How To 'THEFT-PROOF' your ebooks and reports - my gift to the Warrior Forum ...

117 replies
Hi guys,

I'd like to share a really cool tactic I only recently learned.

It prevents unscrupulous people from stealing the content from your .pdf files by copying and pasting.

This method only works with OpenOffice Writer (my preferred Word Processor) although I'm sure it's possible with others that allow for .pdf conversion, and indeed .pdf creation/editing software itself.

However, if you have OpenOffice Writer and write ebooks and reports, or are at the very least considering it then please check this out ...


1). The first thing you need is an OpenOffice document to be converted to a .pdf file.

2). Click on 'File' and from the dropdown menu select 'Export as PDF' - this open a new window that allows you to set various .pdf options prior to exporting your document as a .pdf.

3). The window defaults to the 'General' tab but what you need to do is click on the 'Security' tab.

4). Click on the 'Set permission password' button and enter a 'Password' and then 'Confirm' and then click 'OK'. After you've done this the bottom half of the security tab can now be edited.

5). Ensure the 'Not permitted' option' is checked and the 'Enable copying of content' is unchecked.

6). Click 'Export' and then save your brand new secure .pdf to a memorable place on your hard drive.


Now when your customers or subscribers open your .pdfs they'll be secured and the option to copy any content from that .pdf removed.


Hope this helps you guys.

Garry.

EDIT : This will not password protect your .pdfs as that is something completely different.
#openoffice #pdfs #theftproof
  • Profile picture of the author Steve Garratt
    It doesn't help to stop people passing the pdf on nor does it stop anyone from doing a screen grab followed by an OCR.

    Sadly I haven't yet found a satisfactory solution to this problem.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Taylor
    Garry,

    Have you considered how trying to prevent a
    minority of unscrupous people from copying your
    content will have an adverse effect on the vast
    majority of your customers?

    Many ebooks include examples, URLs and other
    content that needs to be copied and pasted by
    customers. Locking a PDF down is not always a
    good thing.

    John
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    • Profile picture of the author Samuel Baker
      Originally Posted by John Taylor View Post

      Garry,

      Have you considered how trying to prevent a
      minority of unscrupous people from copying your
      content will have an adverse effect on the vast
      majority of your customers?

      Many ebooks include examples, URLs and other
      content that needs to be copied and pasted by
      customers. Locking a PDF down is not always a
      good thing.

      John
      Agree fully, as above we would all love such a solution to stop these 'unscrupous' people stealing content but it is simply not possible.
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      • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
        It's a good thought, but...

        In addition to the other problems mentioned here, it would take an experienced pirate (and most legitimate product creators) less than a minute to remove those protections and recreate the PDF.


        Paul
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    • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
      Originally Posted by John Taylor View Post

      Have you considered how trying to prevent a minority of unscrupous people from copying your content will have an adverse effect on the vast majority of your customers?
      Not only that...

      Remove password and restrictions of PDF files in a few seconds. [A-PDF.com]

      Yes, for $9.95, you too can strip those protections off every PDF you own.

      "Aha!" you say. "That only works if you have the password! You'd have to be a customer!"

      That's normally the way these things work. The pirate takes up a collection from a bunch of other people who want your product, buys it, and strips all the protection from it.

      But let's assume all your customers are honest, and the pirate simply stole the ebook off his friend's laptop or something. Well, it's a BIT more expensive, but...

      PDF Password Crack Pro - Crack user password (open password) for PDF files, free download

      And there's a big myth out there about pirates not having the money. It isn't about not having the money, it's about not trusting the vendor. There is this big "if you like it buy it" culture growing among pirates, where they are actually going back to the vendor of a product and buying the products they've stolen.

      In fact, I'd say the average modern pirate is more like a smarter and less-annoying serial refunder. Rather than buying a shedload of things and refunding on most of them, they're downloading a shedload of things and buying a few of them. One of the best reviews a pirate can leave on a product is "I went and bought it."
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  • Profile picture of the author Evanna Zainal
    I agreed with Mr John Taylor
    I really hate when I bought ebook they locked it with password..that's annoying, at least from customer side
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    nothing to put here..

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  • Profile picture of the author Midas3 Consulting
    Passwording E-Report's is fruitless for the following reasons:

    a) People who will pass the report around, simply pass the password around.
    2) It's annoying for customers to have to enter it every time.
    c) It can be removed so easily it's horrible to watch.

    Enforcing the inability to cut and paste won't protect your e-book in
    way worth a jot sadly and is also bad because if make it impossible
    for the seeing impaired to use their reading software. I've run into
    this before, it utterly screws their visual aids s/w

    In addition why would anybody bother to cut and paste the contents
    of something they can simply pass around ? For reference that
    setting is also easily removed.

    Nice ideas on paper, in reality they tend to cause more issues
    than they "solve" sadly.
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  • Profile picture of the author GarryMSayer
    A few comments that I'd like to answer now ...

    Guys, I'm not talking about password protecting a .pdf. The steps you go through to make your .pdf secure require you to enter and confirm a password, but the people who want to read your .pdfs will NOT need to enter a password.

    And John, all URLs will still be clickable by using this method. If I was to create an ebook that required my customers to copy and paste some of the content, I'd probably consider creating another .pdf with the 'copyable' content inside and the 'lock-down' removed.

    I'm aware of OCR, screen-grabbing and the fact there are many pirates that could easily bypass the .pdf security but this method would make it a lot more difficult for the 'Average Joe'.

    Garry.

    P.S. Paul, I'm a legitimate product creator but have no idea how to remove these protections and recreate the .pdf. Maybe we mix in different circles! :p
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  • Profile picture of the author abnation
    Agree with everybody in this thread!
    Protecting your ebook with a password and preventing the copying of content is like those websites that disallow right-clicking... All it take to bypass such a "protection-mechanism" is a hotkey combination (website) or just passing along the content itself (ebook).

    I'm no great writer or teacher, so I don't have much experience in the field, but from mppov having a membership site (ala WA) is the best form of content protection...

    Or you could go with secure server-side authentication, backdoors and remote content streaming (haha, also stream completely bogus content if the file has been copied without your permission). Overkill though if all you want to do is protect an ebook.
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  • Profile picture of the author MichaelHiles
    Or how about you simply embed yourself all over the PDF and promote your website, your DVD/physical product, your live training, etc...

    That way, when people steal it, they are promoting your other stuff.

    Unleashing The IdeaVirus
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    Hi Garry,

    For the record, I use the exact same method.

    You are right, the customer does NOT have to enter a password, and links ARE clickable. At least those things are true when using Open Office to convert to PDF.

    I know it won't stop most people, but I figure it probably stops a few people. Plus, for the 60 seconds it takes to add that (admittedly small) amount of protection, it's worth it.

    All the best,
    Michael
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    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      Garry,
      Paul, I'm a legitimate product creator but have no idea how to remove these protections and recreate the .pdf. Maybe we mix in different circles!
      You probably deal with sane people.

      A friend once asked me to do some editing on a book he was nearly done with. I agreed, as a favor. Dude is brilliant, but not very tech savvy. He's also notoriously bad about handling email.

      He sent me the book as a PDF... DOH!

      I figured it would be easier to find a solution on my own than to wait for him to get me a more usable document, which would probably have come in some form I still couldn't edit. Took me all of 20 minutes to find the fix.

      End of story: I sent him the result in Word format, with Track Changes turned on, so he could have his secretary make the edits to the next version of the book. That let him keep working, and avoided my having to do it all over again.

      BTW, OpenOffice has a similar function, in the Edit menu. One of my favorite features... Very handy!


      Paul
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      • Profile picture of the author GarryMSayer
        Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

        Garry,You probably deal with sane people.

        A friend once asked me to do some editing on a book he was nearly done with. I agreed, as a favor. Dude is brilliant, but not very tech savvy. He's also notoriously bad about handling email.

        He sent me the book as a PDF... DOH!

        I figured it would be easier to find a solution on my own than to wait for him to get me a more usable document, which would probably have come in some form I still couldn't edit. Took me all of 20 minutes to find the fix.

        End of story: I sent him the result in Word format, with Track Changes turned on, so he could have his secretary make the edits to the next version of the book. That let him keep working, and avoided my having to do it all over again.

