Top 7 ways to protect your ebooks from piracy

Photo credit: Kitaboo

Book publishing is becoming an exciting business across the globe with the advent of the Internet. Authors and publishers expand their audience base through eBooks. Technological advancements in today’s society have made it easy for authors and publishers to upload and convert their manuscripts into digital format, avoiding the hassles involved in traditional publishing and distribution methods.

With the growing popularity of the internet, many people now have free and easy to online materials and this has given rise to online piracy. eBook piracy, which includes unauthorized circulation or duplication. This constitutes a serious headache for publishers and authors, who are constantly looking for ways to protect their eBooks. The unauthorized distribution of eBooks significantly affects the revenues, for the publisher as well as the author. Piracy leads to copyright infringement of an author’s work and huge loss of revenue for authors. This underscores the need for publishers to have techniques in place to protect eBooks with a view to preventing their illegal circulation and duplication.

Some authors in Nigeria and other parts of the world are skeptical about uploading their works, especially academic texts online due to fear of piracy. But it is obvious that most of the authors who hold this perception are not informed about various ways ebooks are protected from piracy. If they knew these existing strategies they would feel free to upload their works online having assurance that they are protected from piracy. In fact, ebooks are more protected from piracy than hard copies. The kind of piracy protection features that are available out there are so water-tight that it is actually easier to pick the hard copy of a book, photocopy and pirate it than doing same to the soft copy online. Here are top seven ways to protect an ebook from piracy, as suggested by Mike Harman in a write-up first posted on Kitaboo which contains interesting insights.

1. Set Up DRM (Digital Rights Management)

This is a method that ensures that the digital documents, eBooks, and web-based content is protected against data leakage, theft, and misuse. It’s a data encryption method which prevents anyone from accessing content without a proper access key.

DRM ensures that only authorized users have access to your eBook. You can embed your content with the DRM protection software ensuring the protection of your eBooks against unauthorized use and misuse.

2. Social DRM (Watermarking)

This is a visible or invisible watermark which is embedded into the eBook code at the time of the transaction. It includes the buyer’s personal details such as name, email address and sometimes the publisher or author details. You can see sample of works using this strategy at

Watermarking technique helps prevent widespread circulation of your content because the original buyer’s details are embedded into the eBook, and he/she wouldn’t risk being caught distributing your content. This technique makes it possible for publishers to easily track the individual and file a lawsuit against them whenever they discover an infringement of the copyright of their work.

3. Restrict Editing

You can secure your pdf file before making them public by restricting editing, screen reading and copying to clipboard options. There are various software tools available which allow you to restrict users from editing and printing your document. Thus, you can prevent sharing and unauthorized changes from being made to your content.

4. Password Protect your eBook Files

When someone purchases a copy of your eBook, a password is generated which you send to them through email. This way you can be assured that genuine users have access to your eBooks. Only those who buy your copies can have the access codes to open the eBook. Although this won’t stop these buyers from sharing their password with their family and friends, it could prevent unauthorized downloads. uses this technique in protecting works sold on the platform from piracy.

5. Legal Copyright Protection

Register for copyright protection. This would help in proving that you are the creator and the rightful owner of your work. Create a legal notice stating that all rights are reserved by you and get it verified from a lawyer so that if anyone tries to copy or resell your content, you can easily sue them.

Here’s a standard copyright page description which most books use:

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or modified in any form, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Many works have this description on them as one of the copyright protection techniques. It should be used in combination with other techniques.

6. Set Up Google Alerts

Google can help monitor the illegal copying of your eBook. Select any random statement from your eBook and create a google alert, so that if that particular statement is pasted anywhere on the internet, you can be instantly notified of it. This is a good way to keep track of all the instances of your content or similar content which appears on the web. And if you ever find out that your work is being circulated without your consent, find out what you must do in the next point.

7. DMCA Takedown Notice

File DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice and shut down their website; irrespective of the country in which the infringement took place. DMCA contacts the company, web host or domain provider and notifies them of the copyright infringement.

They would then get the website to remove the content. If they fail to comply, then the content will be forcibly taken down or the website could be shut down.


Everything has its positives and negatives. Authors and publishers choose to increase their audience base through online platforms they also have to worry about piracy. Widening the horizon for more readers means coming up with multiple ways to protect your works from piracy. Just make sure you protect your ebooks from piracy which could threaten your revenue generation ability and defeat the aim of choosing online option for book sales in the first place. One ebook website that uses reliable piracy protection techniques is, an online bookstore for sale of texts and research works written by Nigerian scholars and reflecting the Nigerian environment.

(These 7 recommendations were given by Mike Harman in an article first posted on


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