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oplegnathus
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make PDFs not copyable?

Apr 11, 2013 1:43 PM

Tags: #pdf #security

I am creating a series of PDFs to be displayed within an Apple iPad app. I would like to prevent users from easily copying text and photos from the PDFs when using the app. Is this possible?

 
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 11, 2013 1:49 PM   in reply to oplegnathus

    You can add rudimentary security to your PDFs that will prevent honest folk form copying content in Reader or Acrobat, but I don't know what will happen in your iPad app.

     
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    Apr 11, 2013 1:49 PM   in reply to oplegnathus

    If you're creating PDFs to be viewed on laptop or desktop computers, you can set Security in Acrobat to keep objects from being copied by setting password security (File > Properties > Security). However, not all third party PDF readers honor such restrictions. I would try creating such a restriction, then test it using Adobe Reader and other PDF readers on an iPad to see if those restrictions hold. I wouldn't guarantee it.

     
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    Apr 11, 2013 2:24 PM   in reply to oplegnathus

    You'll need to do it Acrobat Pro after.

     
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    Apr 11, 2013 2:59 PM   in reply to oplegnathus

    No matter how strong Acrobat security may be, anybody can photograph documents displayed on the device's screen. Hey, you know that real hi-def Retina screen? They can photograph a better copy from it than from one of those old not-so-hi-def screens. I don't know if Acrobat security can prevent taking a screen shot on the display device, but nothing can prevent photographing the screen. So, you may want to protect your document by degrading it visually, by using low-resolution somewhat transparent images that permit a background texture to show through; the texture can also impair or completely prevent optical character recognition (OCR) of the text from a photograph of the screen. Even so, a diligent and skilled person with good image editing software might be able to retouch and otherwise manipulate the degraded copy, and restore it to near-original appearance.

     

    Degrading the images is "out of the picture" if the point of displaying the photos in the app is to show them clearly.

     

    If the goal is to protect the document from unauthorized copying, you might consider distributing it through a licensing method. Search Google for terms like "software sold with unique registration" without quotes. Also search for terms like "creating end-user agreements," without quotes.

     

    Depending on how many copies of the document will be made, you might be able to devise unique layout variations for each one sold, to help identify the original purchaser. For example, variations on the precise pixel dimensions, and precise location on the page. It's a lot of work.

     

    oplegnathus wrote:

     

    I am creating a series of PDFs to be displayed within an Apple iPad app. I would like to prevent users from easily copying text and photos from the PDFs when using the app. Is this possible?

     

     

    HTH

     

     

    Regards,

     

     

    Peter

    _______________________

    Peter Gold

    KnowHow ProServices

     
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    Apr 11, 2013 3:06 PM   in reply to peter at knowhowpro

    The only sure way to prevent unauthorized use is to never distribute the PDF to begin with.

     
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