        BTW, OpenOffice has a similar function, in the Edit menu. One of my favorite features... Very handy!


        Paul
        Your reputation is completely restored Paul - for what it's worth, I like you again!

        Garry.

        P.S. Must check on that Track Changes feature in OpenOffice Writer as it looks VERY handy.
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        • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
          Garry,
          Your reputation is completely restored Paul - I like you again!
          [chuckle] If all it took for you to not like me was my knowing some stuff that could be used for nastiness, you'd better start hating me.

          You can't fight the bad guys without knowing how to think like them.


          Paul
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          • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
            Garry,
            P.S. Must check on that Track Changes feature in OpenOffice Writer as it looks VERY handy.
            If you work with an editor, or do collaborative projects, it's unreal. Even having someone do a critique using that is just unbelievably instructive.


            Paul
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            • Profile picture of the author butters
              The only way I could think of which would do any sort of protection from an ebook is by putting in a unique pixel which is linked to an id number upon a sale. No idea how to do it, no idea if it could be done but atleast it would link the leaked copy to a credit card and legal action can begin.
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              • Profile picture of the author highbrid
                Sounds like there will be a dollar or two in selling a solution for this...
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                • Profile picture of the author GarryMSayer
                  Originally Posted by butters View Post

                  The only way I could think of which would do any sort of protection from an ebook is by putting in a unique pixel which is linked to an id number upon a sale. No idea how to do it, no idea if it could be done but atleast it would link the leaked copy to a credit card and legal action can begin.
                  That's very clever thinking Lee. Next time I'm 'down the road' in Harlow whaddya say we meet up over a coffee and discuss it in more detail.

                  This could be the next cocktail stick idea.

                  Originally Posted by highbrid View Post

                  Sounds like there will be a dollar or two in selling a solution for this...
                  Too right.
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              • Profile picture of the author Midas3 Consulting
                Originally Posted by butters View Post

                The only way I could think of which would do any sort of protection from an ebook is by putting in a unique pixel which is linked to an id number upon a sale. No idea how to do it, no idea if it could be done but atleast it would link the leaked copy to a credit card and legal action can begin.
                There's software out now that brands the owners e-mail address via
                paypal into the PDF. It's here on the WF somewhere.

                There's also been true PDF security for years from guys like Fileopen
                which hard locks the PC to the desktop, even allows for turning
                access off etc.

                This stuff just doesn't filter down to E-book sellers generally,
                it's used by Government type establishments who need doc
                security.
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          • Profile picture of the author GarryMSayer
            Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

            Garry,[chuckle] If all it took for you to not like me was my knowing some stuff that could be used for nastiness, you'd better start hating me.

            You can't fight the bad guys without knowing how to think like them.


            Paul
            True.

            I remember reading in a newspaper article a while back that there's a VERY fine line between a top-drawer detective and a criminal mastermind. The detective has to think like the criminal to improve his chances of catching him.

            Anyway ...

            I don't want to take this off thread.

            Just musing you know?

            Garry.
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            • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
              Garry,
              I remember reading in a newspaper article a while back that there's a VERY fine line between a top-drawer detective and a criminal mastermind. The detective has to think like the criminal to improve his chances of catching him.
              Nietzsche's quote about staring into the abyss comes to mind...

              This actually is on the original topic. The key to finding a solution is in truly understanding the problem. The problem is the mindset of the pirate, not so much the tools they use to accomplish their aims.


              Paul

              EDIT: Found the quote: "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." From 'Beyond Good and Evil'
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  • It is a good strategy.

    It helps prevent people from (easily) stealing the content and passing it off as their own.
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  • Profile picture of the author Shaun Lee
    Your suggestion still does not prevent the product from being distributed. Those that really want your product will do whatever it takes to get it.

    But think of it this way, what if the downloader liked your product? You may have potentially gained a new customer.

    Digital products are hard to protect and you shouldn't be frustrated over how to protect it. Instead, channel that energy into something more productive, maybe another product.

    -Shaun
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    • Profile picture of the author highbrid
      I use the same method with acrobat and have had only 1 compaint out of over 10,000 books that have gone out over the years. The reader was disapointed about not being able to print the file and read it (fair enough), but not fair enough for me to change the security

      Also, perhaps continuously releasing new editions of an ebook with slight alterations may make people unsatisfied with an older pirated version they found on some torrent search.
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Garry, unless the product requires copying and pasting blocks of content (such as example code), I think your plan is sound.

        It's kind of like locking your car doors. The determined thief will still get in, but it helps keep the honest people honest.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kay King
        As a buyer - I am not interested in buying an ebook that tells me I'm not allowed to make a physical copy or be told I'm not allowed to make my own notes by copy/pasting.

        I used to just get around the disabling of copy/paste. Now I refund any ebook that is so limited. There is no ebook I can't do without - and I don't like the games some sellers are playing. When I pay for an ebook - I want full use. I'm not going to steal anything - but I don't like being treated like a thief or a child.

        I understand there is a problem with theft and distribution - but that has to be balanced with providing paying customers with a usable product.

        kay
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        • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
          Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

          As a buyer - I am not interested in buying an ebook that tells me I'm not allowed to make a physical copy or be told I'm not allowed to make my own notes by copy/pasting.

          I used to just get around the disabling of copy/paste. Now I refund any ebook that is so limited. There is no ebook I can't do without - and I don't like the games some sellers are playing. When I pay for an ebook - I want full use. I'm not going to steal anything - but I don't like being treated like a thief or a child.

          I understand there is a problem with theft and distribution - but that has to be balanced with providing paying customers with a usable product.

          kay
          Hi Kay,

          I actually allow for high-resolution printing of my PDFs. However, I do not allow it to be copied (easily). Would you still buy my stuff knowing that you could print it to make notes?

          Also, I believe this method offers the best balance.

          There is no need for anybody to enter a password, but they csn't just copy and paste to use in other ways. If that isn't balance, then please enlghten me as to what is.

          My main reasoning (which may be faulty) is that if somebody wants to break the terms of the license, then I want them to use THEIR resources to do it.

          Let them use their time, energy, money, bandwidth, etc. if they're going to break the terms.

          All the best,
          Michael
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          • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
            I'm with Jay and Kay on this matter. (Jamiroquai?)

            But if you're going to prevent any copying, at least inform your buyers beforehand. I would certainly hesitate to pay for a pdf that was so encrypted and I'd be disappointed to find out only after purchase.

            IMO, it's unlikely that thieves would be deterred by such a restriction and the inconvenience to honest customers just isn't worth it.

            This is similar to when the major record labels tried to stop copying of CDs with their DRM software. It didn't last, as the customers objected and stayed away.


            Frank
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    • Profile picture of the author GarryMSayer
      Originally Posted by Shaun Lee View Post

      Your suggestion still does not prevent the product from being distributed. Those that really want your product will do whatever it takes to get it.
      This is a valid but VERY separate issue altogether.

      Thinking about it it's likely easier and quicker to share stuff than it is to steal it and pass it off as your own.

      What I wanted to achieve with this thread is to try and prevent your hard work being swiped by someone else. Someone who could then illegally use your content however they choose, i.e. articles, blog posts, their own products.

      And like Michael says this takes a minute (maximum) to do so it shouldn't drain the energy levels and focus too much.

      Garry.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike1973
    great info. thank you very much
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  • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
    This whole discussion is around false security.

    It is not gonna stop those who want to copy your stuff for shady reasons. I'm not in that crowd, but I could over-ride this stuff in seconds.... and this "theft-proofing" is literally a small hurdle for the savvy.

    All you're doing is annoying the genuine customers who wanna copy some stuff for their own personal notes.

    Usability of a product is HIGH on the list of many smart e-book buyers.

    Don't take my word for it.

    Survey your damn customers, it's what we do. The results weren't surprising, but based on some of the replies here.. I'm guessing they would be to you.
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    • Profile picture of the author Midas3 Consulting
      Originally Posted by JayXtreme View Post

      This whole discussion is around false security.

      It is not gonna stop those who want to copy your stuff for shady reasons. I'm not in that crowd, but I could over-ride this stuff in seconds.... and this "theft-proofing" is literally a small hurdle for the savvy.

