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Locking PDF files?
#19044 11/10/11 05:11 PM
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Fairly Urgent, can someone advise?

I have been asked to send some of our copyright-protected work to a potential customer, suggested method burning PDFs to disk and mail along with accompanying letter/enclosures/contract.

I've prepared the folder for burning, and have locked the first couple of files.

However looking around the internet, I see that locking the files is next to no protection at all. A person could just unlock them, and even if they don't do that, they can still copy text from them, into any other application. I tried that myself with one of the locked PDFs.

Before I go any further, am I wasting my time trying to prevent these PDFs from copying by the recipient? I made the originals using Pages and made the PDFs using print, save as PDF.

Maybe I should just abandon the PDF > disk burning altogether and just send them hard copy? They can't fiddle with that or upload it God knows where.

Many thanks for any help. I have to do this in the next 24 hours.

Re: Locking PDF files?
Bensheim #19045 11/10/11 05:35 PM
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Mac to Mac? Use an encrypted disk image (dmg) file to store the whole mess.

Re: Locking PDF files?
Hal Itosis #19049 11/10/11 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted By: Hal Itosis
Mac to Mac? Use an encrypted disk image (dmg) file to store the whole mess.


But once unencrypted the recipient would have access to the PDF and could copy text.

I thought of password protecting the PDF, but this has the same problem once it is unlocked.


On a Mac since 1984.
Currently: 27" iMacs, Macbook Air, macOS 10.15.x,; iPhones, iPods and iPads galore!
Re: Locking PDF files?
Ira L #19053 11/10/11 07:39 PM
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I have no idea which computers they use, how could I?

That they use Macs seems unlikely, however, and that is hardly the point.

PDF = portable document format, yes? So anyone on any computer sends receives reads makes PDFs.

I am getting more pertinent help regarding copyright-protected work and forwarding-of on another forum, but thanks for now.

Re: Locking PDF files?
Ira L #19054 11/10/11 07:44 PM
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According to the Help Center, to prevent a pdf file from being changed, make it a "read only" document.

Re: Locking PDF files?
Bensheim #19057 11/11/11 03:58 AM
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Sorry if this is a "wet blanket," but once potential customers have got your material in any format, can't they do whatever they want with it...even if it means copying your docs onto their own computers by hand?

Granted that copyright protection isn't much more than an illusion, but isn't it enough?


The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire
Re: Locking PDF files?
Bensheim #19059 11/11/11 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted By: Bensheim
I have no idea which computers they use, how could I?

That they use Macs seems unlikely, however, and that is hardly the point.

PDF = portable document format, yes? So anyone on any computer sends receives reads makes PDFs.

I am getting more pertinent help regarding copyright-protected work and forwarding-of on another forum, but thanks for now.

Sorry, guess i simply misread the problem... and now i've lost interest altogether. tongue

Re: Locking PDF files?
Hal Itosis #19065 11/11/11 01:08 PM
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Not a solution per-se, but perhaps a work around…

Before the documents are converted to PDF, include a large-bold diagonal watermark that says Proprietary and at the bottom of each page include another watermark with the copyright restrictions/caveat, etc.

Of course, the documents could always be hand-copied, but then the miscreant would indeed be at some legal peril.


Harv
27" i7 iMac (10.13.6), iPhone Xs Max (12.1)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire
Re: Locking PDF files?
Pendragon #19068 11/11/11 03:27 PM
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The solution was right here on the Mac.

It works, too.

At the click of a button, no printing or copying allowed, no extra software necessary, all built into the OS.

grin

Re: Locking PDF files?
Bensheim #19070 11/11/11 04:37 PM
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FWIW-

I think that if I were wanting to reproduce a PDF that is does not allow printing or copying...

I merely take a screen shot of the document, saving the output as a TIFF. This is usually good enough for an OCR equipped scanner to have at it. Then save the newly scanned document and voilà!

Others will know better than moi how well or if this really would work. I don't even have a scanner.


Harv
27" i7 iMac (10.13.6), iPhone Xs Max (12.1)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire
Re: Locking PDF files?
Bensheim #19072 11/11/11 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted By: Bensheim
The solution was right here on the Mac.

