PDF Security


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Dark Archive

I'm sure you have heard this before, but obviously not enough. I recently started purchasing PDFs through the Paizo website.

One thing I really like to do is extract images from a module with Acrobat Pro, so I can use them to make counters with the actual NPC drawing.

You know why I can't do this with your products.

I apologize for sounding snippy, but I know that many people make these types of complaints. The only people being hurt with pdf security are the people who actually pay for the product, not the people who steal.

Can this be changed?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Gothulhu wrote:

I'm sure you have heard this before, but obviously not enough. I recently started purchasing PDFs through the Paizo website.

One thing I really like to do is extract images from a module with Acrobat Pro, so I can use them to make counters with the actual NPC drawing.

You know why I can't do this with your products.

I apologize for sounding snippy, but I know that many people make these types of complaints. The only people being hurt with pdf security are the people who actually pay for the product, not the people who steal.

Can this be changed?

We do not disable image extraction. Adobe removed the ability to extract images starting in Reader 9, but it was nothing to do with us. If you can't extract images, try a different tool, or an older version of the same tool.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

There's a decent (could have a better interface) tool called "Some PDF Image Extractor" that can pull pictures out of PDFs. I've been using it to grab pictures of monsters to paste to squares of cardboard for cheap counters.

The Exchange

It might not be quite as good or the same quality, but I use the Windows7 Snipping Tool to grab images out of the PDFs and save them as JPGs.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gothulhu wrote:
I'm sure you have heard this before...

Per Vic's recommendation: go to oldversion.com and download Adobe Acrobat v8.11. It can live right alongside your latest version of Acrobat. It has the handy ability to let you pull images from the PDFs.

-Skeld


Yep, I'm a subscriber specifically so I can get the PDFs and then copy/paste text and pictures as needed for my sessions. Once you've got the right tools, it's not a problem. Adobe is getting irritating, unfortunately, in their "enhancements" these days.


Gothulhu wrote:

I'm sure you have heard this before, but obviously not enough. I recently started purchasing PDFs through the Paizo website.

One thing I really like to do is extract images from a module with Acrobat Pro, so I can use them to make counters with the actual NPC drawing.

You know why I can't do this with your products.

I apologize for sounding snippy, but I know that many people make these types of complaints. The only people being hurt with pdf security are the people who actually pay for the product, not the people who steal.

Can this be changed?

Could just use a program like Screen Hunter (it's free) to take a screen shot of the image you want.


As a last resort, right click | Save Image works amazingly well.


You might want to try Foxit Reader - which is free pdf viewer - much smaller than Adobe Reader and turns on quicker. Once the file is opened you can mark area and copy it to clipboard easily.

Dark Archive

That does not make sense. I am using Pro, not reader. I am able to extract pages and images from other files, but not Paizo's.

Giving folks the benefit of the doubt I tried my old version of Acrobat (5). I get the same thing. Extract pages is inaccessible.

I guess my point is, I thought the benefit of paying for a product was not having to find a workaround to use it the way I want.


I believe the problem is you are trying to extract the entire page, rather than copying text or images directly. I just opened up my Inner Sea Primer PDF, right-clicked on an image (using Reader 8) and copied the image no problem. I can do the same with text. I don't have Acrobat Pro, but I do have Photoshop which has an "extract PDF" function as well. I cannot use it to extract an entire page of the PDF without having Paizo's password. So, if you simply try to copy the images rather than extract the entire page do you still get an error, does it ask you for security privileges, etc.?

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gothulhu wrote:
I guess my point is, I thought the benefit of paying for a product was not having to find a workaround to use it the way I want.

The images are available for extraction (I've done it many times). The tools you're using are impeding you. It sounds like you need to use a different tool.

Just out of curiosity, what PDF are you trying to extract images from?

-Skeld

Dark Archive

Trying to use PFS #51 The Shadow Gambit so I can make counters for the PFS game I am running on Saturday, to promote Pathfinder, so Paizo sells more product.