      All you're doing is annoying the genuine customers who wanna copy some stuff for their own personal notes.

      Usability of a product is HIGH on the list of many smart e-book buyers.

      Don't take my word for it.

      Survey your damn customers, it's what we do. The results weren't surprising, but based on some of the replies here.. I'm guessing they would be to you.
      This basically.

      The truth is the average guy / gal who buys an E-Report isn't looking to
      manually go through every page cutting and pasting it into a document
      so they can share it on the net somewhere, it's just a total non issue.

      The kind of people that are looking to do that are not stopped in the
      slightest by the this type of security, Adobe's own internal security
      is pretty weak, even on the strongest settings.

      When you download a PDF along with an envelope which protects
      it which is stored on your machine and tagged to ID on hardware
      and implements encryption at a level worthwhile talking about then
      you get security.

      The downside is that the vast majority of people simply can't
      put that into a typical E-book selling process because the
      customer service it generates doesn't tally with the revenue
      unless you're selling very high ticket info products.
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    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      Jay,
      This whole discussion is around false security.
      All security is false.


      Paul
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      • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
        Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

        Jay,All security is false.


        Paul
        Touche!
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      • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
        Simon,
        When you download a PDF along with an envelope which protects it which is stored on your machine and tagged to ID on hardware and implements encryption at a level worthwhile talking about then you get security.
        I can defeat that. Easily.

        A somewhat time-consuming process, but if I can read it, I can duplicate it. Period. It's not even a little complicated. In fact, I can do it in multiple ways.


        Paul
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        • Profile picture of the author Midas3 Consulting
          Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

          Simon,I can defeat that. Easily.

          Paul
          Maybe, but it's light years ahead of the average "security" measures.

          Paul, pop over to the guys at FILEOPEN, I think they have a demo.

          The premium, (server side distribution product) is approved by the US
          military and their customers include home land security.

          Their little plugin thing is easily cracked I believe but the enterprise
          server side gig has some credentials.

          I'll give you $2 whole bucks, a really tasty pack of cookies and some catnip
          for dumbass if you can crack it.
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          • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
            Simon,
            Maybe, but it's light years ahead of the average "security" measures.
            Can I read it out loud? Text: Done.

            Got graphics? Can I take pictures of the screen as the content is displayed? (Even using a digital camera?) See the previous reference to PaperPort.

            If it's human readable, I can duplicate it, using simple, low-tech systems.


            Paul
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            • Profile picture of the author Midas3 Consulting
              Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

              Simon,Can I read it out loud? Text: Done.

              Paul
              Ahh, I was referring to locking it to PC via tagging hardware ID. That's what FILEOPEN does.

              There's no such thing as security in terms of protecting the written word from manual transcribing.

              IMPORTANT NOTE ON RESTRICTING CUT AND PASTE.

              Just an off note as it may well have been lost on some.

              You need to check carefully , we did this many years ago and it actually disabled the ability for blind people to use transcription to voice services.

              Just a heads up for those thinking about doing this.
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            • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
              Simon,

              I'm betting the system you're talking about is locked to known machines, which are in secure locations that don't leave room for voice-to-text conversion, or repetitive snapshots.

              Still not 100% secure, but much more difficult to circumvent than anything one sells to the general public.


              Paul
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              • Profile picture of the author Midas3 Consulting
                Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

                Simon,

                I'm betting the system you're talking about is locked to known machines, which are in secure locations that don't leave room for voice-to-text conversion, or repetitive snapshots.

                Still not 100% secure, but much more difficult to circumvent than anything one sells to the general public.


                Paul
                That's about the sum of it Paul. Their customer base is predominantly
                government, education and military installations.

                When a document is requested, the PDF isn't available to view, it sits
                within the encrypted envelope which then becomes encoded onto the
                hardward ID of a drive. The envelope has to be installed on the local
                machine (often via a network) and then the PDF is viewable.

                At the server side, the document manager can dictate permissions, print,
                cut/paste etc, dynamically to the user.

                They don't focus on content security , because ultimately as you say, if
                somebody is prepared to sit there and transcribe it , or screen shot it,
                then print it and OCR it, there's nothing in this world that can stop it.

                They focus on document management security which if it didn't involve a
                horrendous amount of customer service to manage would be great for ebook
                sellers as you can literally turn somebody's access off after a refund and also
                stop them passing it about.

                Their cut and paste restriction is however classes apart from Adobe's but
                bottom line , lets face, it, I could use camtasia to record me paging through
                a PDF and then have somebody transcribe it

                I guess what it does it make it very very awkward for an employee to be able
                to shuttle about a significant amount of text to a 3rd party.
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                • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
                  Simon,

                  That's about the best you can do. And it's not applicable to anything any of us are likely to be able to enforce.

                  Like I said, I'm not the most technically sophisticated person in this group. Still, I have a digital video recorder that will record 2 hours of video on a charge (at 640x480), is smaller than my thumb, and cost me less than $40.

                  I have the hardware and software to do everything I've described in this thread, and it was less than $250, total. Pirates can probably get the software for nada.

                  I know a guy who talked about putting one of his books (a business best-seller) online, and decided against it because he didn't want anyone pirating his content. I guarantee you, he lost at least $100,000 on just that book because of it.

                  He's written over a dozen books, all of which would have been big sellers in digital format.

                  The first one? Available online anyway, courtesy of someone with a scanner and a modem.

                  Brilliant idiot...


                  Paul
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                  • Profile picture of the author Midas3 Consulting
                    Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post


                    Brilliant idiot...

                    Paul
                    There's a few around.

                    Brilliance I couldn't hold a candle to, only matched by their dunce levels of
                    common sense.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    I just don't see it as an inconvenience for most customers.

    I never copy stuff from PDFs. If I want to tak notes, I open another document, and jot down the ideas. If I need anything from the PDF, I may reference a page in the notes, or summarize the thought from the PDF.

    SO...what is the balance?

    I know people can share my stuff, and I have enough info in my PDFs to make it worthwhile if they do.

    Thieves will steal, honest people won't.

    Remember this is coming from a guy who was chastized in another thread for saying i WOULD get a refund on any PDF if I had to enter a password to open it. Meaning I don't think I'm being unreasonable.

    Garry was offering a method to those who were interested in doing something to help protect their PDFs, that's all. Those who don't want to protect them, or think it's foolish, don't need to use it.

    That being said, it's also fair to point out how easily subverted this particular method is.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to suggest any particular point of view is wrong. But, I also wanted to remind people that Garry's intentions appear to be good, and I would like THAT to be encouraged.

    All the best,
    Michael
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    • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
      Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

      I just don't see it as an inconvenience for most customers.
      This is niche dependant... in some niches, this would and is a REAL pain in the ass for a lot of customers if you implemented it.

      I never copy stuff from PDFs.
      You're not alone... but then, there are also thousands who really copy a ton of stuff from the .pdf's that the buy...

      If I want to tak notes, I open another document, and jot down the ideas. If I need anything from the PDF, I may reference a page in the notes, or summarize the thought from the PDF.

      SO...what is the balance?

      I know people can share my stuff, and I have enough info in my PDFs to make it worthwhile if they do.

      Thieves will steal, honest people won't.

      Remember this is coming from a guy who was chastized in another thread for saying i WOULD get a refund on any PDF if I had to enter a password to open it. Meaning I don't think I'm being unreasonable.

      Garry was offering a method to those who were interested in doing something to help protect their PDFs, that's all. Those who don't want to protect them, or think it's foolish, don't need to use it.

      That being said, it's also fair to point out how easily subverted this particular method is.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to suggest any particular point of view is wrong. But, I also wanted to remind people that Garry's intentions appear to be good, and I would like THAT to be encouraged.

      All the best,
      Michael
      Yeah.

      I happen to agree... enough that I nearly didn't reply to this thread.

      But if you figure that there are probably hundreds of people reading this forum, and not posting... it's good that they get all perspectives, so they can find the truth for themselves.... I don't want to take anything away from the OP's desire to pay it forward...
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    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      Michael,

      I don't think anyone is suggesting that Garry's intentions are anything but good. It is dangerous, though, to give people the idea that they can achieve any real measure of security with PDFs, or any other digital product.

      It's even more dangerous to let new folks think that security efforts come without a price to the end user.

