RE: This file is protected...

Subject: RE: This file is protected...
From: "Smith, Martin" <Martin -dot- Smith -at- mdx -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 07:36:17 -0600

Regarding PDFs and encryption:

On the one hand Adobe is trying to persuade publishers to distribute books
in encrypted PDF format, presumably so customers can read titles on tablet

On the other hand Adobe touts PDF as a universal file format that allows
everyone within an enterprise to share, review, and revise documents. In
this application, PDF becomes the backbone of a document control /
engineering change order process.

Keeping these two very different uses of PDF distinct depends on the
encryption features built into acrobat.

Problems arise, however, when people within the enterprise--who barely know
enough about computers to compose word documents and check
email--inadvertently encrypt PDF documents that they intend to share within
the company. This problem is made worse when people lose the source file and
all that's left is an encrypted PDF file.

In the latter case, what's a tech writer--called in to save the day--to do.
Clearly the company owns the content contained in the PDF file, regardless
of whether a bone-headed employee encrypted the PDF.

Thankfully, there are a number of easy ways to get the content out of an
encrypted PDF file, making it possible to recreate the original document.
This either means that PDF is ill suited for distributing copyrighted best
sellers (because the encryption is so weak), or that PDF is ill suited for
enterprise-wide corroboration (because users can inadvertently encrypt
intellectual property owned by the company).

It seems to me that Adobe should develop one product for enterprise-wide
document sharing and corroboration and a different product for distributing
copyrighted books. Meanwhile, if someone should inadvertently encrypt a 200
page manual and lose the source I'll gladly step in and save the day.

Martin R. Smith
Thomson Micromedex Inc.


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