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
Adobe Certified Instructor
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.
hi michael and peter
thank you both for taking the time to reply. i appreciate it. and the password thing is a good idea in theory, but like peter said... someone who is determined will get it no matter what.
but back to my original question... is it possible to flatten the files when exporting a pdf like you can flatten files in PS? I really would prefer this option. if its even an option. can i do this and how?
thank you again
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.
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.
If I could weigh in on this discussion, there are certainly a few issues at play from multiple disciplines that all converge: business, professional, artistic, legal and technical. It's important in these situations to identify the important issues and goals and apply solutions that really help if possible (or just relax and sleep well). My current toolbox for managing re-use and preventing helping the competition includes a number of written procedures for dealing with IP. They are the laws that we live by.
(for items for print) Export in JPG format (rather than PDF) at 150 dpi. It looks flawless on-screen, although the print quality is compromised substantially.
If a PDF is necessary (ie, as in the case of multi-page items that a user may wish to page through) use Acrobat Pro's "Combine Files" feature. It is two separate steps, but works like a dream.
If a job is unpaid and uncontracted (ie, merely a prospecting/marketing mockup done on spec), it should be festooned with watermarks and bear your copyright marking and contact information). Further, since it's just a spec sample, go ahead and include an additional page(s) of marketing information, trackable links to a portfolio, etc.
At the end of the day, know that you borrow a great deal from those around you every day, at the very least in terms of layout ideas, graphic concepts and inspiration. But, regardless of how you deliver your final deliverables, you are a professional: The quality of your work cannot be duplicated. Truly. You use professional tools and tactics, design conventions honed across years of experience. Subtle layout conventions, technique, font selections, gradients, drop-shadows, strokes, effects and myriad other touches give your work a superlative quality that "pops" and cannot be duplicated. You no doubt have layout files, gradients, templates and tools (within InDesign, Photoshop or other), that have been years in development and refinement. Nobody will ever have that. I've got InDesign templates for complicated mailer designs that took weeks of work to layout, and have been refined over years. There's no cheating the process. Those aren't the deliverables, and those are always yours. That's where the real value is. Next time out, you have a head start.
And I wouldn't necessarily blame a client for shopping a design around. I've benefitted from a client sending me an existing bid, complete with an art mockup. It's great to get a look at the competition's work. It certainly didn't help me much, although at the same time I managed to feel horrified at 'what if this was done to me?' My current policy? Don't feel that feeling: GENERATE that feeling in others, by delivering frightening work that raises the bar. If something is going to get shopped around? Deliver the work that will make it to the register. In the final analysis, everyone solves problems differently. Having a customer come in the door with a fixed design they're in love with, done by someone else, with images you don't have access to, a font you can't figure out, and a mixed bag of effects you can't decipher is no picnic. Indeed, some of my worst jobs have been client-mandated attempts to duplicate something closely that should rightly have been replaced.
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