      Yes, you need to consider the balance. The trick there is simple: How much are you willing to screw with paying customers in order to keep thieves from getting something for nothing?

      For me, the answer is "Not very damned much at all."

      I may be unusual in this regard, but I do a lot of note-taking using the "Copy" function and my favorite text editor, which automatically pastes anything copied to the clipboard into a document. (Any version of NoteTab, with "Use as Pasteboard" turned on.)

      If I decide to make a hard copy of something and it's not printable, that is the very last thing I will order from that merchant. At all. Endit. And I'll still get my printed copy.


      Paul
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    • Profile picture of the author John Taylor
      Michael,

      Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

      I just don't see it as an inconvenience for most customers.
      A few examples when restricting access to copy and paste would
      be "inconvenient" to the honest customer...

      When the document includes:
      • Suggested settings such as "/%category%/%postname%/"
      • Sample headlines, signatures, Adwords copy, etc.
      • PHP Code snippets that add functionality to a webpage
      • Template of an email to approach JV partner
      John
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  • Profile picture of the author Brad Gosse
    I am working with a company right now that is trying to help me post the paypal email to the footer of each page AND a few hidden spots.

    Licensed to: your@paypal.email sort of thing.
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    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      Brad,
      I am working with a company right now that is trying to help me post the paypal email to the footer of each page AND a few hidden spots.

      Licensed to: your@paypal.email sort of thing.
      PDF -> Word. Find and Replace (with target's Paypal address). Distribute. Wrongful lawsuit.

      Still want to screw with that?


      Paul
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  • Profile picture of the author GarryMSayer
    When I initially posted this I never dreamed it would encourage so much debate.

    It's great to see people's differing opinions.

    The information at the top of this thread was honestly presented to help people try and secure the content in their ebooks. They don't have to if they don't want to but they have the choice and a method for doing it.

    It's also worth noting that this doesn't disable the printing option inside the .pdf. People can still print their 'secure' pdfs to read.

    I have never copied and pasted anything from an ebook (I've bought quite a few across different niches) unless I have the PLR license. If I read something that I want to make a note of then I'll make my own notes.

    I don't agree that by doing these silly 'games' we're treating our buyers like children. What's wrong with protecting your content and your copyright? Like Michael said why make it easy for people to break the terms of the license. Let them use their tools and their methods just don't hand your license to them on a silver platter allowing them to do whatever they want with it.

    Garry.

    EDIT : What may be interesting is to do an anonymous poll to discover how many warriors directly copy and paste content from ebooks into their notes. Just an idea.
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    • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
      Originally Posted by GarryMSayer View Post

      Let them use their tools and their methods just don't hand your license to them on a silver platter allowing them to do whatever they want with it.

      Garry.
      But...

      If by doing so.. you are inadvertently putting your genuine customers in a pain of a situation, is it really worth it?...

      Really?

      If 30% of your customers are computer smart and they want to copy and paste snippets of your stuff to carry with them in note form, are you going to hinder them from doing so in order to stop the 3% who want to do it for shady reasons?...

      Just Sayin'

      Jay

      p.s. The figures above are not real. Just using them as an example.
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    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      Brad,

      BTW, let's assume you find ways to encrypt the address, and you use rotating encryption for each instance of the address, so it's not as easy as a simple "Find and Replace."

      PDF -> Word. Two copies. Diff. Insert "nyah@nyahnyah.tld" for each.

      I am not a pirate, or a Unix guru, and I can see how any relatively competent thief could do this. The better you make your protection, the more l33t the cracker you're going to attract. Just for the challenge of it.


      Paul
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      • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
        Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

        the more l33t the cracker you're going to attract. Just for the challenge of it.
        This is a great point.

        Some jackers will do it purely for ego. The more you lock it up, the more they wanna laugh whilst they are turning it over.
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        • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
          Garry,

          Printable document?

          Print. Scan to PaperPort 12, which I have, and I'm not the most technically savvy critter on this forum. Save as [choose format]. If I had a sheet-feed scanner, this would be a 10 minute operation, in terms of human time consumed.

          Or you could just scan the pages as images, and feed those to the program and join them when done.

          Yes, some of these ideas will keep the marginally competent, and the lazy, from pirating stuff. All it takes is one determined thief and those efforts are wasted.

          Spend your time marketing. Use appropriate and effective approaches to nuking the bastiches who steal. Forget about making things "secure." It's not possible.


          Paul
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      • Profile picture of the author Brad Gosse
        Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

        Brad,

        BTW, let's assume you find ways to encrypt the address, and you use rotating encryption for each instance of the address, so it's not as easy as a simple "Find and Replace."

        PDF -> Word. Two copies. Diff. Insert "nyah@nyahnyah.tld" for each.

        I am not a pirate, or a Unix guru, and I can see how any relatively competent thief could do this. The better you make your protection, the more l33t the cracker you're going to attract. Just for the challenge of it.


        Paul

        Paul can I just pay you to poke holes in my ideas BEFORE I start spending money on programmers? LOL

        Thanks
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        • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
          Brad,
          Paul can I just pay you to poke holes in my ideas BEFORE I start spending money on programmers? LOL
          You would not be the first person to do that.

          Note: The holes don't mean the project isn't worth doing. It may be. You just need to know that you can't base a lawsuit on the results without a lot more evidence than the presence of a text string in an insecure format.


          Paul
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          • Profile picture of the author Brad Gosse
            Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

            Brad,You would not be the first person to do that.

            Note: The holes don't mean the project isn't worth doing. It may be. You just need to know that you can't base a lawsuit on the results without a lot more evidence than the presence of a text string in an insecure format.


            Paul
            That much I am aware of. I have no intention of suing people. I was relying on the fact that people might not want their paypal email on a bunch of pirate sites etc.
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            • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
              Brad,
              That much I am aware of. I have no intention of suing people. I was relying on the fact that people might not want their paypal email on a bunch of pirate sites etc.
              Tricky. Might be worth doing, but you run the (admittedly very small) risk of someone getting snarky when a pirate forges someone else's address into the document.

              Not many people scrape addresses from posted PDFs, anyway.

              There are ways to make that idea useful. Just think "in plain sight."


              Paul
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          • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
            Preventing copying and pasting keeps honest people honest be removing temptation; just as locks on our doors keep honest people honest. The door can be kicked in or a window broken to gain access by a dishonest person; just as a dishonest person can steal your PDF content if they want to.

            So the only real question is, is the cost of keeping honest people honest worth the cost annoying those same honest people by disabling a function they may want to use.

            That's a question each person must answer for themselves.


            Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

            The better you make your protection, the more l33t the cracker you're going to attract. Just for the challenge of it.
            Paul, what the heck is l33t? Is that cracker talk for elite?
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          • Profile picture of the author Peeps66
            If people are determined to copy content from your pdfs they will find ways to do it, even if you go to great trouble.

            My view on it that generally people are honest and will pay you what you deserve. If your work is copied then I suppose you could consider it an accolade that people think that much of your work.

            Also, if other people who wouldn't have paid for it read it and like your ebook then they might buy the next one!

            Peeps
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          • Profile picture of the author Kay King
            Would you still buy my stuff knowing that you could print it to make notes?
            Not if copy is disabled.

            I have a reason for that - when I read an ebook I often print a copy so as to sit comfortably and read it. IF the info is useful, I open the book on my computer and I copy/paste chosen parts that I WANT TO USE into my own version of cliff notes. I then usually transfer the ebook to a disk and use only the cliff notes.

            If copy is disabled I have to retype usable info - and it ticks me off. My cliff notes from a 100 page ebook may be 5-6 pages long - but it's all the facts I need from that book. I have no interest in sorting through the ebook a second or third time to find those few nuggets again or in keeping a bunch of pages on my desk to refer to.

            Security is an illusion and the "abyss" quote is one of my favorites I hadn't thought of in some time.

            kay
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            • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
              Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

              If copy is disabled I have to retype usable info - and it ticks me off. My cliff notes from a 100 page ebook may be 5-6 pages long - but it's all the facts I need from that book. I have no interest in sorting through the ebook a second or third time to find those few nuggets again or in keeping a bunch of pages on my desk to refer to.
              Thanks for that perspective, Kay.

