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Are Ebook Security Programs All They’re Cracked Up To Be?

By Viki Nygaard
Posted Friday, December 10, 2004

IP tracking can be a powerful tool to help you control the distribution of your ebook. It's not cheap, but in the long run it may save you the frustration and expense of having your ebook illegally shared or stolen. Learn more...

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Ebook authors these days seem to be highly focused on ebook security. Stories run rampant through the 'Net about customers who share ebook files on the Internet and via email, buy your ebook and attempt to sell it themselves for a profit, and ask for a refund, but continue to use your ebook. These situations can result in thousands of dollars in lost profit for you.

There are currently several products on the market that can help you control the distribution of your ebook. These programs use a technology called "IP tracking." IP tracking is based on the fact that each computer connected to the Internet is identified by a unique string of numbers called an IP address. When using IP tracking, the buyer of your product has to enter either a username and password or a license code to open the product the first time they use it. When they do this, their IP address is recorded and sent to your online control panel.

If an ebook is shared with others who have not purchased it, the same thing happens. You are alerted because two or more (depending on how often it's been shared) IP addresses will show up in connection with the same ebook. This signals to you that your ebook is possibly being illegally shared or pirated, and your online control panel gives you the ability to instantly deactivate any or all copies associated with the IP address. You can also use this method to deactivate ebooks when a buyer requests a refund.

Let's take a look at the two most popular programs that use IP Tracking.


ClickLocker is a program that you lease on a month-to-month basis. It can be integrated with ANY ebook software. After purchasing your ebook, the buyer is directed to a page where they are prompted to enter their name and email to register the product. At this time, the buyer's email, name, IP address and hostname are captured and recorded by ClickLocker. When they've completed the registration process, the buyer is immediately provided with a license code that is needed to unlock and use the product. This is only necessary the first time the customer uses your product.

You can log into your online control panel at anytime to check on the usage stats for all your licenses. If you see too many IP's being used for one license, you can immediately deactivate the license.

Pros: You can use it for an unlimited amount of ebooks for one price. It easily integrates with any ebook software as well as any payment processor. The buyer is immediately given their license code.

Cons: You will pay a monthly fee for as long as you want to track your products. Only works on PC's running Windows.

Ebook Pro

Ebook Pro is an ebook compiler that you purchase outright. It comes with a built-in security system that allows you to track your licenses in much the same way as ClickLocker. Instead of receiving a license code, buyers receive a username and password that unlock the ebook the first time it is used. You set the system up so that the buyer is allowed to unlock the ebook a specified number of times (to allow for re-installation after a system crash, the buying of a new computer, etc.). If they exceed that number, the system will not allow them to register the product anymore, meaning it cannot be shared or copied.

As with ClickLocker, you can log into your online control panel at any time to do administrative tasks, such as disabling or reactivating a license or changing the amount of registration times.

Pros: One stop shop for both ebook software with built-in security. Ebook is encrypted.

Cons: You are limited to using the Ebook Pro software to compile your ebooks. Only comes with 1000 registration codes. Once those are used, you have to purchase more. Delivery of your ebook and license code to the buyer is not automatic. It appears that you either have to purchase their MailLoop program, set up an online database, or do it manually. Only works with Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher and can only be used on PC's running Windows.

While the ability to track downloads and deactivate copies appears to be ideal, there are also some downsides to this method. It can be time consuming. Time is money. And you can be assured that you will be spending time tracking your ebooks as well as doing other administrative tasks. It can flag legitimate uses. Many people own several computers, often both a PC and a laptop. It's very possible that your buyers might want to install the ebook on both systems, which will in turn show that multiple IP addresses are being used for one ebook. People will no doubt need to reinstall the ebook at some point. It could be that they've bought a new computer or they've had a crash and need to reinstall. Privacy issue. People generally do not like to be tracked.

As you can see, IP tracking can be a powerful tool to help you control the distribution of your ebook. It's not cheap, but in the long run it may save you the frustration and expense of having your ebook illegally shared or stolen. However, when making your decision, be sure to weigh the pros and cons. While you may save some money by preventing pirated copies, if you aren't careful, you could also end up damaging your reputation by disabling legitimate copies or entering the ever-growing battle of privacy rights.

Want more tips, tactics and resources for creating & selling your ebooks? Visit ( Viki has put together an arsenal of tools that no ebook publisher should be without. From writing to marketing to sales tools, you'll find everything you need to make your next ebook a complete success!

About the Author
Viki Nygaard is President of Mount Evans Designs specializing in professional Web design. For those businesses who insist on quality but must maintain a budget, visit ( today. You'll be thrilled with the exceptional designs and the affordable rates!


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