PDF documents

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Matty F, Mar 22, 2006.

  1. Matty F

    Matty F Guest

    I hate PDF documents but sometimes I'm stuck with them.
    There is a site with a bunch of PDF documents, and I wish to copy
    text from them. But the facility to copy text has been turned off
    by the person who created the documents. They say that this is to
    prevent tampering with the documents on the website.
    Is this a reasonable excuse, or is it the load of bullshit that I
    think it is?
    Matty F, Mar 22, 2006
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  2. Matty F

    Steve Guest

    1. You can't tamper with the contents of a website unless you're allowed
    to or you manage to hack in.

    2. There's plenty of code out there to molest pdfs - oss, shareware or
    paid-for programs. Google's your friend.
    Steve, Mar 22, 2006
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  3. Matty F

    JohnO Guest


    Can you view with ghostscript and does that suffer from the security
    restriction as well?
    JohnO, Mar 22, 2006
  4. Matty F

    Matty F Guest

    This is not just for me, but also for thousands of other people
    who should not have to use such methods to read a document
    provided by a government department.
    There are 26 PDF documents. I note that a few of them were
    modified yesterday so that the text can now be copied.
    I'll watch with interest.

    See for yourself:

    This one, last changed on 17 March 2006, has not been fixed yet:
    Matty F, Mar 22, 2006
  5. Matty F

    Allistar Guest

    I'm not sure what OS or desktop environment you are using, burt KPDF for KDE
    has great features for cutting either the text or an image out of a PDF
    document. I'm not sure if it pays attention to security restrictions.

    Allistar, Mar 22, 2006
  6. Matty F

    colinco Guest

    This is not just for me, but also for thousands of other people
    who should not have to use such methods to read a document
    provided by a government department.
    If they were sending out a PDF for public comment then it shouldn't have
    copying turned off but I'd rather use a PDF reader than have to trust
    that you haven't modified the text in any "cut and paste" copy of yours.
    colinco, Mar 22, 2006
  7. Matty F

    Keith Guest

    Why not? Its their document and they should be able to enforce their
    copyright if they wish to.

    Having said that, recent OCR apps such as Omnipage Pro will read a PDF
    file and allow you to "Save as..." thus getting around the secruity
    Keith, Mar 22, 2006
  8. Matty F

    Matty F Guest

    I don't understand what you mean here. I am trying to make sense
    of a 30 megabyte report, and I wish to read it and copy the parts
    that I wish to comment on. The original report is contained in
    26 PDF files and is far too verbose and repetitive to be able to
    easily find anything. I cannot easily search the whole document
    Matty F, Mar 22, 2006
  9. Matty F

    Keith Guest

    PS. You think Transport's bad. Try buying a PDF of a Standard from
    StdsNZ. You get a ZIP file that contains the PDF plus a text file
    containing a password. Each and every time you open the PDF you have to
    enter the password!!! And it also has everything like 'copy text'
    turned off.

    That really is begging people to flout the copyright laws IMHO.
    Keith, Mar 22, 2006
  10. Matty F

    impossible Guest

    Security restrictions in pdf documents are not a function of which OS
    you use, If the user has editing/copying/printing rights to the
    document, then a range of tools are available for either Linux or
    Windows to handle those tasks. If not, then the only option is to
    either persuade the author to change the document's security settings
    or (heaven forbid!) crack them yourself.
    impossible, Mar 22, 2006
  11. Matty F

    Allistar Guest

    I'm sure a PDF viewing application could be developed that ignored such
    security settings. Unless cut'n'paste protected PDF files contain only
    graphics of text and not the text itself, and even then OCR software could
    do the job.

    Are there any laws or restrictions on creating PDF viewers that means you
    must implement such document security?

    Allistar, Mar 23, 2006
  12. Matty F

    impossible Guest

    You're probably right about OCR not being hindered by security
    settings -- myself, I've never run into a pdf image that couldn't be
    rescued for editing by OmniPage. In any case, all I meant is that the
    OS wouldn't be the key thing in determining what you can and cannot do
    with a pdf file.
    Implement? I think you mean "not hack" -- I don't literally know, but
    I suspect not. There are perfectly legal tools you can buy now to
    "recover" passwords, for instance, or decrypt. I'm guessing that once
    someone makes a pdf available to download, it's fair game to take it
    apart any way you wish. But what you could almost certainly NOT do is
    then re-distribute the pdf, or pieces of it, to anyone in this hacked
    impossible, Mar 23, 2006
  13. Matty F

    Gordon Guest

    This is an interesting thread.

    PDF is good because readers are available for all platforms. The idea of
    making tamper proof, if desired, is also good as it will stop people
    altering the meaning of your document/ideas.

    However, when it is a document which is really a RFC (it asks for
    submissions) then surely the ability to cut and paste from the document is
    a good thing.
    Gordon, Mar 23, 2006
  14. Matty F

    Allistar Guest

    Agreed, although I never did imply nor infer the OS was relevant (only that
    KPdf, which only runs on one OS, may do the trick).
    If the viewer has access to the text to be able to render it using the
    specified font, then it can put that text in the clipboard. The only way
    this would not work is if the "text" is actually embedded as a graphic -
    which I highly doubt as I've not heard of restricted PDF files being any
    larger in size.

    Allistar, Mar 23, 2006
  15. Mark Robinson, Mar 23, 2006
  16. Matty F

    Matty F Guest

    Does that work on Windows machines? I think not.
    I'd really rather the offending PDF documents were changed so
    they can be copied by anybody on any platform.
    It makes me wonder about the quality of the reports if they
    cannot understand the technical details of PDF documents and the
    ordinary security of their site.
    Matty F, Mar 23, 2006
  17. Yeah - you are completely correct. I am sure that this practice is at variance
    with the requirements of the e-gumblement strategy too which is probably why
    the documents are being changed.
    Mark Robinson, Mar 23, 2006
  18. Matty F

    Dave Taylor Guest

    Very logical IMHO. I agree.
    Dave Taylor, Mar 23, 2006
  19. Matty F

    RJ Guest

    bUT MOST people here use Windows LOL
    RJ, Mar 23, 2006
  20. Matty F

    Enkidu Guest

    No, it's rubbish. If you want me to read your document, I expect to be
    able to read it the way *I* want. Without any of the fancy eye-candy
    that you feel makes it look 'good' and I think makes it look 'trashy'. I
    want to read it in a font I choose, especially if I've got bad eyesight
    or you choose to use a 'paper' type heavily seriffed font. And I want to
    be able to see the whole page without scrolling sideways or up and down
    multiple columns. I don't want to have it skip down the screen because I
    scrolled over a page break!

    I especially don't want to have to print it out to read it properly! I
    received a price list by email the otherday, which had multiple columns,
    small font. Unreadable unless printed.

    Fixing the format of an online document is sheer vanity, nothing else.

    I exclude from this purely technical documents which *sometimes* justify
    fixing the format of the document.


    Enkidu, Mar 23, 2006
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