              While I'm quite confident that puts you squarely in the minority
              of folks buying ebooks - it also puts you in the MOST IMPORTANT
              segment of buyers, the ones PAYING ATTENTION and using
              what they buy!

              Irritating your most valuable customer to thwart a cockroach
              of a customer or a thief is undoubtedly cutting off your nose
              to spite your face.

              Brian
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              • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
                Originally Posted by BrianMcLeod View Post

                Thanks for that perspective, Kay.

                While I'm quite confident that puts you squarely in the minority
                of folks buying ebooks -
                You're right, for many niches...

                But there are a good chunk of niches, where this kind of use of an e-book is very much the common trend...

                Surveying our buyers on the ways to use the product they just bought, made for some very interesting reading... notes are copied into files for all sorts of gadgets and many different uses.

                Copying and pasting for notes is very common practice and is not the little used action that we would think it is...

                I'm not aiming this for you, Brian. I'm sure you are well aware of your niche(s) and what they want.. but I think it's good for people who might be reading and not posting to see that all is not cut and dry and it is important to not assume we know a niche based on our own thoughts... you know, get all perspectives

                Peace

                Jay
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    • Profile picture of the author MacS09
      Originally Posted by GarryMSayer View Post

      ...
      EDIT : What may be interesting is to do an anonymous poll to discover how many warriors directly copy and paste content from ebooks into their notes. Just an idea.
      Copyright law states that you can copy 10% of a book for your own use.

      How does copying sections from an ebook into your notes differ from making photocopies for your own use? IMHO, not at all. How would students be able to live if they couldn't copy some of the stuff.

      The old adage "If you can't hide it make it a feature" seems to apply here. If you can't protect it make it go viral and put your links all over the place.

      Just a thought.

      MacS09
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      • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
        Originally Posted by MacS09 View Post

        Copyright law states that you can copy 10% of a book for your own use.

        How does copying sections from an ebook into your notes differ from making photocopies for your own use? IMHO, not at all. How would students be able to live if they couldn't copy some of the stuff.

        The old adage "If you can't hide it make it a feature" seems to apply here. If you can't protect it make it go viral and put your links all over the place.

        Just a thought.

        MacS09
        I can honestly say I have NEVER heard the 10% rule before. Could you possibly provide a link to that law?

        You MAY be able to use credited portions under the fair use clause, but the idea that you could just grab 10% of somebody else's work without worrying about it doesn't ring true to my ears.

        So...please people, do NOT assume the quoted post above is true, it could get you into a LOT of trouble.

        All the best,
        Michael
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      • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
        Originally Posted by MacS09 View Post

        Copyright law states that you can copy 10% of a book for your own use.
        So if I take 10% from 10 ebooks I could have a new ebook of my own without writing a word of it?

        I don't think so. I think you've been misled by someone, or misunderstood something you read or were told. I'd like to see that law you cited, because I've studied copyright law some, not exhaustively, but more than most I'd guess, and I've never seen anything like that.
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      • Profile picture of the author jacktackett
        Originally Posted by MacS09 View Post

        Copyright law states that you can copy 10% of a book for your own use.

        MacS09

        IANAL, but as a published author and writer I'm pretty familiar with copyright laws in the US. We'll be waiting a very long time for a link to prove this statement since its totally incorrect in the US. There is no such law. Maybe MacS09 was talking about another jurisdiction?

        Also - I'm not a mind reader - but I'll assume (always dangerous but being a certified smart ass, I'll continue) the poster was referring to "fair use", where one can use a certain part of a protected work in their own. The copyright act allows for fair use for education, critiques, and satire - but there are absolutely NO rules involved - ie you can use 10%, or one paragrah etc.

        In fact one journalist was found to infringe President Ford's memoir by copying just 400 words - the judge ruled that one section of a 500 page book was the essence of the book, so was infringing. Again - it was a judge who decided this - not anyone else.

        Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

        (since you should not take a smart ass' assertion without some proof!)

        The thing is fair use is not determined by the original author, nor is it determined by the copying author - it is determined by a judge. If I think you've used too much of my work - I'll sue! But of course you'll probably think you didn't - so you'll defend. The only folks who win in this type of battle are the lawyers folks.

        If you are going to use part of someone else's work - the best course of action is to just ask permission.

        Or perhaps the poster was referring to public domain works (mind reading is not my forte) - where you can use 100% not just 10%, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms...

        best,
        --Jack

        [open can worms]
        PS And if you think you know what public domain is - I dare you to tell me if Peter Pan is still protected under copyright in this or any other county
        [/open can worms]
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      • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
        Originally Posted by MacS09 View Post

        Copyright law states that you can copy 10% of a book for your own use.
        Copyright law does not state anything remotely like this.

        Seriously. I am not a lawyer, but I'll still go so far as to state ON RECORD that no country has any such legal statement on the books.
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  • Profile picture of the author bobsstuff
    I never share documents I buy and I never use bought content as my own, HOWEVER I have been frustrated by locked PDF documents and those that won't allow me to print them.
    I simply use a PDF to WORD converter and convert them to word documents and that is END OF STORY. It seems that some of these PDF converters ignore locking.
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  • Profile picture of the author drmani
    Originally Posted by GarryMSayer View Post

    It prevents unscrupulous people from stealing the content from your .pdf files by copying and pasting.[/B]
    'Job Typing' rates in my city: Rs.10-15 per page ($0.20 to 0.30)

    Your 200 page ebook can be 'transcribed' by tomorrow morning, in
    raw/formatted text - for $40-$50.

    Far better to focus on out-marketing everyone else.

    And then, there's Seth Godin, who advocates giving away the ebook
    - and selling the print book as a SOUVENIR!

    All success
    Dr.Mani
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    You know...

    The more I read this thread...

    The more I like it.

    Definitely plenty of food for thought here.

    Thanks to Garry for posting it, and to everyone offering their point of view.

    I'm actually in the midst of creating a new product, and a PDF will be part of it. Now I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, as far as security goes. Based on some of the reasons given, and based on what the PDF element will be, it may be better to not add that layer of security to it.

    Anyway, while it still makes sense to me to do SOMETHING to protect our work, it would also be foolish to not consider new information (new to me) and act accordingly.

    All the best,
    Michael
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  • Profile picture of the author Russ Emrick
    Have you considered people like me who like to take notes?

    Since this technique does not prevent distribution or plagiarizing all you are really doing is irritating your customers. I used to return pdfs/products that did this until I found a Password remover that removes such nonsense.

    This is an example where the vast majority suffers because of a few. However consider what the objective really is, both for your business and your "protections." Again, this technique is (sorry for the strong words) useless for preventing copying - OCR, Screen capture, directly retyping, password remove software etc. However what it does to is hurt your business by the far larger group that want to take notes and perhaps even quote you in one of their products.

    My two cents.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    Perhaps it would be best to remove the links to sites that help people subvert the security hard-working marketers add to their products.

    ~Michael
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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    Once upon a time there was this thread:

    http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...pdf-files.html

    In it, I posed a friendly challenge to see if anyone could crack the password protection on the attached PDF and got no takers.

    Fast forward to today - I don't even remember what the hidden message inside the PDF is anymore (though I would if it were posted).

    I sure wish someone would crack this thing so we could all see how easily it is defeated - ya know, like all scientifically proven and stuff...

    : )

    Brian
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    • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
      Originally Posted by BrianMcLeod View Post

      Once upon a time there was this thread:

      http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...pdf-files.html

      In it, I posed a friendly challenge to see if anyone could crack the password protection on the attached PDF and got no takers.

      Fast forward to today - I don't even remember what the hidden message inside the PDF is anymore (though I would if it were posted).

      I sure wish someone would crack this thing so we could all see how easily it is defeated - ya know, like all scientifically proven and stuff...

      : )

      Brian
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  • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
    As a sidenote...

    I do not condone or endorse the "cracking" of any protected material. I just happen to know some stuff.
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    • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
      Originally Posted by JayXtreme View Post

      As a sidenote...

      I do not condone or endorse the "cracking" of any protected material. I just happen to know some stuff.
      Absolutely - this was merely a science experiment!

