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Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

(OP)
At my old firm, we wouldn't send out the cover sheets for reports if they were signed and sealed, due to worries about plagiarism, and concerns that other folks would reproduce our documents without permission and either omit or change things.

Now I'm at my own firm, and I'm wondering what my policy should be on this.  Clearly anyone with photoshop and an original could manipulate a color scan of someone's stamp if they wanted to plagiarize or steal it, so I'm not sure I should be so concerned.  What do you guys do?

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

What about placing a watermark over the seal and signature?  They'll steal it if they really want it, but this at least requires them to work much harder to get it (and leave open the opportunity to prove in a court of law down the road that the image was copied and modified to remove the watermark... unless they're REALLY good).

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

We actaully put watermarks across the whole drawing!!  Because they have been copied and "shopped" to our competition.  Sure - it can be done like Mac says - but it would take a whole lot of time working at the pixel level to make it look decent.

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

PDF Security is a tricky issue, my current employer has the policy of signing and scanning documents, but I've refused to supply them in that manner on a similar concern.

At a former place of employment they used to keep jpgs of everyone's signature so that people could just stamp them in to documents before issue. I was rather surprised to say the least.

What I have been doing is issuing them with security enabled, so that most people can't extract the pages, or sections of content without access to the appropriate security settings. I've also considered going to digital signatures, and including 'print only' watermarks that don't show up when the document is viewed in a browser.

Worth considering is the fact that not all PDF viewers respect the security settings, I believe there are a few Linux viewers that bypass the settings.  

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

If you are using a full version of Adobe Acrobat, it has a feature that allows you to digitally sign and encrypt the document, so that if changes are attempted to the document by others, the signature becomes invalid and shows as such.  The only problem is that when you send the document to someone, you also have to send an encryption key separately so that when they open the document, it shows the proper signature, not the invalid one.

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

Freddy,

Not only that, but plenty of freebie and <$50 programs that will remove PDF security settings with no password/key required.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

some states require that you write the date of signing on the stamp. Others require also adding the expiration date. If you have the signing date on there it severely restricts the ability to use that stamp since it becomes post dated and difficult to modify. However, if anybody wants to they can do a high resolution scan of your hard copy seal and signature and use it at will. With a little work, it is not hard to create the seal in AutoCAD. Signature is a bit harder, but still easy to copy, encrypted pdf or not. Also, there is no stopping your client from scanning your entire report, seal and all and emailing them to anyone. Happens all the time. No sense worrying about it.

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

(OP)
I'm considering stamping-but-NOT-signing documents, and telling clients if they want me to sign it they'll have to pay for hardcopies.  That way I can keep track of how many actual signed sealed copies are out there, but the client can freely share thenon-signed digital copies as he sees fit.

Y'all see any major problems with that?

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

ask your state board if that is legal.

Around here all documents must either be stamped and signed or marked "preliminary" or "draft" or "not for construction" or similar. Un-sealed final documents are not allowed at all.

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

(OP)
Well I'm not issuing construction plans.  A lot of my work lately has been "drainage investigation reports" and the like, which aren't ever even submitted to a municipality.   

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

beej67...that makes no sense.  Either sign and seal or don't do either....you're playing with semantics and the legal system/statutes have no room for that.

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

(OP)
Fair enough.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

I should point out that for the purposes of this discussion that we don't have the same 'signed & sealed' requirements in Australia that other places might, hence the less stringent options for production of documents.

Results would obviously be different in places like USA.  

