One of the easiest ways to pirate or leak information is the copy and paste function. Typically, when we think of copy/paste, we consider directly copying and pasting the text with the Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V shortcuts. However, a screenshot can also be considered a form of copy and paste. The Print Screen key creates a copy of what you can see on the screen for replication elsewhere.
So, a critical feature for any DRM application is to disable copy paste using both the PrintScreen key and keyboard shortcuts. Once copying is disabled, then there is nothing in the clipboard for the user to paste.
To disable the copy and paste function in PDFs, you need to prevent the ability to select text with the cursor. If a user can’t select the text, then they can’t right-click and copy with the mouse or use Ctrl-C as a keyboard command. Preventing both of these text copying methods is essential to disable copy, and therefore to disable copy paste.
Alternatively, you can allow the selection of text but not allow the saving of that selection to memory so that there is nothing available to paste. This is perhaps better, as it can retain features such as highlighting, whether for annotation or accessibility.
Another common way to copy information is to use a screen grabber application or screen sharing software. These use separate methods to PrintScreen, and are therefore more complicated to disable.
To disable copy via screen grabs it is necessary to do several things:
It’s worth noting that if a user can make a screenshot, they can also extract the text via an OCR tool and turn it into a new, editable document.
Any method to disable copying will have to use all three methods, or possibly more.
To disable copy and paste, you either need to hook into the Operating System commands or the application. This can be done via plugins, but they can be circumvented and often don’t work when the application is updated. That’s why to be effective at preventing copy and paste, a dedicated application to view protected content should be used.
In Adobe Acrobat, you can disable copy paste by applying password protection and PDF restrictions to a PDF file.
To do this, in the permissions settings check the box ‘Restrict Editing’ and un-check ‘Enabling copying text’. Then save the PDF file.
However, you should know that the Adobe Acrobat copy and paste protection is completely useless and can be removed without the user having to enter a password. It only takes a free application and a few seconds. See Removing Adobe Acrobat PDF Restrictions from a PDF file.
So, if you are looking to apply copy paste protection using Adobe Acrobat PDF restrictions, then think again. It provides zero protection against users copying and pasting PDF content.
There’s no point in applying protection against copy and paste when users can just share protected PDF files and their passwords.
Locklizard PDF DRM software does not use password protection to protect PDFs, so users cannot share decryption keys with others.
Safeguard PDF Security stops users from making copies of your PDF documents:
Preventing copying and pasting of your documents and information ensures users can not readily produce copies for other people. Locklizard document DRM software automatically disables copy and paste to prevent unprotected content from being distributed.
You need to use a DRM solution. Adobe Acrobat protection is too easy to bypass, with users easily able to strip the protection and copy, paste, print, or make a file copy of the PDF. A DRM solution implements its controls in a much more secure and thought out way, locking documents to devices without passwords to effectively stamp out copying.
You can turn off copy and paste in a PDF in most PDF editing applications, but that doesn’t mean it will stay off. PDF protection that is based on Adobe can be easily removed, so you should instead look at turning off copy and paste using a DRM solution.
Adobe Acrobat is just even worse at protecting PDFs from copy and paste and screen grabbing on MacOS. It’s possible for Mac users to screenshot, edit, and copy/paste a document protected with Adobe PDF by opening in the built-in ‘Preview’ feature. This is because Apple does not honor Adobe’s permissions system.
To disable copy and paste on Mac, whether it’s via screenshot or text highlighting, you need to use a PDF DRM solution like Locklizard.
Most likely because the creator of the document has disabled it. If it has been protected with Adobe Acrobat accidentally, you can remove it using a number of PDF password removal tools. Locklizard users, however, will have to contact the publisher of the document, as the controls can only be removed by the admin.
Watermarks can help to stop screenshots if they are placed well and not easy to remove. They don’t do anything to prevent the copying and pasting of text, however — that requires additional protection.
It is not possible to prevent copying and pasting on iOS because there is no way to prevent print screen or third-party screen grabber utilities. This is why Locklizard Safeguard includes the option to deny PDF use on iOS devices.
It is possible to disable both screenshotting and text copying and pasting on Android.