Disabling printing?

Subject: Disabling printing?
From: Geoff hart <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "'techwr-l'" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 14:12:08 -0500

Tim Altom, responding to a question about how to disable printing, observed:

> As a practical matter, HTML is not the format to use when you want to
> disable printing.

That's definitely the case, but the situation is worse than you suggested:
if you can see something on a computer screen, you can print it in a legible
form; worse yet, you can probably use OCR to turn it into a text file so you
can copy and abuse it to your heart's content.

> A far easier and more reliable way is to render your doc as a PDF, then
disable the printing in the PDF and lock it.
>That way, you have to be a hacker to get it to print, but it'll display
just fine in a browser.

That's true if you mean that the reader won't be able to produce the file
exactly as it was designed to appear, but it's not a good way to prevent
people from turning the PDF into a text file. Just about any commonly
available screen-capture software will let you capture the file as a
graphic, after which you can open it in any bitmap editor, enhance the
resolution, and run it through OCR. Voila! Instant text file. This would
admittedly be tedious for any reasonably long or complex document--perhaps
prohibitively so--but it's an inconvenience, not a barrier. (Or simply print
the screen captures from within your bitmap editor; if the goal is to get
around disabled printing rather actually copy the text, there's no need to
go through all these hoops.)

--Geoff Hart, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"The paperless office will arrive when the paperless toilet
arrives."--Matthew Stevens

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