We get asked this question a lot: “How can I prevent members from downloading my content?”
So basically, they want their members to be able to access Audio, Video and PDF only via their website, but not be able to download it.
6 reasons why you shouldn’t make things hard for your paying members.
Unless you have a highly specific and valid reason for doing so, I don’t recommend trying to prevent them from downloading what they’ve already paid for and force them to view everything online.
My recommendation is that instead of focusing on how to prevent your paying customers from downloading your information, you should focus on how many different ways you can offer them the same files for consumption. Go in the completely opposite direction.
The best membership sites I know offer the same content in multiple formats: video, audio of the same video, PDF transcripts of the video, PowerPoint slides used in the video, etc. 4-5 different ways in which their members can consume that very same content. As it is, it’s very hard to get people to come, buy and stay and keep paying you month after month. Don’t make it hard for the real paying members.
Don’t worry about the 1% who will steal your content and pass it to their 4 loser friends :-). Instead, focus on the 99% of your legitimate paying customers who don’t have the time, energy or intention to illegally pass on your content to others, because those 99% are honest people who just want to learn what you have to offer and improve their own lives and businesses.
Also, preventing the downloading of videos that they’ve actually paid for, means that they always have to be online in order to view the video. And that sucks for your members, to be honest, that they cannot view the video offline, when they’re traveling somewhere, on a plane, train or bus. Or as a passenger in a car. And if they cannot download your content, if it’s true streaming, it means they also cannot “buffer” it. So if they have a slow video connection, they will never be able to watch the video, and you’re probably going to get refund requests from your members in countries where they don’t have fast internet access. And on top of that, they are forced to use their limited (in most cases) data plan, and your members may not want to do that. So again, you may be forcing your members to only watch the videos from their computer.
Everyone is trying to make it easy for their paying members, so that they can get – and keep – more members. That’s what the world of video/audio is moving towards.
So while you may feel like streaming video is more secure, in reality, it only makes life hard for your 99% of paying members, all so that you can protect the videos from the 1% of people who will steal anyway. So you could be potentially upsetting 99% of your members for the sake of 1%. Not a good long-term strategy to get more members and keep more members.
I talked about this on a podcast episodes, as well as in a video, both of which have been embedded on this page. Give them a listen if you get a chance.
Video Resolution Switcher
Streaming Videos vs. Progressive Downloads
Amazon S3 Pricing: How Expensive is it to use S3?
What are the benefits of using Amazon S3?
How (and Why) to use Amazon S3 to Deliver Audio, Video and PDF on your WordPress website
Storing Video & Audio On Your Website (Hint: Don’t!)