Anyone who has devoted the time and effort to create a digital information product to sell online has done it to make money for themselves, not to line a thief’s pockets. That time and effort deserve to be rewarded. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for online digital products to be stolen; so easy, in fact, that even usually honest people are tempted.

Here are some figures:

— 86% of computer users have a digital product for which they should have paid, but didn’t;

— 49% of digital ebooks are illegal copies;

— 70% of people admit that they would not pay for a digital product, if they could get a pirated copy free;

— 56% of users think that they’re doing nothing wrong by sharing a digital product that they’ve paid for;

— 36% of people do not know that sharing purchased digital products is illegal.

There are various means used by unscrupulous people to steal information products, such as ebooks, videos, sound and.pdf files, etc. There are also ways to protect such digital products during the sales, download and usage processes.

1. At the point of sale.

Method of theft: Editing the URL that leads to the how to delete pdf protection payment processor transaction page, e.g., changing the payment amount or currency to obtain the product free or at a lower price.

How to prevent the theft: I know only about PayPal, but I expect other payment processors have a similar mechanism. Use the IPN facility to check the amount and currency paid. Send buyers to the download page only if the amount and currency are correct; otherwise send them to a failure page. This prevents tampering with the payment, but does not prevent reuse of the download page (see next). It requires a little knowledge of program coding.

2. At the point of download.

Method of theft: Displaying the download page without having paid, or by reusing a used payment processor transaction number. E.g., a buyer might tell others what the URL of the download page is.

How to prevent the theft: The download page captures the current transaction number and checks for its existence in a database. If it exists, or there is no transaction number at all in the download page URL, a suitable message is displayed to the would-be thief; otherwise, the new transaction number is added to the database, and the buyer can download the product. This prevents reuse of the download page, but does not prevent access to the product file’s URL or unauthorized use of the product itself (see next). It requires a mediocre knowledge of program coding.

3. At the point of usage.

Method of theft: After the product has been downloaded once, there is no way to prevent unauthorized use unless the product is a software program. E-books, videos, sound files and the like can be copied and passed on to others and reused freely. Even original buyers can ask for their money back and continue to use the product.

How to prevent the theft: Either

A) Make the product a web service, rather than a downloadable file, and protect its web page with user name+password access, coupled with a covert computer name check. This is not fully secure, as any computer whose default name has not been changed can access the product with the correct user name and password, which themselves can be passed on freely. It requires an advanced knowledge of program coding.

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