      B
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      • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
        Caliban,
        There is this big "if you like it buy it" culture growing among pirates, where they are actually going back to the vendor of a product and buying the products they've stolen.
        That line has been there for as long as I've owned a computer. The number of people for whom it's true is very small. The vast majority of them are just thieves.

        Doesn't matter to me if they're rich thieves who do it for the artificial ego boost, or poor thieves who think the fact that they can't afford the thing makes it okay to steal it. They're still thieves.

        Brian,

        Or just buy, decrypt, convert. The best security around won't stop piracy if just one person with dishonorable intent has the password.

        That kind of protection stops only one kind of thief: The amateur who manages to guess the download page URL, assuming you don't use DL Guard or something similar.

        Every step you take to make something hard to pirate also makes it harder for some legitimate customers to use the product. Yes, each step will reduce it to some degree. It also increases the rep points the person gets who manages to distribute a cracked version. Which increases the incentive.


        Paul
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        • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
          Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

          Caliban,That line has been there for as long as I've owned a computer. The number of people for whom it's true is very small. The vast majority of them are just thieves.
          I've found that the number who actually buy the product is growing. It's still a small minority, but it's not the near-zero proportion it used to be.

          That impresses me, because - as you say - the "line" has been around forever, but it was exactly that: a line. It was just the lie people told themselves to excuse stealing what they wanted. But for a growing number of people, it's actually what they're doing.

          I still think you're accurate to say it's "very small," but I think we're actually getting close to dropping the "very" from that.
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          • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
            If I bought a PDF with a password on it, and then forgot the password, and the guy who sold it to me couldn't remember it either...
            Or software that "phones home" for verification before it will run. I've got stuff here now that won't work any more because the idiots didn't include protection from network outages, and they abandoned their sites.

            Can't reach the server to validate? Assume it's pirated and shut down.

            Not smart.


            Paul
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            • Profile picture of the author keithoz88
              I have thoroughly enjoyed the debate on this thread and the fact that such heavy hitters are participating
              I have written a few ebooks (none of which have been released yet) and intend to write many more so this is an interesting issue for me

              At the risk of being considered impertinent may i suggest a simple protocol that would suit almost everybody - most of the time at least ( i think i have clarified MY strategy now lol).

              SUMMARY

              USE DISABLE FOR FREE EBOOKS but include print function (you want ebooks spread around so do it in whole form for the maximum benefit of everyone). Diagrams, photos or videos can be available on a website (print,copy or send button?) producing additional site traffic.

              DON'T USE DISABLE ON PAID EBOOKS as they have paid for full legal use (you can't stop thieves anyway).

              Now all i have to do is work out how to ..... do everything other than think and write!
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              • Profile picture of the author All Night Cafe
                The OP has to be fascinated with the lively disscusion.

                So much info has been shared. It has been a pleasure
                to set back and follow it.

                What I've learned. Someone will always steal, but
                they will never get the benifits of the materials.

                If they are stealing, I don't think they will ever read
                or put the information in to use.

                You never get anything for nothing. They will lose.
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    • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
      Originally Posted by JayXtreme View Post

      I do not condone or endorse the "cracking" of any protected material.
      I do.

      Cracking protected material that you have every right to access is not only something I believe should be done, but something I believe everybody should do.

      Because once enough people are doing it, the knowledge will seep into the product creators' heads that this "protection" is pointless and stupid.

      It took three and a half hours from Brian's post for someone to break the password. Sure, you might say "how many people can do that," but don't we all now KNOW someone who can do that?

      How many people know someone?

      Look, there are things I can't do. But I know people. For the past three weeks, I've been frustrated and annoyed by the HotConference Flash chat used at fridaynightchat.com - which can't seem to figure out that I have a camera anymore.

      Now, I don't know squat about Flash, but I know someone. And when I got in touch with him, it took about 20 minutes for him to come back with "Do you have a video capture device in your device manager that's been disabled?"

      As luck would have it, I did. So he clarified that the chat program at HC was not properly enumerating capture devices, and once it found a disabled device, it thought there were no more devices. So I could either re-enable the device, or uninstall it - at my option. I chose to re-enable it, which fixed the problem.

      20 minutes. This guy cracked open a "secure" Flash application and tracked down a bug that the HC support staff couldn't find for THREE WEEKS... in 20 minutes.

      I emailed the support staff about this, and a couple hours later they released an update to the program. So, out of curiosity, I disabled the capture card again - and HC still couldn't find my camera.

      Perhaps they need both hands and a flashlight.

      Cracking the protection off the things you've legitimately bought and paid for is your safety net for stupid and incompetent support. If I bought a PDF with a password on it, and then forgot the password, and the guy who sold it to me couldn't remember it either... I would be pissed. But if I could strip the password off of it, I wouldn't mind so much.

      I'd mind even less if he just never put one on it.
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      • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
        Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

        I do.

        Cracking protected material that you have every right to access is not only something I believe should be done, but something I believe everybody should do.

        Because once enough people are doing it, the knowledge will seep into the product creators' heads that this "protection" is pointless and stupid.
        I do agree with this... and it was the reason I cracked that .pdf last night...

        To demonstrate how easy it is, to those that know how to....

        It took three and a half hours from Brian's post for someone to break the password.
        It took me a lot less than that

        Sure, you might say "how many people can do that," but don't we all now KNOW someone who can do that?

        How many people know someone?
        To be fair.

        Brian posted that original thread back in 2009 by the date on the thread. And nobody could take him up on his offer...

        My disclaimer was simply to say that I don't condone illegal cracking of protected files or documents. I didn't want people to read the thread, see what was done and think I was supporting the wrong use of this kind of thingz...

        Peace

        Jay
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  • Profile picture of the author rts2271
    Digital watermarking is a good option as well.
    Ebooks are dead anyway. Least everyone has been saying that for 6 years j/k
    Good Info Op and all parties.
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    • Profile picture of the author mywebwork
      Originally Posted by rts2271 View Post

      Ebooks are dead anyway. Least everyone has been saying that for 6 years j/k
      Actually they are entering a new era, with the proliferation of eReaders that are hitting the market. And these use other formats (mobipocket/kindle, ePub) that provide for Digital Rights Management. So it's a whole new ballgame, with undoubted a whole new set of issues and problems!

      The OP's post was informative and useful and the discussion on protecting PDF's has been excellent reading. But in the long run I think expending any large amount of time trying to protect PDF eBooks from theft is not a valuable exercise, and instead one should concentrate on targeting the emerging eReader market and just accept the inevitable loss and theft of their PDF products.

      Bill
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  • Profile picture of the author LB
    Remember- every single ounce of copy-protection added to your products, whether it be simple passwords or elaborate software, will result in exponentially more customer service in the end. All from legitimate customers who need help accessing what they honestly purchased.
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  • Profile picture of the author bigg
    hey guys how bout selling your digital products on ejunkie? no one can ever find out your download location in your server that way. but i guess u gotta pay fees for using ejunkie.
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
      Originally Posted by bigg View Post

      hey guys how bout selling your digital products on ejunkie? no one can ever find out your download location in your server that way. but i guess u gotta pay fees for using ejunkie.
      There's nothing wrong with E-junkie, but it is useless for what the OP is talking about.

      Why?

      Because all it takes is one person to buy it and then upload it to a sharing site.

      That's not the same as trying to hide the location of it. Once it's shared ANYWEHERE else, then the onlt thing people need is the link to THAT location.

      That being said, E-junkie is a decent way for dealing with honest customers, and they have some nice features at reasonable rates.

      All the best,
      Michael
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    So...

    Should we do ANYTHING to try to protect our work?

    ~Michael

    p.s. It's a general question, and not "aimed" at anyone in particular.
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    • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
      Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

      Should we do ANYTHING to try to protect our work?
      Depends on where you do it.

      You should, of course, use your recourse to the law if your product gets stolen and redistributed. DMCA takedown notifications, etc.

      You should also have reasonable precautions to prevent people who haven't bought it from downloading it. These are pretty simple, with a script like DLGuard or RAP.

      But as far as trying to make it hard for a pirate who already has your product to make and distribute copies, no. You shouldn't be doing that, because that's not just pirates - that's legitimate customers with legitimate rights, too.

