By now, most of us know that piracy is a huge issue—made all the more serious and complex by the advent of the Internet, and by the increasingly volatile nature of online file sharing and trading. The majority of us would likely agree that distributing a copyrighted work to third parties en masse is hardly acceptable; taking someone else’s legally-protected book, video game, movie, or song and then selling or sharing it on your own is simply unethical, plain and simple. Copyright holders, of all people, should be especially committed to this point—but have you ever considered that copyright holders may, in some cases, make it far too easy for pirates to steal and share their materials?
That’s right: The very people who have the most to lose from online piracy are often the very ones who enable pirates and facilitate file sharing. If you’re a copyright holder and are zealous to do whatever you can to protect your materials, read on as we provide some basic pointers and Internet security tips.
Secure Your Stuff
The Internet has opened all kinds of doors for artists, authors, and copyright holders to distribute their works in unique and innovative ways; membership sites are more and more common, and make for great venues for sharing videos, books, and other works to paying/subscribing members. However, a membership site can also entice pirates, and if you’re not using the proper security techniques, you’ll run the risk of your materials being hijacked by non-members.
Specifically, pirates who know the file location of your materials may try to send out the link en masse, providing free access to your materials without your being aware of it. This makes it vital to have some kind of a security/authentication process in place, preventing the files from being directly accessed by those who go to the file location. The bare minimum here is referrer checking, but there are plenty of other authentication systems to look into—including several available as WordPress plugins.
What About YouTube?
In addition to member/subscription sites, artists and copyright holders often give away materials on YouTube; this is quickly becoming one of the primary online sources for music files, in particular. YouTube is certainly great for building buzz about a new song or single, but it can also open the doors for illicit file use, including users easily converting music videos into MP3s and then giving away the songs on their own sites. One way to cut down on this is to include audio promotional material prior to the song; this will make it tougher for pirates to get a good rip.
Easy for Customers, Tough for Pirates
A final point: If you’re trying to provide free promotional materials—whether it’s a song, a movie excerpt, a program demo, or an e-book—make sure it’s easy for the materials to be found by anyone searching. If consumers can easily find these materials on your site, there won’t be much of an incentive for pirates to rip you off. You’ll be better able to control your materials, track who’s downloading them, and so forth.
In other words, preventing piracy calls for sound security and smart promotion. Copyright holders are encouraged to remember that, while they cannot totally eradicate piracy, they can minimize its impact and its prevalence.