It works, too.

At the click of a button, no printing or copying allowed, no extra software necessary, all built into the OS.

grin

At the click of which button?
Do you own Acrobat Pro or something?
(it doesn't come built into the OS)


Re: Locking PDF files?
Hal Itosis #19073 11/11/11 06:18 PM
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Is no one take note of what I pointed out above?
The option exists to make the document (~ pdf file) "read only". So, unless the recipient has the same user account as you on his/her computer, that should take care of the issue.
(And, if you wish, you can also make the file "read only" for yourself. smirk )

Re: Locking PDF files?
Pendragon #19076 11/11/11 06:40 PM
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I convert scanned text images to PDF all the time and unless the original used a really odd ball font or was of poor quality, the OCR module in Adobe Acrobat will very accurately convert the image to PDF text that is searchable and can be copied and pasted into Pages/Word/NeoOffice/etc. However any formatting and layout is almost invariably lost in this process.



joemikeb • moderator
Re: Locking PDF files?
grelber #19077 11/11/11 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted By: grelber
Is no one take note of what I pointed out above?
The option exists to make the document (~ pdf file) "read only". So, unless the recipient has the same user account as you on his/her computer, that should take care of the issue.
(And, if you wish, you can also make the file "read only" for yourself. smirk )


Where exactly? Which program? Preview.app?
I don't see that option anywhere in there yet.

So you guarantee that no one else can copy text from it, when opened on their computer? (a Windows PC perhaps... which might be used by a person who owns Adobe Acrobat Pro).

Re: Locking PDF files?
Hal Itosis #19079 11/11/11 07:28 PM
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With my level of expertise I'm not a good choice to guarantee anything. tongue

However, open document (I use Word*), save as PDF (in File menu). Depending on how your settings read (check Get Info), you can set permissions for the file (which is how I arrived at the conclusions I did — and would be more than pleased to be corrected if my suppositions are wrong).

* I don't know if other word processors offer the same option.

Re: Locking PDF files?
grelber #19080 11/11/11 07:46 PM
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I am so glad that for once I have found a solution, all by myself, which still seems to elude others on a technical messageboard.

Originally Posted By: Bensheim
The solution was right here on the Mac.

It works, too.

At the click of a button, no printing or copying allowed, no extra software necessary, all built into the OS.

grin


Have a nice weekend, I know I will, I'm flying at the crack of dawn tomorrow. Back next week sometime.

laugh wink cool

Re: Locking PDF files?
Bensheim #19082 11/11/11 08:18 PM
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You too! The solution is here: Print>save as PDF. In the dialog box (where to save and how name a file) there is a button "security settings". It allows to password-protect the PDF file. But as many have pointed out, there is a multitude of ways to bypass it. As I mentioned earlier, a nice app PDFprotect will deprotect any PDF instantly. Copyright should be enforced by other ways, I think.


Alex
3.1 GHz 13" MacBook Pro 2015, 8 GB RAM, OS 10.11.2, Office 2011, TimeWarner Cable
2.8 GHz Xeon Mac Pro 2010, 16 GB RAM, OS 10.11.2, Office 2011, LAN
Re: Locking PDF files?
artie505 #19083 11/11/11 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted By: artie505
Sorry if this is a "wet blanket," but once potential customers have got your material in any format, can't they do whatever they want with it...


Physical access owns all. Never forget that, never take it for granted. Once you lose physical control of something, anything is possible. The most you can do is make certain things more difficult, but that should not be relied heavily upon.

I don't care how big the lock is. If I have it in my garage all weekend with power tools and a cutting torch, I'm getting in.



I work for the Department of Redundancy Department
Re: Locking PDF files?
Bensheim #19093 11/11/11 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted By: Bensheim
I am so glad that for once I have found a solution, all by myself, which still seems to elude others on a technical messageboard.

I see... so your game is to elude people, instead of helping the next person that visits these forums who might actually be looking to solve the same problem.

How old are you again?

Re: Locking PDF files?
Virtual1 #19094 11/11/11 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted By: grelber
However, open document (I use Word*), save as PDF (in File menu). Depending on how your settings read (check Get Info), you can set permissions for the file

Ah, thanks. So 'Save As PDF' has that security option button/dialog... right where post #1 started in the first place (thus the last place i considered looking, as it couldn't be there). cool Yes it does seem to work quite well.

