Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.


PDF Document Control

PDF Document Control

Looking for a software system that lets me control how many times a PDF is opened (locking it after x number of openings) and reports to me who is opening it.
Does anyone have something like this that they use and recommend?
Thanks in advance.

RE: PDF Document Control

The Post-Tensioning Institute uses Safeguard PDF Security from LockLizard. It's fairly easily the most hardcore DRM protection I've seen short of the guys who only sell hard copies.

RE: PDF Document Control

Lock lizard and file open cost between $5,000 and $10,000 per year.
They are beyond my budget......(no fault of anyone's).
Thanks for the suggestions.

If anyone else has an idea, let me know.

RE: PDF Document Control

For what its worth, our office uses Share-Point for document retention and control. SP keeps a record of who accessed each document and the changes that were made to the document. This works for all types of docs, not just pdfs.

Does anyone know if One-Drive has the same capability?

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)

RE: PDF Document Control

My employer uses IHS for obtaining industry specifications and standards. They use an app called FileOpen to control access and printing of pdf files.

I know nothing more about it other than I download the app for free in order to view and print the specs that I purchase from IHS.


RE: PDF Document Control

I have found this software system that accomplishes the task I wanted (expiration dates and locks that cannot be undone)

For $295, as compared to many thousands of dollars, it is an awesome value.
As soon as you put the word "engineer" in front of any thing electronic, the price just added one or two zeroes.

RE: PDF Document Control


That COPYSAFE PDF protection software appears to be very good.

With DRM applied to the COPY SAFE PDF document, does the end-user needs to go to a DRM portal to 'read'/access the protected document?

Wow - to have a protected PDF document that 'dissolves' from an end-user after a nominated calendar date if payment is not received (for example) would be very handy...

RE: PDF Document Control

There appears to be a few downsides:
> you are required to use their reader to open the file
> you must have access to their DRM portal to open a file, so air-gapped hosts require additional costs
> you can only use Windows

So long as that company is in business that's probably OK, and merely inconvenient; if it goes out of business and the reader/DRM portal is unavailable, that could be a problem.

Aside from the above, "encrypted to the nth level" leaves a peculiar taste in my mouth.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
FAQ731-376: Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list

RE: PDF Document Control

All the end user needs is the Copy Safe Reader, which is free. There is no portal login or anything. You download the reader, and open the file. That is it.
The portal is something different, from my limited understanding and experience of using this software.

This is all just for the front end....once the check clears, send the client the real pdf....which should be in 30 days or less.
You can even prevent screen print commands and snip commands.

In regards to going out of business, they have been around since 1998, which is a good thing. In regards to business longevity and closing the doors, even the big guys have that issue.
For $295 I don't think it is a very big risk.

RE: PDF Document Control

They say that to use the DRM, you must be online. Offline use requires additional software:

Quote (

Is it necessary to be online to open a DRM protected document?
Yes. Your subscribers and document permissions are managed from your online DRM portal, so to gain approval to open a DRM protected docukment the susbscriber must be online at the time.

Can I use CopySafe PDF with DRM in an intranet or corporate network?
Yes. The CopySafe PDF DRM software can be purchased and installed on your Windows server making your DRM service completely in-house and independent.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
FAQ731-376: Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list

RE: PDF Document Control

As an aside, as I don't have a recommendation on anything that will meet the requirements;
There's a standards organisation that provides PDF copies of standards that expire after a certain timeframe, and you need to log back into their website in order to access the standard again. Obviously they also provide downloadable 'permanent' copies for use as well.

However, the method they use requires use of scripting, Adobe adheres to this out of the box, and blocks access to the standards outside the agreed timeframe by default. Other PDF viewers (most of the open source ones found in Linux distributions) don't enable the scripting by default, and thus the document, which is meant to be secured, isn't. I'm not suggesting this as a means of circumventing proper access to documents, but if you're expecting this capability to be adhered to on machines outside your control, it may not work as expected.

Using certificate based encryption would likely work, but it also requires a means to manage the certificates, including revoking of certificates for certain reasons (say, the client doesn't pay the bills, and you want to block access to the provided documents). Most of that effort is in managing the IT requirements for certificate access.

EDMS Australia

RE: PDF Document Control

Hi Bigmig,
I'm curious if you've tried any monkeying with the PDF's after locking them up - found any ways to circumvent the DRM yet?
If you feel it's necessary to severely restrict access to these documents, then you are tacitly acknowledging that viewing them (even once) is a highly valuable activity, which you have made even more valuable by limiting the number of times they can do it. Scarcity affects the value of any resource.

I'll resort to a trivial example that may or may not apply to you, but it's not inconceivable that a recipient of the document could open a number of the files (incurring a count of 1) but before actually reading them, suffer a power outage or other distraction that prevents proper viewing or use of the content. That user could find this situation very frustrating, especially if the DRM was only going to allow viewing it once.

A skillful user - there is always a user more skillful than you are, no matter how good you are - may be able to find a way to break your DRM lock. By locking your document, you have increased the cost of the document to all of your customers, but this lock-breaking customer has now obtained a copy of your document that isn't locked. You didn't increase your rights, because you already had copyright over the document you created. Instead, have created a crooked business opportunity for that customer. You may have increased your legal opportunities to punish the copy-maker by locking the document, but you have to FIND them to punish them.

I may have run a little far with the scenario. As you can tell I think DRM is mostly annoying and sometimes has perverse side-effects.
No I'm not advocating doing something illegal. However, I take screen shots from my computer all the time. Why should it be illegal to do it when a certain combination of pixels is displayed, but not otherwise?


RE: PDF Document Control

you get what you pay for machinegun

RE: PDF Document Control

"Why should it be illegal to do it when a certain combination of pixels is displayed, but not otherwise?"

The same argument might apply to music or video, as well. The copyright owner of "Happy Birthday to You" collected about $2M in royalties in 2008, and only stopped in 2016, after a lawsuit determined that they never actually owned the copyright.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
FAQ731-376: Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members!


Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close