If you’re using WordPress to sell digital products like eBooks, music, images or documents, you’ll need to consider protecting your content from being downloaded by people who haven’t paid for your product.
Step one is to make sure that page protection is applied to all of the product’s child pages. These protected pages should display a message instead of the hidden content – making sure that it includes a prompt that directs visitors to purchase or find out more about your product (a “Call to Action”).
Step two is to make sure that your product download pages are not being processed by search engines. This can be done via WordPress plugins like SEOPress, which allow you to disable indexing by search engines. Doing this will tell search engines to keep the page out of the search results.
Side-note: the most popular search engines follow the rules, whereas poor search engines and nasty software from hackers and spammers tend to do whatever they want.
Step three is restricting access to protected files. .htaccess and config file script can be used to lock down pdf, doc, docx, ppt, jpg, png, and zip files, as well as restrict the download to certain specific membership access levels. The script figures out the post the file is attached to and then checks if the logged in user has the authorisation to access it.
Step four is to limit access to downloads. This involves placing a time or quantity-based limit on the total number of downloads. After the limit expires, the customer can’t use the download link anymore.
Anyone selling digital products should have the necessary measures in place to prevent theft. There’s no such thing as 100% foolproof protection when it comes to digital goods, but the harder a product is to steal, the less motivated people will be to steal it.