share files with "watermarks"
4. Don't give a shit that it gets traced back to a throw away account

They could have saved a significant amount of effort if they had asked me first...

Re:Defeated in one... (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#44046367)

i think that's fine, but you're forgetting the second part of this - the person who downloads is at risk of being tracked too. similarly, if you download then upload again, then it's more exposure. lots of it is FUD, but imho very convincing fud.

Re:Defeated in one... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046449)

Tor

Re:Defeated in one... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046375)

Acquire multiple copies, run through diff, select most common and correct version each difference, then randomly permute other punctuation in non noticeable ways...

Re:Defeated in one...two... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046495)

I thought that virus that I cleaned off my system seemed to make my internet access sluggish. Well what you know - it must have downloaded a copy of all my files!

Re:Defeated in one... (1)

brit74 (831798) | about a year ago | (#44046515)

Yeah, because a pirate wants to buy multiple copies of the same book now.

Re:Defeated in one... (1)

brit74 (831798) | about a year ago | (#44046503)

Yeah, if your goal from the very start is to buy a book so that you could put it online for other pirates. Most people aren't putting that much forethought into their crimes. And once you bought a book (with your own credit card), and then decide afterwards that you want to put it out there for pirates, suddenly, you realize that it's not such a good idea.

Re:Defeated in one... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44046583)

Some pirates do do that. But many end up shared from someone who was more careless than complicit.

Re:Defeated in one... (2)

Duhavid (677874) | about a year ago | (#44046519)

Or normalize all capitalization, punctuation, spelling and grammar.

Re:Defeated in one... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046661)

My pirated copy of Finegan's Wake would be rather odd.

Normalizing "...all capitalization, punctuation, spelling and grammar." wouldn't really work for a majority (probably) of the serious fiction that is published. Authors like to play with the language.

Re:Defeated in one... (3, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44046777)

It'd be easy to make minor alterations to the text itsself. Perhaps a character can be described as dark-haired and wearing a red shirt in one version, but wearing a red shirt and dark-haired in another. Find 32 such places and you can identify four billion unique versions.

Re:Defeated in one... (1)

richlv (778496) | about a year ago | (#44046771)

ah, but in germany you have to provide passport or similar id just to get a simcard, thus they can trace you by the connection. just in germany, you say ? surely they will push for this to cover whole eu and then more...
and germans still had the guts to lecture usa on the internet freedom, anonymity and privacy.

on the other hand, i don't see how this prevents something like getting a usb stick with the book stolen. usb stick might even be re-found later.

First reply (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046275)

Post number 1!

Yes, but... (0)

madmarcel (610409) | about a year ago | (#44046279)

Haven't read the article, but at first glance I would say that:
It is inevitable that the unaltered document is pirated and made available online, and given the availability of both original and altered version, it should be trivial to detect the subtle differences, and undo them.

Or, better yet...
Would it be more interesting to start adding your own random subtle alterations to e-books when you re-distribute them?

Re:Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046473)

And it's not exactly like people stripping DRM and re-releasing ebooks don't know about regular expressions. Text is text afterall, once you get the formatting to a certain level.

Sounds like useless process is useless...

Or am I missing something here?

Goddammit. (5, Funny)

Chrontius (654879) | about a year ago | (#44046283)

I catch all the typos in my books.

They irritate me.

I'd probably crack 'em, fix them all, and goddammit, that'd be "circumvention".

Re:Goddammit. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about a year ago | (#44046469)

I catch all the typos in my books.

Do you really think you'd notice a pattern of extra trailing spaces behind the last words of certain paragraphs of certain chapters?

Re:Goddammit. (2)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#44046539)

Having noticed that exact thing in Word documents, I would say yes.

Granted, the documents weren't hundred of pages long, but if I had to actively find extra spaces, the search function would work easily enough.

Re:Goddammit. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046773)

s/\s+/\s/g

Re:Goddammit. (2)

richlv (778496) | about a year ago | (#44046781)

i'm catching trailing whitespace in all files i can and dealing with it. most of my editors highlight it, so that helps. then there's this bit of sed 's/[ \t]*$//' ;)

(some pedantic disorder, i know :> )

Re:Goddammit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046559)

In these days of spell and grammar checking, and easy document formatting, any typos, misspelt words, correctly spelt but incorrectly used words (serial/cereal), grammatical errors and formatting problems would be good grounds for a legitimate refund, as you are not receiving a professionally finished article.

