Although the Internet swings open wide the doors of visibility and communication between customers and business, the very legitimate threat of internet piracy is enough to dampen the spirits of any content or product producer. Certain types of products, especially intellectual property and software, are especially susceptible to piracy by unscrupulous third parties, which can mean a definite and substantial loss in revenue for you, the content producer.
There are some very specific things that you can do to minimize your risk of losing profitability due to piracy. Below are few of the tried-and-true tips that you can incorporate in order to release your works online without fear of piracy.
Before anything, factor in piracy into your calculations
All businesses, whether they are brick-and-mortar businesses or online businesses, always have a line item in their budgets that deals with lost inventory. Internet piracy is simply a cost of doing business in the online world, especially with intellectual property and software. Although the tips below will teach you how to minimize piracy, you will do much better if you go in with realistic expectations from the beginning.
Make sure that you only sell under reputable dealers
Top retailers have their own anti-piracy mechanisms already built-in. If you are self-publishing, make sure that you are retailing only at the highest end online retail stores. Do not fall victim to the “mass-marketing” scheme unless you are going for visibility above profitability. You do not need to have your products in the most places to be the most profitable. As a matter of fact, because piracy is so much more prevalent when the product originates from a source of ill repute, you may actually lose profitability if you are not discerning with your retail outlets.
Implement your own anti-piracy devices
For intellectual property and software, consider an anti-piracy script. This is not something that you have to spend a great deal of money on; in fact some anti-piracy scripts can be found for free on beta websites.
Again, you must have a realistic expectation of what anti-piracy measures can bring you, especially your free options. Hackers will always be one step ahead of the technology that is available, so you are only trying to stop piracy from those customers who would purchase your product if they could not get it free. There are some people who would only read or use your materials if they were free, and they would not increase your profitability even if there was no piracy on the Internet. Do not worry about this crowd; focus on the audience that needs to be kept honest.
Get a good lawyer
If your materials are pirated in bulk, you may be able to prosecute and get your lost profits back. If you notice that piracy is getting out of hand above and beyond your initial markers set in tip one, you may benefit from a legal and technical opinion.
As with many other types of criminals, pirates who steal in bulk leave trails, even though they do their best to cover them. Everyone makes mistakes, and if you have the right technical and legal expertise on your side, you may be able to track them down and recover some of your lost profits, if not all. Consider, however, that this is usually only worth the time and expenses involved if the piracy is truly done in bulk.
With the internet being the global platform for digital delivery that it is we must take the bad with the good and do our best to take all steps necessary to protect our work and educate ourselves on internet piracy.