copy protection

Copy Protection

Copy Protection & Copy Protect Software

Copy protect PDF files, documents, reports, ebooks, courses

Right at the heart of any DRM system is the ability to control making copies of something.  Copyright is indeed all about controlling the license to make copies. So if you do not have copy protection, then you have nothing at all.

Now there are those who say that once they have ‘bought’ something then they have the right to make copies and to use them in any way that they see fit.

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Secure PDF Copy Protection

  • Stop unauthorized access and sharing
  • Control use – stop copying, editing, printing, etc.
  • Lock PDFs to devices, countries, locations
  • User and PDF expiry, revoke files at any time

But such arguments are basically flawed.  The fact that you have bought something does not mean that you have an inalienable right to make copies.  After all, how many people think that because they bought a freezer they have a ‘right’ to make copies of it?

But the reality is that the practical problems of making a copy are copy protection enough.  Even the humble paperback is not worth scanning and printing.  Apart from the serious number of hours needed to scan a paperback, the printing cost, unless you are a commercial printer, is simply prohibitive.  In simple terms, you would not spend 12 hours of your time and $25 in ink or laser to make a single copy, especially if you can buy a copy in you local mall for $5.95.

So in the real world, that is the world defined by physics that has real items such as people, books, gravity and so on, copy protection is achieved because the costs of making commercially useful copies are so high that commercial wisdom provides copy protection.

Now in the computer world, copying is a trivial and inexpensive activity.  Just think about it.  Copying the folders on your C drive onto a backup drive is now so simple that anyone can do it.

So the traditional controls that ensure copy protection no longer work in the computer environment.  In fact, the situation is suddenly changed.  Copy protection now has to be an active situation, whereas before it was passive.

  Copy protect documents, files, ebooks, reports & training courses from unauthorized copying

How can copy protection be achieved when making copies is so simple that it is trivial?

The first thing to realize is that it is only useful to make a copy of something if you can actually use that copy. And, more importantly, that only you, the copier, can make use of the copy.

After all, the whole point of copy protection is that only the purchaser is able to make use of the copy. That does not prevent them being able to let their friends look at or listen to what they have on their computer. But copy protection should prevent, very actively, anyone except the rights holder (the purchaser) from being able to use the copies.  After all, whilst it is perfectly reasonable for the owner to make use of copies, there is no good argument at all to say that other people should be able to use copies where they have no rights to them.

But in the normal computer environment, a copy is a copy is a copy and they are all perfect!

So you cannot stop people from making copies, or from achieving perfect copies.  Yes, I know that it seems to be mission impossible, but we have to look at the difference between making copies and being able to use them.  And this is the key to copy protection.  Is there a technique that allows you to personalize information so that only a specific individual can use it?  Because if you can do that, then you have effectively achieved copy protection.  And that is because it is the ability to use a copy that has become more critical than the ability to make copies.  Since if making copies is trivial, costs nothing, and anyone can do it, then controlling the ability to make use of a copy achieves the same result.

So copy protection is not achieved by trying to stop someone from copying a file.  After all, that would be the same as defying gravity in a black hole or getting more interest from lending money to a bank than they charge you for borrowing money!  It can only be achieved by making sure that only the licensed person is able to make use of the information in a file.  And that can only be achieved by using encryption.  Because that is the only realistic way in which you can actually ensure copies cannot be passed on to other people without authority.

So if you want to achieve copy protection you have to look under the hood.  You cannot stop people making copies of files on computers, so don’t even think of it.  But you can control the ability to use the contents of those files by using cryptography to prevent misuse by those who are not authorized.  So copy control can be achieved, but the way of achieving this is, to use the modern phrase, counter-intuitive.

See also PDF copy protection.

Copy Protection Components

Below are the main components a good copy protection system should consist of.  Each component adds a layer of security that helps enforce copy protection controls.

  • Encryption

    Encryption is used to encode (encrypt) content so that it is only usable if the recipient has the correct key.

    In good copy protection systems it is also used to lock content to specific devices so that it cannot be easily transferred (along with the key) to an unauthorized device.

  • DRM Controls

    DRM is used to impose restrictions on what an authorized user can do with content so that security cannot be easily circumvented by functionality available within an application.

    For example the ability to stop printing of a document or for content to expire on a fixed date or after a number of days use.

  • Licensing

    Licensing enables content to be linked to a user so you can control access and use at the user level.

    For example, you may want to restrict a user to being only able to view protected documents on their mobile device in only an office location.

  • Watermarks

    Watermarks can be used to make copying difficult (static watermarks) or to identify a user (dynamic watermarks).

    • Static watermarks make copying difficult by using background images that blend with the content – e.g. a diffraction or Moire fringe pattern.
  • Other Security Mechanisms

    A good copy protection system will also control Operating System behaviour so that simple methods to circumvent security are prevented.

    For example stopping screen grabbing and preventing printing to non-physical printers such as file drivers.

Copy Protect PDFs with Safeguard PDF security

To copy protect a PDF

In Safeguard Secure PDF Writer, choose the PDF copy protection to apply:

  1. Stop printing, allow printing or limit the number of prints.
  2. Add dynamic watermarks to viewed and or printed pages.  Dynamic variables replace actual user and system data when the document is viewed/printed so you only have to protect the document once for all users.
  3. Add expiry.  Make the PDF expire on a specific date, after a number of views, after a number of prints, or after a number of days from opening.
  4. Lock PDF use to specific locations on a global or user basis.
  5. Log document views and prints.
Safeguard’s default copy protection
  • Stops users editing, copying and pasting content
  • Stop screen grabbing (even from remote connections) and use of Windows print screen
  • Locks PDF files to specific devices so they cannot be shared with others
  • There are no passwords for users to enter, manage, or remove
  • Revoke PDFs at any time regardless of where they reside

   Download PDF copy protection software

Download copy protection software with DRM controls to copy protects PDF files, documents, ebooks, reports, training and elearning courses.

Protect against copying, printing, editing and sharing of your content.  Copy protect your documents against unauthorized use and misuse.  DRM copy protection software that ensures the security and use of your information.

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