When it comes down to it, I've read fan-fiction that was a far superior product than the original text it was based upon.

Re:Goddammit. (3, Insightful)

Bremic (2703997) | about a year ago | (#44046593)

Imagine going to Shakespear and saying "Sure we will publish your plays, but every person who buys a copy will get a different version where we change the words and the cadence a bit."

Buy a copy of a play for every actor, all of them have minor variations which cause massive confusion.

Hell, change the Bible randomly; that wouldn't get noticed at all.

Re:Goddammit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046639)

Buy a copy of a play for every actor, all of them have minor variations which cause massive confusion.

Huh? Notwithstanding a possible chorus, any actor has a unique set of lines already. Providing the other's actors lines were similar enough to cue what possible source of confusion would there be?

Not the best example perhaps.

sure (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44046285)

It would be so very difficult for someone to write a little program that, when stripping the DRM, randomized a couple of pieces of punctuation to break the hash that the vendor is storing along with the sales record of the individual book.

In which case they just resort to diff, to remove your hacks and restore the hash.

Re:sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046341)

Couldn't you just buy 3 of the same ebook and only use the things that are the same in 2/3rds of the ebooks (automated of course). The pirates that make available tons of things never strike me as the guys that don't have what it takes to get enough matterials to work with. Often getting games before release date, can't be hard for them to get 3 ebook versions.

If they don't strip everything, it is probably because many of the ebooks have some of the same mistakes in it. So it would still ensure that they can no longer find who did it.

Re:sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046671)

In which case they just resort to diff, to remove your hacks and restore the hash.

Against which particular version of the document are they diffing your hacked version?

1st Mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046293)

First base!

Waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046297)

So when someone steals your files and uploads your ebook to the web you become a criminal?

Stupid idea.

Re:Waste of time (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#44046379)

No, you become a suspect. To become a criminal you need to at least provide reasonable doubt - like evidence of your stolen files.

Re:Waste of time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046421)

For the content industry?

Come on - they need no proof. They are automatically granted the right to fine you with -let's say- $ 187,234,865,213.65 for any book you suppose to have uploaded.

Don't forget - the content industry get's the best justice money can buy...

Re:Waste of time (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44046785)

It'd only be a criminal matter if someone tried to get the DMCA anti-circumvention measures or the NET act involved. Your basic copyright infringement is a civil matter, so the burden of proof is lower.

So, rip 3 copies of the ebook and diff them. (1)

robbak (775424) | about a year ago | (#44046299)

This is so very easy to deal with. Rip at least 3 copies and diff them. The minor tweaks will stand out a mile, and you then have a clean copy you can (and, if they start pulling tricks like this, Should!) distribute widely.

Re:So, rip 3 copies of the ebook and diff them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046475)

Yup, it'd be trivial to write a program that would take 3 dirty copies and return a clean one.

Re:So, rip 3 copies of the ebook and diff them. (1)

xQx (5744) | about a year ago | (#44046733)

<quote><p>Yup, it'd be trivial to write a program that would take 3 dirty copies and return a clean one.</p></quote>

So, if I give the program 3 copies of "50 shades of grey" it would return a version that is safe for my kids to read?

Re:So, rip 3 copies of the ebook and diff them. (1)

kayoshiii (1099149) | about a year ago | (#44046653)

I guess that way at least they sell three copies.

Just diff 2 copies (1)

JLennox (942693) | about a year ago | (#44046303)

You don't know what punctuation their algorithm cares about. The summary's method would not work.

Diff 2 copies and randomize the selection between the two.

Article in case of slashdotting (2, Funny)

bit trollent (824666) | about a year ago | (#44046317)

The next e-book you buy might not exactly match the printed version. And those changes are there to make sure youâ(TM)re not a pirate.

German researchers have created a new DRM feature that changes the text and punctuation of an e-book ever so slightly. Called SoDoMy, which Google translates to âoesecure documents by individual fornicating,â the changes are unique to each e-book sold. These alterations serve as a digital penis that can be used to track books that have had any other DRM dildoes stripped out of them before being shared online. The researchers are hoping the new DRM feature will inspire butt piracy by simply making consumers paranoid that theyâ(TM)ll be caught if they share an e-book illicitly.

