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Ask Slashdot:How to protect a text document

Jason1729 (561790) writes | about a year and a half ago

Security 6

Jason1729 (561790) writes "I have been ordered by judge to release a large amount of material in "electronic format". Typically it's only available as paper copies which are sold on copy protected paper. Illegal copying of this material has become rampant and a group of lawyers obtained the court order by claiming it would be easier for them to access the material on a computer screen rather than hard copy. It is fairly clear they intend to print and share the single copy rather than paying for certified copies.

I'm looking for a technological solution that will allow me to distribute the documents (with word processing formatting in tact), in "electronic format", complying with the letter of the court order, but also make it impossible or as difficult as possible to print the documents or share the electronic version.

I'd rather not get into a discussion on the morality of copyright as the cost to produce the material was far greater than the single copy price and had I known I'd be facing this court order, I'd have refused to create it to begin with. Total demand is around 5 copies and getting 20% of that means losing a lot of money."

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Make it as annoying as possible (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | about a year and a half ago | (#43191355)

Put each page in a password protected document. The password can all be the same but if they plan on printing it they'd have to print each page singleton and manually entering the password for each page.

Re:Make it as annoying as possible (1)

Jason1729 (561790) | about a year and a half ago | (#43191637)

That would make reading it legitimately hard since they'd have to unprotect each file. I don't mind that but I need a solution where they can't go crying back to the judge saying I'm not giving them something useful (based on the original arguement of on screen being easier on than printed).

Adobe product? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43191459)

Does Adobe Acrobat (full version) include options for ebook creation? Or maybe it's some other Adobe package used to lock up ebooks. Around here, if you want to check an ebook out of the public library, you have to download the reading software (including the digital rights management, DRM), which is called Adobe Digital Editions, ADE. This locks the book to a single computer, view only...unless these sharks are clever enough to figure out how to circumvent the protection Nothing is really secure (cracks do exist), but this might be enough for this audience?

Note that Adobe has released some older versions of their Creative Suite recently for free download--so you might be able to use one of these packages from several generations back.

Re:Adobe product? (1)

Jason1729 (561790) | about a year and a half ago | (#43191659)

That sounds interesting and even if I can't get it for free I'd be willing to buy the latest version of acrobat (or what's needed) for this. All I see on a quick glance is empty marketing speak, but I'll have to spend some time reading about it.

It's impossible (1)

magic maverick (2615475) | about a year and a half ago | (#43193087)

It's impossible to make it impossible. That's 'cause of what's called the analog hole. The analog hole allows you to simply take a screen capture (with a camera if necessary) and then do whatever you want with the text.

Here's my first thought on how you might do it though: setup a webserver, host the material online, and provide a single-use, one-time only, password to each person, which is limited to one IP address and browser (using cookies, and also various tricks to identify the browser, like the user-agent, and list of fonts installed). You could be even more evil, and have the documents served by Flash or similar, which can prevent simple printing and copying. Provide a new password to a person only after their first password was used and expired.

Other things:
* Have the font size quite large, to make it more difficult to grab the material a screen at a time.
* You could also introduce minor typographical errors in the material (computer generated) and record which password gets which errors. Then you could have some evidence if material is presented by one lawyer that has errors that were given in the document to another lawyer.

An interesting thought experiment.

Can You Go Back to the Judge? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#43193299)

Can you go back to the judge and make your concerns known? Not to get him to reverse the order, but rather to get him to change the terms - maybe require the other side to promise not to pirate it and then put up a bond to back their word.

At that point you don't need to prevent copies, you just need a way to track who reads a copy. To make that happen you can put the text into an HTML file along with a plain old invisible-gif web-bug that phones home. It is pretty much guaranteed that they will read it on a system with internet access, so you've got a very good chance of catching them in the act.

Be sure to inform them, maybe as part of the amended terms, that you will be tracking the distribution of the document, but do not explain the details or make too much of a big deal about it, just make sure it is disclosed.

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