3 Replies Latest reply on Jul 6, 2011 12:42 AM by Dave Merchant

    Secured Documents: Prevent commenting/highlighting, justified?


      Dear Security Team


      A long long time ago, one received a training document or a narrative email and one printed it to highlight (mark) the important things to find them again fast once the document was opened again.


      Today, the great majority of documents are available in digital format. Therefore, one mustn't print these documents anymore. However, it is legitimate to keep the work technique, i.e. marking important information.


      Now, Adobe has been very successful in propagating the PDF document format and over time added plenty of features in different areas. One of these features is grouped in the security area and gives the possibility to prevent commenting documents.


      I often find documents (e.g. NVidia Drivers Release Notes) which do not allow me to highlight important information. Of course, as an IT SW Engineer and Quality Manager I always find a time consuming way to "crack" these secured documents to allow highlighting them (without printing and "hard" copy/paste ). But this isn't efficient...


      Q1° Must this commenting feature really remain under security features?


      (Am I the only one who's applying highlighting as a working technique? )


      Q2° Could you please explain the exact origin and benefit of preventing the reader to comment (a.o. highlight) a document?


      IMHO the decision to prevent commenting cannot be left up to the PDF's creator, this should be open for everyone.


      Thank you in advance for your precious time.


      Best regards

        • 1. Re: Secured Documents: Prevent commenting/highlighting, justified?
          Dave Merchant MVP & Adobe Community Professional

          Adobe does not condone any illegal circumvention of document encryption or copyright.


          If an author decides to secure a document, of any format, to prevent users from altering it; Adobe software respects that decision. Commenting is alteration, as not only are you adding items to the page, but you can use comments to obfuscate the original content (for example by covering text with a new text box). It is not technically possible to restrict only certain types of annotation, or to detect the result of an annotation on a page as interpreted by a reader.


          If an author exerts his or her right to prevent alterations to a copyrighted work by applying technological measures to a document, bypassing that protection is a criminal act in many countries (for example in the USA, it is covered by DMCA).


          With Adobe Acrobat, and now with Adobe Reader X, the default position is to allow comments on any unsecured PDF file. In the past, files without specific Reader-extended permissions could not be annotated in Adobe Reader, but this was requested by users and implemented with the Acrobat X Family. Encrypted documents are therefore assumed to be intentionally thus, and Adobe software enforces that policy without exception.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Secured Documents: Prevent commenting/highlighting, justified?
            Patrick_Asking Level 1

            Hi Dave


            Thank you for your detailed answer!


            Based on what you explained, I'll have to go to next step, i.e. post a request to allow simple highlighting and commenting in any PDF document.


            My question now is, where can I post my feature request to allow highlighting and commenting in ALL PDF documents?


            A suggestion would be to only allow highlighting with transparency to avoid hiding of content. I am convinced that it is also possible to find a technical solution for this productivity tool.


            Let's be honest, depending on what's at stake, there will always be a way to falsify a digital PDF document. I'm not in this business, I only want to stress the practical aspect of this matter.


            Why lower general usability and productivity for this percentage (30%? 40%?) of strictly confidential and not-to-be-altered documents?


            If one really want the content to be secure, one will sign it with a certificate or some other kind of hash, but why deactivate daily productivity tools of the software?



            • 3. Re: Secured Documents: Prevent commenting/highlighting, justified?
              Dave Merchant MVP & Adobe Community Professional

              It's never going to happen. If a PDF has a protection flag restricting changes, Adobe software won't make changes. Period.