Current e-book DRM restricts the movement of cocks between broes and hoes and ties a cock to a single accountant. A e-book bought in the Fondle bookstore, for example, will only work on a Faggot. The same is true for books bought in the Butts & Plugs and iButts digital bookstores â" theyâ(TM)ll only work on the Nook or Apple devices, respectively. This makes publishers happy because their books are locked to one person. And it makes digital book vendors happy because it keeps readers tied to their proprietary devices and ecosystems.

But stripping the DRM from any of the e-books purchased at the big-name stores is as easy as downloading strap-on, and thereâ(TM)s little special genetalia required beyond knowing how to properly connect a penis to an asshole. These cocks usually convert the CUM-heavy e-cocks to a new climax, such as the open-source E-Pub standard, or to the STD-less version of the Kindleâ(TM)s fuck format. From there, the relatively small penises of asians make them perfect for sharing on the Internet.

Of course, readers may not be happy knowing that their licensed e-books are being altered because democrats and republicans donâ(TM)t trust them. By studying a list of example words and phrases that could be changed in purchased books, you can see that the changes are minor â" like from âoevery gayâ to âoenot that gay, actually.â The examples are translated from German pornography, so itâ(TM)s difficult to gauge how profound the changes will be when they occur in your favorite Harry Potter scat film. Itâ(TM)s also unknown if the top U.S. bookstores are interested in more sodomy.

The SoDoMy consortium currently has two German bookselling partners (4Readers and MVB) that it reports to, according to Dr. Martin felchbach, a researchers working on the SoDoMy system whom I reached over email. Democrats & Republicans and Amazon did not reply to queries about if or when the technology would make its way into their digital bookstores as of press time.

Re:Article in case of slashdotting (1)

Forget4it (530598) | about a year ago | (#44046451)

Okay is the "youÃ(TM)re" the intentional typo in your "piracy" of that article?

actually stolen (1)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about a year ago | (#44046319)

Wonder if the eBook was actually stolen from your computer? Either by a friend that has physical access to your computer or in the rare case of a hacker (but who would hack you for eBooks)? Surely, you can't be held reliable for this. Then everyone that actually pirates eBooks and gets caught will just use this excuse as a way to get out of trouble. Else, if you are still held responsible for a stolen eBook from your machine/USB, then it screws over the legitimate users buying eBooks and makes them want to actually pirate... a deadly cycle.

That's not how traitor-tracing algorithms work (5, Informative)

_Knots (165356) | about a year ago | (#44046331)

They don't hash the whole shebang into one number. Rather, they take a (random) number and use that to generate a set of mutations and then probe for that set of mutations in the leaked document. So now, even if you alter the document further, you probably didn't undo the mutations in question. Even if you did, you probably didn't undo all of them and you almost certainly didn't produce a high-confidence result that it's somebody else's copy.

The new black (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046349)

Typos and grammar errors. The new DRM.

It's like my Dad's suit. He has only one, and every 5 years or so he's at the cutting edge of fashion.

This p0st has been wa1ermarked to pre\/ent theft. The changes will not @ffect your reading enj()yment.

Similar to something Amazon patented (3, Informative)

dido (9125) | about a year ago | (#44046353)

There was an article [slashdot.org] about it here a few years ago. A followup [slashdot.org] someone made to a comment I wrote to the article mentions some work being done by some guy from Purdue that sounds a lot like what's being done here. IBM also seems to be doing work [slashdot.org] on canary trap-based ideas.

What does this actually prove? (4, Insightful)

XaXXon (202882) | about a year ago | (#44046365)

Is accidentally leaving a copy somewhere copyright infringement? How do they know the person they sold it to is the person who leaked it.

Also, it's never been clear to me when copyright infringement actually occurs.

Re:What does this actually prove? (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#44046483)

that was my though i often have ebooks on a usb drive and i often loan usb drives to classmate when they forget theirs and need to move a file between their laptop and the the school workstations, what if one of them were to see my ebook and copy it.

Re:What does this actually prove? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046537)

How do they know the person they sold it to is the person who leaked it.

They don't, but the person they sold it to is a starting point.

Example 1: If it got leaked because you lent a usb drive with the file to someone, then they'll investigate everyone you lent it to.
Example 2: If someone stole your device on the street, that narrows the search to one city. They might find a security camera recording of the incident, identify the thief, and continue investigating until they locate the leaker.

