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Exporting a flattened pdf from Indesign

Feb 15, 2013 7:21 PM

Hello! I use Indesign to create some local advertisements. What i typically do is create a working pdf proof for the client to see. But Ive noticed that the sometimes a client will give that pdf to competitor who can pull apart my pdf (in Photoshop or Illustrator) and take individual stock images I bought. Without having to password protect the pdf, how can I flatten down the pdf so that they cant do that. Like in Photoshop if you have a multilayered file you can flatten it all down. thats essentially what Id like to do, make the pdf flattened down just like a photgraph. I can do that if i open in Photoshop and just flatten it, but I was hoping I could do that right in Indesign when I export. Is that possible? How do I do that? Thank you for your help.

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    Feb 15, 2013 9:11 PM   in reply to themetree

    Flattening wouldn't keep your images secure, I'm afraid. Your best solution is to use the security features. You've said you don't want to password protect the PDF, but are you aware that you have 2 levels of password protection: one password option is to require a password to open and look at the file. That's not so useful for you perhaps, but the other option is to require a password for any kind of editing or copying. There's a checkbox specifically for limiting copying of text, images and other content.  This would be invisible to your client until they try to pull the images. Seems like a good way to go for your problem.

    Hope that helps


    Michael Riordan

    Adobe Certified Instructor

    Digital DesignLab

    Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 10.57.03 PM.png

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    Feb 16, 2013 3:06 AM   in reply to themetree

    I agree with Michael. Add some security. It won't stop the determined, but but it will slow them down, and it will stop honest folks.


    But more importantly you need to have a word with the client about sharing. And you also need to realize that stock photos can be purchased by your competitors, too, so there's really no way for you to say for sure they were lifted from your file merely because you both are using the same images.

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    Feb 16, 2013 12:21 PM   in reply to themetree

    Flattening a PDF is not the same as flattening an image. Even PDF 1.3 will leave your image intact.


    I feel bad for you having to work with clients you don't trust. Not a great feeling but there's really very little you can do here.



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    Feb 16, 2013 12:38 PM   in reply to themetree

    If what you mean by flatten in this sense is to force all elements of the content including text and vector components into raster (effectively killing the quality of the text and vector components), there is a solution albeit multiple steps if the end result you want is PDF. That solution is as you indicate to open the resultant PDF file in Photoshop which rasterizes the page you request and then to resave as PDF. (If you have a multiple page PDF file, you would need to do this once for each page and then recombine the PDF pages!)


    However, this terribly degrades quality and will reflect terribly on both you and your client.


    In the scenario that you have provided, don't you have a contract with your client with regards to licensing of the imagery and ownership of the intellectual property? If you don't, you obviously should. But if your agreement with the client is that you are simply doing design work for hire and that the assets belong to the client, your only choices are to (1) offer pricing for content  updates that are competitive enough to stave off shopping the job elsewhere with the assets and design you provided or (2) simply not work for this client anymore.


              - Dov

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    Feb 16, 2013 12:56 PM   in reply to themetree

    I have had a few untrustful clients over the years--regardless of contracts. While I can choose to not work for them any longer, inform any licensing agencies of possible illegal activities, etc., lawsuits to reclaim damages is typically not worth it.


    For those few clients, I use Acrobat to watermark the pages (about a 20% opacity, filling the page with the word Sample). Then I play with the flattening actions and strike an acceptable balance of readibility.


    Bad clients suck. Just sometimes they actually pay the bills.




    Oh, regarding PDF security. Unless you pay good money for real security, the in-built security takes but 1 second or so to remove.

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