Social DRM: When Adobe and Readium Are Too Restrictive - EditionGuard

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Social DRM: When Adobe and Readium Are Too Restrictive


December 1, 2022

For some authors, the level of digital rights management (DRM) offered by Adobe DRM and Readium LCP are overkill for their audiences. In these cases, social DRM is sufficient for their needs. Social DRM applies a minimum level of security that still allows readers more access to the ebooks they purchase.

Why Would an Author Choose Social DRM?

Social DRM is less restrictive than Adobe DRM and Readium LCP. However, it still helps protect your ebook from theft. And it does this without restricting the ability of your readers to download it multiple times or to multiple devices. For example, some people do leisure reading on both a tablet and a phone and switch indiscriminately between the two. Whereas a K-12 district or university may want to strictly limit access to materials to a school-issued device or a single device, indie authors trying to reach a wide fiction reading audience of sci-fi or romance or erotica readers may want to be less restrictive with their materials.

How Does Social DRM Work?

Social DRM software, also known as passive DRM protection, works by including visible and/or invisible information within the ebook that makes it easy to identify who the ebook belongs to. It offers lower levels of security than our Adobe DRM software and Readium LCP. But it has greater ease of use. EditionGuard offers two types of social DRM: EditionLink and EditionMark. Each has benefits that can be more useful for some indie authors, depending on their reading audience.


The biggest benefit of EditionLink is that it still allows authors to limit distribution on an ebook. So authors restrict how long the download link is active. Authors are able to restrict the number of times the ebook can be downloaded using the link. Yet unlike Adobe DRM, no special software is required to use EditionLink. EditionLink is an ideal solution for new indie authors who might not mind if the ebook is downloaded a few times or shared with a friend. Word-of-mouth advertising is often a terrific way for new authors to increase readership. Yet social DRM still protects the author by limiting how many times the link can be used and how long the link is active.


The biggest benefit of EditionMark is that it adds a watermark to the ebook. It’s a step up from EditionLink. Authors still have the ability to limit how long a link is active and how many times it can be downloaded. However, with EditionMark the author can insert a watermark in various points of the ebook at download showing who the owner of the ebook is. This practice inhibits sharing beyond a friend or two, because the purchaser’s name is tied to the ebook downloaded.

The Argument for Digital Rights Management

The people who say DRM is not necessary aren't the people losing three million dollars a year to pirated ebooks. They aren’t the people who work tirelessly to produce high quality creative content. They aren't trying to earn a living as an author, only to have their books show up on a website that has stolen the content and is profiting from their efforts. Digital rights management – in all its forms – is designed to protect the integrity of creators. Adding DRM to ebooks is no different than preventing someone from opening a theater and showing a stolen version of the latest blockbuster movie. DRM is a necessary protection for authors of all levels.

Social DRM Meets Authors and Readers in the Middle

The inconvenience of DRM that is too restrictive could cost indie authors sales. Casual readers don’t want to have to download the Adobe Reader just to be able to access a fiction book they’re going to devour in a week. Social DRM lets authors protect their creative works without adding too much inconvenience to their readers. It’s a best of both worlds solution that deters unauthorized sharing and downloading of content without making readers frustrated.

Social DRMs Cost Authors Less

Social DRMs have reduced or no download fees and offer readers the ability to instantly read your files. All DRM solutions are available to every author with any EditionGuard plan. You can compare the difference between EditionGuard’s social DRM solutions, Adobe DRM, and Readium LCP here.

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