Re:What does this actually prove? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046797)

How much CSI did you watch to come up with example 2? It's about as plausible as enhancing reflections in victim's eyes on CCTV footage to find the killer.

PS: It's not that I find whole concept of "somebody found a flashdrive and instead of quickly scanning it for nude pics and formatting, decided to risk criminal prosecution for copyright infringement" any more plausible than that

Learn (4, Insightful)

Scutter (18425) | about a year ago | (#44046369)

Or, you know, maybe learn from the success of Apple iTunes and start selling eBooks for a reasonable cost and maybe they won't be pirated nearly as much. I know that the publishing process costs money that you deserve to recoup, and you deserve to make a profit, but it is offensive to charge as much as (or more) than a physical book for an eBook.

Re:Learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046521)

Or, you know, maybe learn from the success of Apple iTunes and start selling eBooks for a reasonable cost

Funny how Apple iTunes didn't help the ebook market, isn't it?

Re:Learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046543)

Are you suggesting maximizing the cost vs demand curve!? That's not how dyeing industries work. You and your crazy thoughts....pfft.

Re:Learn (5, Funny)

Macgrrl (762836) | about a year ago | (#44046607)

That's not how dyeing industries work.

You negative attitude is colouring your response.

Re:Learn (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046573)

Are you talking about the same Apple who is currently in legal hot water for conspiring to set high book prices?

Good call!

Great trick to remove the watermark (5, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about a year ago | (#44046373)

- Scan/OCR book
- Google translate into German
- Google translate back into English
- Print book

Voila! No more watermark. You can share with confidence.

Re:Great trick to remove the watermark (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046439)

Too bad you can barely read it now.

Re:Great trick to remove the watermark (1, Interesting)

xQx (5744) | about a year ago | (#44046755)

Yes, so:

"They sat by the kitchen table and discussed the morning's news"

English-German-English becomes:

They all sat around the large rectangular lump of wood suspended by four vertical pillars and held a multidirectional conversation regarding that day before noon which owned its events.

Or English-Mandarin-English becomes:

Sat in Kitchen by table discussed news of morning. ...

What could possibly go wrong?

as a software programmer... (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44046381)

Who says it's a hash? Just add one extra space somewhere in the book in an unusual place or replace an apostrophe with a similar character or something. Then if someone adds something else, you're still checking for that one single location of the alteration to prove it's them. It'd be awfully unlikely in a long book that you'd replicate the exact alteration that they made to someone else's book, thus appearing to be 2 different people.

Re:as a software programmer... (1)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about a year ago | (#44046721)

Can't pirates just write a script to fix all spaces and punctuation and spelling mistakes? Grammar mistakes would be the hardest or if a word is "misspelled" into an actual word (like spelling "too much" as "to much" or "two much"). I think fixing spaces/apostrophes/etc. would be the easiest.

Done already (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#44046387)

Don't they do this to pre-release screenings and theatre viewings of movies to find out who done the leak or who let the video camera into the theatre?

Re:Done already (4, Funny)

Anarchduke (1551707) | about a year ago | (#44046493)

Yes, which is why they have successfully stamped out piracy, it is part of the sordid past of the Internet. Thank god we'll never see pirated e-books again.

Re:Done already (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year ago | (#44046589)

That just targets the theaters where the offending recording is made, not the person making the recording. All it does is making theaters more vigilant against people smuggling in cameras.

And then I don't get the point of those cam rips. I've downloaded a few, but didn't get further than five minutes into the movie as the quality is so terrible. Low res, poor sound - just not watchable.

So, uh... what are they copyrighting then? (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year ago | (#44046399)

If the content of a book--what is thought up and written by a human--is what is traditionally copyrighted, then what exactly are they copyrighting in this case? Obviously the content is "written" by the writer and then published in an electronic book format similarly to how it would be printed on pages and made into a physical book, but if that content is automatically tampered with by machines it is no longer what the author wrote. How would copyright work in this case? Hundreds of copyrights of individual "variations" of the same exact book? Sounds like a fucking mess. And that's not to say how irritating it would be to know that you are, in fact, not getting exactly what the author wrote. Not to mention the fact that you're not getting ownership of it while still paying for it.

