DRM: Protect PDF from Copying

PDF is just a file. Many people are using it to share content. It can be a whitepaper, invoice, user manual, marketing material, ebook or a sophisticated analysis about some complicated subject. Often such materials are not aimed for public view and should be shared privately and protected from copying (or at least it should not be as easy as just copying a file) – this is called PDF Digital Rights Management or DRM. But how to protect such content from copying given that PDF is just a file and once you send it you can’t be sure that people won’t forward it to other people. However, there is a solution: you can use web links to share your PDFs and let people view them inside a special browser viewer, where you can control access to it. HelpRange provides such a solution.

So how does it work?

It works like this: you upload your PDF in HelpRange and we give you a link to your PDF. You can share this link. Users can view your PDF using this link in their web browsers. So once you have this link, you can:

• Block the ability to download and print
• Restrict access to your PDFs only for set of IPs
• Let only one user to view your PDF at the same time
• Use end-to-end encryption to secure your PDF
• Update your document after you hit send
• Revoke access to your document at any time
• Set a password and an expiration date

Moreover, you can create more links for a given PDF and you can label them, so when you share them you can be sure who exactly opened your PDF. Actually, we are only scratching the surface here. HelpRange provides a lot more. It shows you exactly what pages were interesting for your viewers, on what sections of the document they spent most of their time and it can show you even more.

But how secure is this really?

We are trying to be 100% honest here: you can’t be 100% sure that people won’t copy your materials once they have been shared. There is just basically no physical barrier that will prevent people from making screenshots of their screens or even if we can prevent people from doing that then we can imagine that they can just do photos of their screen. So why bother? Thing is that we can make copying your materials a lot harder work for people who want to steal your materials. By using end-to-end encryption for your PDFs + disabling ability of “download and print” + requiring password for every PDF link visit + restricting access to your PDFs only for set of IPs + letting only single user view your PDF at the same time you can be really sure that you are making copying your materials really hard work.