Anyway, I have a general dislike of DRM. People here have made me wonder if it is a DRM issue. I know there is a password on the file, and I wonder why.


Vic Wertz already stated that Paizo did not disabled image extraction. Maybe some other option was set that unintentionally blocks Adobe's image extraction?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Gothulhu wrote:
Extract pages is inaccessible.

Page extraction and image extraction are two different things. Page extraction is not available, but image extraction most certainly is. (Several posters above have verified that.) I'd recommend consulting your software documentation on image extraction.

Gothulhu wrote:
People here have made me wonder if it is a DRM issue. I know there is a password on the file, and I wonder why.

If there weren't, you'd be able to easily remove the watermarks.

Also, when it comes to PDFs, "DRM" refers to server-based digital rights management. We use watermarks, and we enable standard document security settings to protect those watermarks, but we do not use DRM.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gothulhu wrote:
Trying to use PFS #51 The Shadow Gambit so I can make counters for the PFS game I am running on Saturday, to promote Pathfinder, so Paizo sells more product.

Ok. I just extracted the image of Drandle Dreng from page 5 of PFS#51, which I donloaded on 7/1/2010, using Adobe reader v8.2.5. Steps I used:

1) Check Tools> Select & Zoom> Select Tool;
2) Left click image to highlight;
3) Right click image & left click "Copy Image";
4) Open Microsoft Paint;
5( Control-Z to paste.

That's what I did (and usually what I do when copying images). unless something has changed in the server copy of the file since 7/1/2010, it sounds like a tool issue (either the wrong tool or the wrong option to export the image).

-Skeld

Dark Archive

Thanks everyone for the help. Still not keen on having something I bought have a password, but I am able to do what I need to do. The rest of the argument is academic, and belongs in another place at another time.

Game on!

Liberty's Edge

I keep waiting for it to come out that the password is something simple like "11jacobslovesdinosaurs11". Which would be hilarious.


Jeremiziah wrote:
I keep waiting for it to come out that the password is something simple like "11jacobslovesdinosaurs11". Which would be hilarious.

That's amazing! I have the same password on my luggage.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

*bounces a spaceball off Seabyrn's head*

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Jeremiziah wrote:
I keep waiting for it to come out that the password is something simple like "11jacobslovesdinosaurs11". Which would be hilarious.

The password is generated randomly; it's unique for each download, and since nobody actually needs it, it's not recorded *anywhere*.

Contributor

Removed a post. Please don't advocate illegal activities.


Sorry about that. I should have tailored my joke better.

However...stating it is an illegal activity is exactly what should have been told to the requester of your rights managed imagery.

Web Product Manager

Toastee wrote:

Sorry about that. I should have tailored my joke better.

However...stating it is an illegal activity is exactly what should have been told to the requester of your rights managed imagery.

We allow people who purchase our PDFs to extract images for personal home use. However, we do not advocate redistribution/uploading of those images. It's a fairly clear distinction.


I'm actually glad that this thread floated to the top again because I have a similar question/issue.

I'm trying to extract the maps from D0, D1, and D1.5 from the PDF's so that I can use them inside of d20Pro for my virtual tabletop (vtt) game group. I seem able to select other images in the PDF, but none of the maps.

Am I doing something incorrectly (I followed the instructions above from Skeld on 1/27/11 which is how I can copy all the other images) or are the maps somehow not images?

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC

In some cases the maps are not the same as other images but are instead "background" images, which you have to extract in a different manner.

If I recall properly, you have to shift click or something to select it; I can't quite recall the details, but I seem to recall that was another Adobe fatality.


Just got an email from Gary that my last post was a bit too detailed when talking about how easy to get around PDF security.