Re:So, uh... what are they copyrighting then? (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year ago | (#44046625)

No issue there. Changing a few letters in Harry Potter doesn't make it your work, either. Under copyright, copies don't have to be exact (otherwise taping a song from radio would never have been an issue), it has to be very similar. Likewise a band playing covers of another band: they're different, some notes are wrong, rhythms are slightly off, yet it's still the same song.

Furthermore it's fully legal to get inspiration from someone else's work - and use elements of copyrighted works in your own works. You just have to make sure it is obviously a different work.

Re:So, uh... what are they copyrighting then? (2)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year ago | (#44046689)

Ah, I see--that clears it up well. I still think the idea of altering the writer's words and punctuation in the name of piracy is going too far though.

Re:So, uh... what are they copyrighting then? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year ago | (#44046717)

Agreed, but that's a whole different issue.

This will just lead to more theft, from consumers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046417)

With this system I become a target for anyone who wants to steal my ebooks so that they can circulate them and have me take the fall for it, and they can find that I have lots of ebooks to steal if I also like to do online reviews or recommendations.

Calibre (1)

macemoneta (154740) | about a year ago | (#44046419)

While I haven't tried on any DRM'd ebooks, Calibre's converters have to options to play with all kinds of spacing and punctuation during conversion (smart punctuation, transliterate unicode to ascii). I've used them when converting text documents and saved web pages to epub, and they make very nice ebooks. I have a hard time believing that this kind of steganography would survive such a reformatting, but I guess we'll hear about it eventually if it does.

strip (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about a year ago | (#44046425)

It depends. If it's done well, it can be fairly resistant to any noise introduced into the system.

As an author myself, I see a very different issue with this. I don't want some robot changing my text. Some of those words it might decide to change because they are similar I may have pained over and decided for a reason to use this one and not the other one. Granted, few authors pick every single word intentionally, but the software won't know which ones are carefully selected.

Often times, there is subtle meaning. For example, I might decide to always use the same phrase in certain contexts, giving a very subtle hint to the reader which things are alike and which ones are different. One he might not even notice consciously.

It also will cause all sorts of trouble to quoting. How will teachers handle this if a student quotes a text but the quote differs slightly from the version the teacher has read? One of the most important things we teach students is that quotes need to be exactly as they appear, with any omissions or changes clearly marked.

That also extends to quotes within the text. If character A reports what character B said, I doubt the system will have enough text understanding to change both texts the same way, so the reader will be left wondering if it is intentional that there's a slight difference and what the author wants to hint at, when there's no such thing implied.

Re:strip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046701)

You don't need to actually change words, and they probably won't for all the reasons you cited. Rather they will do things like alter the number of spaces (singer or double) after a sentence - an astute reader might notice it, but it really doesn't change the content in any meaningful way.

Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046791)

I don't think you read the article. They are actually changing the words. There is a link to a list of examples.However it is in German, so I'll forgive you for not reading it.

better article

http://torrentfreak.com/new-drm-changes-text-of-ebooks-to-catch-pirates-130616/

Yes it is going to change the content, in meaningful ways. This is writing. Imagine if they said a computer algorithm was going to change some of the words in a movie, or in a song, and also the background music, and maybe a setting or two. So that every movie or music video or song was uniquely identified. You'd have every actor, singer, songwriter, musician, director, videographer, script writer, etc up in arms about it. This is awful, completely wrong way to go about things.

Amazon Kindle Books (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about a year ago | (#44046435)

I'm going to stop sending every typo and punctuation mistake I catch to Amazon. I thought I was helping.

It's understandable (3, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#44046441)

After all, we saw how quickly the iTunes Store withered and died after the DRM got removed from all that music. It'd be crazy for the publishers NOT to double down on DRM!

easy solution (1)

period3 (94751) | about a year ago | (#44046445)

So just remove all punctuation STOP Like old telegrams STOP Problem solved STOP

old technology! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046447)

Map makers have done this forever.

Future Confrontation (1)

sehlat (180760) | about a year ago | (#44046457)

"You're under arrest for possession of a pirated copy of "Megasuper Blockbuster."

"How do you know it's pirated?"

"There are no spelling or punctuation errors in it!"

Should be easy to defeat (1)

AaronW (33736) | about a year ago | (#44046463)

It should be fairly easy to defeat. All someone needs is several different copies of the book and do a comparison. It should be easy to spot what has changed and then undo them.

