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Thread: How to create PDF's that are not printable and can not be copied

  1. #1
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    Default How to create PDF's that are not printable and can not be copied

    I was asked at work if it was possible to create PDF files that was not printable or could not be copied, i.e. Select all, copy and paste in to a document. After some research it turns out that you can. And very easily!


    The World Wildlife Fund came up with its own filetype that could not be printed. This uses the file extention wwf and is in fact a non-printable PDF. They would like you to use their
    own converter when you can actually do it all with the free office suites of OpenOffice.org or LibreOffice. Both are Microsoft Office compatible and a great alternative for people who like free open source software. How far you are willing to take the free bit depends on your own point of view. Heres a nice write-up on both -> Open Office Dilemma: OpenOffice.org vs LibreOffice


    I did this tutorial in Windows (that's what we use at work
    ) but I am sure its the same no matter what OS you use as long as you use OpenOffice.org or LibreOffice. I would also like to remind people that there is no such thing as perfect security and, no doubt, these files can be cracked and unlocked but it should at least make it a little harder!!


    Just follow the following steps:


    • Open the document in either OpenOffice.org or LibreOffice and select File Export as PDF


    • Click on the Security tab and set a permissions password by clicking the corresponding button.


    • Tick the Not Permitted box in both the Printing and Changes sections. Un-tick the box next to Enable copying of content. The finished screen should look like this.


    • Click Export to start converting your document. Select a suitable name and location for the new PDF file. By default its the same folder and the same file name as the original document.


    • Your document is now converted. When you open this document in Adobe Reader, the default program for viewing PDF files for a lot of people when using Windows, the top of your screen will look like this:



    Notice that the print button is not selectable and neither is edit copy!
    "To err is human... to really foul up requires the root password."

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    Smile Re: How to create PDF's that are not printable and can not be copied

    All How To's are welcome and have their place here. I must say though that a PDF file that can not be printed is like buying a printer that can not print. A PDF, at least in the beginning, was to allow that original formatting to be viewed and printed. It had the ability to not require you send out the orginal document or the need for the orginal program for which it was written. So, your changes creates a kind of For Your Eyes Only document which only needs to self destruct after it is read to be complete I guess. Perhaps the person at your work that requested this should be the first Guinea pig then. Again, a fine write up, but just a curios subject in a Linux forum.

    Thank You,
    My Blog: https://forums.opensuse.org/blogs/jdmcdaniel3/

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    Default Re: How to create PDF's that are not printable and can not be copied

    Quote Originally Posted by Dexter1979 View Post


    The World Wildlife Fund came up with its own filetype that could not be printed. This uses the file extention wwf and is in fact a non-printable PDF. They would like you to use their
    [FONT=Arial]own converter when you can actually do it all with the free office suites of OpenOffice.org or LibreOffice. Both are Microsoft Office compatible and a great alternative for people who like free open source software. How far you are willing to take the free bit depends on your own point of view. Heres a nice write-up on both -> Open Office Dilemma: OpenOffice.org vs LibreOffice

    IMHO, the World Wildlife Fund format (.wwf) is greenwash. It's also a form of DRM (Digital Rights Management), which is bad. The .wwf converter also adds a WWF advertisement banner to every document: last time I checked, that banner could not be removed.

    Alll the .wwf format does is automatically disable the PDF print flag. You can do that yourself without using WWF's converter. And a .wwf can actually be cracked and printed using GhostScript.

    As troubling, .wwf may be FOSS-unfriendly.

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    Default Re: How to create PDF's that are not printable and can not be copied

    Yes, that's silly. They're promoting as theirs a capability that OOo has had for quite some time.

    There's no way to really impede printing/copying. If you can see it, you can print/copy it - even if it takes some additional steps.

    Also, some viewers also let you disregard restrictions.

    The only way I know to avoid direct copy (character cut/paste) is to rasterize the PDF. KPDF can do this, it's what it's "protect" tab does. Of course the copier can type the text back, but it will at least make him do some work.

  5. #5

    Default Re: How to create PDF's that are not printable and can not be copied

    a pdf that can NOT be printed or copied
    IMPOSABLE

    there is ALWAYS a way

    It is like that "burn notice" episode with the NOT copyable usb thumb drive
    -- It's not possible --


    by the way there is ALWAYS a screen capture



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    Default Re: How to create PDF's that are not printable and can not be copied

    You can even do this to existing PDFs using the command line tool pdftk. It requires encryption and a password to be supplied. See the allow command of pdftk.

    This sort of "protection" only works when all PDF viewer apps cooperate. It is always possible to crack the password and modify the "permissions". A "rogue" app can be used to do this. Therefore this should not be relied upon for secrecy but simply to make things a little more difficult for the casual viewer to bypass.

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    Default Re: How to create PDF's that are not printable and can not be copied

    Quote Originally Posted by ken_yap View Post
    It is always possible to crack the password and modify the "permissions". A "rogue" app can be used to do this. Therefore this should not be relied upon for secrecy but simply to make things a little more difficult for the casual viewer to bypass.
    This is very true and mentioned in the write up. There's no such thing as perfect security when it comes to these types of documents.

    This particular case was to enable wards in our hospital to view document controlled documents on a read only basis. All printed copies are logged and registered. But this way they are accessible digitally. Someone can always run off with a copy but the same problem exists with the printed copies. A copier is never far away.

    I put this How-to here because I used OSS for the job. It's OS independent and I just thought it could be a handy thing to know for other people.

    If anyone objects to it being here I have no problems in it being removed.
    "To err is human... to really foul up requires the root password."

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    Default Re: How to create PDF's that are not printable and can not be copied

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnVV View Post
    by the way there is ALWAYS a screen capture
    Yes there is but it would not look right. There is always a way to copy content of a document, printed or not. But this way it's a bit harder to do!
    "To err is human... to really foul up requires the root password."

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    Default Re: How to create PDF's that are not printable and can not be copied

    Quote Originally Posted by jdmcdaniel3 View Post
    Perhaps the person at your work that requested this should be the first Guinea pig then.
    He was and he lost the bet of trying to print a document made in this way without resorting to cracking software that is not available in the hospital.

    It served a business need and I just thought other people might benefit of this knowledge.
    "To err is human... to really foul up requires the root password."

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    Default Re: How to create PDF's that are not printable and can not be copied

    I actually use this feature.

    Latest was when submitting a write-up of one of my blogs to some possible future collaborators / publishers / institutions. I don't want to write a stranger and then see my hard work issued in someone else's name. Although I tend to trust most people I also feel like not making copy/paste too easy and effectively impossible to 99.9% of the folks out there who wouldn't be able to think of a way around this security.
    Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Benno Hansen, M.Sc., Journalist

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