In that email, Gary also mentioned that they don't consider the watermark related restrictions on the PDF to be "DRM" because that term is usually used to make specific PDF related technologies (an example of which would be the DRM used by Adobe Digital Editions for eReaders). These forms of DRM usually deal with the reproduction of the actual file (as in what device you can put it on).

I consider using the security settings in a PDF file to restrict a PDF to be DRM because it manages what people can do with the eBook. It's a Digital technology to ensure what Rights the customer has when it comes to the file are Managed. You can claim it doesn't count as DRM because it doesn't phone home to a serve, but in the end, it does still digitally manage rights.

In order to maintain the watermark system, you are managing what people can and can't do with the PDFs they get from you (extract pages, for example). That's DRM, even if it's not making use of a DRM product like Adobe Digital Editions DRM and instead relying on a forum of DRM that is already part of the PDF specification.

In the end, DRM of any kind really only impacts the legitimate purchaser. I haven't bought a PDF from Paizo because I have zero tolerance for DRM. I also have issues with the watermarks because they are ugly.

So it's printed copy from the local store combined with the PRD for digital usage. Every time I've contemplated a subscription, the DRM/watermark issue has stopped me from signing up.

I understand why you feel the need to do so (discourage casual piracy and unauthorized fan redistribution) and respect Paizo's decision one way or the other, but just as I won't use a music store that puts limitations on digital files, I won't use a PDF store that does the same.

I also understand that I am likely in the minority on this position when it comes to Paizo's ebooks and that the policy likely will not change. I will remain a happy customer of the print works as they are excellent products. I would not buy a print copy if it had my name printed on the bottom of every page. So I won't get a digital one that has that for the same aesthetic reasons.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

gbonehead wrote:

In some cases the maps are not the same as other images but are instead "background" images, which you have to extract in a different manner.

If I recall properly, you have to shift click or something to select it; I can't quite recall the details, but I seem to recall that was another Adobe fatality.

You're correct—this happens with full-page maps. Ctrl-Click (Windows) or Option-Click (OS X) to select those.


Vic Wertz wrote:
gbonehead wrote:

In some cases the maps are not the same as other images but are instead "background" images, which you have to extract in a different manner.

If I recall properly, you have to shift click or something to select it; I can't quite recall the details, but I seem to recall that was another Adobe fatality.

You're correct—this happens with full-page maps. Ctrl-Click (Windows) or Option-Click (OS X) to select those.

You guys ROCK! Thanks so much! That saves me a great deal of hassle. Really appreciate the quick response too.

Web Product Manager

Moving this thread to Website Feedback for tracking purposes.

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't care much about the overarching arguements for and against DRM made by the people that have more of a stake in it than I personally do. However, I expect, and support, Paizo's current and to-date efforts to protect their IP. It's their bread and butter. It's how they stay in business. I'd really like for them to stay in business.

I've been buying Paizo PDFs for over 5 years and I have yet to find something that I want to do with the content that I can't do with the content with the current protection schemes in place. As a matter of fact, even with restrictions in place, I find the PDFs to be much easier to work with than hardcopies. I spent the entirety of my time running the Savage Tide Adventure path scanning various pages, then going in with gimp to edit out all the stuff I didn't need just so I could make art handouts to show my Players so they'd know what Lavinia looked like.

-Skeld


Paizo's approach is certainly good. But I guess I want great. Getting rid of the watermark, twice on each page, so it doesn't look bad to me on the screen is both a hassle I don't want and something Paizo doesn't want me to do with the files.

I'm actually not sure how much of a difference it would make if they totally dropped all security and watermarking from their files. While I know it wouldn't change dedicated piracy one bit (as it's already likely at a rate of 100% of products pirated), but would it really get any more PDF sales? Maybe a few. But enough to counteract theoretical lost sales through casual sharing among friends?

I know dropping all controls on the files really helped mp3 sellers get sales, but I'm not sure how big the RPG buying population is that isn't fine with watermarks and any security lockdowns in the same way I am. Figuring out if there is any change in sales numbers as a result of removing the last vestiges of DRM and watermarks from the PDFs would also be really, really hard to do.

