How to Disable PDF file "Copy & Paste"

by 24 comments
Is there any way of disabling the "copy & paste" function in pdf files? I searched the archives but the last thread was 4 years ago so I wonder can anyone give me some advice...

I was looking through the security settings in Adobe Reader but it won't let me change them. I'm not worried about encrypting the file or password protect - just disable to copy & paste function.

Does anyone know of a way around this? Or is it worth the hassle?
#internet marketing #copy and paste #disable #file #pdf
  • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
    I presume you want to do this in an attempt to thwart piracy or infringment, but as a consumer of information who frequently uses C&P to make my own notes, I am infuriated when I come across a C&P or Print-locked PDF. If you are damaging the normal usefulness of something for the majority of legit users in order to stop a few bad eggs, IMO, it's not worth it.

    The only real reason I can think of to do such a thing is if it is a legally confidential document, or something containing information that is under a binding NDA or something. Most PDF authoring tools can do either, but then again, both print lock and C&P lock are easily removed if you know what you're doing.
    • Profile picture of the author Noel Cunningham
      I just want to make it that little bit difficult for pirates to just copy and re-purpose my work as their own. I know there are ways around it but anything that would remove the simplicity of C&P would be appreciated.
  • Profile picture of the author iMassMarket
    You need Acrobat or other third party tools to lock functions in your PDF file. Readers lack those functions.

    Frankly it's not worth it in my opinion. There are just as many tools to unlock functions from PDF files as there are to implement them. If someone has the notion to do it, they can easily find a way.
  • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
    Like I said, it offers NO complication for someone who wants to steal it (which are just a few people) but a LARGE complication for legitimate users who want to copy and paste for legitimate purposes (hopefully a much, much larger number of people).

    So who do you care about more? Pirates or your prospects and customers?

    Piracy is a problem that the biggest, richest companies in the world can't solve. Why even try when what you'll be doing will just tick off people who want to give you money?

    But hey, do what you like. Like I said, you will need PDF authoring software, like FoxIt Phantom, or Adobe Acrobat (not Reader, but the full blown product). As far as I know, a wordprocessor that simply exports documents to PDF format will not have this feature, but you could try reading the manual/instructions to be sure - they would know better than random forum folks like me.
    • Profile picture of the author Noel Cunningham
      Originally Posted by Colin Theriot View Post

      Like I said, it offers NO complication for someone who wants to steal it (which are just a few people) but a LARGE complication for legitimate users who want to copy and paste for legitimate purposes (hopefully a much, much larger number of people).
      If your not giving away Rights with the material then any block copying and pasting would be against the copyright. It's pretty common with paid ebooks/ free reports that the copy and paste function has been disabled.

      Just wanted to know was there a quicker or easier way to do this that what I've been trying.

      Originally Posted by iMassMarket View Post

      You need Acrobat or other third party tools to lock functions in your PDF file. Readers lack those functions.

      Frankly it's not worth it in my opinion. There are just as many tools to unlock functions from PDF files as there are to implement them. If someone has the notion to do it, they can easily find a way.
      Cheers for that mate - that solves my question Learn something new everyday.
  • Profile picture of the author Dean Dhuli
    Hi,

    You'll need to do this when you're converting the Word doc into PDF.
    You can disable just the C&P and leave the printing option on.

    Openoffice lets you do this easily.

    Changing permissions for an already created PDF will relatively
    be more difficult. You gotta have PDF editors for that.
  • Profile picture of the author mindreaderwriter
    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
      Hi Noel,

      Have you ever thought of using e-Junkie as the delivery method? It's very cheap to use, and if you do that, you can elect to have the purchasers' transaction-details stamped on each page of the PDF they download.

      Again, there are (not-so-easy) ways of removing it, but it's a major deterrent to people from uploading the PDF to file-sharing/torrent/black-hat sites.

      It seems like quite reasonable product security, to me - with no inconvenience and at very little cost. Just a suggestion.
  • Profile picture of the author eternalwarrior
    I use PDF Creator to create images from MS Word file. After generating the images, I compile all the images into a single PDF file using the same software.

    From those PDF, readers can't copy the text, because the contents are embedded inside the PDF as images.

    Here's the download link: Download | pdfforge.org
  • Profile picture of the author aaaa33030
    Originally Posted by Noel Cunningham View Post

    Is there any way of disabling the "copy & paste" function in pdf files? I searched the archives but the last thread was 4 years ago so I wonder can anyone give me some advice...

