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How to Prevent Illegal Use of Educational Material?

Want to safeguard your educational material? If yes, then this piece of information has something that might interest you.

Let’s dig it deeper to dig out some best ways to prevent illegal use of educational material…

Online courses are becoming more common by the day and so are the educational service providers. However, some of the courses on offer by the different providers are quite similar, because some providers do not create their own courses. Instead, they copy and paste or steal information from other courses and claim it as their own. Of course, students will not know about the theft and may thus pay for a pirated course.

In this way, the course creator will end up sharing what is supposed to be his income with the course thief.

If you are thinking about providing your course online, there are ways that you can prevent this from happening.

It will, however, require a little investment, but considering the losses you could attribute to piracy, this initial investment will be worth it. You can use the cash to buy a Digital Rights Management (DRM) system. Thereafter, you can use the following protective measures in the DRM system.

Prevent Your Students from Sharing Your Documents

As the course provider, you share your course materials with your students. But, students share the coursework, they can send the documents to their friends for free.

Alternatively, they can decide to make a little money on the side by selling the course material at a lower price than you. Either way, you lose.

If you use a DRM system, you can lock the documents to each student’s device.

In this way, they cannot share the documents with anyone else as each student will receive a unique key on his or her device that unlocks the document without the student ever knowing what the security key is or even where it is stored on the device.

Yet, the key must be present every time someone tries to open the document. So, the proprietary DRM viewer will check the device’s storage for the key and, if the key is present, it will open the document. And, if someone decides to shares the document, they will not be able to share the unique key along with it (it is stored encrypted and locked to the device) and so the document will not open on the unauthorized user’s device.

Also, using DRM to prevent students from sharing your documents has the added benefit of allowing you to send your documents through the usual channels, such as email and cloud-based options, without fear of compromise.

Location Locking

In addition to locking your documents to particular devices, you can also lock use of your course material to a specific location or range of IP addresses on a global or individual user basis.

If the students step outside this range, the security measure will stop their access to the course (it will not open) until they return to the allowed venues.

Expiring Documents

Courses are not meant to run forever.

There should be a timeframe during which time students should learn the content and there should be evaluations at specific points during the course. Failure to do so may encourage laziness and the students may end up taking years to complete your course.

Also, giving students access to your course material for extended periods only gives them more time to get creative with how they can steal the information.

As such, knowing that there is an expiry date to access the documents will encourage them to take the course more seriously, while leaving them little time to pirate the documents.

You can set such valuable expiry dates for your documents at the point of distribution by using DRM.

Of course, the expiry date will depend on when the student joins the online class. It is also possible to remind the students of the limited time given to them by sending reminders at specific times.

More specifically, you can send a customized message, telling them that their access will expire in a few days or weeks.

Dynamic Watermarking

If you use dynamic watermarking, every time a student opens or prints one of your documents, his or her details will be displayed on the document. This makes it harder for the students to steal any of your coursework because they would implicate themselves in the process.

Remember, the course material is your intellectual property and, as per the law, it is a crime for anyone to steal it or share it without your permission.

Eliminating the Use of Passwords

The students who receive your documents are not as invested in keeping your information safe as you are.

They just want to learn the material.

So, asking them to remember and keep passwords safe is just an extra hassle for them and, consequently, if you give them passwords with which to open your documents, they may just decide to remove that protection.

If they do this, your documents and coursework will be in more danger of theft.  A decent document DRM system will not use passwords and so you have one less thing to worry about.


Long story short, if you prevent your educational material from being distributed and used illegally, there is a good chance that you will earn more money from your work. Why would you pass on that opportunity?