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The Internet DRM Your Rights Online

Ask Slashdot: How To Deliver a Print Magazine Online, While Avoiding Piracy? 298

Posted by samzenpus
from the please-don't-steal-this-magazine dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I work for a technical magazine that has been available in print for over 40 years. Moving to providing an alternative subscription available online has been hard; the electronic version is quickly pirated and easily available around the world each month. We are a small company, and our survival depends not only on advertising but on the subscription fees. Do any slashdotters have experience of delivering electronic magazines via a subscription service in a way that is cost effective and secure?"
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Ask Slashdot: How To Deliver a Print Magazine Online, While Avoiding Piracy?

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  • Fingerprint it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 21, 2013 @12:55PM (#44343565)

    The best approach for dealing with piracy is making it easy to go after those that do it, without making it harder for everyone else. There are a number of good fingerprinting / watermarking schemes around. Try that as first approach with a readable "This copy has been bought by XXX" marker on the first or second page to make it obvious that it is a personalized copy.

    • Watermarking can be considered in addition to "secure document" techniques, such as password-protected PDF files. While technology cannot prevent piracy (and just as a printed magazine can be photocopied or scanned and shared), technology can remind users to behave. If each copy can be traced to the original user, those users should be disincented from piracy. Finding a balance between security and usability may be a more difficult issue to resolve.
      • Re:Fingerprint it! (Score:4, Informative)

        by sqlrob (173498) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:29PM (#44343851)

        Password protected PDF secure? You're kidding, right?

        My wife and I had some password protected PDFs that wouldn't open on our e-readers. I stripped the passwords in about 5 seconds, since I had the passwords because we were authorized users. No problems reading on our devices after that.

        These PDFs were part of a collection, some were passworded, most were not. My wife and I both had the same password even though we downloaded with differing credentials, so I'm assuming everybody got the same password. Security, what's that?

        • Re:Fingerprint it! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:47PM (#44344009) Journal

          Not only that there are plenty of PDF password strippers out there that if you have a quad or better (and considering you can get AMD quads for like $70 its kinda nuts not to have at least a quad) can go through entire rainbow tables in no time at all, just set it to use dual cores and you can keep doing other stuff while it runs in the background.

          I'd say the best bet is the watermarks but they'll have to be well hidden as its too easy to strip a watermark out if its obvious, maybe have an obvious personalization watermark and a second hidden one with a code that can be traced back to the purchaser, that way you go after the source without punishing your readers.

          And I'd like to say how proud I am of this community right now, here is a legitimate small business trying to stay alive and instead of the usual "Just accept getting ripped off, information wants to be free!" bullshit instead there is actual discussion on how best to protect his content while still giving the customers a good experience. If everyone would work together and find compromises like this maybe we could actually show its possible to sell digitally without nasty DRM schemas like SecuROM, we've had Steam show us the way for games but there is still a lot of work that needs doing for e-books and other works and its just nice to see it being discussed like rational adults instead of breaking down into dogmas and bullshit.

          • by sqlrob (173498)

            we could actually show its possible to sell digitally without nasty DRM schemas like SecuROM

            You think? [gog.com]

    • by bazmail (764941)
      Good thinking. And when your laptop is stolen/infected with a trojan and your files eventually make their way onto the net, you can be sued. Everybody wins.
      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        In which case all issues (save the last) are old issues. Not too important.

        Instead of sueing, a simple warning by e-mail to the source of the leak will most likely do. Close account of subcriber if warnings are found to be repeatedly ignored (i.e. newer issues are found online).

    • Re:Fingerprint it! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TemperedAlchemist (2045966) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:40PM (#44343941)

      Nah.

      The best approach for dealing with piracy is making your content easily accessible, hassle-free (i.e., no DRM), and offered at a fair price.

      • Exactly! This is how Amazon sells so many MP3s and Kindle books. NY Times, on the other hand, doesn't get it. I peruse their headlines online just about every day. Click on an article every other day or so. Some times I get the "Limit Exceeded" message that sends me to their subscribe page. All well and good but I can't get an online subscription only and their prices (considering I only want online access) are ridiculous.
      • by westlake (615356)

        The best approach for dealing with piracy is making your content easily accessible, hassle-free (i.e., no DRM), and offered at a fair price.

