Controlling the Use of PDF Files with DRM

Most businesses use PDFs because they are user-friendly and maintain fixed formatting, avoiding confusion when a file is shared with others.

Controlling the Use of PDF Files

However, once a file is sent out, there is a threat of data loss or data manipulation.

Many systems, including password protection and Adobe permissions, provide security for your PDF files. However, only Digital Rights Management (DRM) will present you with a one-stop solution to most of your PDF security needs as it gives you a lot of control over what can be done with your PDFs.

So, if you are looking for a comprehensive solution to your PDF security needs, you cannot go without DRM.

But, how exactly does DRM help you control PDF usage?

Typically, DRM enables you to stop copying and editing of your PDFs among authorized users as well as prevents unauthorized access to your files.

With it, you can prevent printouts from being made or allow only a given number of printouts. You can also prevent screen grabbing and add a watermark to your content to discourage photos being taken.

DRM even comes with document tracking so you can see who has opened and printed a document and when.  You can also limit use to specific locations and devices. Advanced DRM also allows you to revoke PDF access previously given by providing both manual and automatic PDF expiry options.

Let’s examine these aspects in some detail.

Prevent Copying and Editing of PDFs

It’s possible to select and copy content from a PDF file and paste it into a Word document. Also, an authorized user can make changes to your content by editing or modifying it. With DRM software you can stop this instantly.

Prevent Unauthorized Access to PDFs

Your authorized recipients can forward your PDF files to others. While you won’t be able to stop them from sharing and distributing your files, you can stop unauthorized people from accessing your content by using DRM security.  If an unauthorized users receives a protected PDF then they will not be able to open it.

Prevent or Restrict Printing of PDFs

If a PDF file can be printed, there is a higher risk of it falling into the wrong hands. Hard copies can also be misplaced easily, making it convenient for unauthorized people to lay their hands on them. DRM allows you to exercise some control over your PDFs by disallowing printing completely or only allowing a certain number of prints.

Prevent Screen Grabbing and Add Watermarks

DRM stops screenshots being taken by user by preventing screen grabber applications from taking screenshots of your protected PDF files. However, users can still take photographs of your content with high-definition cameras and so it is best to also add a watermark to your content identifying the user, as this would show up on any photographs.

Enable PDF Tracking

PDF DRM tracking tools enable you to see which users are opening your documents when they view them, and where they do so. Using this feature enables you to instantlyidentify suspicious activity and revoke access accordingly.

Lock PDFs to Devices or Locations

You can lock PDFs to devices so they cannot be accessed from any other device. You can also lock PDFs to specific locations. This is particularly useful if your users have laptops that they take home since a locked PDF file can only be viewed at the office. In this way, your documents cannot be opened and shown to people outside your offices.

Revoke PDF Access and PDF Expiry

If you feel that your PDF files are being misused, you can revoke PDF access to them with a DRM security system. You can also revoke PDF access for a single user or for multiple users.

You have the following options for automatically revoking access to your PDFs:

  • Revoke on a given date
  • Revoke after a given number of days from the first access
  • Revoke after they have been viewed a given number of times
  • Revoke after a given number of prints has been made

And of course you can manually revoke access to PDF files at any time.


PDFs are very easy to share just like any other digital file. So, without DRM, you will constantly fear that your PDF files will end up in the wrong hands. And, this fear will be founded as your PDF files will be susceptible to security breaches without any safeguards against the unintended spread of information.

Luckily, controlling the use of your PDF files through DRM will prevent even authorized users from inappropriately using your documents. And, understanding what you can do with DRM is an important step towards ensuring the best for your business. You will have more stability and less anxiety.

Do you’ve any questions? Please feel free to leave your comments below.


This article is written by Karishma on behalf of Locklizard, A British Software Company specialized in digital rights management security for PDF documents, USB flash drives, and eBooks.

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