Copyright protection requirements on the rise from standards publishers

Standards publishers are ramping up measures to ensure compliant use of their intellectual property.


Copyright is vital to maintaining high quality and current standards.

Like any original work of expression written, recorded or otherwise captured, standards are protected by copyright law. This grants ownership of the original work to the individual or business that created it. Copyrighted work cannot be reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed or incorporated into another (derivative) work without the permission of the copyright owner. This form of intellectual property protection helps Standards Developing Organizations retain control over content that they’ve invested significant resources to create.

Standards publishers need revenue to support the development of new industry standards. Piracy redirects funds that would have supported standards development to efforts and costs associated with identifying and eliminating the misuse. What’s more, inappropriate use of shared standards may include out of compliance (out of date) information and can put organizations at risk.

Of course, digital sharing of copyright-protected content, such as standards, is the cornerstone of professional collaboration in today’s world.

An extensive study conducted in 2019 by research and advisory firm Outsell, Inc. uncovered that on average, corporate employees share content – 45% of which is external – 5.9 times per week with 21 colleagues. Responsible for copyright compliance for the materials they use, organizations do their best to educate employees and encourage lawful behavior to protect the IP of third parties, with varying degrees of success. Yet overall, these efforts struggle to keep up with the myriad of fast and easy ways to access and share information in the virtual workplace, which make copyright infringement – whether willful or inadvertent — perilously easy.


Standards publishers are taking steps to ensure universal compliance.

Historically, detailed contractual licensing agreements have served as standards publishers’ main tool to uphold copyright, particularly with respect to platformed-based access for multiple users. However, an increasing number of publishers, such as CSA Group, IPC, NFPA and Standards Australia, are ramping up more active measures to better ensure end-user copyright compliance with the help of Digital Rights Management (DRM) software – a safety net that simply prevents users from inadvertently sharing standards content when they shouldn’t.

While DRM software has been in place for some transactional, single-copy standards purchases, publishers are increasingly turning to the use of mandatory file protection software for all proprietary content in both e-commerce and subscription environments. This relieves some of the burden of copyright compliance from employers and signals a shift in industry best practice.

“IPC has been working to protect the copyright on IPC publications including copyright statements on hard copy releases beginning in the 1950s. Digital copies make it much easier to have casual violations as the user could share the copyrighted material without seeing the notice. Using digital rights management tools such as File Open provide a safe and efficient method to protect the IP valued by our industry,” stated David Bergman, IPC vice president of standards and technology. “The revenue loss from piracy and leaking of standards files is potentially significant without putting controls in place. As a non-profit, the revenue we generate is used to support ongoing standards development to meet the needs of the of electronics manufacturing industry,” he added.


How Techstreet customers access copyrighted standards

The way that an organization gets access to important standards to ensure compliance and safety of their products and services is usually dependent on size. Single users and small teams typically purchase transactional, one-off standards from an online superstore such as the Techstreet Store, which houses one of the world’s largest collections of industry codes and standards.

Alternatively, many medium to large organizations, with engineers juggling hundreds of standards across multiple locations, may subscribe to one central standards management web platform designed with simplicity and cost effectiveness in mind, such as Techstreet Enterprise.


Why Techstreet offers DRM software, and how it works

Techstreet™, a major reseller of global technical standards, has a strong track record of supporting publishers in preventing copyright infringement with DRM software for end users. This way, customers get controlled access to the standards they need without the risk of misuse. Getting started is as simple as downloading and installing the FileOpen plugin for your PDF reader, a brand of DRM software, to set up automatic guardrails around copyright violation. FileOpen opens the encrypted file as it is downloaded to your computer and decrypts it each time you open it after downloading the PDF, checking each time to see that you continue to have rights to that document.


In addition to compliance, DRM is also instrumental to accurate usage reporting for customers.

DRM software not only protects publisher content, but it also enables transparent usage reporting, a valuable source of insight that can assist with program management and cost control. In addition to download tracking, FileOpen gives even deeper visibility into usage, recording each time a user opens the downloaded content. This umbrella of transparency and cost control has been the main driver of our Techstreet use of DRM software, long before the industry shift in publisher requirements.

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