        The problem is that the geek's notion of a fair price almost always boils to down to "free."

      • by Camael (1048726) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @10:37PM (#44347143)

        The best approach for dealing with piracy is making your content easily accessible, hassle-free (i.e., no DRM), and offered at a fair price.

        Let me expand on this point. There are broadly 2 kinds of pirates - those who enjoy your product and pirate for personal use (the fans), and those who pirate commercially to make money for themselves (the thieves).

        The fans are normally concerned with easy and cheap access to your product. Give it to them and most fans will not bother to pirate because it is risky (exposure to malware), often time consuming (some obscure products can be really hard to find), inconvenient (usually need to assemble from multiple sources) or require technical expertise (eg. applying cracks, rooting). A good example would be Steam [nydailynews.com] which provides cheap and convenient access to games. A counter example would be Game of Thrones [cnn.com] - If you live in Oz, you can't get it (no access) and it is expensive (requires cable subscription).

        As for the thieves, normally an obscure small technical magazine would not be of interest to them. The exception is if your product is so expensive that even your fans are willing to buy copies from pirates, making it financially worthwhile. Again, reducing your product to a fair price (by market standards) will largely solve this problem. One example is AutoCAD, which has a captive market, ridiculous monopoly pricing and a huge piracy problem.

        Since you mentioned "secure", I assume you are contemplating some form of DRM. Just be aware of its disadvantages -its usually expensive (you need to buy/licence the DRM, maintain some way of policing it, maintain customer service to handle irate buyers, have some sort of refund sceheme for customers who cannot run the DRM), it can negatively impact sales (see Sony rootkits [wikipedia.org]), and if badly implemented, can actually cause lawsuits e.g. SecureROM [latimes.com].

    • wrong approach (Score:5, Insightful)

      by poetmatt (793785) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @02:01PM (#44344149) Journal

      the wrong approach for dealing with piracy is going after those who do it.

      the right approach is offering something which doesn't give them a reason to "pirate" it. Not to mention that the term isn't even correct, you can't pirate an ebook/magazine.

      example: having your magazine available worldwide without restrictions.
      example: offering something in the digital version that print doesn't.

      TLDR version: put in effort to make a good magazine instead of doing the lazy step of "we need more control to deal with piracy"

      • the right approach is offering something which doesn't give them a reason to "pirate" it. ... example: having your magazine available worldwide without restrictions. ... you can't pirate an ebook/magazine

        I struggle to imagine how your example could be any more pointless. Like pissing into the wind and congratulating yourself because you remembered to keep your mouth closed.

        Especially this -> You can't pirate and ebook/magazine? Is this just some petty terminology hangup, would you prefer the terms steal/

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 21, 2013 @12:55PM (#44343569)

    So just make it cheap and easy for real subscribers. If it's not worth someone's time to pirate something, they won't. Also, add something that can't be pirated, like an expert's forum, with article authors participating.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:12PM (#44343733)

      Your problem is ill conceived, you are grudgingly moving to the web because that's what everybody's doing, but you aren't really willing to change the business model and ask for a way to keep things working like before. I have some bad news for you: the web is a completely new medium and you need to adapt or disappear - technical journals will survive for some time but they will eventually die just like the rest of the print media.

      To elaborate the parent's post: give it away for free, with a limit of free articles per device, a.k.a porous paywall [slate.com]. The heavy users will buy a subscription while the casual users willing to pirate but not subscribe will get the articles free contributing to your advertising revenue, which generally pays little for repeat visitors.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:13PM (#44343737)

      The expert's forum is an excellent idea. I often read the article comments for valuable insights beyond the article.

      This makes me think the best way is to deliver the "magazine" in a continuous flow instead of as a "monthly". On the web, monthly magazines make no sense. Publish an article every few days and link between articles such as part 1 and part 2.