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

board rules

A.   A permanently legible imprint of the registrant's seal and signature shall appear on the following:
1.   Each sheet of drawings or maps;
2.   Each of the master sheets when reproduced into a single set of finished drawings or maps;
3.   Either the cover, title, index page, or first sheet of each set of project specifications;
4.   The cover, index page, or first sheet of addenda or change orders to specifications;
5.   The cover, index page, or first sheet of bound details when prepared to supplement project drawings or maps;
6.   The cover, index, table of contents page, or first sheet of reports, specifications, and other professional documents prepared by a registrant or the registrant's bona fide employee; and
7.   Shop drawings requiring professional services or work as described in the Act. Examples of shop drawings not requiring seals are those showing only:
a.   Sizing and dimensioning information for fabrication purposes;
b.   Construction techniques or sequences;
c.   Components with previous approvals or designed by the registrant of record; or
d.   Modifications to existing installations not affecting the original design parameters and which do not require additional computations.
B.   A label describing the name of the project and an original imprint of the registrant's seal and signature shall be applied to all video cassettes containing copies of professional documents.
C.   If a professional document is stored, filed, or provided to a client, regulatory body or any other person for any reason by computer disk, tape, cd, or any other electronic form, the registrant shall mark each professional document "electronic copy of final document, original sealed document with" and identify the registrant's name and registration number.
D.   A registrant shall sign, date and seal a professional document before the document is submitted to a client, contractor, any regulatory or review body, or any other person, unless the document is marked "preliminary" or "not for construction."
E.   For purposes of subsection (A) all original documents shall include:
1.   An original seal imprint or a computer-generated seal that matches the seal on file at the Board's office;
2.   An original signature that does not obscure either the registrant's printed name or registration number; and
3.   The date the document was sealed.
F.   Methods of transferring a seal other than an original seal imprint or a computer-generated seal are not acceptable.
G.   An electronic signature, as an option to a permanently legible signature, in accordance with A.R.S. Title 41 and Title 44, is acceptable for all professional documents. The registrant shall provide adequate security regarding the use of the seal and signature.
 

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

cvg, which location is that for?  

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

this particular rule is Arizona, but I'm sure most states have similar requirements. In my experience, many engineers don't know the rules and certainly don't follow them as a result. You really need to research the rules of your particular state before establishing some sort of policy for stamping and signing.

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

I do not see a difference between providing a .pdf and providing a hard copy of your stamp.  Either can be easily manipulated and/or forged in today's world.   

Mike Drinkwater, P.E.
http://www.mdrinkwaterengineering.com

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

A lot of places require wet stamps.  It's pretty easy to look at a piece of paper and see if it was wet or printed.  Personally I would never release scanned stuff with signatures ever.  I already have seen just how cut and paste other companies are when they get ahold of other companies plans.  It's quite sick/disgusting to see surveys that were supposedly surveyed.

Civil Development Group, LLC
Los Angeles Civil Engineering specializing in Hillside Grading
http://www.civildevelopmentgroup.com
http://www.civildevelopmentgroup.com/blog

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

I would say that wet stamping everything is almost completely un-workable. My last set of plans that went out was nearly 150 sheets, of which I signed and stamped about 100 sheets. The stamp and signature both were in AutoCad. The plan set was then collated and about 25 copies were made, using a pdf to print the copies. the only plans on the job site and in the owners possession are now copies printed from the pdf and the pdf itself. In general, these are mostly half size which means the stamp and signature is also reduced. In addition, the client also has the cad files, without the stamp and signature. Thankfully I didnt have to wet stamp all of those, I would now be submitting my workmans comp claim for carpal tunnel syndrome.

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

(OP)
I have definitely encountered regulatory agencies that wanted not merely original wet stamps per sheet, but wanted every sheet of every set crimped.  Much of Florida used to be this way, actually.  May still be.

SFWMD, on the other hand, has moved completely to digital submissions.  They want you to send one letter that has your stamp on it, then they file that with a project number and let you submit PDFs for the entire process.  Very convenient.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Sending out PDFs with signed stamps (?)

I don't have too much experience with this stuff as I don't have my stamp yet, but the last company I worked for used a program called ApproveIt. It was my understanding that if a document was changed after the signature/stamp was applied then the signature/stamp would be nullified. You required a secure password to apply the signature/stamp to the drawings and files.

I'm sure there is other software out there along these lines.

K

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