Harry Schuhmacher, Editor & Publisher of Beer Business Daily just emailed in asking what he can do to stop paid subscribers from forwarding their emailed issues to all and sundry for free.
My quick potted reply: As a publisher you have several choices on the security front:
1. Use a digital rights management system such as Congressional Quarterly does, that may require the user to download some software to be able to open their issues. They use SealedMedia's tech.
You'll have more customer service problems because downloads = problems for a lot of people. At least you can send out issues in their entirety.
2. Create your own password protected site that IDs each user's PC so only people using the right PC can get in. We do this with our reports, and there are still customer service issues, but thank goodness no download problems as it doesn't require one.
Your renewal rates may go down because some people will never get around to clicking through to the site to read issues, so their impression of your value diminishes.
3. Send issues in the open without any protection except for a clear note at the top of the page saying something like, "This issue prepared for 'Name.' If you are not 'Name' you are not authorized to read it, please contact XX for your own subscription."
I call this psychological DRM and it works very well for the 80% of people who didn't think about copyright before they clicked on "forward" in the past.
4. Give up and accept reality and call it a marketing cost. Each person who gets forwarded copies is a potential subscriber and you are reaching them without having to buy mailing lists or create a marketing campaign.
Perhaps insert a regular "Renew your subscription today and get a special gift!" note in the issue to catch the possible orderers in the crowd. (Yes it's a new sales pitch disguised as a renewal effort so it looks like you're not assuming anyone is forwarding issues, but the gift report is so sexy that they end up ordering to get their own copy.)
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