      Who wants to pirate one day at a time? Who wants to have to sort and organize multi-part articles? This increases the labor for the pirates and actually gives you some labor flexibility on producing content.

      • by RelaxedTension (914174) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @02:30PM (#44344383)

        This increases the labor for the pirates and actually gives you some labor flexibility on producing content.

        You clearly have not seen the tenacity that pirates are capable of. For most, it isn't about ripping someone off, it's about sharing something. Add to that a lot of people with with a lot of time on their hands, and they will work tirelessly to put those articles together, day after day, month after month.

        The other posters suggesting the value-adds mixed with free are bang on. Forums, article archives, lots of "free" stuff, and a reasonable price will potentially get you far more revenue on the net than your print editions would. Embed short videos or effects that help get the article's point across. That's tougher to include in pirated versions, and generally won't be, so you have one up one the pirated version. Use the medium to it's potential, and they will come.

        Most important, work on eyeballs for advertising revenue, not necessarily subscriptions. You have the potential ,make so much more money on the web if you have good content.

      • by icebike (68054) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:01PM (#44344609)

        This!

        The concept of a magazine was born with print, and should die when print dies.
        Why fight deadlines when you can simply post them as you finish them, and have people returning to your site every day?

    • Seriously - listen up to this.

      You need to be posting videos, extra articles, guest articles and all things awesome online.

      You need to talk up your online swag in your magazine and make it part of the experience. And you want it to be part of the total experience of owning the magazine. Indispensable in other words.

    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:27PM (#44343843)
      I agree that you are looking at the wrong numbers. Who cares how many people are reading (pirating) it? You should only care about how many people are paying for it, and work to increase that number. One thing that comes to mind is special deals with advertisers that are keyed off the individual user name. Don't have a paid account? Don't get 15% off a widget... This could also be more advertising revenue.
      • by hedwards (940851)

        I'd mod you up if I had mod points.

        I wish more folks would understand this. If you make the content reasonably priced and you use a format that's available cross platform, then you shouldn't have any trouble selling enough copies to pay for production and a tidy profit.

        The cost of DRM can easily wipe out the proceeds of hundreds of subscriptions, or more, without guaranteeing a single additional subscription. And in all likelihood the magazine will be pirated within a day or two of release anyways.

    • by bfandreas (603438)
      You'll also have to take publication frequency into account. If you are running a daily rag, then piracy will not be an issue as long as you can provide faster than the pirates. If it is a monthly rag you might have to reconsider.
      The best thing to do is actually to have a tablet app with a no-fuss subscription. Also you'll need a website with free articles and a link to the app in cas you won't get featured. Also being available via Amazon and B&N helps. Ease of purchase is the key here. And you'll obv
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 21, 2013 @12:55PM (#44343571)

    then it can be pirated.

    • by IBitOBear (410965) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @06:15PM (#44345873) Homepage Journal

      Seriously, just ask your client base not to copy the mag, and maybe even do "pay what you want". It worked really well for The Humble Bundle.

      If the product is good and you treat your customer base well, they will pay. IF you don't they wont.

      The people who are going to copy it are not the people you want to care about as customers. Count them for ad revenue (like any other advertisement model, the reader is the product as far as the advertisers are concerned so copying is good from that angle.

      You just need to find the sweet spot between universally free distribution (for high advert return) and enough direct sales for it's own sake.

      And don't be a dick.

  • ... as "privacy", which makes it make more sense.
  • DRM Free (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:01PM (#44343643)

    There are two types of people. Type 1 will pirate. Type 2 won't. DRM doesn't stop Type 1. DRM does stop Type 2 from enjoying your product. Type 1 will discover your product and then look for a pirated copy. Type 2 will stumble across a pirated copy and then subscribe to your product.

    Your basic question is whether there are enough Type 2 people to make it worth your while to offer an electronic version. My answer is: I have no idea. I only know that as a Type 2 person myself, if I am interested in your product, it is much more valuable to me without DRM, because then I can view it in a way I like and introduce other Type 2 people to it who may also subscribe.