      That's my opinion, anyway. Control over your ideas really constitutes control over other people's lives, and it's generally used to make their lives more difficult. I recognise and support the rights of authors to secure compensation for their work, but not to inconvenience and annoy their customers "just in case" those customers are pirates.
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      • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
        Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

        Depends on where you do it.

        You should, of course, use your recourse to the law if your product gets stolen and redistributed. DMCA takedown notifications, etc.

        You should also have reasonable precautions to prevent people who haven't bought it from downloading it. These are pretty simple, with a script like DLGuard or RAP.

        But as far as trying to make it hard for a pirate who already has your product to make and distribute copies, no.
        Hi C,

        Yeah, that makes sense.

        Just wanted to reiterate that my main line of thinking is that if anyone is going to break the terms of the license, I don't want them using my resources to do it.

        All the best,
        Michael
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        • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
          Michael,

          Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

          Just wanted to reiterate that my main line of thinking is that if anyone is going to break the terms of the license, I don't want them using my resources to do it.
          Not sure I quite get what you mean...

          If you allowed your customers to print and/or copy & paste, they wouldn't be breaking the terms of the license. So what resources of yours would a thief be using (other than stealing your product)?


          Frank
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          • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
            Originally Posted by Frank Donovan View Post

            Michael,



            Not sure I quite get what you mean...

            If you allowed your customers to print and/or copy & paste, they wouldn't be breaking the terms of the license. So what resources of yours would a thief be using (other than stealing your product)?


            Frank
            Hi Frank,

            LOL - That's exactly why I said "my thinking is..." because I knew it could be faulty.

            I typically allow them to print, but not copy and paste.

            The resources can be money, bandwidth or time.

            I knew a lot of people like to print out PDFs, but I wasn't aware of any legitimate reasons for copying and pasting, and thought it would only be done to reprint the content. But since reading this thread, I see there are other reasons.

            For the record, the settings I've been using have not resulted in a single complaint. Not one. Granted, most people never say WHY they ask for a refund. I suppose it's possible that some of the few refunds I have given could have been for my PDF security settings.

            All the best,
            Michael
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            • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
              Hi Michael,

              Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

              I typically allow them to print, but not copy and paste.
              <snip>
              For the record, the settings I've been using have not resulted in a single complaint. Not one. Granted, most people never say WHY they ask for a refund. I suppose it's possible that some of the few refunds I have given could have been for my PDF security settings.
              Or, your PDFs are so full of juicy nuggets that your customers never feel the need to cherry-pick


              Frank
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              • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
                Originally Posted by Frank Donovan View Post

                Hi Michael,



                Or, your PDFs are so full of juicy nuggets that your customers never feel the need to cherry-pick


                Frank
                YES!

                That really is the only logical explanation.

                Thank you.



                ~Michael
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    • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
      Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

      So...

      Should we do ANYTHING to try to protect our work?

      ~Michael

      p.s. It's a general question, and not "aimed" at anyone in particular.
      I'm not going to say No... but it is fairly futile to try protect, password or otherwise, anything that can be downloaded.. and even the stuff in membership sites is accessible to the right minds...
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  • Profile picture of the author bigg
    so if we're talking about protecting content, the only way i could think of is an image file as an end product.

    but then again, we all know that its nearly(!) not possible to protect content. Heck, loads of physical books out there gets copied everyday.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
    I allow printing but not copy and paste as well, and like Michael, I've never had a complaint. I do that to prevent thieves from copying and pasting the content and claiming it as their own work. I hadn't considered Kay's reason for wanting to copy and paste, which is legitimate, but since I've had no complaints I'll probably keep doing it that way. Why?

    I know some of you think it's futile, but I think of what Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." The point is, I find it unsettling that so many do absolutely nothing to deter a thief just because what little we can do can be defeated. I know it doesn't deter every thief, but I'd like to think it does deter some of them, and perhaps buys some time before my content is stolen. And who knows, if not letting everyone easily copy and paste, maybe it helps prevent someone who hasn't been a thief from turning into a thief.

    I see disabling copy and paste in a different light from password protection. Everyone can pass on the password when they pass on the ebook, but not everyone can defeat copy and paste protection.

    It makes me wonder, what else are you willing to give up without any kind of fight at all?
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    • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
      Originally Posted by Dennis Gaskill View Post

      I know it doesn't deter every thief, but I'd like to think it does deter some of them, and perhaps buys some time before my content is stolen. And who knows, if not letting everyone easily copy and paste, maybe it helps prevent someone who hasn't been a thief from turning into a thief.
      If they have the mind of thief, then it isn't going to stop them. No matter how we project our fanciful ideas... it is just not going to stop those who want it.

      I see disabling copy and paste in a different light from password protection. Everyone can pass on the password when they pass on the ebook, but not everyone can defeat copy and paste protection.
      Password protection, restriction removal, it really does't matter.... It only needs doing once, as I demonstrated above with Brian's .pdf.... and then the product is distributed without the restriction.

      It makes me wonder, what else are you willing to give up without any kind of fight at all?
      It's not a case of "giving up", it's a case of choosing your battles wisely...

      Would you rather fight this battle, knowing full well that you aren't actually achieving anything, or take some time to make your current customers happy.

      In restricting your content, you are more likely to annoy legitimate customers than you are likely to deter a thief.
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      • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
        Originally Posted by JayXtreme View Post

        If they have the mind of thief, then it isn't going to stop them. No matter how we project our fanciful ideas... it is just not going to stop those who want it.
        I understand your point, Jay, I just don't completely agree with it. The line sits at a different place for each individual. One person may have no conscience and will do anything to get what they want. Another person does have a conscience but has shades of gray in their thinking. At some point, there is an action someone like that will have to take that, if they take that action, they cross over from "good guy" to "thief" in their own mind. That's a line some people do not want to cross.

        To you or I they may be a thief all along, to them, their personal morality is less defined. They may see copying and pasting as approved of by the author precisely because he didn't try to stop it; but if the author does prevent it, trying to circumvent the protection would be crossing the line for them.

        I didn't say it would stop the committed thief, but not everyone that might take your content is committed to being a thief. They are thieves of convenience, but do not consider themselves a thief. I never said it will stop everyone, or even most, but I do believe it will stop the majority of thieves of convenience - people who take because it's easy. It's like the old saying, we don't lock our doors to stop thieves, we lock our doors to keep honest people honest.

        It's not a case of "giving up", it's a case of choosing your battles wisely...

        Would you rather fight this battle, knowing full well that you aren't actually achieving anything, or take some time to make your current customers happy.

        In restricting your content, you are more likely to annoy legitimate customers than you are likely to deter a thief.
        Choosing my battles wisely? It takes 2 seconds to disable copying and pasting, that's not devoting much time to the "battle" so it isn't really preventing me from doing anything else.

        Like I said, I've never had one person complain that they couldn't copy and paste from my ebooks. Not one. If I had a lot of complaints I'd quit doing it, but I haven't.

        Has anyone who disables copying and pasting had even one complaint? Michael Oksa didn't either, and I'm guessing most haven't, because of the thousands and thousands of ebooks I've sold in my 13 years in business, I'd have surely had at least one complaint in 13 years if it was a problem for my customers.
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        • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
          Dennis,
          It makes me wonder, what else are you willing to give up without any kind of fight at all?
          Thank you. I had no idea that putting the convenience of my customers ahead of a desire to stop the unstoppable was suchy a cowardly act.

          It is nice of you to correct this misapprehension.


          Paul
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          • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
            Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

            Dennis,Thank you. I had no idea that putting the convenience of my customers ahead of a desire to stop the unstoppable was suchy a cowardly act.

            It is nice of you to correct this misapprehension.


            Paul
            Paul, I'm pretty sure you know that's not what I was saying.

            In the first place, the comment wasn't intended for anyone who does it for the convenience of their customers, it was intended for those who don't do it simply because they've given up fighting thievery. As I said in my reply to Frank, "The resignation of our principles isn't necessarily right or smart just because it's currently a losing battle. It's just a convenient reason to give in."

            If you're doing it for the convenience of your customers, that's very clearly a different motive from not doing it because you've given up the battle against thievery, isn't it?

            Like I said, I've sold thousands and thousands of ebooks and have not had one complaint. Why should I give in to thieves? I have no customers complaining. Surely, if it was an issue for my customers, one of those thousands of sales would have resulted in a complaint, don't you think?

