Members-Only Content Protection: Fact & Fiction
FICTION: "I want to make sure that NONE of my content can EVER be copied or downloaded".
FACT: Anything that you put out on the web, can be downloaded – one way or the other, directly or indirectly.
FICTION: "I want to lock down things so hard because there will be people who try to pirate my content".
FACT: People who are out to steal stuff, will steal it no matter how you hard you try to prevent it.
FICTION: "I'm afraid my paying members will download my content and upload it to illegal websites".
FACT: Paying members who value your content and your brand, AND also pay for your content, are usually not looking to rip you off by stealing your content and sharing it with their friends or family. They're paying you because they want to compensate you for the value you are providing. And sure, they might share it with a family member (child, spouse, significant other), but most of them are not going to risk uploading it to blackhat websites and save random strangers online free money at the expense of getting into legal trouble.
FACT: By trying to lock down your content too hard to protect it from the 1% of pirates, you may end up annoying the remaining 99% of your members who have absolutely no intention of ripping you off or stealing your content in any way.
Anything that’s out there on the web, can be duplicated, copied, screenshotted (new word), screen-captured, and possibly downloaded – one way or the other. Nothing online is 100% secure. If it shows up on a screen, it can be captured. You can't prevent that even if you have your own special device (e.g., Apple TV) or special software (iTunes or Kindle reader).
Yes, you could use "Streaming Only" technology (S3MediaVault makes this possible) to make sure even legitimate, paying members cannot download videos from your member’s area. But guess what? There are screen-capture tools – even free ones – that can be used to rip your video, and convert it into a file that can then be passed around on pirate sites. So preventing download of videos could result in upsetting your legitimate members, because people like to watch videos even when they’re away from their computer – like on their iPad when sitting on a bed or a couch.
Making everything "streaming only" means that they must be online and logged in to your member’s area every single time to watch your videos. Not a good thing for your members.
Same thing with PDFs. If it's displayed on a screen, it can be screenshotted, even if you prevent the download. Plus when it comes to files like Zips and Excel spreadsheets, there are no online viewers (unless you use Google Sheets, in which case they're not on your website any more) - they have to be downloaded anyway before they can be accessed.
So can your content be "too secure"? Absolutely! You can make it too hard for 99% of your legitimate members, just to prevent the 1% from stealing it (but they’re going to find a way to steal anyway). What’s the point, really? Those who are highly motivated to steal, will figure out how to pick your lock. So why make it harder for your real members?
Can people pass on their username/password to their friends to log in to your member’s area? Sure. But a membership plugin like https://DigitalAccessPass.com will lock their account from further access, if it detects an account getting logins from more than, say "5" (or whatever you set as admin) IP addresses.
Can people break your "password-lock", "print-lock" or any other kind of restriction you place on your PDF files, within seconds? Sure, they can.
No, your content can never be 100% secure. Any one who tells you so, is either lying, or doesn’t have a clue.
Your only goal should be to make it hard for the "casual" abusers, that’s all. Not to make it so hard that even your legitimate members have to jump through hoops to get to it.
The best membership sites we have seen, provide access to their content in multiple formats.
Do you publish video content? Then right below the video, also give them a link to "download" the video and "watch it at their leisure", publish an "Audio Version" in .mp3 format, publish a "PDF Transcript" of everything said in the video, so they can even "read" the content from your video.
Is your content mostly text? Then offer a PDF version of your blog post or page, so they can download it, print it (hopefully they don't, as that's not being green), and read it offline. Or make a "Read Aloud" version of your blog post and offer it as a .mp3 file, so they can "listen" to your content while at the gym, or while going for a walk, or while driving in their car.
Bottom-line: Don’t worry about the 1% who will never pay you, probably will steal your content, and pass it on to others one way or the other. Just focus on creating great value for the 99% of your paying members who pay you, support you, promote you, and keep coming back month after month after month. And that’s the best use of your time and resources, and that’s the only way to build a successful membership site.
Now for some great news: With all that said about security, using S3MediaVault can make your content as secure as you want it to be:
Don't want your members downloading your videos and audios? Use S3MediaVault's Streaming Video Player and Streaming Audio Player which encrypts videos and audios such that even using downloading software like Video Downloader, Video DownloadHelper or Internet Download Manager (IDM) will not help them download your videos (or audios). They just have to watch it (or listen to it) on your website.
Want to make your videos load super-fast AND allow them to download it? Use S3MediaVault's Standard Video Player and Standard Audio Player with both S3 and CloudFront, and it will load super-fast regardless of where they're located in the world. And just tick a checkbox and S3MediaVault will automatically create a download link to the video right under the video player.
Want your PDFs only viewed online and hard to download? S3MediaVault has a Online PDF Viewer that only opens the PDF in the browser itself, and makes it really hard to download.
Want to embed your PDFs right within your website? S3MediaVault has a PDF Embed feature.
Want to create video playlists and audio playlists? S3MediaVault has that too.
Want to allow your video viewers to pick their own video resolution to match their possibly slower internet speeds? Yup, S3MediaVault has the Multi-Resolution Streaming with "Resolution Switcher" and "Video Stream Optimization" feature too.
Want to create transcripts of your audio and video to use in a PDF or as a blog post? S3MediaVault has that too.
Whatever your security and content delivery needs are, S3MediaVault WordPress Video and Audio Player offers and meets them.