    • Re:DRM Free (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ragzouken (943900) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:22PM (#44343803)

      The simplicity is appealing, but you're just wrong. Some people will buy if they can't pirate. Some people will buy if pirating is difficult. Some people will buy if buying is easy. There are all kinds of people out there.

      • by dpidcoe (2606549)

        The simplicity is appealing, but you're just wrong. Some people will buy if they can't pirate. Some people will buy if pirating is difficult. Some people will buy if buying is easy. There are all kinds of people out there.

        A few more:
        Some people will pirate if they can't buy
        Some people will pirate if it's too hard to buy
        Some people will pirate if they feel that it's too expensive for what they're getting

        And if you're Ubisoft, some people will pirate because they trust a random uploader to piratebay more than they trust you to keep their account details secure.

      • by Kirth (183)

        I quite simply won't buy if there's any DRM. Maybe I'll get a pirated version, maybe not, but in any case you've lost a customer.

    • Re:DRM Free (Score:5, Insightful)

      by runeghost (2509522) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:35PM (#44343907)

      Also, Type 1 (pirates) can easily turn into Type 2 (paying customers) when their circumstances change. Often pirates are people who literally cannot become customers. Many college students have abundant time but little money, inclining them to pirate readily while making purchasing an unattractive option. After graduating and (hopefully) acquiring a somewhat lucerative job and a busier schedule they'll happily pay a reasonable price to save themselves some now-precious time.

      But if you make it too hard to access your content, you're going to end up shooting yoursefl in the foot. Bury your content behind a secure and obnoxious paywall and sure, Type 1's won't ever see a pirated copy, but neither will they potentially become future customers, because they never developed a taste for your content. And many Type 2's will decline to spend their precious time (even 5 or 10 minutes may end up being too much if there are other options available to them) dealing with your DRM. And that's assuming you don't manage to kill your own word of mouth (or even search engine presence) by locking up your content.

      Obviously the precise impact of your DRM will vary depending on the nature of your content, but in many cases (I personally think it's the vast majority of cases) pirates don't represent any loss in current sales, but do represent potential future sales.

  • troll here. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:02PM (#44343647)

    Unfortunately, the /. crowd (or at least the younger ones) believe that information wants to be free.

    Among others:
    - How dare you put ads and cookies? It's an invasion of privacy!
    - Paywall? Everything is a rehash from AP/ Reuters!
    - We don't need journalists...we have bloggers!
    - We're just trying out things on piratebay before we buy it....if it wasn't free in the first place, we would've never paid for it in the first place, hence it's not theft.
    - it's not theft because you can make infinite copies.
    - I want to buy it, not license it. If I paid for something, I *own* it.

    blah blah, side-arguments to copyright and such, and how the system is broken.

  • Don't worry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alomex (148003) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:03PM (#44343653) Homepage

    Don't worry about it. A regular paper magazine can be "pirated" by loaning the issue to friends. You actually want that, because the more people are familiar with your magazine and the more they read it, the likelier they are to subscribe.

    • Re:Don't worry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by brit74 (831798) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:48PM (#44344029)
      Yeah, but there's only one copy of the magazine and the owner generally wants it back. Plus if the borrower is borrowing a copy every month, it gets onerous and makes him look like a cheap freeloader to his friend. Conversely, when people pirate on the internet, one upload means that a million people can get a copy, they get a permanent copy, they never worry about giving it back, and they don't look like an onerous freeloader to his friends.

      My point is that there are more limitations and disincentives to borrowing a physical magazine than there is to digital piracy. This produces stronger incentives for a physical borrower to buy his own subscription than digital piracy does. As a result, creators see digital piracy as much more threatening than physical piracy. (This is the same reason creators see libraries as less problematic than digital piracy.)
      • by Alomex (148003)

        You are right, but still there is hassle factor on making the copy available and waiting for your friend to make it available, etc. I.e. not worth the trouble if you price it competitively.

