Simply put, the pirating of your digital information products can take money right out of your pocket. When your digital products are being shared or copied, it means that there are people out there getting your product without paying for it. Worse still, there may be ruthless pirates who are profiting from copying and reselling your hard work. If you don’t learn how to stop – or at least deter – this activity, you could be watching all of your hard work go down the proverbial drain.
Copyright Your Intellectual Property
The first thing you need to do is to copyright your product as soon as you are ready to sell it. Though this won’t stop piracy in and of itself, it will discourage rogue pirates from stealing your stuff and sharing or copying it if they know they can possibly be sued for doing so. First, you should know that (at least in the U.S.) your work is protected even if you never register it with the U.S. Copyright Office. This means that once you create something, it’s yours forever. However, if you ever need to take a product pirate to court, your infringement case will be much stronger if you can prove that the product is registered with the Copyright Office.
Zip Your File
Did you know that search engines can easily find and index PDF files? They can also take your precious information product in PDF format and convert it to HTML. This means that product pirates can not only download and redistribute your products with extreme ease, but they can also simply change your source file to include their own information (yes…even affiliate links)! The easy way to fix this is to make sure that you ZIP your files with a program like WinZip or a free program like CoffeeCup Zip Wizard. This way, search engines will not spider and index the contents of your file. Do not give your ZIP file the same filename as your product (so that people won’t be able to locate it with an online search), and be sure to password protect it for yet another layer of security. Don’t forget to give your customers the password so that legitimate buyers can access the product!
Protect Your Download Link
When someone purchases your digital product, your sales funnel may automatically send them to a download page. Many product owners make the mistake of not protecting this page, and consequently the URL is easily found and indexed by search engines and then scattered across popular piracy sites. These types of losses can be easily prevented when you properly secure your thank-you or download page. Software like DLGuard can help you out with this by:
- Tracking the number of times a customer has attempted to download your digital product so that you can see suspicious patterns. If too many download attempts seem to be happening on one customer’s page, it may mean that they have shared their link and many other people who have not paid for it are downloading it. Once you see a pattern like this, you can shut down the page or the account.
- Creating unique download links for each customer that will expire after a certain amount of time or a maximum number of download attempts. Even if someone shares their link, this type of protection will render it useless to others who try to steal your hard work.
If you choose not to use this type of software, make sure you change your download link frequently so that shared download links quickly become invalid.
Create a Drip-Feed Membership Site
Although breaking up your information into small chunks and putting it on a drip-fed membership site won’t stop pirates from stealing your content altogether, it will deter them. Information product pirates like speed, and drip-fed content surely slows them down. Many of them will just give up on trying to copy or share your product and move on to another more accessible product. When using this method, you’ll want to be sure that you are not annoying your customers by releasing the information too slowly.You need to make sure that this method makes sense for your content and your customers, or else you’ll be losing legitimate sales and customers in the process.
Stay On Guard
Though this option takes the most time, it can also give you a lot of peace of mind. Try using Google Alerts to keep an eye out for your product name. This way, you’ll know when someone is talking about your product, and you may even catch some pirates who are distributing your product on forums or torrent sites. You can then send a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice to the site so that your product or download link can be disabled or taken down due to copyright infringement. The law says that these sites must comply when this notice is given, and even most black hat sites (where product sharing is encouraged) will cooperate, even if it is only to avoid legal action. If you don’t have the time to do this, consider paying someone on a monthly basis to do it, as it will most certainly keep your digital product profits in your pocket.
Use License Coding
While the aforementioned methods can offer you some protection and peace of mind, creators of expensive and high-quality digital information products should definitely consider using a license coding service. License coding works in a similar fashion to the distribution method of the Windows operating system. Each copy of your product is given a unique ID and can be tracked from anywhere. Software like BookGuard Pro and File Secure Pro will allow you to protect your digital product with the ability to:
- Lock documents when someone asks for a refund or shares their unique password.
- Check to see if someone has accessed a file to prevent pirates from claiming that they didn’t receive their product so that they can get multiple copies.
- Prevent anyone from copying and pasting the contents of your product or renaming the file.
- Prevent anyone from printing your document so that it can be redistributed physically.
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