How To Copy Protect Documents Most Securely
The first and foremost thing to realize is that when reading anything online that the user DOES download the document to their computer. It can be easy assume that they don't, especially when most web developers do not realize that themselves. So it does not matter whether the user reads online from a web page or from their desktop, because in both cases the document is downloaded and saved to the user's computer.
The sooner that web developers realize that, the better their copy protect projects might be. One could ask the question "Are web developers getting dumber?" and would not be surprised if they are because today it does not take much skill, training or experience to create a web site when it is now so easy by using one of the popular CMS like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla or Moodle. With these CMS anyone can build a web site from scratch, and there are also many web hosting plans available now that include the CMS already installed for them.
The next thing to realize is that to securely protect and display any document such as TXT, Word, XLS, EPUB, PDB, etc requires a proprietary reader and one that caters for that particular file format, and that poses a huge problem because, take for example DOC and XLS files which require Microsoft software to view them. Viewing an encrypted file in those readers is not possible and getting the source code for those readers to use in a proprietary reader is virtually impossible even if royalties could be paid.
EPUB readers are simple text readers and unless the file can be encrypted and decrypted by the reader it is pointless considering it as being copy protected.
So let's look how those problems are very much simplified by using one document format and one that all file types can easily be converted to. Almost everyone can convert files to PDF format and if not, they can easily download free document conversion software that will.
The conclusion is that the best all round solution for protecting all types of documents including images is PDF and that is why companies like ArtistScope are the leading developers of software for document protection. ArtistScope pioneered the first copy protection software for the Internet way back in 1998, but their focus was on the protection of the livelihood of artists so they concentrated on web content and images. However to protect the licensing of their software, they developed call-to-home servers that could confirm that a user's license was indeed valid and not warez. That system was very much similar to Microsoft's software licensing checks.
So when ArtistScope looked into copy protecting "documents", it was only natural for them to use call-to-home access rights checks, which not only could not be exploited, but offered authors "total control" over all aspects with immediate effect on any changes made. Call-to-home access rights checks revolutionized DRM and all of the copy industry players, the ones claiming to be the leading developers of their field, claimed that it was impossible. That is, for the 2 years that it took all of them to work out how to do it. The copy protection industry is not very different to the anti-virus software industry, where everyone copies the other, even to point of copying their mistakes.
So now we have two (2) keywords in our plight for "secure document protection"... one is "PDF" and the other is "DRM".
Next we will look at the best document protection software that does do what we need. And by "best", we don't mean what search engines might consider what ranks highly, and if you don't understand what we mean by that, please be informed that today's search engine results are adulterated by scams that exploit the weaknesses in silly ranking algorithms. Take for example the first page of results for "copy protect documents" and you will see results that are mostly not related to copy protection at all, a serial SEO spammer and another who does not offer document protection at all but has spammed for backlinks to promote a simple folder locking system that is no more sophisticated than password protecting a ZIP file.
On the next page we will look at the best solution for copy protecting documents for desktop reading, and the best solution for copy protecting documents while viewed online from a web browser.
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