read only, but not allowed to save

Posted on 2013-06-10
Last Modified: 2013-06-12

As far as I know read means to copy a file into the RAM which than means I can easily save it copy it anywhere else.
I'm now looking for a solution / tool to make a File only readable, but deny copying the file.

This could be a line of code in a Word File that allows you to read the content only if the file is in a specific location.
But the file I was asking for is a PDF file so I'm not able to create a macro in the background.

Any Ideas?
We are using Microsoft only (Server 2008)
Question by:HelpdeskJBC
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LVL 78

Expert Comment

ID: 39236644
Anything readable can be copied.
The only remedy available to you is a legal document that each individual must sign before being granted access to the file data. You can then have the force of the legal system backing you up.
The data you output to each user could include a watermark/metadata pointing to the person to whom access was granted.
LVL 48

Accepted Solution

PortletPaul earned 500 total points
ID: 39236657
I don't believe this is (easily) possible.

There are utilities available that give (very limited) extra protection e.g. 'prevent' (but I'm not recommending it).

You could look at Rights Management Services but I don't think it meets your particular request. Then there are third party data security mechanisms e.g. GigaTrust which of course won't be free.

Also: how do you disable screen capture and or mobile phone photos of the screen?

You could audit who reads the stuff, but it does not prevent it from being copied
(this is oldish: I assume its possible in 2008 too)

bottom line: I don't know if I've helped much - sorry.
LVL 83

Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39237040
The only way I know of to absolutely prevent copying is handcuffs that don't allow them to operate the computer.  I have quite a few ways to get content out of a PDF.  And the more valuable the content is, the more effort will be put into getting a copy of it.
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Author Comment

ID: 39237226
Thanks for the replay
may think of a different solution like creating a website with only a picture of the content, and also don't allow right click to save as?

A other Solution I thought of in the past was using a terminal like remote view so you only are able to see the content.

Other Question I'm able to change the header information in the PDF File which I want to secure. Now is there a way to create my own viewer with VB which is able to open the document?. I'm done testing the Adobe PDF viewer in

Any Ideas?
LVL 83

Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39237242
If you put it on the screen from a web page, I can read it and save it and you can not stop me.  Disabling right click doesn't even slow me down.  I can simply download it with a program that looks like a browser to your server and you will never know.
LVL 48

Expert Comment

ID: 39237278
and I can can still screen capture and/or use a camera (which are so available nowadays)...
(even less detectable than the aforementioned browser look-a-like)

You could get everyone into a room after appropriate screening (you decide how far) and tell them?

btw: even a remote terminal displayed on screen can be captured (video is harder, but not impossible either).

Author Comment

ID: 39237424
sure you can capture it or even remember but the difference between simply copy paste the file to usb or screen capture 40 Sites of text is a little bit different. I will take a look to manage this with a viewer programmed with some line of code if nobody knows a tool.

I can remember that also E book reader are very hard to copy paste and could only be opened by one specific account with some special pdf extensions. I'm sure there is something like that and if not its also not a big deal for a programmer to create a short tool in vb.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39240496
Not the Solution, but only Helpful Comment
I decided to create my own Tool with
LVL 48

Expert Comment

ID: 39240540
there may be a market for it :)
good luck & cheers, Paul - thanks for the points too.

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