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Publishing copy protection of pdf's/ebook etc

Discussion in 'Business Models, Niches, Industries' started by johk, Mar 19, 2017.

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  1. johk
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    johk New Contributor

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    Hi,

    I have a client that sells technical literature that he has written. They are available as printed versions but also as pdf’s.
    With the pdfs he is concerned about the copyright and users using the pdf and then copy/print the content.

    Do any of you had any experience with how to best protect pdf from getting distributed?
    Is the best way to create an app the user download and have to use to view the pdf?
    Or is it better to sell them on Amazon in a ebook version/format? Can you add a “copy” protection on an ebook?

    I thought I would ask the question here as there are a lot of publishrs here on the forum.
    Any insight on how to “lock” a pdf (or any other publishing format) from being copied would be much appreciated.

    Thanks
    JH
     
  2. KSR
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    KSR Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I know that if you have Adobe Acrobat, you can put passwords on PDF's, where you need to insert the password to open it.
     
  3. johk
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    johk New Contributor

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    Thanks,

    I know about the password for pdf’s – but they can still be downloaded to a local computer.
    Are there any way to serve the content (it being pdf’s or anything else) that can only be read but also interactive ie clicking on links within the document?
    I guess this could be done with an app that locks the user from copying the pdf – but was hoping there were any other options out there.

    Thanks
    JH
     
  4. Kyle Davidson
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    Kyle Davidson New Contributor

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    I am going to be honest: Why bother?

    No mater how much DRM or controls you put it, they WILL be broken. DRM is fundamentally flawed, you are trying to control something without having control of the host computer. This will never work. People will always find away around it.

    I've seen clients spend $100's of thousands on DRM and Copy-Protection just to have it broken within a few days of release. It's really not worth it.

    I would invest the time and money into other areas like marketing and sales. Especially with print version being offered as all someone would have to do is scan it back into the computer.

    If you really need to DRM:

    There is a tool called Digify (Digify - Digify for Digital Rights Management). I've used it and it's not bad for the price.
     
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  5. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Admin Post
    The best PDF protection to stop theft is not to have a PDF.
     
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  6. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    All people have to do is print-screen anyway. What's the point.

    DRM makes it so annoying to buy and then more annoying to read. If I can't read content offline, and can't copy and paste text, a jpg of the content actually better than the DRM version that I paid for.
     
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  7. Rawiri
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    All the above.

    Pretty much once something is digital it's going to be copied no matter what you do (if it's at all popular, that is).

    Prominent watermarks along with locking of copy etc can act as a good deterrent - but there's always ways around it ultimately, it makes it a pain to read and further becomes an insult to every good person who bought the text and had no intention of pirating it. I've felt insulted by a couple of pdf's I've bought in the past with my name and address prominently watermarked across every page...

    There are literally people out there who will actually just transcribe whatever it is. So it doesn't matter what you put - they will just copy and type it all out from scratch if they have to. Some of them do that deliberately (or used to, many years ago) to keep file size down since it'd be smaller than copying each page of a book. In the cases of those people...even physical books make no difference.
     
  8. Ultra Magnus
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    Ultra Magnus Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    DRM just makes it a more pleasurable experience for the user to pirate content instead of buying. I bought a 100$ digital version of a book that I needed it back at university (would've been many times cheaper to issue a reprint, greedy bastards). I was new to DRM, and after getting it on my desktop it turned out I was unable to read it on my tablet (FFS!). Printing was also disabled (of course).

    I learned the name of the DRM scheme (Adobe Adept), downloaded a Python script with a crack (called Inept, lol), compiled it and haxx0red the ever loving shit out of that file. If a plan for selling books online precludes me from taking said book to read on the toilet then fuck that plan very much.

    Nothing arouses my extreme prejudice more than getting a gimped product because I actually bought it instead of stealing it from a p2p network. If a pirate gets a better experience, can read his book on all his devices, doesn't have to install unwanted software which demands his personal information then my sympathy for the business that forces its paying customers into this kind of BS drops to sub-zero levels.

    However, to make my post more constructive, there are options for watermarking each individual pdf downloaded by the client with the client's name. I.e. you can generate personalized pdfs based on the info the client inputs at download. I haven't used it, since my only pdf thus far is a free download (lead magnet), but from a psychological perspective this solution is worlds apart from bullying your paying client with obnoxious, despicable software. There is a special place in hell where the Cyberdemon shoots green bolts of plasma at dead DRM software for all eternity.
     
  9. johk
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    johk New Contributor

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    Hi,
    Thanks for your comments.

    The client writes technical manuals and instructions for a niche. It is less than 10% of the sales that are for digital copies.
    He is obviously concerned that someone would take his content and re-publish it with some minor changes.

    They have a system at the moment (currently broken though) that converts the pdf’s to images that the user reads via an app.
    Yes I know – it is clunky solution hence they are looking into something else.

    Again – thanks for your input.
    JH
     
  10. Digamma
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    Don't do any of that. DRMs ruin customer experience.

    Also, the idea that buying a PDF means that I should not be able to print it is so bad it makes my head hurt.
    People are paying for the content, not the format.

    I make a point to request a refund when I come across that nonsense, and I know many others who do.

    If people want to pirate it, they will even if you don't have a digital format. They'll just scan it.
     
  11. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    So yesterday I was looking for a legal document and ended up at NOLO. I found a template that I liked and I typed in all my info and that included a long legal description of my property. Since I didn't want to lose my legal description in case I had to use it again in a future document. I tried to copy and paste it to notepad. Guess what! The software wouldn't let me copy. I could paste into the field but couldn't copy. WTF! So basically the long legal description I just typed in was held hostage by this page.

    At this point, I was pissed it didn't matter how much the form cost. I wasn't buying anything from this company anymore.

    Eventually, I was able to select all the entire page and copy. Then basically I had to weed through the page to find my content and copy it.

    My point is that the stupid little things they do to prevent copying just makes the people who want to pay pissed. And the people who want to get the content anyway will eventually figure a way to do so, like i did.