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Be Aware Before You Share

One of the first issues this blog touched on, and a consistent theme of our efforts to raise awareness of document security, was that of sharing. Yesterday I came across a new report that confirms the HoGo position on sharing, and adds some new depth to the topic.

The Copyright Clearance Center commissioned a survey of business executives entitled Enterprise Information Access, Consumption and Use. According to a CCC press release, the report highlighted a number of key findings, including:

  • 48% of executives believe it's acceptable to share information as long as it's not used for commercial purposes;
  • 45% believe digital or print paid information is fine to share;
  • The rate of sharing by executives has risk 62% since 2007; and,
  • The most frequent medium for sharing is email attachments.

I haven’t read the study (the study has not yet been made available to the public), but if those numbers alone are any indication, the implications are clear and ominous. Not only is sharing on the rise, but it is on the rise at the executive level, where one might expect awareness and sensitivity (not to mention trust) to be highest.

That means the very person you might need to confide in to advance an idea or deal requiring valuable content and intellectual property might also be someone likely to forward that information on to others.

And the industries where executives do the most sharing? Legal (yup… top of the list), energy, wholesale, telecommunications/media, and chemicals – in that order.

For individuals, small businesses, or even business managers within large enterprises, this is alarming news. That business proposal, confidential price list, draft contract, strategic presentation, or other sensitive document that you had to email – in confidence – to a professional contact, might well end up in the hands of someone you didn’t intend, even if it was forwarded with the best of intentions.

And that confidential watermark or copyright notice you included on the cover page? It didn’t protect you one bit.

Stay tuned. I’ll be discussing this issue with the CCC and other experts in the area of copyright protection in the future.

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