Okular and "DRM"

Tags:
Copy forbidden by DRM

Today I wanted to copy paste something from a PDF file, because you know, technology and all that. To my surprise the option to copy as replaced with Copy forbidden by DRM message.

I found that Okular's obedience to DRM is an option that the user can uncheck.

All you need to do is uncheck "Obey DRM limitations"

All you need to do is uncheck "Obey DRM limitations"

What's also interesting is the thread okular: Arbitrarily enforces DRM on the debian-devel mailing list. I tend to agree that having this option active as a default makes no sense, actually, simply having such an option makes no sense.

Why would anyone want their computer to deny themselves the possibility to copy text from a file ? Is the goal to push people to develop faster and more precise typing skills or does someone actually think that such an option has an actual beneficial purpose to humanity ? Maybe right clicking is bad for your health and fake DRM wants to help ?

Some defend this saying that in a corporate environment blah blah blah... don't care. If you don't want your employees/co-workers or whatever to be able to copy paste text from a PDF don't send it to them.

comments:
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Andrew

Wow, that's so dumb. I'll be recommending Evince from now on... :)
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Nux

BTW, there's also Evince for Windows if you know someone who needs a nice and light PDF reader. :D
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rike

This is so stupid. What about.. for example, the right to cite someone? copy&paste for research so to say? When machines want to take the control over a human decision, they are not tools anymore but crippling devices.
There are command line tools too which are nice : pdftotext, pdf2html for example.
Anyway, I am using evince too.
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Sigh

Evince does it too, guys. Debian overrides some of the defaults to disable copy protection.

At least these two give you the option to turn it off, though. SumatraPDF has the copy protection and the author refuses to even make it optional. If anyone wants to maintain a fork of SumatraPDF, it's pretty easy to disable in the source code.
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Niklas

Thanks for your post! I was a little startled when okular told me that I cannot copy a piece of text. I fully agree to what you said. However it may still be of interest for the user to be informed, that the text he is intending to copy is actually subject to DRM. I truly believe that Okular is the best pdf reader out there, but it would be great to have this prevention converted into a sort of information/warning.
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manu - http://manurevah.com

Hi Niklas,

The idea of having the license integrated into the document is an interesting idea, if it remains informational. The text could be released under various types of licenses too and it could be helpful to the end user to know what legal permissions they have.

That said, I don't think there is any license that can legally restrict you from copying a few words or sentences if you are quoting the text, for example in a private email, or even on a blog post or news article.

In that sense the DRM here is a technical measure to enforce copyright laws that do not exist. Or maybe just using technology to create new laws that only exist within the limits of technology.
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Levan

Thank you for useful information.
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Miguel

"If you don't want your employees/co-workers or whatever to be able to copy paste text from a PDF don't send it to them." - This is really narrow-minded and so, so wrong! There are numerous legitimate reasons for this - some comments have cited them already.
It's strong opinions like this that give the community a bad rep.
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manu - http://manurevah.com

It's strong opinions like this that give the community a bad rep.

What is wrong with having what you consider a "strong opinion", what do you even mean by that ? Is it because it's not constrained within what is acceptable to you and/or the consensus (if so, which consensus ?) ? Should I put the "rep" of "the community" before my own actual opinions ?

If you don't want your employees/co-workers or whatever to be able to copy paste text from a PDF don't send it to them.

Back to the point of what may have offended you, let me clarify in case this is a misunderstanding. Even if the PDF reader enforced the author's DRM wish, you could always, at worst, pull out a Polaroid camera and press a button, or retype it all word by word (or OCR scan the photo).

If you do not trust the person you are sending a document to, you might have a reason to not send it to them in the first place. Indeed the main issue you have is called trust, DRM will not solve that, it pretends to, but it absolutely does not.

I'm flattered that what I think is of any importance to anyone but please note, I'm an individual person and I do not represent any community. Also note, I'm not part of any community that thinks it is acceptable for software to exercise control over its users.

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Miguel

It's not always a matter of trust. There's also traceability.

Take the following example into consideration: you need to ensure that copies of a document are controlled - the team can see its contents, but because you're working in a regulated environment, you cannot print multiple copies of that document (thus enforcing the concept of "controlled copies" - the document is only copied in a controlled fashion).

By not respecting the PDF's properties of disallowing printing, you essentially lose control over this process.
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manu - http://manurevah.com

Miguel, I'm not sure what your point is. Is it to do with my having an opinion or that Okular allows it's users to bypass DRM ? (Or something else ?).
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