Protecting Your Intellectual Property Online

One of my subscribers SP writes: ?How do I stop people who buy my e-books from making illegal copies and giving it to their friends??

?Here are a few techniques that offer a degree of protection:

?1?Have a copyright page in the front of the book. Add a copyright notice. Mine reads:

??? Copyright 2010 by The Center for Technical Communication. All rights reserved.?

?2?Register the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, DC:


?3?Lock the PDF so the contents of the book cannot be altered and the copyright information cannot be removed.

?4?Place this warning on the copyright page:

??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 purchaser to penalties of up to $100,000 per copy distributed.?

?5?Within the text of the book, put URLs of the landing pages for your other products and offers.

?That way, if the book is stolen and passed around illegally, you?ll at least get lots more orders from it.

?6?Offer an extra free bonus the readers of the e-book can download ONLY if they are ?authorized owners? of the e-book.

?That way, someone who has an illegal copy and wants the free bonus will go pay for a legal copy to get the free bonus.

?7?Don?t spend a lot of your time and energy worrying about people copying and stealing your stuff.

?Most people are honest. A few aren?t. In the long run, you won?t really be hurt by the few cheaters here and there. Dedicate your time and energy to other, more important issues.


748 thoughts on “Protecting Your Intellectual Property Online

  • These precautionary measures sound good generally, but the fear remains that my eBook sales can be cannibalized by the few “bad apples” who quickly break locked PDF files and freely distribute them on the Internet.
    There are services – usually with the word “guard” in the name that password protect the file on their own server and can even revoke access if someone returns the book for a refund after copying.
    They can also prevent printing and copying. I believe this is the case with Amazon Kindle content also. You can make notes on the border, but not copy to a file.
    My eBook is not just a $2.99 novel, but the result of decades of experience in a field many find challenging. This would be the first time publishing my techniques and strategies, so I’m still strongly considering paying the monthly subscription to guarantee security of my work.

    Daniel Dreifus

  • The most effective protection is to create a physical product instead of digital. Also keeping the price reasonable for the amount of content. It seems the more successfully your digital product sells, the worse the piracy is. Putting copywriting notices on it does nothing to deter piracy. I disagree about it being a few people. It’s a huge problem furthered by Google’s recent changes, rewarding piracy sites because of higher popularity.

  • Is there a fee for registering the copyright? Is this only allowed in the United States or can anyone in the world have their online intellectual property copyrighted by this body?

  • Jason’s right, the watermark could help you out. But yeah, there are actually quite a number of people who aren’t honest and as a copy writer, it’s not worth it be stressed because of these dishonest people.

  • It’s like $20 or $30 to register something for copywright. But it’s fairly useless because it can cost more than it’s worth to enforce typically. You can put the copywright notice on your work without registering it.

  • It is in point of fact a great and useful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

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