How To Stop People From Downloading All Your Content, Then Leaving Your Site

Sadly, there’s no real way to stop people from downloading  and stealing all your content.  If someone wants to do it, they will.  But, there are methods you can use to certainly slow them down and put a damper on it. 

Remember, nothing is 100% effective and the people who are absolutely committed to taking all of your content will probably do so regardless of what measures you implement. Here’s how you can deter them and what steps to take to protect your valuable membership content.

  • Determine if you want to allow members to download any content at all?!  Being able to download audios and videos to watch later is a big selling point on many membership sites.  But, what happens after they download everything?  Where’s the value in staying on as a member?  What else are you offering?
  • Disable the “right-click” on your user’s mouse so they can’t cut and paste from your site.  There are many WordPress plugins which do this or your membership site software may have this feature already built in.
  • Embed audio and video files into your webpage from an outside host/source.  That way the files aren’t on your host server.  Many premium audio/video hosting firms can disable external downloads automatically for you.  There are plugins available that will work with Amazon S3 (if you’re using that).
  • Use a membership plugin that encrypts your download folder.
  • Have a variety of content that can’t be downloaded such as articles, live webinars, an active forum, one-on-one advice, etc.  Add more value and get people to stay onboard as a member for reasons other than your audio or video files.
  • Use an incremental content plugin and dole-out your content over a period of time.  Don’t give your members everything upfront.  Publish 1 or 2 lessons a week, then drip the rest later.
  • Build up your community.  When your members feel a connection to your site, it’s much harder for them to leave.  Get them involved immediately after they join.
  • Strike a nice balance and make some things downloadable and others not.
  • Set a download limit.  Some membership software will allow you to specify the amount that a member can download per day.  When they go over this limit, their access is stopped immediately.
  • Tag your audios and videos with a custom watermark.  High-end file hosts have the option of creating a unique digital watermark (that is unseen by the prolific downloader).  It is then embedded inside the audio or video file and unseen by the human eye.  You can use it to identify who posted your content on file-sharing sites and spread it around.  This is a highly effective deterrent as the proof is irrefutable.
  • Add a “coming-soon” area to your website. Entice members to stay longer so they don’t miss anything.
  • Implement a joining fee that is paid upfront at time of membership.  If a person joins your site, downloads everything, then cancels…they would have to pay this joining fee again.  It’s the pain of disconnection.  Many fitness gyms use this tactic.
  • Tell your members that if you find anyone downloading and stealing all your content, that they’ll be permanently banned.  (The offender probably won’t care anyway, but it may deter some honest people who enjoy the other areas of your site).

If none of the above methods works, you probably wouldn’t want the person as a member anyway.  They aren’t contributing the the success of your community and don’t value you.

It’s impossible to stop all the freeloaders, but these tips should do a good job of slowing them down.

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4 Comments on "How To Stop People From Downloading All Your Content, Then Leaving Your Site"

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People are always going to steal digital content, you can’t stop that. It because it doesn’t have the same heft as a physical item. Digital stuff by nature is reproduce-able infinitely. You can have 1 or a million and it’s all the same. Until that problem is solved you won’t solve any of these others. We are all thieves in our own way.


I agree with you Rob. We’ve all done it.


Guitly as charged LOL.