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Stop Customers from Stealing Your E-Books

June 16th, 2009 by Bob Bly

ST, a newbie, asked me the other day: “How do I make sure my online customers don’t violate my copyright by making illegal copies of my e-book?”

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the notice I post prominently on the copyright page of all my e-books. You have my permission to use it.

What else do you guys do to stop your PDF products from being copied and passed around without payment to you?

Or do you not even worry about it and let it happen freely?

This is NOT a free e-book!

Purchase of this e-book entitles the buyer to keep one copy on his or her computer AND to print out one copy only.

Printing out more than one copy or distributing it electronically is prohibited by international and U.S. copyright laws and treaties, and would subject the offending party to penalties of up to $100,000 per copy distributed.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 at 1:35 pm and is filed under Online Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 responses about “Stop Customers from Stealing Your E-Books”

  1. John Soares said:

    Some people don’t mind if their ebooks are distributed freely because they have affiliate links or back-end offers in it.

    My e-book doesn’t have these (except for a few links to books on Amazon), and I want to minimize people obtaining it illegally.

    I have a notice similar to yours on the copyright page. On the bottom of every page of the book, I have this:

    Forwarding or redistribution of this publication is prohibited.
    All rights reserved. All contents © John R. Soares.

    With these two notices I hope to spur anyone who received a copy for free to pay for it, and also to inform people that they should not give the book to others.

    And I have the PDF file secured so that purchasers can print it, but they can’t copy and paste the text.

  2. Sally said:

    This never fails to be an emotionally charged issue, but for all practical purposes it’s impossible to prevent digital pilfering.

    There are inexpensive utilities for stripping the restrictions from PDF files. Also, file sharing is huge – bigger than a lot of people realize.

    Copyright threats aren’t much of a deterrent. Thieves know they won’t get caught. Even if they did, it’s up to the complainant to enforce their rights and foot the legal expense. What entrepreneur has deep enough pockets to do that? We aren’t Sony Music.

    All businesses suffer some amount of “breakage” and loss. From broken dishes and stolen glasses in restaurants to linens stolen from hotels, to shoplifting in department stores. It goes with the territory. In brick and mortar businesses there are even ways to track and estimate that sort of thing in order to take a tax write off for it.

    Do everything you can to deter or stop casual theft, but you can’t prevent it altogether. You can’t stop a determined thief who knows what he’s doing.

    I have read that people who steal digital products wouldn’t have bought them anyway. That makes sense. From that perspective, maybe the losses aren’t as heavy as we think they are. At least I’d like to think so.

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  4. Drew said:

    Until now, this has been the issue. Many people are making money from the work of others.

    The other day, as I was looking for a downloadable acrobat reader, there’s an offer of pdf security. I’m not quite sure if its effective to prevent thieves but at least lessen the possibility of stolen eBook. Of course, manual production is another issue.

  5. John Soares said:

    Sally, you make some excellent points. For me the key thing is to accept that some theft happens, and then don’t worry about it.

  6. Bob Bly said:

    The large dollar fine per violation is not an idle threat, by the way: on 6/19/09, CNN reported that a federal jury found a young woman guilty of illegally downloading 24 songs from the Internet. At $80,000 per violation, she was fined a whopping $1.9 million.

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  8. RaymondJock said:

    Many e-books are being copied by users. It is better to prevent permissions to access the files. You can use security methods to save your files.
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