  • by raftpeople (844215) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:04PM (#44343659)
    Make the advertisements and credits for your web site part of your content in a way that it's too much work to remove so the copied versions retain this stuff. Like watermarks in images, maybe an article delivered as an image with advertising and credits, etc. Then embed tracking links so you can demonstrate to advertisers the total "viewage".
  • Well now (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:04PM (#44343661)

    This should be interesting...

    Is Slashdot REALLY the place you think you'll get the best advice on this topic? I expect you're mostly going to hear from people who expect everything available for free.

    In any case - do you know for sure piracy is causing significant issues for you? Just because something IS available on torrent sites doesn't mean that's where everyone who was a print subscriber is getting it now. I tend to believe a lot of people that download torrented stuff are only doing so because it's available for free - they have zero interest in buying it, and in the old days would never have been one of your print subscribers.

    iTunes manages to sell a lot of music without protecting it at all, for example. Maybe you're thinking about it backwards - rather than focussing on making it hard to get at your content, instead think "how can we deliver this content in a compelling, visually interesting, easy to navigate way? People who were inclined to pay for "print" may very well be inclined to pay for continued access to that expertise, if they feel they're getting their money's worth.

    • by ultranova (717540)

      iTunes manages to sell a lot of music without protecting it at all, for example. Maybe you're thinking about it backwards - rather than focussing on making it hard to get at your content, instead think "how can we deliver this content in a compelling, visually interesting, easy to navigate way?

      And the answer, contained in that very same paragraph, is of course: sell it through appropriate online stores and let them deal with it.

    • by brit74 (831798)
      > "iTunes manages to sell a lot of music without protecting it at all"

      Keep in mind that iTunes has mostly captured sales from the physical market. If you compare how much music sales have declined since 2001 and then look at the amount of revenue that iTunes is bringing in, you'll notice that for about every $1 decline in music sales, iTunes has managed to pick up something like a paltry $0.15 in sales. (Now, I'm not arguing that the other $0.85 decline is necessarily caused by piracy, but it's wasn
  • Value (Score:5, Informative)

    by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:05PM (#44343665) Homepage

    In general, we think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the U.S. release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate's service is more valuable. Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty.

    - Gabe Newell

    • Yeah, we'll see how much Gabe believes that when he releases Half-Life 3 without DRM.........
      • Yeah, we'll see how much Gabe believes that when he releases Half-Life 3 without DRM.........

        Much as I hate DRM, Gabe has worked very hard at keeping his DRM out of the way of paying customers. He has also worked very hard at building a platform for delivering content is a very easy and trouble free way. Not very RMS friendly, but VERY customer focused, and I can respect that. (Enough, actually that I have the Linux Steam client on my machine right now.)

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Much as I hate DRM, Gabe has worked very hard at keeping his DRM out of the way of paying customers.

          Aside from the issue of completely shitting on First Sale in a way that defeats the concept in the US and has been ruled illegal elsewhere?

          • Much as I hate DRM, Gabe has worked very hard at keeping his DRM out of the way of paying customers.

            Aside from the issue of completely shitting on First Sale in a way that defeats the concept in the US and has been ruled illegal elsewhere?

            Only if you look at it as a sale, rather than a service. With DRM, it is never really a sale.

        • Here is what Gabe said:

          Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem.

          He obviously does not believe that enough to actually release the product without DRM. So either he believes his service sucks, or he doesn't believe what he said.

          • Here is what Gabe said:

            Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem.

            He obviously does not believe that enough to actually release the product without DRM. So either he believes his service sucks, or he doesn't believe what he said.

            Forget the fact that his "service" is still better than any of the competing app stores out there. He is focused on seervice and price, and you are focused on access control. His opnion is that access control (DRM) done will is not poor service. And, as much as I hate DRM, he is doing it very well. Unlike Google Play that gives me loads of problems.

