Protect your training material from theft

Insights Blog Protect your training material from theft

Call it plagiarism, copying, piracy or just plain theft, creating training courses and materials is hard work and time consuming. No-one wants to put their heart and soul into the design and authoring to see it stolen. So what can you do? Here is a list of ideas.

Starting with the weakest and ending up with the strongest protection:

  1. Copyright and trade mark
  2. Password protected on-line downloads and PDFs
  3. Hard copy with watermark
  4. eBook reader platforms – DRM.

Let’s examine each and understand the benefits, and the pitfalls, so that you can make an informed decision about how far you need to go to protect yourself.

  1. Copyright and trademark - putting a copyright statement at the front of you training materials may seem obvious but it is essential and worth emphasising. If there is a rogue out there, it will not stop them stealing but this makes it clear the illegality of the act and may smooth any legal action taken on discovery.
  2.   Password protect – whether your document is posted on line or sent as a PDF via email – documents can be password protected. The problem of course is that user names and passwords can be shared. Once opened a password protected PDF can be stripped of its password protection, saved under another name and then distributed. This needs little technical knowhow and a copy of Adobe Acrobat. Clearly protecting your file with a password is far better than emailing without a password, however it should be recognised that once the file has left your in box or your web site you will have no control or visibility.
  3. Hard Copy with watermark – not very high tech. but a branded paper hard copy can be very effective. Putting the copyright details and branding on each page does not stop someone scanning to file and using it, but it can make it hard work. Adding a watermark to a printed copy is really effective particularly if it’s built into the design of the materials. Branded headers and footers can make life difficult for the thief.
  4. DRM and the eBook reader – using an eBook reader with full digital rights management (DRM) is clearly the strongest way to protect your files. By preparing the files as eBooks which cannot be downloaded or shared the file is fully protected because:
  • Files can be viewed through an App or on-line reader – no downloading
  • The printing of the document can be restricted or prohibited
  • The copying (to computer notebook) can be prohibited
  • The number of devices that can see the file can be restricted
  • The file can be dynamically watermarked – any print will carry the date and user’s IP details
  • The usage of the book can be tracked by analytics so that the abuse can be monitored
  • Expiry dates can be placed on the file and/or the file removed from a user’s bookshelf

Protecting the file in this way does not have to cost more than a printed copy (depends on the file of course) – but the security is vastly enhanced.


If you would like to discuss interlectual property theft and what can be done about it please conatct us 

By: David Platt