Download Protection: Fact & Fiction

FACT: Anything that you put out on the web, can be downloaded – one way or the other.

FACT: People who are out to steal stuff, will steal it no matter what.

FACT: By taking security too far, you will only annoy and irritate 99% of your members who have absolutely no intention of ripping you off or stealing your content in any way.

DAP provides built-in security for files and video and just about any other type of file extension – like .pdf, .zip, .doc, etc. DAP will make sure that even if the URL to the actual file gets passed around, the person trying to access the file will have to log in first before they can access the content. So your content is safe from un-authorized users, with DAP protecting it.

However, what about a valid, paying member? When they get access to a protected PDF or .zip or even a video, can DAP prevent them from downloading the file to their desktop? If a paying member who has legitimate access to a PDF file, can download the PDF to their desktop, can they not then turn around and upload it to their own web site, or send it as an attachment via email to their friends? Is there any way to make files not downloadable at all?

Sure they can. But trying to build a Fort Knox around your content, is not really the best thing for your members.

Taking Security Too Far

Like we mentioned above, anything that’s out there on the web, can be duplicated, copied, downloaded – in one way or the other. Nothing is 100% secure.

  • You could use “Streaming Only” technology to make sure even legitimate, paying members cannot download videos from your member’s area. But guess what? There are screen-capture tools – even free ones – that can be used to rip your video, and convert it into a file that can then be passed around on pirate sites. So preventing download of videos would only result in upsetting your legitimate members, because people like to watch videos even when they’re away from their computer – like on their ipad when sitting on a bed or a couch. Making everything “streaming only” means that they must be online and logged in to your member’s area every single time to watch your videos. Not a good thing for your members. You want to upset 99% of your members just to prevent that 1% who may (or may not) steal your content?
  • PDF’s can’t really be prevented from being downloaded. Once the PDF reader opens a PDF file, even if it’s by clicking on a link on your web site, it means it’s already downloaded on to the computer in some kind of a “temp” folder. So it has already left your web site and landed on the user’s computer. Nothing much you can do from there. Sure, you could make your PDF’s password protected, but they can pass on the password too to others. You could make your PDF files so that they cannot be copy/pasted, or cannot be printed. But guess what? There are tools out there that will break any kind of encryption or restriction you put on your PDF files, within seconds. And those who want to actually steal your content, also know what those tools are and how to use them.

So can your content be “too secure”? Absolutely. You can make it too hard for 99% of your legitimate members, just to prevent the 1% from stealing it (but they’re going to find a way to steal anyway). What’s the point, really? Those who want to steal, know how to pick your lock. So why make it harder for your real members?

Can people pass on their username/password to their friends to log in to your member’s area? Sure. But DAP will lock their account from further access, if it detects an account getting logins from more than, say “5” (or whatever you set as admin) IP addresses.

Can people download your videos from your site after getting legit access to it, using screen-capture tools, then re-upload to a torrent or black-hate site? Sure, they can.

Can people break your “password-lock”, “print-lock” or any other kind of restriction you place on your PDF files, within seconds? Sure, they can.

No, your content can never be 100% secure. Any one who tells you so, is either lying, or doesn’t have a clue.

Your only goal should be to make it hard for the “casual” abusers, that’s all. Not to make it so hard that even your legitimate members have to jump through hoops to get to it.

The best membership sites we have seen, provide access to their content in multiple formats.

Do you publish video content? Then right below the video, also give them a link to “download” the video and “watch it at their leisure”, publish an “Audio Version” in .mp3 format, publish a “PDF Transcript” of everything said in the video, so they can even “read” the content from your video.

Is your content mostly text? Then offer a PDF version of your blog post or page, so they can download it, print it, and read it offline. Or make a “Read Aloud” version of your blog post and offer it as a .mp3 file, so they can “listen” to your content while at the gym, or while going for a walk, or while driving in their car.

Bottom-line: Don’t worry about the 1% who will never pay you, probably will steal your content, and pass it on to others one way or the other. Just focus on creating great value for the 99% of your paying members who pay you, support you, promote you, and keep coming back month after month after month. And that’s the best use of your time and resources, and that’s the only way to build a successful membership site.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Phil Bradley - August 9, 2012

Some very good points, and lessons I learned a long time ago. Having eBooks available since the late 1990’s, I tried lots of different ways to keep them secured, only later to realize that sales were dwindling because my customers were having a hard time getting to their paid publications.

Once I eased up and made it easier to use while keeping to basic tools, the sales started coming again. Sure, there are probably hacked versions being passed around. And I’ll never know how many sales I’ve lost because of it.

At the same time, though, I know first-hand that many of them ended up purchasing the eBook in order to get the other resources I offered to paying customers that they DIDN’T get in the hacked version.

Long story short, do the basics and keep things protected as you can, but don’t sweat it. It’s going to happen along the way, so accept it and keep producing media that your valid customers WILL continue talking about and coming back for more.

Conzz - July 14, 2013

Really enjoying DAP, very intuitive. The knowledge base you have is outstanding, thanks for the great product 🙂



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