Due to the widespread availability of free information online, readers expect to be able to share the content they have and often measure the relative ease of access to new documents against documents with no DRM at all.
In this context, it is difficult to create document security systems that do not frustrate readers. Document security, inexpertly applied, can quickly become a deterrent for readers, especially as many people often feel they can most-likely find the information they need from another, more accessible source.
For some content providers, leaving documents unprotected is simply not an option. Therefore, a balance must be struck between creating a positive experience for readers and maintaining document security.
There are no set rules governing how best to do this - the balance will depend on the specific needs of different content providers and readers. Nevertheless, a few fundamental issues should be borne in mind.
Here we’ll discuss the first three of six points we think you need to consider when determining the level of reader experience when choosing DRM.
1. Balance reader privacy vs. your “need” to know about them
Content publishers must find a balance between gathering information about the reader (in order to validate the reader’s right to access the content) with the reader’s right to withhold personal information. Many content publishers feel the allure of asking for additional data during a transaction, but asking for more information than is necessary for the transaction can leave the reader feeling that security system is needlessly time-consuming and invasive.
2. Consider content persistence vs. content protection
Unencrypted content can be widely and easily transferred. As discussed above, easily shared information is shared – and often. For the online content sharers in this study,
“The most popular content is humorous material, with 88% forwarding jokes or cartoons. The second most popular category is news (56%), followed by healthcare and medical information (32%), religious and spiritual material (30%), games (25%), business and personal finance information (24%), and sports/hobbies (24%).”
While unprotected digital information can be freely shared, it is usually of less value than information from protected sources. Encrypted content, on the other hand, is only accessible for as long as the reader recalls how to unlock it and is therefore easily lost to posterity. We all know how easy it is to lose - or forget - usernames and passwords.
3. Consider document protection vs. infringing on private property
In 2005 the Sony CD copy protection scandal brought the controversy surrounding DRM right into the public view. In short, Sony/BMG created software which was silently installed when customers used their desktop computers to play music CDs.
This opened security holes on the PCs, causing a range of serious problems. Sony/BMG faced many lawsuits and were forced to recall the affected CDs.
In this instance, a well-known corporation neglected to find a balance between copyright protection and consumer privacy. Specifically, they failed to realize that many consumers are reluctant to have proprietary software installed on their computers, particularly if it’s done surreptitiously.
Check back with us in a couple weeks to read part 2 of this post where we'll discuss the 2nd three points you should consider when picking your DRM solution.
Don't want to wait? You can read the full excerpt in our white paper: Beyond DRM – 6 Steps to Great Reader Experiences.