            • Your point seems to be that his service doesn't suck. OK, then he doesn't believe what he said. That's perfectly acceptable.
    • by brit74 (831798)
      Gabe talks out of both sides of his mouth. It's true that making it convenient will reduce piracy. However, Steam is DRM. This shows that he full understands the other side of the equation as well: stopping piracy isn't just about better service, it's also about making piracy difficult for pirates.
  • by jameshofo (1454841) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:07PM (#44343679)
    Put a watermark on the page and hand out a few small warnings to those that are distributing to please stop, and slowly step up enforcement. Make it cheap enough that people wont want to pirate it, make it valuable enough that people will respect you enough not to. And build a community around your product, you can always go the DRM route but its ruling with an iron fist, and makes the content inaccessible and hostile to port to other devices, at that point your customers will put in the effort to pirate it because they have no respect for your company.

    Modern companies are getting worse at "customer service" and going the DRM route will make you just another one of the companies people love to hate.
    • It doesn't have to be an invisible watermark, either.

      Simply print the subscriber's name and email address on the cover of the magazine, just where their name and home address would be on the print copy.

  • I'm not a huge advocate of DRM or anything, but it seems like you should aim at the Apple/Android tablet market. Build or license a magazine app for content delivery. It'll let you control how much access your users get to the content -- can they save a copy? email it to someone? etc. -- while making it really convenient for your users to get the content delivered regularly and with minimum effort. I suppose you could try to do this on the desktop, but the mobile device world seems tailor-made to your ne

  • You mention that the publication can't be supported without the subscription fees due to not making enough on advertising. Maybe you should increase your advertising rates. If people are pirating the electronic version, than your circulation is higher and your advertising rates should be higher.

    If that doesn't fly just watermark them like other people mentioned and go after the pirates.

  • by quietwalker (969769) <pdughi@gmail.com> on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:11PM (#44343717)

    My wife used to work for a company called 'newsstand.com' that does this exact sort of thing.

    I can't say that they treated their employees well, and they really embraced the whole 'outsource jobs' thing, but, yeah. They have some sort of secured reader, they manage your subscriptions, etc. You actually get an electronic version of the print version, reflowed and reformatted to properly fit a pdf reader, as opposed to a separate digital copy with less features or ads or whatever.

    They're also used to dealing with publishers who can't spell IBM, though I don't know if they actually can help in those cases, at least it won't be a shock to them. So, if you or your IT staff are somehow mentally incapable, they can still handle you.

    I have no idea of the pricing or anything, however.

  • You could ask the publisher of Linuxjournal.com how it works for them. They've gone all digital (with no watermarks), and I've switched my subscription from paper to digital.
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:16PM (#44343765)

    the electronic version is quickly pirated and easily available around the world each month...

    Here's the thing; Everyone wants to change the world. Nobody thinks of changing their own thinking or approach to a problem. Nobody's going to beat "piracy". Not you, not the RIAA, the MPAA, or even the most powerful governments on Earth. All they can do is guilt and shame people, threaten and cajoule them, punish them, but they cannot stop them. Everyone thinks we're well into the information age, and it's easy to believe that when the devices we use are changing so fast. But we're still at the very beginning. This is a change to society that will take generations, not years. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

    Now, let's talk about computers. At their most basic, they are devices for the storage, transmission, and manipulation, of binary data. Fundamentally, information sharing is what computers do best, and that capability is what is driving this revolution of human consciousness. Trying to limit it or create new designs so it only works in one direction, is a practice doomed to failure over the long term. We can make short term alterations to our devices, make it more difficult, but we can't eliminate it without destroying the very thing that gives the computer value. This is something hackers, engineers, programmers, and geeks understand implicitly, but we have a hard time verbalizing it to outsiders.

    We have an even harder time convincing people like you, whose business depends on an outmodded idea that publication and distribution are married to each other, that distribution can be controlled in any way. It's our fault in part because we aren't naturally gifted at communicating how computers work -- it is a radically different approach to everything that came before. Sure, we can come up with phrases like "Information wants to be free", but it rings hollow before traditional modes of thinking. It doesn't communicate the why behind it. Information doesn't want anything. But its creation in digital format means that it is now bound to a new set of rules. Knowledge, once converted to digital form, is now subject to a whole new universe -- it's like the laws of physics got rewritten once digitized.

