What is the Best Way to Secure your PDF Files from Piracy?

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Digital products just might be the best thing since sliced bread. With very little overhead and no inventory to worry about, it’s an easy and profitable way to make passive income.

Unfortunately, the digital nature of these goods makes them a prime target for piracy. An estimated $5.47 million in sales is lost due to e-book piracy and that number is only going to go up.

Fortunately, there are ways to secure your PDF file. Read on below to find out how.

1. Create product licenses

A neat way to secure your PDF file is to create a product license for it. Popular among Saas companies, this method requires you to enter a license key to gain access to your PDF. 

Creating a product license has several benefits, such as:

  • Increased protection: Because your product can’t be accessed without the license key, pirates can’t access it and license keys are difficult to hack.
  • Remote locking: Exactly as it sounds, remote locking allows you to disable the license for a product. This is handy if you suspect someone is redistributing your product because it lets you disable all current and future downloads.
  • Download monitoring: Product licenses allow you to track downloads, so you can keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

It’s important to keep in mind that the extra protection offered by product licenses comes at the cost of convenience. Your customers will have to enter the license key every time they want to access your product, which they could find troublesome.

2. Choose an e-commerce store with piracy protection

The e-commerce store you use is important if you sell PDF. Different stores provide different kinds of protection, so make sure to shop around and see what is offered. A few important features to look for include:

  • Secure cloud hosting: Cloud computing systems are stored on servers owned by big companies rather than a single computer. Often, this method of hosting is more secure because those big companies have dedicated security teams whose sole purpose is to prevent piracy and fraud.
  • Limited downloads: Some e-commerce stores, like Sellfy, generate unique download codes that limit the number of times a customer can download your PDF file. This helps reduce piracy since users are less likely to share their download link if they have limited access to it.
  • PDF file stamping: Another great way to discourage piracy is with PDF file stamping. It literally stamps the buyer’s email address at the bottom of each page of the PDF, making buyers less likely to share it because their own information is being shared as well.

You don’t have to face piracy alone. Choosing an e-commerce store that offers robust piracy protection means you’ll have a dedicated team of security professionals that have your back if your PDF files are compromised

3. Set up Google Alerts

Digital security is a moving target and new methods to protect products are always evolving. Unfortunately, that means hackers are evolving too. Sometimes hackers are able to slip through security defenses, so it’s a good idea to monitor the internet for any illegal copies of your work.

This is actually easier than it sounds. Simply pick a unique statement from your PDF and create a Google Alert around it. If that phrase is posted anywhere on the internet, you’ll receive an instant alert and can go investigate whether your product has been pirated or if it’s just an avid fan quoting your work.

If it turns out your product is being pirated, you can then file a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) notice. DMCA then contacts the website and either has them remove your pirated content or they have the website shut down, regardless of what country the piracy happened in. 

In conclusion

It’s important to take the appropriate actions to secure your PDF file but it’s equally important to remember that digital security is always changing and chances are that at some point your content will be shared illegally. 

When that happens, don’t panic. The DMCA was made to help hardworking digital sellers like yourself and sometimes you can even turn piracy into a good thing.


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