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Topic: Is this legal? (modifying my own PDF file)
Conf: (P-PDF) Developers, Msg: 78650
From: adamb
Date: 12/27/2002 01:43 PM

Hi,

I am using a developer that has almost finished coding a utility for me that will allow a 'search-and-replace' function on PDF files.

eg. Throughout my PDF document, I will have special place holders such as this:

##PDFtag1##, ##PDFtag2## ....etc

Now, via a HTML FORM, this utility will take whatever text is entered by the user and it then basically creates a new PDF file exactly the same as the original except that the place holders will contain the substituted text.

Now, my question relates to files that are deemed as 'protected'. One of my PDF files I was testing ("test.pdf") is 'protected' - here is what my developer's interpretation of why this file can't legally be modified:

>You can check for yourself that "test.pdf" is protected by >clicking on that gold key near the bottom in Acrobat (not >Acrobat Reader).
>
>The idea is that inside any PDF file there is a special zone >called 'trailer'. Into that zone there might be an attribute >called /Encrypt. If present, that attribute may mean two >things:
>
>1. some of the information inside the PDF is encrypted (and >the viewer prompts you for the password, which is NOT >stored inside the PDF file);
>
>2. the file is otherwise protected. There are various levels of >protection, ie. checkmarks one has placed when creating >the file: don't allow changes, don't allow adding >annotations, don't allow printing, don't allow copy&paste, >and a few others. While in a 3rd party viewer/editor (such >as the one I'm writing for you) these attributes can be >overridden, it is clearly marked in the Adobe documentation >that while PDF file format is open for anyone to use without >royalties, one must adhere 100% with those attributes and >restrictions the original author has placed on a particular >PDF file. Otherwise whoever wrote the editor/viewer is >breaking the Adobe license. As such, I've adhered 100% >with their requirements, and if I detect /Encrypt attribute, I >won't process further the respective PDF file and present >the user a nice message explaining the reason, then exit.

Is what my developer says above true? Would I be breaking any laws by allowing these 'protected' files to be processed by my utility? Keeping in mind that:

- I created (and own) the original "test.pdf" file myself.

- The resulting new file would still have all of the exact same attributes as the original except that the text would be replaced where necessary as indicated by the place holders throughout the document.

Many thanks for your comments!

regards,
Adam





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