Education is rarely free. Even when it is touted as such, the government usually pays to keep it up and running. Also, the teachers need salaries, research is needed, and the information must stay up to date. All of this costs money.
If you provide a teaching course, you probably have first-hand experience in this as you spend a lot of time, money and resources developing the material for your course. So, the least you can expect after creating your course is to earn a decent return on investment. This is, of course, threatened when someone else decides to steal your course material and sell it as their own.
For this reason, you must protect your training course, and implementing a DRM system is one of the best ways to do it. We discuss the reasons why below.
Generally, students receive the course material in the form of a PDF document. This is the standard format as there is a guarantee that the document will look the same on any device. As such, the students may believe that they are allowed the same functionalities they have with other PDF files. For example, one could copy and paste content using mouse or keyboard shortcuts. However, they would be wrong in assuming that they would be able to copy and paste the content if you use DRM protection. DRM controls will prevent them from copying and pasting a text and making a copy which means that they cannot sell the material as their own.
Copying and pasting content would only be the first functionality unscrupulous individuals would try, but it is unlikely that they would give up at the first hurdle. Next, they could take screenshots and effectively record any information on a screen in an image format such as JPEG.
For this, they could use the keyboard shortcut, but a DRM system will prevent the shortcut from working. Alternatively, they could download an app to take screenshots, but a good DRM system has that covered too. A mask overlay will cover the document when the user moves the cursor away from the document, preventing a screenshot app from recording any information. Also, DRM service providers stay up to date on screenshot apps and develop countermeasures to reduce their effectiveness.
DRM systems also enable you to apply dynamic watermarks to your protected course content. For this to work, the students would first need to provide personal information before they can access the documents in question. The watermark will then be customized to show this information whenever the documents are opened.
So, even if the students take physical photos with a camera or scan printed documents to sell copies, the long arm of the law will get to them as the watermarks will provide evidence of their identity. As soon as people realize that they would be opening themselves up to litigation and possible jail time, they will be less likely to steal your course material.
As mentioned earlier, courses must be kept up to date with current information. Having a course expiry date and being able to revoke access for all users will force them to acquire the newest version of a document. Also, most courses are meant for a limited amount of time. Setting an expiry date (if disclosed early enough) may serve as a motivating factor for students to finish the course promptly.
Dynamic Viewing Options
The most advisable thing for you to do is to ensure that your students download and install a proprietary viewer onto their devices. However, this is not always possible. In this case, you can go for zero-installation solutions. For example, you can use a browser version, but the security of this option is less than you would find with a proprietary app. You can also sell the course material on a USB stick that contains both the documents for the course and the viewer needed to open the documents.
Feedback is also quite valuable. Therefore, people are paying for your course and you must ensure that they get what they pay for. They cannot get their money’s worth if they are not opening the documents. So, the ability to log use information for each document and, by extension, the entire course is critical in understanding how seriously people are taking your course. It will also help you ensure that people are receiving your documents.
So, are you ready to use DRM to protect your training course material?