    I was looking through the security settings in Adobe Reader but it won't let me change them. I'm not worried about encrypting the file or password protect - just disable to copy & paste function.

    Does anyone know of a way around this? Or is it worth the hassle?
    You can disable "copy and paste" here: BCL easyPDF SDK Online Demo - Create PDF, Merge PDF, PDF Watermark using the "security" tab.

    It is a free service.
  • Profile picture of the author IanGreenwood
    Adobe reader does not create PDF files - it just reads them. Open office will create PDF files with security settings to disable C+P but...

    I must agree with the general feeling here. Cracking this is child's play for even the average half hearted lazy a**ed pirate.

    Either, just create your PDF and trust that the majority of your customers are honest and those who are not will rot in hell, or better still create a free version with pass around rights to your main product. Then anyone who wants to pass it on is doing you a favour in free marketing.

    Then create your main product on video or audio that is at least more difficult to pass around. (note "more difficult" - not impossible).
  • Profile picture of the author TheArticlePros
    Hey Noel! I'm going to chip in and side with everyone else here, but also give you an example of why it's so annoying even in legitimate uses:

    My mentor recommended that I take out a monthly subscription for Paul's Backlinks and Angie's Backlinks. Combined they're like $13 a month, and I get 100 backlinks every month, so it seemed like a good deal.

    I'm 3 months into Paul's service and it's fantastic. I put copies of the PDFs on my desktop and laptop, and then I keep a third copy in my Google Drive personal account in case I need it somewhere else.

    With Angie's Backlinks, she has her PDFs locked and secured so I can only open them on one computer. I had so many problems with her PDFs due to all of the "security" measures that she implements, that I couldn't even use them at all. There was no cut & paste (so I had to manually type in the URLs in my browser), no printing so I have to keep shifting it back and forth on my screen, and God forbid I accidentally deleted it because then it was lost forever.

    I cancelled her service after 48 hours. I'm still using Paul's. I'll never again buy a product with "secure" PDFs, and I think everyone here knows I'm a legit business owner.

    -- j
  • Profile picture of the author edd666666
    Just google your own choice of wording asking how to defeat blocked copying and you will get thousands of hits. You cannot stop anyone from copying your material if they want to and you just create a lot of extra work for yourself and reduce your response. Give it up, you can't win this one.
  • Profile picture of the author johnmoody
    To be frank, there is no way to disable the "copy & paste" function in pdf files. You would probably know the PDF Copy Paste software that allows PC users to crop out their desired portion of PDF document and send it to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint et al or save it to a text or graphics file or Windows clipboard. Even computer users do not have the PDF Copy Paste software, they still can press Print Screen key, and copy their desired contents.
  • Profile picture of the author Ben Gordon
    You can stop people from copy and pasting your PDF files but you won't stop pirates. They have ways around this. It's as simple as just transforming your PDF file into a word document using any free online service. It's unfortunate, but you won't be able to fully stop pirates from stealing your PDF document.

    If you're removing the copy and paste function for another reason though (which is unlikely, but possible) then there is software available in the marketplace that can do that for you.
  • Profile picture of the author Rob Whisonant
    Noel,

    A pirate is not going to waste his or her time doing a copy and paste. He or she is going to use a program that quickly cracks it and exports it to a doc file.

    Here is a little something to think about.

    Locks are used to keep honest people honest. Not to keep criminals out.

    Re's
    Rob Whisonant
  • Profile picture of the author Ximer
    There are many ways to do this, however majority of them can be cracked with minimal work.

    To protect one of my private ebooks I created it as a program rather than a PDF. It worked great, was able to release instant updates to customers, notes, have support within the ebook viewer, it would also lock it to a license key and Hardware ID to prevent sharing / leaking. I do a lot of cyber security work so I knew people who were pretty good at cracking programs, none of them broke through it and it blocks most screenshot, C&P, and screen sharing programs. It would take a good cracker quite a bit of work to bypass it. I still have the source code for my ebook protector somewhere on one of my laptops. May look more into enhancing it.
  • Profile picture of the author Ben18542546
    Hi,

    I used online-pdf-nocopy.com. It provides a free service that add DRM restiricetions and prevent the copy and paste function. Problem is that not all PDF readers respect these restrictions but from my experience most do...
  • Profile picture of the author skyro
    I don't think you can disable it. You can try but there are still ways to get around it and still be able get the content. It's better you just focus on creating good content not worry about it being stolen.

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