Acrobat vs. plagiarism

Subject: Acrobat vs. plagiarism
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 1997 09:14:42 -0600

Eric Brown wondered whether Acrobat is a safe method for
distributing documents that you don't want anyone to modify
or plagiarize. The answer is yes and no. Yes, because the
basic Acrobat application lets you password-protect the
document and make it read only, and the password should be
good enough to foil most amateur hackers. No, because the
password is relatively short and thus easy to guess (e.g.,
most people don't know enough to avoid real words and to
mix letters, symbols and numbers in the password), and
because it's trivial to do a screen dump to the printer,
scan the printout, use OCR to convert it into a file, and
then modify the file to your heart's content. If the
information isn't really confidential (academic papers
rarely are), Acrobat sounds like a good (not perfect)
solution.

Registering the copyright with the Copyright Clearance
Center of the Library of Congress (U.S.) or the National
Library of Canada gives you additional legal protection and
might be worthwhile. But the bottom line is that you simply
can't stop plagiarism or copyright violation, though if
you're vigilant (and lucky), you can catch people doing it
and take measures to prosecute them.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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