            I'm guessing many of the folks here that don't disable copy and paste because they think it's a losing battle haven't had any complaints either. I've asked if anyone had receive complaints twice now and no one has said they have. I have my doubts disabling copy and paste is a problem for many people, and if it isn't, then why make it easier for copy and paste thieves?

            That's not to say you can allow it because you believe it benefits your customers. It's just saying I don't think disallowing it is much of a problem, and that I don't think giving in to thievery is the best option. That's a completely different argument from allowing it because you believe it benefits your customers.
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        • Profile picture of the author Kay King
          Like I said, I've never had one person complain that they couldn't copy and paste from my ebooks. Not one. If I had a lot of complaints I'd quit doing it, but I haven't.
          I used to politely tell a seller the reason for the refund if there were restriction on my use of the book. My reason was mainly to say "it's not that the ebook isn't worthwhile, but...." and what I found were sellers who wanted to argue the point.

          They hinted I must have nefarious intent if I wanted to print a copy or to use copy/paste and went on and on about protecting their product. Don't need the hassle - so now I don't say why when I ask for a refund. I don't buy from that person again,though.

          The place to protect is at the download site. When your efforts to protect your product limit the buyer's use of the product, you are using a hammer to kill a gnat.

          The best security would be the ability to remotely turn the ebook into blank pages the moment a refund is issued. That would be cool.

          kay
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          • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
            Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

            Dennis,

            I did it a few times, years ago. I got complaints from a couple of blind customers whose software couldn't handle it. And from several people who take notes the way I do.
            l
            Paul, did you know you can disallow copy and paste but allow it for accessibility? I'm not sure how far back that capability goes, it probably wasn't possible at the time you're referring to, but it's in the security provisions for version 9, which is the version I have. Before buying Adobe CS4, I used free PDF converters.

            Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

            I used to politely tell a seller the reason for the refund if there were restriction on my use of the book. My reason was mainly to say "it's not that the ebook isn't worthwhile, but...." and what I found were sellers who wanted to argue the point.

            They hinted I must have nefarious intent if I wanted to print a copy or to use copy/paste and went on and on about protecting their product. Don't need the hassle - so now I don't say why when I ask for a refund. I don't buy from that person again,though.

            The place to protect is at the download site. When your efforts to protect your product limit the buyer's use of the product, you are using a hammer to kill a gnat.

            The best security would be the ability to remotely turn the ebook into blank pages the moment a refund is issued. That would be cool.

            kay
            Hi Kay

            I let people print, I just disable copy and paste. To tell you the truth NOT disabling copy and paste is something I haven't given much thought, precisely because I have never had a complaint about it. It's something I'll give further thought to though.
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          • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
            Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

            The best security would be the ability to remotely turn the ebook into blank pages the moment a refund is issued. That would be cool.

            kay
            That can be done easily (not with a pdf of course) but only if access is granted by password or by IP address.
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    • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
      Hi Dennis

      Hmm.. Equating giving your customers the ability to copy and paste with "the triumph of evil" - Just a tad OTT, ya think?


      Originally Posted by Dennis Gaskill View Post

      It makes me wonder, what else are you willing to give up without any kind of fight at all?
      What you term "giving up", others would simply see as an extension of customer service. Of course, if your experience is that it appears not to affect sales or returns, I can understand your resistance.

      As a matter of interest, do you inform potential buyers beforehand about the copy and paste restriction?



      Frank
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      • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
        Originally Posted by Frank Donovan View Post

        Hi Dennis

        Hmm.. Equating giving your customers the ability to copy and paste with "the triumph of evil" - Just a tad OTT, ya think?
        Hi Frank - I wasn't speaking literally. The point wasn't intended to equate copy and paste with evil, but simply to illustrate that the thief wins every time if you don't care. The resignation of our principles isn't necessarily right or smart just because it's currently a losing battle. It's just a convenient reason to give in.

        What happens when too few people care about a principle? It no longer exists as a principle in the public ethos. If we give in and give up, we are only allowing the line between right and wrong to be moved . . . again. Do you see where that leads? It has become the downfall of many individuals and businesses over the years.

        What you term "giving up", others would simply see as an extension of customer service. Of course, if your experience is that it appears not to affect sales or returns, I can understand your resistance.

        As a matter of interest, do you inform potential buyers beforehand about the copy and paste restriction?
        Nope, and still, no complaints. They can print the document. They can print selections from the document. They just can't easily copy and paste the document into Word, change the title, and create a new product for themselves to sell.

        Like I said, if I'd received any complaints, even a small number, I'd certainly reconsider the practice, but I haven't. And I'd like to know who here has.

        As a side note, one that I probably should have included in my reply to Jay, even if we're only stopping one in ten thieves, that's buying that much more time we can sell our products before sales drop off because of the pirated versions out there.
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        • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
          Originally Posted by Dennis Gaskill View Post


          Like I said, if I'd received any complaints, even a small number, I'd certainly reconsider the practice, but I haven't. And I'd like to know who here has.
          I think thats a fair request. Although I wouldn't respond to the copy and paste issue (disabling it) I am kind of surprised to hear some people put down having to enter a password to access content. Isn't that the whole basis of a membership site? Why would I even care about the rare person who complains because they wanted to access my membership content without a password? too bad. there are more than enough people who have no issue with it.

          I've recently been working with a number of Warriors developing applications that display content and they are password protected and secure. I haven't heard any user thats complained about having to use their own password. Mind you it isn't pdf based but it is information based so I don't see the difference really.

          I have to agree with Dennis. I know if someone really wants to break into my house they will and sure there are people who will find ways around everything (IF THEY know how the technology works) but that doesn't mean I am not going to put a nice security system in place if I can. In my case I wouldn't bother with pdf protection since its kind of too easy to defeat but I think there are lots of lazy thieves in the world that won't apply themselves to learning eveything it takes to overcome a more complex system. I can''t see the issue with password protection. You can't even post on this board without it. Seems like an objection just for the sake of objection.
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  • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
    I've never heard that 10% info, either...

    Link?.... would be great.

    Jay
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    • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
      While we're waiting for clarification of the 10% allowance referred to in a previous post, I found a fact sheet on Australian copyright law in which the term "Fair Dealing Provisions" is explained.

      It seems that students can copy a "reasonable portion" of a copyrighted work as part of their research. The table in this PDF describes what constitutes a reasonable portion under Australian copyright law.

      This may be where the poster got his 10% idea from (although he appears to hail from the UK).

      Of course, I'm not a lawyer and this document shouldn't be taken as official permission. It's just for information purposes. Always seek your own legal advice for the jurisdiction in which you operate.


      http://utsescholarship.lib.uts.edu.au/webfm_send/32


      Frank
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  • Profile picture of the author Danny Boy
    Michaelh has it right: Prepare the doc for theft
    I have a saying "If you can't control it don't worry about it but still prepare for it"
    -Provide valuable content on your PDF
    -Get your name and links into the doc
    -Let the others use it if they can
    Dan
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    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      Dennis,

      I did it a few times, years ago. I got complaints from a couple of blind customers whose software couldn't handle it. And from several people who take notes the way I do.

      The first was enough.

      I don't recall ever complaining to a merchant about this myself, but it bothers me every time it happens. I suspect I'm not the only one who just thinks twice about buying again, rather than making a fuss about it.


      Paul
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  • Profile picture of the author Amy Carczak
    "Theft Proof" ... just not possible as you can send it
    to Elance and have it re-written.

    Videos can be recorded with Camtasia even when under
    the tightest security ...

    So nothing is ever "theft proof" ...so focus on selling and
    helping your good customers instead of trying to stop the
    minority that cannot be stopped.
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  • Profile picture of the author Christophe Young
    Interesting debate.

    I know this thread is about PDF ebooks, but if you use secure ebook compiler software, you CAN sell theft proof ebooks. I know this might spark another debate about how nobody wants to open exe ebooks, but I've never had a customer complain about that.

    You can also disable printing, copy paste, the whole ebook if the customer asks for a refund and screen capture software does not work if the ebook software is open.

    I agree with Dennis. Having sold a lot of ebooks, I've never had a customer complain about any of my security features. I think those that do, are in the minority and I'm not worried about them.
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