5 Replies Latest reply on Aug 1, 2012 11:39 PM by Dave Merchant

    Protecting and tracking PDF documents?

    ufoldager Level 1



      We are about to build our new website and need to find a solution to make downloadable PDF documents available for both clients and registered members of our (3) new website(s).


      A colleague I spoke to, however, told me that we need to find a solution of some sort to protect against unwanted distribution of the PDF documents that we make available through our website(s).


      Initially, I had no idea of how to do this since this is a major issue for companies around the globe that are already struggling with piracy, but he then mentioned something about the Adobe Tracker software.


      Does anyone know if that is possible through Adobe Tracker? I've read a bit about this software, but it seemed very vague on what it is it really does?


      Perhaps any expert Adobe Acrobat users in here can help me with some answers on this particular topic.


      Thank you very much!

        • 1. Re: Protecting and tracking PDF documents?
          Dave Merchant MVP & Adobe Community Professional

          You're talking about DRM so want to look at LiveCycle Rights Management Server (part of LiveCycle Enterprise Suite 3), but it's expensive, and integrating a DRM solution with an existing website sales/download front end can be challenging to say the least.


          Tracker is a helper app bundled with Acrobat and Adobe Reader, and is used to collate responses for shared reviews and forms. It has nothing to do with document protection.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Protecting and tracking PDF documents?
            ufoldager Level 1

            Thanks, Dave.


            I am about to start building our new company website on the WordPress platform, and we would like to add a feature that enables registered users to be able to download select PDF documents that we will offer to our clients, users, etc.


            We are just looking for some fairly efficient way of protecting these PDF documents. I have found a plugin for WordPress called 'WP PDF Stamper', maybe that will help us a bit with this issue.


            I guess we could make it work with doing it two ways:


            1) Require user registration in order to gain download privileges (items are "free", but then we at least get some information about our users in return for the "free" items we provide)

            2) Secure & Watermark our PDF documents to ensure that the content cannot be copied nor printed.


            How does that sound? Something I'm missing?



            • 3. Re: Protecting and tracking PDF documents?
              MichaelKazlow MVP & Adobe Community Professional

              Yes. Secure. Any password security is easily bypassed. DRM is the only way to secure pdfs. However, if you are giving away your content for users who sign in don't sweat the small stuff. Watermark the pdfs at creation if you insist. Print your company's name in white on white background and sue the heck of anyone who you catch infringing. Or prominently display your company's name on the files and be happy for the free advertisement when your materials are distributed. People pay lots of money for publicity.

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Protecting and tracking PDF documents?
                ufoldager Level 1

                As it is right now, we incorporate a copyright and our company logo on all of our material. Posters and bigger models are usually added a large and much transparent watermark to the PDF files before being distributed.


                I think this is what we will probably do since much of our material we will make available as open source material on a free license of some sort. I have yet to research the different free, open source licenses out there.


                So, passwords are completely useless then?


                What about watermarks? Can they be removed illegally somehow as well?

                • 5. Re: Protecting and tracking PDF documents?
                  Dave Merchant MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                  If a watermark is placed on a layer, it can be removed in 3 seconds. If it's part of the page content but has not been merged into the underlying objects (so they exist behind it) then it can be removed in 4 seconds as there's one extra mouse click.


                  It's important to understand that PDF is an open standard, so if you can see a PDF on-screen in non-Adobe software, you can do anything you want with it. Only Adobe software guarantees to respect the security permissions on a file, so by using LiveCycle DRM you gain two advantages - the file can't be cracked by hand, and it won't open in anything other than Acrobat and Adobe Reader.