Copy Protecting Data For Desktop Reading Versus Online Reading

To begin, let's correct a misconception that most site owners, including experienced web developers, still believe, and that is that when reading anything online, that the data or document is not downloaded to the user's computer. Because that could not be further from the truth and it is wrongfully used as an argument for displaying protected data and media online rather than let the user download it to read it on their desktop.

In all cases of reading anything, the data and/or document needs to be on the user's computer because that is how they can read it. The only difference is that when 'downloading' it is saved to a location of the user's choice, whereas when reading online while using a web browser. it is saved to the web browser's cache.

Now that is out of the way we can look at the real advantages and disadvantages for each scenario.

Bandwidth And Data Allowances

When a site visitor downloads a document they only need to do that once if they save it to their computer for later reading. However, if they are reading online, they will need to download it every time that they open that document. Depending on the data allowance provided by the web host, using a content delivery network (CDN) or media server may be a cheaper option for storing the documents online.

Access Rights Management

Access rights of users to open a document, such as when using PDF security software, can be managed in both online and desktop reading. On the desktop the reader can employ DRM to give permission to a user to open and view the document and it can also include other parameters such as limitations to the number of views, number of prints allowed and set expiration by hours or days from the user's first use of a document. Such DRM can provided for offline use by distributing a personalized token for each user, or they can be manage by 'call-to-home' validations which provide more control for the author and the ability to change those permissions at any time. With real DRM applied, like with the CopySafe solutions that identify each user by unique computer signature, user privileges cannot be shared.

However with online reading, such as when using site protection software, the options are different because embedding DRM inside the document can conflict with web site membership privileges. Here access rights need to be managed by the online membership system. Most web sites these days use a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla for which advanced membership plugins will be available. Those in the education industry will most likely be using Moodle for its native multi-level course management. However unlike using real DRM, website accounts can be shared with others.

Copy Protection

Here the differences are more significant because limitations come into play. Those differences are due to the effectiveness of 'copy protection' and the limitations imposed by web browsers. For desktop reading, Windows applications can prevent all methods of copy including PrintScreen and the use of screen capture software. But for online reading, due to the limitations of today's popular web browsers and their failure to support real browser plugins, only the ArtisBrowser web browser can be used. The ArtisBrowser fully supports and in fact enhances the security provided by CopySafe copy protection software.

So CopySafe PDF security software can be used for desktop publishing and CopySafe site protection software can be used for online content. CopySafe provides the most robust all round protection from all methods of copy for both online and desktop scenarios. However for copy protecting web site content there is one better solution if your site is hosted on a dedicated or virtual server. The ArtistScope Site Protection System (ASPS) provides the most effective copy protection for all data and media that has ever been imagined. With ASPS, data cannot be retrieved from browser cache or memory, and it cannot be intercepted in transit between server and browser by packet sniffers.

Device And Operating System Support

ArtistScope caters for the copy protection of all types of media both online and while viewed on the desktop. ArtistScope solutions are designed to protect mission critical data, and as such, are not available for use on amusement devices like mobile phones that will provide avenues of exploit in what are otherwise the most secure solutions on the planet. If one is looking for copy protection for use on mobile phones, then forget about controlling who can access your data.


The CopySafe and ASPS solutions are ideal for corporate networks, online schools and information kiosks where you can have total control over who can access your data, when and how.

Author: William Kent
Date: 21st January 2020

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