OCR scan hardcopy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046471)

A good bit more work but someone could scan a hardcopy version of the book. Since hardcover books can be purchased with good ole fashioned cash, good luck tracking that.

This idea is as new as my grandma (3, Insightful)

Stonefish (210962) | about a year ago | (#44046485)

There were printers in areas with classifed documents which automatically used to do this. They worked with whitespace, fonts and punctuation. Photocopies of the documents could still be tracked. Great work guys you deserve a badge.
Amazon will be able to close the loop by automatically downloading the books that you have on your kindle to "check" that you don't infringe and stomp on those badguys.

Obfustication (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046497)

The same technology could be used to create your very own, one of a kind, document that's untraceable to anyone else.

So obviously (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | about a year ago | (#44046507)

After you run a couple of copies through to strip this DRM, you need to add your own back in so their DRM verifier will translate it to, "I bet you thought this technique was clever, you fucking git."

You catch the buyer. (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about a year ago | (#44046513)

So what? What that does prove? That someone (maybe the one who bought the book, maybe not) took this book and shared it???
I still don't see how based on such a funny "watermark" they this could stand in the court. Anyone? Can you prove me wrong?

chinese ebook pub qidian.com (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046523)

chinese ebook pub qidian.com had used this technique for pass few years without any success. The pirate just compares multiple version of some book and auto replace the differ words with their synonyms.

Re:chinese ebook pub qidian.com (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year ago | (#44046647)

As you're talking about China, are you talking about pirates that are commercial businesses reselling those works? Or just individuals that like to share their stuff with friends and friends of friends?

will be quickly cracked (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about a year ago | (#44046545)

Just two copies of a book are probably enough to learn how to break the system, and a few more to know how to rig the text to target a particular poor schmuk.

Re:will be quickly cracked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046651)

Exactly, it seems like all you need to crack this "DRM" is a couple of copies of the book.

If the changes are at some set of fixed points in the book, you are likely to discover half of those points from just 2 books. If you then just rewrite those points slightly, that should introduce plenty of uncertainty. With more copies, you can introduce even more uncertainty. :)

If the changes are at random points of the book and those points do not correspond with those of other copies of the book, then you should be able to pick up all changed points from just 2 copies of the book. And with 3 copies of the book, you can know with reasonable certainty which version of the text is the "original".

Or maybe the researchers did something really smart. :)

- Jasper A. Visser

I will pay cash and share the fuck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046691)

Out of it.

That explains it! (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#44046699)

So that explains why the paid for ebooks of older texts have a pile of annoying mistakes while the Project Gutenberg version doesn't. I'd thought it was just publishers being sloppy and having very little respect for their customers, but at least now I know it's because they have even less respect for their customers and think their customers are thieves that want to "steal" the older books the publishers are not paying any royalties on.

Enough ranting at the big guys who are going for maximum dollar extraction from public domain stuff - anyone know how small publishers are coping with ebooks? Is it giving them more of a chance since distribution can be done on the net or are Amazon, Kobo etc locking them out? There were a lot of areas, such as non-US/UK science fiction, where publishers would have trouble finding more than half a dozen shops that would sell their stuff.

Arrogance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046713)

a little program that, when stripping the DRM, randomized a couple of pieces of punctuation to break the hash that the vendor is storing along with the sales record of the individual book."

There called crackers, and they will find the original software and rewrite it or find a way to to use it to get the books to add the imperfections to make it appear DRM enabled, or programmers, the list goes on, as to those willing and able to figure it out relatively quick.

Opposite day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046723)

So now, the pirates have a larger share of the "lending market", due to casual lenders no longer wanting the risk. This makes sharing material more lucrative to the pirates.

Feel free to correct my grammer and reshare this.

Not surprised. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046759)

I always assumed that even DRM free MP3s were going to have watermarks that would land you in legal trouble if the files got away from you no matter how innocently. I guess I was just paranoid enough. Different media, same shenanigans.

I listen to lots of music. Haven't purchased a song since about 2003 (I did regularly BEFORE the MP3 lawsuits). Thumbs up big media!!!

What about stolen phones? (2)

Gumbercules!! (1158841) | about a year ago | (#44046775)

So if my phone gets stolen and my eBooks get leaked, I'm now double screwed?
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