PaidContent wrote an article on what is being called SiDi—a fancier version of DRM—that would change minor text in a story.
Reports about the work first popped up on German blogs this week, with one blogger revealing examples that include changing wordings like “invisible” to “not visible” and “unhealthy” to “not healthy.” Other examples included sentences in which the order of words was changed, or in which hyphens were added to words.
The reason is add to a fingerprint or a signature that publishers can seemingly follow back, to see who bought that version of the book and to find out who pirated them.
A few thoughts popped into my mind when I read this article:
1. Have we really gotten to this point? Is book pirating so widespread and such an epidemic that these researchers are being paid to find another form of DRM? I don’t think we have reached that point—and I’m not really sure we would ever get to that point.
2. Are authors OK with this? Perhaps using synonyms seem OK, but if an author wanted to say ‘not healthy’ as opposed to saying ‘unhealthy,’ I’m pretty sure they would that in the first place. As a writer, I would be annoyed these little things are being changed, because we all know one word is better than two, and while the essence is the same, the flow of a sentence would slightly change. And in some cases, the actual meaning will be changed.
3. Have we stopped caring so much about the story now? It’s all about protecting the publishers. Again, this goes back to my first point. I can’t imagine we are at the point when this even seems necessary.
4. Even if this does happen and it goes widespread, people who want to pirate books will always find ways to pirate books. Always.
5. Alternatively, this is something I have seen employed in the newspaper world. In large groups of texts, such as a gate for a track meet or long lists for items, newspapers have inserted mistakes on purpose—such as an extra comma, or forgetting a period. This way they could track who was actually taking their work without attribution.