Protect Revenue Generating Content

Stop Theft / Piracy of Revenue Generating Documents.

How different industries use DRM to protect against revenue loss by stopping piracy, sharing and theft of commercially sold documents.

Protecting revenue generating content from theft & unauthorized distribution

Regardless of the industry selling content, they all have one thing in common – to stop piracy, sharing and theft of documents that they sell.  Whether you are selling reports, magazines, ebooks, or manuals, Locklizard Safeguard PDF Security can protect your IPR and revenue streams, regardless of where your content is located.

Here we cover the different types of content that Publishers sell and how document DRM can protect it.

Market Analyses

Market analysts provide their clients with valuable insights into the behavior of specific markets and their developments and forecasts.  Markets are often stock markets or money markets, but may also be related to supply and growth of sectors (orange juice, government borrowing rates, mining rare metals and so on.)

Market analysts need to have DRM controls available to be able to offer facilities such as a ‘try before you buy’ service where they reveal enough of a report (for a very limited period of time) to enable a prospective customer to decide to buy or not, without giving them the opportunity to readily extract any information without paying.  The analyst does not want their expensive information pirated or otherwise re-distributed because it is their source of income.  Naturally they want DRM controls to prevent easy copying and re-distribution of their expertise.

Specialist consultancy reports

The requirements for this sector are similar to market analysts except there is no requirement for a try before you buy feature, the consultant is already selected and approved.

Consultancy reports require secrecy of the information (their findings and recommendations) and that is the main issue up until the client decides, for their own reasons to publish those parts of reports that it wishes to disclose, whilst retaining secrecy over the other report contents, sometimes by redacting confidential sections of the text, and sometimes by producing a summary report separate from the main or original report.  This requires the ability to make it very difficult to make copies and by adding watermarks to the document to indicate who disclosed the report contents and the fact that they are private and not for distribution.  This would be in addition to any redaction being used and would prevent the trivial removal of that redaction.

Conference documents

Physical conference attending is currently being replaced by tools such as Zoom and OnBoard to allow remote attendance and interactive Q&A live sessions.  The need (and risk) of having everyone in one place makes face to face meetings an unlikely prospect for the foreseeable future.

But that does not stop the need to distribute the proceedings of the virtual conferences before the actual events take place, and to mimic the physical conference by publishing the equivalent of a book, which the original attendee(s) would receive, and could lend to others, but only by giving up the use of it themselves.  This would imply the locking of the documents to a token such as a USB drive so that only the USB holder could use the documents, and could not copy or print the content.  And giving away the whole content to someone else would mean the original recipient losing access – rather like a physical book.  Some thought must be given to the issues raised by Video Conference facilities offering copies of the sessions ‘for free’ when that might not be the intention of either the presenters or the organizers and may not fit their business model for revenue and advertising.

Music scores or sheet music

Today’s music scores would be enough to confuse composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, Copeland, but selling scores for copyright works has always been big business, as has copying them.  Since before the days of the music halls people would go to performances and clap for encores so they had time to write down the music and the libretti (words) and then perform or publish them as their own work.  Today there are people who go to live performances with recorders to make copies of the live work, but that does not give them the musical score.  And there is a large market for scores that show what music each instrument has to play to reproduce the live sound.

And there is more confusion in the US and Canada (at least) where Copyright law allows something called ‘fair use’ for non-profit (you must not make a profit from copying sheet music) which can, in a school, allow you to make 1 copy per student, or up to 10% of the whole work.  So relying on Copyright protection to protect sheet music may be problematic.

How to protect sheet music

If you want to protect sheet music from piracy, it may be better to license the sheet music in addition to relying on Copyright law to protect your work, and justify the fact that you are using DRM controls to try and offset ‘fair use’ by refusing to allow copying.

By using PDF DRM software you protect from copying – stop copying of content (stop copy/paste to other applications), and prevent users sharing licensed copies.

As a minimum, publishers should be using PDF watermarks on their sheet music, not obtrusively, but to establish the rights they are claiming, since digital versions need to be printed out to be actually useful.  We have yet to see an orchestra pin touchscreen tablets to the music stand before playing!  Note that watermarks added by PDF Editing software can be easily removed so you should use a PDF DRM application that provides a permanent non-removable watermark.


A key part of the education process in schools and colleges is the coursework that has to be studied by the students in addition to the formal teaching or presentations.  This is normally a rich mixture of formal texts or reference works, together with works published by the faculty or individual lecturers, and each will have its Copyright, and some may be free of Copyright because of age or because the author(s) have decided to make them freely available.

This creates problems assembling and distributing digital coursework.  Ideally the publisher wants to be able to issue a single folder to each student with all the coursework for the term/semester or the year, and with all the controls (end of access to documents that have Copyright asserted, ability to print but showing the name of the student making the print, ability to print without watermarking for non-Copyright documents, preventing copying where texts are to be read but not to be extracted to form part of an essay or dissertation) implementable on a document by document basis.

This creates a complex control situation which DRM controls are well positioned to address.  To help the coursework publisher it may be more convenient to be able to create the folders on USB tokens and have all the security controls contained in the USB itself so that it can be issued to students on campus or through local bookstores without any diminution of the security applied to the coursework documents.  The DRM would also have to support the ability of students to make notes on the documents, including highlighting text without making any changes to the original protected document.

