CUSTOMER SHOWCASE

HarperCollins

Heading off rip-offs in the publishing industry

Digimarc Guardian has allowed us to safeguard our authors’ rights and revenues and be more strategic about protecting our catalog."

- Neha Vyas, Global Anti-Piracy Manager at HarperCollins

Piracy has always been a parasitic crime, whether in ancient times or today. Seafaring swashbucklers commandeered cargo that others had mined or harvested, and online pirates profit from the hard work of authors, musicians, filmmakers and other artists when they illegally mass-reproduce digital versions of their works.

HarperCollins, a worldwide publisher for thousands of authors, began to feel this predatory pinch in 2010. As tablet computers like the iPad and Kindle grew in popularity, e-book sales almost doubled, according to the Association of American Publishers. While the new format gave HarperCollins and its authors an additional source of revenue, it also made it easier for pirates to illegaly copy and distribute their content.

Taking a More Strategic Approach

The company wanted to proactively prevent its extensive portfolio from suffering a similar fate as that of the music and film industry. At that time few publishing houses put resources into combatting piracy, those that did struggled with traditional digital rights management technologies, such as those that limit the number of devices on which a media object may be installed, which are easily circumvented. They also put an unnecessary burden of proof on legitimate consumers. In 2011, research into alternative options led HarperCollins to Digimarc and its Guardian solution.

Using metadata provided by HarperCollins, Digimarc crawls the web on a daily basis, identifying any copyright-infringing content. If or when marked files are discovered, the contained identifiers are reported back to HarperCollins, along with the full details of the infringement. As HarperCollins’ e-books are distributed into retail channels, Digimarc’s watermarking technology is used to prevent pre-publication leaks. The technology contains unique identifiers which allow HarperCollins to trace the watermark back to its suppliers.

"Digimarc Guardian has allowed us to safeguard our authors' rights and revenues and be more strategic about protecting our catalog," said Neha Vyas, Global Anti-Piracy Manager at HarperCollins.

Putting the Solution to the Test

The solution achieved a significant success for HarperCollins in 2015, as the company prepared to launch one of its biggest titles of the year. Go Set a Watchman is the previously unknown second novel by Harper Lee, whose iconic first book, To Kill a Mockingbird, is one of the most popular in American fiction. Thanks in part to Digimarc, the sequel was released without any pre-publication leaks and a lower rate of piracy overall than anticipated.

Digimarc Guardian is especially useful in protecting ongoing popular targets such as romance novels and series, especially those with movie tie-ins. In addition to detecting piracy, Digimarc also identifies scam sites. These are sites designed to look legitimate but which trick users into providing personal information, credit card numbers, and/or installing malware on their computers in exchange for the promise of e-books that the site does not actually have to distribute.

"Our focus on anti-piracy protection is a key part of our strategy to add value for our authors," Vyas said. "In addition to our skilled and experienced editors, world class marketing and pricing and analytics services , authors can also rely on our vigilant anti-piracy protection to protect them and their work."

Combatting online piracy requires publishers to recognize threats and take swift, determined action to stop the spread. As a publishing leader, HarperCollins is aware of the pressure on it to minimize uncontrolled distribution of authors’ works and lost revenue. Since adopting Digimarc Guardian, the company has added to its publishing services a comprehensive anti-piracy solution which looks to improve customer loyalty, protect revenues and stop pirates in their tracks.

Digimarc Guardian has allowed us to safeguard our authors’ rights and revenues and be more strategic about protecting our catalog."

- Neha Vyas, Global Anti-Piracy Manager at HarperCollins