how to secure a pdf as a digital download product?

how can i secure a pdf as a digital download product? i know that one can use adobe's built in pdf security to prevent copy and paste and printing but my understanding is that those can be defeated by Apple viewers for example. even if those are not defeated it would be simple for someone to just share the pdf with all of their friends or post it on a site where anyone could download it for free. is the only way to truly secure a pdf as a digital product to have the viewer code on a server? if that is the answer does such a product exist?

  • Michelle Shull

    Hey there, cd!

    Ultimately, there's no foolproof way to be 100% certain no one will see a PDF you've uploaded unless you want them to see it. We can do a lot to protect content, our Protected Content plugin encrypts media URLs, as an example, but there are always going to be workarounds, and people working on workarounds. We also can't do much to limit what individuals do with content once we share it with them. This isn't a new issue, if you were distributing physical copies of a book, there's no way to ensure your customers don't give the book to a friend or photocopy the pages.

    Blocking copy/paste can't stop a screenshot, and using such tools means that visually impaired users who rely on screen readers can't access your content at all, even if they pay for it.

    The only way to 100% completely protect your content is to not publish it. The best alternative is to take the steps you can take without punishing your actual, legitimate customers. Password protection, using content protection (like Membership, Protected Content, and our competitors), and doing your best to shut down any attempts at unwanted distribution as it/if it occurs can go a long way to make sure only legitimate customers get access to your content.

    Hope this helps clarify a little!

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