Document Security & Digital Rights Management

Deciding who shares, prints, and reads your digital content

Last week at the Mequoda Summit, a few attendees had questions about document security and digital rights management concerning their PDFs. If you are selling PDFs online, there is going to come a time when one of your customers passes along a paid product to a colleague (B2B) or friend (B2C) who has not paid.

For document security and digital rights management, some online publishers use a form of secure PDF that will either track your PDF and tell you how it’s being used, or go one step further and stop people from distributing it. Many of these document security and digital rights management companies are similar, but we chose the ones that offered a mix of different features depending on your requirements and price-range.

File-Secure.com – Gives you the ability to see who is accessing your file, for how long, and enables you to stop access to any document. $7.95 sign up, $67.00 base monthly fee, $0.50 USD per MB distributed.

FileOpen.com – Good for membership websites because it includes subscription management tools, especially good if you offer a free trial to a library and allow your users to download PDFs. Works with Windows and OSX.

Secure-ebook.com – Allows you to give users a sample of your book before buying. After buying, the book becomes unlocked. If another user tries to open it, it will revert back to sample mode. They also offer a free trial. Does not work for your users with Mac OSX. Around $0.50 per download.

Vitrium.com – “Protectedpdf” applies protection to individual pages instead of the entire document and prides themselves on making it “less complex” for the user to view the file. Ability to track PDFs and limit access by computer. They also offer “Docmetrics” which is a tracking and lead-generation web tool.

CrypKey DLM – Allows you to secure media files in addition to PDFs with a keycode that your users will have to use. You can assign a trial access time as well, such as 60 minutes or 60 days. You can also restrict printing capabilities, full saving capabilities, viewing time and distribution ability. See pricing.

LockLizard – In addition to the ability of protecting your PDFs from unauthorized viewing, copying, sharing, saving, and distribution, it even protects your document from screen grabbing or capturing. Ability to instantly revoke access and control how long people can view your files. They also offer “Web Content Security” for eBooks, online training, and things you publish on CD or DVD. $2,495.00 per year. Sign up for the 15 day free trial.

PDF Password-X (PDF-PX) – Similar to these other options, allows you to restrict authorization of documents on a computer-by-computer basis. Passwords are involved but are not disclosed to the user. Copying renders files inoperable to end users. $595 for unlimited downloads. Sign up for a free trial.

Document security and digital rights management is an important part of what we try to maintain as online publishers. While we’d argue that you don’t mind if a few people pass along your product (as long as it has many links back to your website), there’s a big difference between sharing and stealing your content.

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