How Do I Keep From Getting My Ebook Ripped Off?


Nobody wants to see their content stolen… NOBODY! And it’s understandable that you’d want to protect your intellectual property at “all costs” if you can. As with just about everything in life, you can approach this issue three ways:  1 – Go hardcore and lock it down.  2 – Not worry about it.  3 – Perhaps a middle of the road approach.  There are pro’s and con’s to each.

Here’s a question from someone who has poured blood sweat and tears into their product and are only 1 week away from release.


I am hoping you can help even though this topic is not directly related to my DIY Media Marketing Academy Subscription.  I am about a week away from releasing my product – a single PDF of information on college financial aid.   

My concern is document security.  The PDF contains a notice of copyright and digital rights page.

In Adobe Acrobat, I can add a password that must be entered by the client to open the document.  Once the correct password is entered and the document opens, the client is permitted to print the PDF but cannot change it, copy from it or extract pages.

Even with the Adobe security above, the client can easily copy the PDF file, along with the open password, to a thumb drive or to an email and make the PDF available anywhere to anyone.  The client also can open the PDF using the password and then select File > Print > Print to PDF which creates a duplicate PDF file without the password security.

Various companies offer different products for total security; the client cannot copy the PDF, cannot print the PDF to a file (creating a copy that bypasses my security) and prohibits screen shots among other features.  The cost is assessed using 1 of 2 models;
1) a monthly subscription storing the doc on their servers at $300+.
2) I pay a fee of at least $9 per download.

Do you have advice or suggestions or preferred links or software tools that will provide security for the document?

Should I even make the PDF a secure document?

Thanks in advance!


Let’s start out by saying you have every right to protect your intellectual property. You worked hard on it and you deserve to get paid. In a perfect world, everyone would make money and nobody would share things they didn’t pay for.

Here are a few things to think about on this issue. And let us say, we are 100% in your corner because we have been, and still are, where you are right now.

I have considered adding a layer of security over the years and am currently doing the following:

I have over 40 PDF ebooks.  Each one is an advertisement for all the other EBOOKS.  In fact, I often get customers from people saying their buddy emailed them an ebook of mine and they purchased something new.  When over 40% of your business is return customers, I find this method acceptable for my business.  Here are some issues with going hardcore on security – besides the extra money to secure it.

1 – You can’t really make a PDF a secure document that can’t be shared. By it’s nature PDF means “portable document format” – which means portable.

What we have done at times over the years is to protect the document behind a membership area with a username and password… they create an account and download it.

Another option is to make the content a video and protect that inside a members’ area…. not so easily shared.  This is a great option!  If you really want to protect your content, teach it like a class in a membership area.  OR, you can print it out and mail it to people as a booklet.

2 – I decided to not worry about the security of it and if people share the ebook with a buddy it would be no different than a person giving a book to them after reading it.  Saves on my stress level.

3 – HOWEVER, I do searches and when I find one of my books on a server and someone is giving it away, I have a standard copyright letter stating it is against the law to do what they are doing.  9/10 it works.  The time it does not eventually that server / website goes out of business.  PLUS I let people know to avoid downloading my products from third party sites as they can contain viruses and are missing regular updates that I give them every year.

With updates you can resend to your original buyers, or sell is again if the information is new and replaced an out of date version.

I hope this helps – if you have just one PDF, I would consider the password method with written warning to the buyer in the EBOOK itself.  That usually works.  However, you may also create a lot of headaches for yourself with customer service that way (emails about “lost” passwords).

The best defense is to constantly keep the content updated and coming out with a new version so people will pay for the new version instead of what they perceive as “the old” versions.

I have found worrying too much about it takes away from me marketing it and getting more sales.

97 out of 100 people that buy are honest… concentrate on those 97%.

Worrying about 3% ripping you off will never make you more money.

However, if you are leaning toward security, check out these options:




What Are Your Thoughts?

1 Comment

  • Beverly Kune

    Reply Reply January 19, 2017

    Thanks Jim. This is very timely for me, as I hav been getting a rash of internet marketing emails launching various products that copy content from a site (not their own) and then “spinning” the content to creat an untold number of different variations to put on other sites (to fool Google into not tagging these copy sites as copy sites. It is very disheartening for me, as I put a lot of thought and time into creating copy regarding the type of work I do and related issues; the last thing I want to know is that others with these apps and software programs can easily claim and spin this content as their own, even when they know nothing about the topic.

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