Help me remove PDF DRM
April 17, 2006 7:08 AM   Subscribe

I wish to purchase a book and need it immediately, there is a PDF option but it appears that it uses some strict DRM -- such as only being able to use it on one computer.

I have a laptop and a desktop, I go between the two frequently. Will there be much of a problem removing DRM from an Adobe Acrobat 7 document? How would I accomplish this?
posted by geoff. to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Without getting into a legal/moral discussion, it depends on the DRM. Some are easily defeated with the usual suspects, some other 'DRM' is actually native PDF stuff that can be circumvented with non-cracking skills like 'removing the pdf password'.

Others, mainly those that use some sort of authentication between your machine and a central key/content server are, ah, problematic. 'FileOpen WebPublisher' is one that comes to mind.

I've actually seen people purchase and print their onetime PDF purchase, then scan it back in on a flatbed and OCR it. Yay DRM.
posted by bhance at 7:49 AM on April 17, 2006

Install a PostScript printer driver (there's an Agfa one built into Windows XP). Print the PDF to it, and check the Print-to-File option. You now have a PostScript document that should look exactly the same as the PDF. Use GhostScript to play with it.

Come to think of it, if you just install something like CutePDF, you might be able to print it straight to another PDF.

Yay DRM.
posted by flabdablet at 8:31 AM on April 17, 2006

In my experience PDF Password Remover instantly and painlessly removes all restrictions on a PDF file. I don't know if it will work in your specific case.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:07 AM on April 17, 2006

My solution (on linux) was to grab the source code of pdf2pdf (or similar), comment out the lines that check for password protection, compile and use it to make a new pdf without protection. I seem to remember it was an ebook that I used it on. Post a comment if you have any problems; I can probably still find the code somewhere.
posted by primer_dimer at 9:31 AM on April 17, 2006

In Mac OS X you can remove PDF password restrictions using ColorSync app. (found /Applications/Utilities/ColorSync
  1. Open the restricted PDF in ColorSync.
  2. Choose File: Save as, and name it whatever you like.
  3. Open the saved file in Adobe Reader or Preview and enjoy!

posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:36 AM on April 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

I have had a lot of success with GhostScript and the old trick.

You basically just overwrite the section of GhostScript's code that enforces the protections.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:27 AM on April 17, 2006

DRM on PDF's is ridiculously easy to overcome, as has been mentoned before, just print it to another PDF and you'll have an almost exact copy without having to any sort of crazy cracking or hacking or whathaveyou. I just wish audio DRM was as easy to remove.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:23 PM on April 17, 2006

posted by erebora at 12:53 PM on April 17, 2006

Thanks S@L; I frequently come across academic PDF's that I want to quote in my own work, but which require a password to copy out of. Resaving the files is a lot easier than retyping whole paragraphs all the time.
posted by aaronetc at 4:11 PM on April 17, 2006

I am having the same issue, needing to use a file both at home and at the library on my laptop, but when I tried the S@L trick I just got a document full of blank pages. *sigh*
posted by litlnemo at 5:06 PM on April 17, 2006

Is that because printing is disabled for the document, perhaps?
posted by litlnemo at 5:07 PM on April 17, 2006

Is that because printing is disabled for the document, perhaps?

I really don't know. This is really a bug and not a "feature" in ColorSync. You used to be able to do in in too but they fixed it OS X 10.3 if I recall correctly.

Are you opening in ColorSync and then saving or printing?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 5:47 PM on April 17, 2006

Yes -- it just opens as blank pages, however. And then if I save it it's still blank pages. Darn.
posted by litlnemo at 7:11 PM on April 17, 2006

I think the issue is that it is an e-book with DRM and this is different from the normal password protection, perhaps. (Clarification is welcome.) All I know is that I would like to access it on both of my computers. *sigh*
posted by litlnemo at 7:50 PM on April 17, 2006

You might be interested in knowing that gmail will remove DRM on PDFS.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:56 AM on April 18, 2006

I was excited for a moment, but guess what -- that one doesn't work either.
posted by litlnemo at 3:04 PM on April 18, 2006

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