    You cannot stop "piracy". The future is instantanious information exchange, two-way, multi-modal, and without restriction. No matter what you, or the government, or anyone does, this will eventually be the case. I know it took hundreds of years before people really accepted the Earth is flat, and perhaps it will take even longer before people truly embrace unrestricted information exchange; But it is an inevitability.

    If you want help stopping this, you've come to the wrong place. The solutions offered up will be temporary, incomplete, and at a high cost. My advice to you is to change your thinking. You cannot stop information exchange, but you can give it additional value. In a world where all information is easily exchanged, the only value is in the decision to exchange it. The more you can do to convince people to make that exchange, the more value the goods will have. And as a packaged product, you can put things in like advertisement, etc., to support the costs of publication. Leverage this new resource to all but eliminate the cost of distribution. The network will find a way to do that for you. Focus on creating something worth sharing; And your reputation, your name, will gain value. That is what you sell, not the work itself. The work itself is just a collection of data.

    • ...I know it took hundreds of years before people really accepted the Earth is flat, and perhaps it will take even longer before people truly embrace unrestricted information exchange; But it is an inevitability...

      I still don't believe the Earth is flat. But I agree with the rest of your statement.

  • Consider some sort of watermarking. It is not as easy to watermark text as it is with pictures. But it is still possible. Every time an article is written the writer need to find a few places throughout the text where two different versions of the text are equally good. Sometimes this will come very natural, when the writer encounters a situation where [he]/[she] can't make up [his]/[her] mind about the wording, the choice can be left to the watermarking software.

    Leaving just a handful of bits for the water

  • Or the other tablet/e-reader magazine solutions.

    Why make it harder for yourself and try to roll your own when there already exists a solution.

  • Why should I? You ask for a way to protect your 'intellectual property' so you can make money with it. If I knew the answer to your question, it would be my IP. Give me one reason, why I should give it to you for free?

  • Magazines can charge subscription fees to the extent that there is value in the content. Magazines can sell advertizing to the extent that people see the content. There is a spectrum here, a slider (if you will) that you can set anywhere between two extremes.

    You're currently betwixt those two extremes. If you move to a model exclusively one way or the other, then the answer is obvious.

    A printed magazine is inconvenient to duplicate, so can survive on subscription fees for content. An online magazine costs n

    • My post fails to answer the original question, so here's an actual answer.

      Call up the advertizing departments of the major online magazines which have a subscription model, such as the New York Times [nytimes.com] and Wall Street Journal [wsj.com]. Tell them who you are and what you want to do, and ask if someone could discuss their situation with you and give some recommendations.

      Surprisingly, many people are willing to spend time helping others, giving advice, and outlining their experiences with a problem. Talking to someone wi

  • Piracy will help your business model. Just put your content on your website and update it regularly.

    If the content is truly technical you should get a CPM of many dollars.

  • www.homepower.com [homepower.com]
    They have a print version, but have been offering a PDF version (no DRM) for many years.
    The PDF used to be available for free download from the main web page, that seems to have changed so it is now available to subscribers only.
    I do not know what CMS (Content Management System) they use but it seems to work for them.
    Each subscriber gets a unique download url so I don't think it can be shared.

    Alternatively you could just create a FUDL (Fake Unique Download URL) like:
    www.example.com/5

  • Any technical attempts to prevent "piracy" are doomed. They will however decrease the value of the product to the customer and increase the cost of making it. So, if you want to kill your product, load it with DRM, make copying impossible, etc. You customers will show you the same respect you show for them.