These requirements are very similar to those in the general education sector whether the specialism is Medicine, Chemical Engineering, Mathematics or Criminology.  One advantage of distributing protected PDF documents securely for coursework is the ability to include copies of rare works that would not be available in the physical form and which the owners may not wish to make available for public distribution.  This would be particularly valuable for the history aspect of a study course.

Magazine publishers

Magazine publishers have had a long exposure to Copyright controls and are no strangers to using DRM to support their market positioning.  The magazine industry produces small ‘books’ with a short shelf life which can be worth adding a DRM layer to maintain the price/value of a digital version that can compete with a print published edition.  After all, there is little value in producing an unprotected digital copy of a magazine in competition with a print published edition.

Magazine publishers need to have DRM controls that add watermarks to printed output to make the ‘glossy’ picture pages unattractive to copy, or to stop printing to any printing device helping prevent users from making unauthorized copies.  They also want the ability to allow users to be able to read magazines offline, perhaps checking the license being used whenever a Wi-Fi connection is available rather than making the protected magazine difficult to use by insisting on an Internet connection being available.

Legal Documents

Legal documents underpin the agreements made for everyone from the citizen to the nation state.  They are the evidence of what parties agreed and what was in dispute.  They may contain highly confidential information that must be disclosed, sometimes to a very limited number of people, sometimes for a limited period of time.  This would be the case for documentation in mergers and acquisitions.  Equally, you have the situation where they must be made public, but with the certainty that only authorised documents are disclosed, and that means that they must be very difficult to forge.  Public notices fall into this category.  Adding the word ‘no’ or ‘not’ can make a great difference.  W.S. Gilbert in Iolanthe adds the word “don’t” to a law to reverse it – “every fairy shall die who don’t marry a mortal.”  Also documents must keep the same format or they might mislead the reader.  Allowing text to flow around boxes may cause page changes.

The established international standard for retaining form and format in published documents is the PDF standard ISO 32000 which dominates industry for its robust performance since its original development by Adobe in 1993.  Lawyers have long since used standard Adobe PDF encryption (also known as PDF password protection), but PDF password protection can be easily removed, and since there is no integrity protection, additional unencrypted content can be added.  Even digital signatures applied to PDF documents (designed to check if changes to a PDF have been made) cannot be relied upon since you can manipulate digitally signed PDFs without the documents being reported as tampered with!  See PDF Security Issues for this and other known Adobe PDF security weaknesses.

So it is clear, that standard PDF encryption and digital signatures are not up to the job.  At the same time it can be important to track PDF use so you know if a document has been opened or if a printed copy has been made, and which authorised individual was involved.  Here you need to look for DRM controls to be able secure PDF Documents to a level that meets the tough requirements set by lawyers without making protected PDF documents impossible to use.

Aircraft Engineering and Maintenance Manuals

Maintenance manuals are key documents both for manufacturers and for re-sellers.  Aircraft manufacturers control the use of them in order to restrict third party maintainers from being able to compete with authorised agents by limiting access to technical know-how and parts specifications.  This requires that protected PDF files can be restricted to use by agents or franchises and documents locked by IP address so that they can be used anywhere on the facility instead of being locked to a single device.

The same is true for any large engineering product: cranes, mining engines, trains etc., where a manufacturer seeks to ensure that only duly authorized resellers and agents can carry out repairs (there may be liability questions if a non-authorized engineer carries out repairs).

Sewing patterns

There is a challenge when publishing patterns (sewing or knitting) and that is to prevent them being copied and shared amongst friends and family.  Traditionally, sewing groups (bees or circles) were made up of groups of individuals who met for the purpose of making and showing off clothes (and drinking coffee?)  One member of the group would obtain or develop a pattern, try it out, and if it proved successful pass it on to others for them to try.

Copyright protection for sewing patterns is available – a sewing pattern itself may be subject to copyright law, but that is only the pattern illustrations, diagrams, written instructions and the pattern envelope art (subject to limitations).  In theory, that means that people cannot photocopy or scan in the sewing pattern and then sell copies of it.  In practise however, people do exactly that, whether the sewing pattern is copyrighted or not – it is up to the copyright owner to track this activity and purse a legal takedown route.  And while making patterns proved difficult before computerisation took hold it is now possible to develop and print or scan and copy patterns with relative ease, so that potentially means a lot of tracking and expensive legal work.

The best way to protect sewing patterns

The challenge for pattern manufacturers is to provide patterns in a form that allows prints to be made (essential to the process) but does not allow large scale copying.

DRM technology can help by preventing a secure PDF file that contains the patterns from being copied and circulated over the Internet, and limit the number of times that a pattern may be printed.  (Transferring a pattern onto a material means cutting through the pattern and the material at the same time, thus wrecking the pattern.)  These restrictions create an environment where selling electronic patterns becomes economically feasible.

Adding a dynamic watermark to a sewing pattern (that displays a user’s name and email) can help deter users from scanning printed copies and sharing them online.  Watermarks can also be useful for displaying Publisher and copyright information, and using a PDF DRM solution can ensure watermarks cannot be easily removed.

So creating a pattern in PDF format, then applying DRM controls is the best way to protect sewing patterns from piracy.