However, in addition to the OCR methods mentioned above...

Originally Posted By: Virtual1
Physical access owns all. Never forget that, never take it for granted. Once you lose physical control of something, anything is possible. The most you can do is make certain things more difficult, but that should not be relied heavily upon.

I don't care how big the lock is. If I have it in my garage all weekend with power tools and a cutting torch, I'm getting in.

Along with an abundance of shareware offerings, i just tried out this freeware and it worked instantly on my simple test-document. (so perhaps the expense of Acrobat Pro can be saved as well.) wink

Last edited by Hal Itosis; 11/11/11 10:59 PM.
Re: Locking PDF files?
Hal Itosis #19096 11/12/11 01:24 AM
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"Does not unlock PDF files you need to enter a password to open." Duh!


Alex
3.1 GHz 13" MacBook Pro 2015, 8 GB RAM, OS 10.11.2, Office 2011, TimeWarner Cable
2.8 GHz Xeon Mac Pro 2010, 16 GB RAM, OS 10.11.2, Office 2011, LAN
Re: Locking PDF files?
Bensheim #19098 11/12/11 02:01 AM
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Originally Posted By: Bensheim
I am so glad that for once I have found a solution, all by myself, which still seems to elude others on a technical messageboard.

Originally Posted By: Bensheim
The solution was right here on the Mac.

It works, too.

At the click of a button, no printing or copying allowed, no extra software necessary, all built into the OS.

grin

Have a nice weekend, I know I will, I'm flying at the crack of dawn tomorrow. Back next week sometime.

laugh wink cool

Well, that's cute; thanks for sharing the details with those who've shared their knowledge with you on so many occasions.

A question, if I may: You've been running your business for, I believe you said, 15 years, so how did you handle situations such as the present one for the first 14+ of them?

Last edited by artie505; 11/12/11 10:31 AM. Reason: Expansion

The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire
Re: Locking PDF files?
macnerd10 #19101 11/12/11 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted By: macnerd10
"Does not unlock PDF files you need to enter a password to open." Duh!

Can you provide some context and also elaborate a bit more?
[what is this in reference to, and what has it to do with me?]

As i said, i actually tested that freeware, and it worked in the **context** of this thread. [i.e., using a password to prevent copying/resaving... nothing to do with opening.]

Duh! smile

Last edited by Hal Itosis; 11/12/11 06:01 PM.
Re: Locking PDF files?
Hal Itosis #19107 11/12/11 06:17 PM
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I'm with you on this one, Hal.

The issue all along was not to prevent someone from "seeing" the contents of the file, but once having seen it, a way to prevent them from copying the contents.

We all wait with baited breath for the original poster's return.

OK, somewhat related, this reminds me of the famous 17th century mathematician Pierre de Fermat. He went through a book of unsolved (at that time) mathematical problems and attempted to solve many of them. On one in particular he noted in the margin that he was able to solve it but the limited space in the margin of the text prevented him from showing the solution.

For 300 years mathematicians tried, unsuccessfully, to solve the problem (Fermat's Last Theorem). In the late 20th century a valid proof was presented and it required mathematics unknown to Fermat. Consequently many doubted his original claim of having solved the problem.

I hope we don't have to wait that long for a solution to this one, and I hope it is valid.


On a Mac since 1984.
Currently: 27" iMacs, Macbook Air, macOS 10.15.x,; iPhones, iPods and iPads galore!
Re: Locking PDF files?
Ira L #19112 11/12/11 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted By: Ira L
I hope we don't have to wait that long for a solution to this one, and I hope it is valid.

In truth there is no iron-clad solution. The 'save as...' with security options works pretty well... and it does make it inconvenient for someone who can read the content to actually copy the content. Inconvenient, but not impossible.

I have to admit, opening the pdf with a hex-editor provided zero help... as the contents are encrypted. So it's either break the password or use OCR on a printout.

Still, requiring such tricks helps to emphasize the (undesirable) illegality of such an undertaking... and makes the author's intent quite clear.


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