    Also, your benchmark for success is not how many times your product gets copied without permission, your benchmark is how many times it sells. The "one copy pirated equals one sale lost" rhetoric complete

  • Stopping piracy is impossible

    As long as you have enough paying customers to make a profit, you are OK

    If you make your DRM too annoying, you will piss off your paying customers

    I suggest doing everything you can to reward your loyal, paying customers, while treating piracy as advertising expense

  • by Xel (84370) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @02:14PM (#44344265) Homepage

    I have been a reader of WIRED magazine since their first year. (calm down now; its just an example. let's argue the merits of Wired's newsworthiness elsewhere).
    I got an iPad, and when Wired came to the Newsstand app, I thought it would be an excellent thing for me- now I could read the magazine anywhere, anywhen. I didn't even have to pay, being a print subscriber was enough. But the thing is, I had to laboriously download each issue, they took up a lot of room on my iPad, and I just never remembered that there was an issue sitting, waiting for me.
    What did I do all those times i was stuck at an airport, or babysitting a sleeping baby, and had time on my hands? You'd THINK I would open up Newsstand and read an issue of Wired, but what I really did was opened up my RSS reader and skimmed headlines from dozens of blogs, all at once. Gizmodo, Engadget, Techcrunch, boingboing, Ars, Slashdot, and yes, Wired.
    I don't even read Wired any more. is it because of DRM, or watermarking? of course not. it's because: why would I sit down for an hour and read month-old news when i can get the headlines up-to-date every minute of every day, in bite-sized chunks?
    If you want to modernize and get online, that's great. But why are you only thinking of modernizing ONE part of your hundred-year-old delivery service? If you're just going online because that's what everyone is doing, I would say: forget it. Save your money. Keep printing your magazine, and the people who really need it for their jobs and their wellbeing will continue subscribing. But if you want to get with the Now, do it right. Stop thinking in monthly/bimonthly/quarterly/whatever publishing cycles. Publish a steady stream of articles and news, when they're ready, when they're relevant. Give subscribers a way to log in and go thorugh old content whenever they need it. Create a community, get information flowing in both directions. Add value. No one will bother pirating your content because there will be NEW content tomorrow. You can't pirate breaking news, and you cant pirate community feedback.

  • Do any slashdotters have experience of delivering electronic magazines via a subscription service in a way that is cost effective and secure?"

    You mean, at least as secure as the printed versions that presumably burst into flames when their buyer tries to lend them to anyone else?

  • You're ability to stop someone copying digital data off of a screen is sightly less possible than your ability to teleport to the moon.

    There is no technological solution to piracy. Instead, it's far more beneficial to view it as a type of progressive taxation and approach it from a pragmatic perspective.

    Computers are machines whose fundamental purpose is copying information. There is nothing you can realistically do to slow this down. There is no future in which computers become worse at copying.

    Another

  • by hey! (33014) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:17PM (#44344735) Homepage Journal

    which is content. You're not experts in DRM, so trying to roll your own is only going to be a PITA for you, and your customers, while hardly impeding anyone who wants to pirate.

    This means if you want a solution with DRM, you're going to publish through somebody who is doing DRM'd electronic distribution. That means Amazon's Kindle Publisher, the equivalent Barnes and Noble program, iTunes, or Kobo. The trickiest thing will be figuring out whose terms of use give you the most opportunity to recapture revenue.

    If you're publishing a paper magazine, chances are you are heavily into Adobe already. It would make sense to see what they're offering in terms of electronic distribution and DRM infrastructure to their magazine publishing customers. I'd be willing to bet they've got a solution targeted right at your kind of outfit, because you are hardly unique in your predicament.

    If DRM isn't that critical a concern for you, you might think outside the magazine publisher's box and go right to social media. I know that a number of publications are offering Facebook apps, and again because you are hardly unique in your situation I'd bet there's a way to capture advertising revenue through a Facebook app. Going this route you probably won't be able to keep folks from copying chunks of text from your magazine for their own purposes; that could be an issue for some of your contributors. That said, it's so convenient for users that wholesale piracy of the latest stuff probably won't be a practical concern for you.

  • taken is to give the digital edition away for free for regular subscribers... but let's skip the subscription model here and propose a solution for a distribution model that might be nice and add value for customers.

    Their digital distribution, for PC, Android and IOS is in the form of something that looks like the regular newspaper. Looks really good and it's zoomable and stuff like that. It's completely readable as such. But to add to that they've also put raw text posts for easy reading if you click on

We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.

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