This article will discuss PDF copy Protection and the options available. Before we get into the details, here are a few things to note:
- Copy protection is not encrypted. The PDF owner can assign encryption to the document. After that, the user is free to do whatever they like with the file. Print, share, screengrab, and so on. Encryption is the idea that a document is inaccessible until a password has been entered.
- Copy protection doesn’t require a password. Anyone can view the file. The file cannot be printed, copied, shared, or screen-captured. Copy protection allows anyone to view the PDF, but no one can do anything with it. This is what people most often search for when they need PDF copy protection.
The open standard PDF (or Portable Document Format) is PDF. This means that the document format can be used with almost any document reader software. The PDF specification had the goal of making the format as universally applicable as possible. It is therefore a little more complicated than you might think to protect PDF files.
Adobe Reader is pre-installed in Windows. Windows also include Adobe API code embedded to allow you to open PDF files. The underlying code can still be used to open PDF files even if Adobe Reader is not installed or uninstalled. There are many other PDF readers available, including Adobe Reader, which is the #1 PDF reader on the market. All these readers are designed to read and open portable documents.
Adobe copy protection solutions have a reputation for being easily cracked. You can search Google for Adobe copy protection crack to find many ways that Adobe security features have been compromised. Here and here these are just two examples of Google search results that include web pages dedicated specifically to hacking.
The lack of controls for viewing PDFs is the main problem with copy protection. Meaning a PDF content owner (you) does not have the control over Adobe Reader, or other programs, to stop the user (your client/customer/student) from printing, screen grabbing, sharing, and saving.
A PDF copy protection solution allows the PDF to be opened and viewed while the content owner retains control.
Adobe Reader, Foxit Reader, and other programs won’t provide tools that can block users from saving or printing from their program. We need a “reader”, or “viewer” that can block these functions.
This is why it is hard to give security features to a reader. Users who receive PDF files don’t want to install any other program to view them. This process takes away the beauty and ease of PDF files. The PDF is no longer a portable document format. Hackers can also download a program to view the PDF to reverse engineer it. To control the PDF, you need more than a reader/viewer.
How To Copy Protect PDF Files? Associating a PDF file with something physical is the best way to copy-protect it. Although there are software solutions that can copy and protect PDF files, they are not as secure as a solution that is physical.
Nexcopy’s Copy Secure solution is a USB flash device that provides copy protection to PDF files. It does not require you to install any software to view it. The solution is not a copy-protected file, but a copy-protected device. This is because the physical device controls the viewing of the document.
The Copy Secure drive’s secure PDF reader is encrypted and locked to the device. Even if the viewer app is downloaded directly from the flash drive, there are no installation requirements. Hackers won’t be able to access the PDF or control it.
Copy Secure drives work on both Mac and Windows computers. It is easy to view PDFs with the viewer application that automatically launches from the USB. The PDF is a portable document format.
The viewer doesn’t allow printing. The viewer does not support saving, screen recording, or sharing. This solution allows the PDF to follow the USB drive and can be accessed from any computer. You don’t need to install a viewer on each computer that the PDF will be used. Simply insert the Copy Secure USB Drive and you can access the file. Everything runs straight from the flash drive.
Additional digital rights management features can be used to manage the PDF. Copy Secure has a time expiration option for the PDF. This restricts the client/customer/student from accessing the PDF after a specific date. The Copy Secure solution allows you to set a password to prevent anyone from seeing sensitive PDF data.
This means, there are now two layers of protection the content owner has: First, the client/customer/student must enter the correct password before the PDF is displayed. The PDF file remains copy-protected after it is displayed. This means that even the most trusted user can’t print or save the file.
While researching for the article on PDF copy protection, we discovered several other products that are worth mentioning.
Adobe – Adobe offers a solution, but we did a quick Google search and found too many hacks for us to consider this a viable option.
PDF2GO – This is an excellent online solution, but the price was too high for medium or large quantities. This might be the best solution for a single need.
LockLizard is a solution that fits the bill for large and medium-sized businesses.
We are very intrigued by the idea of a physical device that is connected to PDF security. The Nexcopy solution works best if the PDF content owner has a business model that directly links revenue to intellectual property. The website contains videos that explain how Nexcopy technology works for content owners protecting PDF files. Also, video to show end-users how to access a protected PDF file. Adobe is a huge company and its security systems have been compromised over time. While the other software-only solutions like PDF2GO or LockLizard can be used for very specific needs, they are not as cost-effective.