6 Replies Latest reply on Feb 14, 2008 4:45 AM by (Aandi_Inston)

    Why has highlighting & copying been allowed in Adobe Reader????

      I was wondering why the function to highlight, copy & extract text directly from pdfs has been added to Adobe Reader???
      Whereas previously many journals and academics provided access to published work as pdfs knowing it could not easily be copied, but merely printed / read, any student can now copy & paste text directly into their assignments. Additionally having used free programs to convert my own work into pdfs to email / distribute I now do not feel comfortable doing so, since it could be passed on and copied.

      Were the implications for plagiarism thought of before this "useful" feature was added?
        • 1. Re: Why has highlighting & copying been allowed in Adobe Reader????
          ~graffiti Adobe Community Professional & MVP
          >Were the implications for plagiarism thought of before this "useful" feature was added?

          Uh...I'm not one to ruin a perfectly good rant but, the only way highlighting can be used in Reader is if the creator of the PDF enables it.

          Also, unless security has been set preventing it, copy/pasting has ALWAYS been allowed in Reader.

          So, always remember, before going off on a tangent, do your homework.
          • 2. Re: Why has highlighting & copying been allowed in Adobe Reader????
            (Aandi_Inston) Level 1
            >I was wondering why the function to highlight, copy & extract text directly from pdfs has been added to Adobe Reader???

            This has been in Adobe Reader since 1.0, since long before anyone
            published anything.

            >any student can now copy & paste text directly into their assignments

            Nothing has changed except the order of buttons to click and so forth.



            Aandi Inston
            • 3. Re: Why has highlighting & copying been allowed in Adobe Reader????
              Level 1
              "Since long before anyone published anything" oh really?????? And when was that?

              I have just checked and in the older versions you cannot highlight, copy and past with the mouse, you can only select copy and paste everything using the drop down menus.....so again, it's been made A LOT easier and students can just cut out the segments they want. So YES, something HAS changed....if people wanted things to be freely copied & pasted then they'd just put it on a webpage or blog, or in a word document.

              And it means that older pdfs (produced before the change) probably won't have bothered adding the security, but can now have segments chopped out of them easily.
              • 4. Re: Why has highlighting & copying been allowed in Adobe Reader????
                (Aandi_Inston) Level 1
                >"Since long before anyone published anything"

                Sorry, that wasn't very clear. Since long before anyone published
                anything IN PDF.

                >I have just checked and in the older versions you cannot highlight, copy and past with the mouse

                Acrobat 4.05 (I assume Reader was the same).

                Open a document.
                Click on the Text select icon
                Select text with mouse
                Right click - Copy
                or Edit - Copy
                or Ctrl+C
                or In Browser, use Copy icon.

                >it's been made A LOT easier and students can just cut out the segments they want.

                You must have a very low opinion of the intelligence of students, if
                you consider that these slight changes have suddenly made plagiarism
                possible. That is, that it would never have occurred to anyone to use
                a menu before.

                Your stand against improvements in the availability of information,
                and improvements in accessibility for the visually impaired, would
                probably find sympathy in some. But not many, I think, would agree
                that improving the user interface in this minor way is a retrograde
                step.

                Aandi Inston
                • 5. Re: Why has highlighting & copying been allowed in Adobe Reader????
                  Level 1
                  It just makes it a lot easier & more obvious, so students are more likely to do it. It gives the impression pdfs can just be treated like webpages - most people see nothing wrong with copying & pasting sentences if they can.
                  I think the number of visually impaired people this MIGHT help is miniscule compared to the number of people that are more likely to plagiarise.
                  As for availability of information, it's there in the pdf - why should you need to copy it into another format anyway? You can take in information without copying text into other documents...you can read it, print it, photocopy it etc... So that is a cr*p excuse.
                  There is an easy way around it though - download free trial of Acrobat Professional, edit settings in old pdfs and then make all new ones in Open Office using security.
                  Not all publishers take the time to make the pdfs they produce secure, the older ones particularly may not be. So yes it may have been possible before, but now it's very simple & easy & clear to extract someone's words and put them somewhere else, totally out of context.
                  The author's probably have no idea it's happening.
                  • 6. Re: Why has highlighting & copying been allowed in Adobe Reader????
                    (Aandi_Inston) Level 1
                    > It gives the impression pdfs can just be treated like webpages

                    Exactly. Yes. This is EXACTLY what Adobe have had as their focus for
                    over a decade now.

                    >I think the number of visually impaired people this MIGHT help is miniscule compared to the number of people that are more likely to plagiarise.

                    Yes, but there is a legal obligation in many countries to consider the
                    needs of the visually impaired. If Adobe had not done a lot of work in
                    this area, the use of PDF may well have been banned completely by
                    companies subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act. And I don't
                    think that would be good.

                    >As for availability of information, it's there in the pdf - why should you need to copy it into another format anyway?

                    I appreciate that you want to stop people sharing or reusing
                    information. But I think you should realise that Adobe have made it a
                    high priority to help people do EXACTLY this. I doubt you will
                    persuade them to change this policy, even if anyone from Adobe happens
                    to read this thread.

                    Aandi Inston