Remove Copy/Paste Ability from PDF Exports

New Here ,
Jun 05, 2020 Jun 05, 2020

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Hi all, I am a chemistry lab manager and I am in the process of rewriting and reformating our lab materials using InDesign. I'd like to be able to disable students' ability to copy and paste from the PDF made by exporting my .indd; is this possible? Any suggestions?

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Adobe Community Professional , Jun 05, 2020 Jun 05, 2020

This is done in Acrobat, not in InDesign:

  • Open the PDF in Acrobat
  • File > Properties > Security > Security Method > Password Security
  • Disable "Enable copying of text, images and other content"
  • Add a permissions password, OK, Confirm, OK

acrobat.png

 

This is a deterrent but be aware that if a student uses a program other than Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader to access the file and they may get around the permissions password. You can purchase more robust encryption, but this is what comes with the software.

...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 05, 2020 Jun 05, 2020

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This is done in Acrobat, not in InDesign:

  • Open the PDF in Acrobat
  • File > Properties > Security > Security Method > Password Security
  • Disable "Enable copying of text, images and other content"
  • Add a permissions password, OK, Confirm, OK

acrobat.png

 

This is a deterrent but be aware that if a student uses a program other than Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader to access the file and they may get around the permissions password. You can purchase more robust encryption, but this is what comes with the software.

 

~Barb

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New Here ,
Jun 05, 2020 Jun 05, 2020

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Thanks! I think I found a suitable workaround. I exported the .indd as a PDF, then opened the PDF in Acrobat. By printing-to-file and selecting the Print As Image option, I get a second PDF that treats the text as a static image. Most importantly, when I post this second PDF to our learning management system, it is not possible to copy and paste.

 

Of course, a student could probably find a workaround to that, but I am trying to prevent casual laziness. If they want to invest the work to figure out how to copy and paste, good for them 🙂

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 05, 2020 Jun 05, 2020

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Actually, a pdf that is a static image can still have text that is in the image copied and pasted using the Edit PDF feature in the current full version of Acrobat Pro DC. This feature converts any text in the static image into editable and copyable text. It's an easily used feature. Barb's method should be far more of a deterrant.

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New Here ,
Jun 05, 2020 Jun 05, 2020

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Thanks, Bill!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 14, 2022 Jul 14, 2022

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Just noting that if you work for any government or school that is required to have accessible PDFs for the general public and/or students, then the Print to PDF or Print as Image option will violate your accessibility regulations.

 

Printing  to a PDF or making an image of text makes the content inaccessible to those who use assistive technologies, such as screen readers, braille devices, dyslexia software, or reading disability software. In the US, it's an ADA / Section 508 form of discrimination.

 

Bevi Chagnon | PubCom | Designer & Technologist for Accessible Documents
| Books & Classes | Accessible InDesign | Accessible PDFs | Accessible MS Office |

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Explorer ,
Jul 14, 2022 Jul 14, 2022

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I did this to my PDF however I was still able to copy paste the text in the document to a google doc. Am I missing something? 

 

Is it because I am the owner of the document so I am able to make edits but if someone else opens it on another computer they wont be able to copy paste the text?

 

Is there another way to save a PDF, perhaps another file type, to prevent people from being able to copy paste text?

 

Let me know, thank you!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 14, 2022 Jul 14, 2022

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Once you deselect the "copy text" options, set a password, and save the PDF, no one including you/the owner should be able to select and copy text.

 

If you are not viewing it in Adobe Acrobat, though, as mentioned above, the security features may be bypassed. Many of the browser and integrated PDF readers, not to mention competing tools such as FoxIt, bypass document security by simply failing to honor it.

 

There really aren't any good ways to protect an e-doc in any format. All you can do is make it more difficult, the way a website can prevent visitors from easily selecting and saving images. Emphasis on easily.

 

|| Word & InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): a Professional Guide (Amazon)

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Explorer ,
Jul 14, 2022 Jul 14, 2022

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And by :this" i mean I did what Barb had suggested.

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