But when you consider the former leader in RPG sales, who won't even sell PDFs at all, Paizo is doing it right.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It may not "prevent" piracy in terms of the percentage you describe, but the watermarking has enabled them to detect it and take appropriate action. That's likely to have reduced it somewhat going forward.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I removed a post and the replies to it. We do not discuss our watermarking process.


I'm pretty sure at this point, Paizo knows everything they need to about the PDF market (probably hard to find someone with more expertise, actually).

I know Paizo has heard me in terms of my dislike of visible watermarks and any control over what the end user can do with the files. Carrying on with this close relationship with the fans is probably the best thing they can do for most aspects of their business and it's cool to see it being done.

Thanks for the discussion everyone.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Sorry, Ross. I'll keep that in mind in future.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

I'm not going to go into detail on this, but we know for a fact that the watermarks have value to us.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
frozenwastes wrote:
Getting rid of the watermark, twice on each page, so it doesn't look bad to me on the screen...

Honestly, I don't even notice the watermark anymore. The concept that it's intrusive to the point that it completely ruins the PDF viewing experience is so entirely alien to me that I can't imagine it would dissuade anyone with legitimate use in mind.

frozenwastes wrote:
I know dropping all controls on the files really helped mp3 sellers get sales...

MP3's are fundamentally a different beast though, right? I mean, with a music file, you want to be able to use a copy on your computer and on your MP3 player and maybe burn a copy to CD for your car and so on. The protections are in place to keep you from having multiple copies in multiple places. With Paizo's PDFs, they don't put that restriction on you. Instead, they watermark to discourage individuals from sharing copies and to track down individuals that upload them to torrents.

-Skeld


At the very least, watermarks are likely an expected feature for those selling PDFs on a consignment basis. Small PDF publishers using consignment sales on paizo.com may decline to do so if the watermarks were unavailable. And they have the option of not using them. So they definitely have value in terms of partnering with other publishers on a consignment basis.

Skeld wrote:
Honestly, I don't even notice the watermark anymore. The concept that it's intrusive to the point that it completely ruins the PDF viewing experience is so entirely alien to me that I can't imagine it would dissuade anyone with legitimate use in mind.

The only example I have so far is the Pathfinder Society organized play guide. And they jump out like crazy to me. I've also purchased a PDF or two from RPGnow afew years back (or maybe it was Wargames Vault, I don't remember) and their watermarks were even worse than Paizo's (the one I got was red and really stood out).

One thing I won't accept though, is your implication that someone only would want a watermark free file because they are planning to not use the file legitimately. Anyone with that goal in mind can already do so with stuff from the torrents. I just find it sad that the pirates get a better product than the legitimate purchasers.

EDIT: Skeld, you're right about the distinction between mp3 DRM and PDF security settings. Good point there.


Can't say I even notice the watermarks either. But even if I did, they're much more customer-friendly than DRM.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
frozenwastes wrote:
One thing I won't accept though, is your implication that someone only would want a watermark free file because they are planning to not use the file legitimately.

Fair enough. What are examples of legitimate uses of a PDF that the watermark prevents? (Aside from the "I think they're ugly and clutter up the header and footer" argument, which is purely aesthetic.)

frozenwastes wrote:
Anyone with that goal in mind can already do so with stuff from the torrents. I just find it sad that the pirates get a better product than the legitimate purchasers.

Part of the point is that you don't make it easy for people to pirate them. The fact that you took preventative measures that were removed could also show that the person that shared the file intended to misuse it (as opposed to claiming their PDF was released into the wild on accident).

Also, I think it's debatable to say that people downloading pirated copies are getting a "better" product. At the most, they're getting the same product. Although this again goes back to your arguments about the aesthetics of the watermark, which you've made quite clear.

-Skeld

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