The Envato Market and How to Boost IP Security on Your Digital Products

It would be a massive understatement to say that making a living as a freelance developer is remarkably difficult work. There are the seemingly endless hours generating an idea that you hope will turn a profit. Then there are the countless sacrifices along the way as you flush that idea out into a fully functional end product. Sometimes, your product is interesting and the hard work may be rewarding.

Of course, that says nothing of what comes after: marketing. In some ways, that may prove to be more of a challenge than the development phase. First, people need to lay their eyeballs on it. And how do you deliver it? You need a secure way to provide the customers with a way to securely download and transmit payments, which of course, means you need a secure e-commerce platform.

I am the creator of Plusquare and I have been selling and distributing my themes and plugins through Envato for more than 4 years. The Envato Market can be a tremendous help, because it allows developers to have a way to share their digital masterpieces with the world on an existing infrastructure — an infrastructure that already has millions of active and satisfied customers, me being also one.

Envato Market: What’s in it for You?

While the decision is ultimately up to you, developers who do choose to sell their digital products on the Envato Market can reap a few significant benefits, just like I can say I did.

Exposure. Getting enough people to see your product in the first place is a pretty big task. By using Envato, developers can piggyback on the fact that it is already a go-to place to purchase digital products for some 1.5 million customers. So yeah, there’s a pretty good chance that more than a few people will see what you have to offer — and that’s all without spending a single dime on advertising.

Infrastructure. Another huge benefit is that the infrastructure is already there. They’ve done the marketing. They’ve established the system. They handle secure downloads and payments. All you need to do is focus on your passion and on getting your product approved, and they take care of the rest.

Quality. Opinions and feelings about the review process are bound to vary wildly, especially for those who have received negative feedback, or for those who didn’t get something approved. But from an objective standpoint, it really does create a win-win scenario both for Envato and for the developers.

Basically, the review process is a way to weed out apps, HTML templates, WordPress themes and so on, that simply don’t make the cut, products that aren’t up to their quality standards. At the end of the day, they are a business and do have a reputation for providing high-quality products to maintain.

While negative feedback can certainly be a major disappointment to developers, it can also be viewed as a chance to improve — improve code quality, improve design or what have you. The net result is that when things finally do go through, Envato Market maintains its reputation, customers are satisfied and developers have products that are more likely to sell. Win-win.

Envato Market Copyright Protections: Pros and Cons

Although the benefits are certainly compelling, there are still some things that can be done regarding security.

Envato does go to lengths to ensure that your work isn’t violating copyright protections. This, of course, minimizes the liabilities for both parties, and it also keeps things orderly amongst the various developers on the site.

They also have fairly extensive documentation on what intellectual property rights are, and what you can do in the event that you discover that your rights are being infringed, such as assistance with issuing DCMA takedown notices. They even have policies in place for handling piracy where they find it, though they lean toward issues that affect the community rather than single instances of infringement.

What is still not being done, however, is taking measures towards the prevention of copyright infringement, especially when it comes to the demos that we as authors make available on the Envato market. For the most part, that’s left up to you, the developer.

How to prevent code theft

When I first started developing plugins and themes, after putting weeks or even months of effort into building solid JavaScript scripts for the Envato marketplace, it was demotivating seeing my work being given away for free in piracy sites. This would happen because it is deadly simple to extract JavaScript files from the item preview since it is run on the client side. This of course hurts the sales, so I searched for a way to prevent this from happening. The code still needed to run perfectly but only in the item preview (domain lock) and unreadable (obfuscated and protected) to the point that it would not payoff for a user to snatch my work. I searched for solutions over the web and was able to find something which met all my requirements, a JavaScript code protection service called Jscrambler. It provided a lot of different source code transformations (i.e. function outlining, string obfuscation, among others) but also several code locks and self-defending features: anti-debugging and anti-tampering. It seemed to be the most resilient as many of the features they offered could not be found elsewhere.

It also proved to have a great helpdesk, the support people helped me figure out what to use to secure my code.

Of course, one can argue that anything can be reverse engineered. No JavaScript obfuscation or protection can say it makes it impossible to reverse a piece of code. Jscrambler just makes it much harder than anyone else. Other solutions in the market do not protect your code and so they can be easily reversed in minutes and that’s why some people think it’s not worth to invest in JavaScript security. However, it’s like getting the best lock for your house, would you not use one (ideally the strongest) just because it can be broken?

An important note is that Envato Market only allows demos to be protected. The real deal has to be in the original, un-obfuscated, unprotected form, which only seems fair. Developers who legitimately purchase the products should be able to modify it to suit their needs. But it makes sense that you protect your demos so that people won’t get your code without paying.

So I started obfuscating my items previews’ code, reported pirate links with DMCA reports so they were took down, and the results were obvious. Once in a while I still search for pirate links but can’t find any for my items anymore, thus I have seen my sales increase as well. In the end, and after some time using it, I found it to be a great way to narrow down the percentage of incidences of theft of the code on my demos.

On a side note, this process would be undoubtedly easier if Envato had an automated way of protecting the preview files, or at least recommend it, since I believe there are a lot of authors losing sales every day due to this issue.

Conclusion

Envato Market is a great resource both for those looking for a single place to market their products as well as those looking to enhance their already existing marketing efforts. When it comes to security, if you’re already selling on Envato Market and would like to make sure no one copies or changes the code on your demos, it is my recommendation that you look for a way to protect them. As far as my experience goes, Jscrambler seems to be the most resilient solution to achieve this so I strongly recommend all fellow authors to give it a try and see if it can help them too. Best of luck for your Envato business!