It’s easier than ever to share information and distribute content in today’s digital age. However, this also makes it easier for others to copy and distribute your work without permission. If you’re creating reports or white papers for your business or organization, it’s important to take steps to protect them from unauthorized copying.
From making copying a pain to deter would-be copy-paste thieves to outright restricting access to keep the most sensitive information out of unauthorized hands, this guide will help you learn how you can share your information and outright stop or minimize unauthorized copying and distribution:
One simple way to protect your reports and white papers is to use watermarks. Watermarks are digital images or text that are embedded into a document to show that it is your original work. This can help deter others from copying or distributing your work without permission. Keep in mind that one watermark can usually be edited out or even cropped out rather easily. Instead of a single one-and-done logo, you’ll want a pattern of your logo across the page. This logo should then be removed for those who have paid or have authorized access.
Showcase Document as a JPEG
If you want to display the content in question as part of a preview, then a good way to prevent unauthorized copying or distribution is to display it as a JPEG. While it’s still possible to use software to capture the text in an image, that technology isn’t widely known or used. Since limiting access this way also makes your work less accessible for those who would otherwise use digital tools to enlarge the text, or have it read aloud, turning your documents into JPEGs works well in instances where you want to showcase an example of the work, but not have it really digestible.
Another big reason to use JPEGs instead of a PDF or other text-based document is to show mock-ups. This way, you can showcase a simplified view that’s clean and easy to view for things like design approval. While publishing or design software lets you quickly do this inside the system, options like Microsoft Word do not. You’ll need to learn how to turn a Word document into a JPEG using third-party software first, but once you do, you’ll realize it’s a very simple, easy way to showcase your work without worrying about unauthorized copying (particularly if you combine it with other options in this list).
Password Protect Your Files
Another option is to password-protect your files. By password-protecting your document so that only authorized individuals can access it, you can minimize the risk of unauthorized distribution. This can be especially helpful if you’re sharing sensitive information or reports with a limited group of people.
With password protection, you can also limit user access. This can be done by only sharing the document with specific individuals or by hosting it on a secure server that requires authentication to access it. By limiting who can see the content, you can ensure that only those you’ve approved to see the information can view it.
Use Copyright Notices
Using copyright notices can also help protect your reports and white papers from unauthorized copying. Include a copyright notice on your document, which indicates that the work is your original creation and cannot be used without your permission. This can help deter others from copying or distributing your work without permission.
Keep in mind the best protection will only come from actively copyrighting your work. This gives you the legal protections necessary and solidifies you or your business as the brand. Look into what the copyright laws are in your area. Sometimes all you need is to publish the content and use the timestamp; in other cases, you’ll need to submit the piece to be copyrighted.
Monitor Your Content
Finally, it’s important to monitor your content to ensure that it’s not being copied or distributed without your permission. Set up alerts or use tools to monitor the web for copies of your work. If you find that someone has copied or distributed your work without permission, take action to have it removed. There are entire tools out there that make it easy to help you find copies of images or text in a second, so you can then request the content be taken down or, at minimum, have sites like Google delist the page. Once content is published and out there, it’s hard to keep a lid on it, but so long as you use these tips, you’ll be able to minimize distribution unless you authorize it.