PDFs are used for a multitude of purposes, often containing sensitive or confidential information. Understanding how digital rights management (DRM) can help secure this data is crucial.

Today, anyone can easily share PDFs. Without DRM, information can be forwarded, copied, printed, or downloaded with little restriction.


What is Digital Rights Management?   

Digital Rights Management (DRM) comprises technologies that control how content is accessed and shared. Often called “copy protection” or “copy prevention,” DRM software helps prevent the unintended distribution of sensitive information.

DRM is essential for protecting documents that may contain intellectual property or confidential content. Unprotected documents are vulnerable to theft, leading to significant losses. Implementing DRM for PDFs makes unauthorized sharing much more difficult and inconvenient.

Who Uses DRM?   

DRM is typically used to control the distribution of information:

  • Book Publishers: To prevent illegal distribution of e-books.
  • Training Course Providers: To protect intellectual property in training manuals.
  • Finance and Real Estate Firms: Using data rooms for confidential information exchange during due diligence processes. Many data rooms employ DRM technology for security.
  • Corporations: To control access to sensitive documents, often using a variant of DRM known as Information Rights Management (IRM). This ensures compliance with regulations like HIPAA or GDPR and allows revoking access when employees leave.

Challenges in Adopting DRM   

Despite its benefits, DRM adoption is hindered by ease of use and cost:

  • Complexity: DRM solutions can be cumbersome for both senders and recipients, often requiring special software installations and identity validations.
  • Device Compatibility: Installing required software on multiple devices can be problematic, especially in corporate settings with installation restrictions.
  • Cost and Effort: Implementing DRM can be expensive and complex, requiring specialized server software and IT expertise.

What DRM Cannot Do?   

DRM cannot prevent someone from recording your document using external devices. For example, a person can take a video or a screenshot using a mobile phone. This “analogue hole” means that while DRM can restrict digital copying, it cannot block all forms of recording.

How VeryPDF Can Help?   

VeryPDF offers a simple and affordable DRM solution, designed to balance security and ease of use. No software installation is required. Features include:

  • Screenshield: Restricts viewing to one section at a time, deterring screen recording.
  • Dynamic Watermarking: Identifies documents with specific recipients to discourage unauthorized sharing.

Can You Protect Your File on Your Own?   

While setting a file to read-only with a password can provide some protection, it does not prevent the spread of the information if the password is shared. DRM provides a more comprehensive approach, including tracking and revoking access.

How PDF Digital Rights Management Works?   

DRM allows you to restrict copying, printing, editing, and control access. Advanced systems offer features like access revocation and document expiry. Detailed file tracking and watermarking are often separate tools.

Preventing PDF Copying

A good DRM system will prevent copying text from a PDF, even if editing is restricted.

Restricting PDF Printing

To reduce the risk of unauthorized hard copies, DRM can restrict printing. This is important as hard copies can be easily misplaced or stolen.

Choosing a DRM Solution

When selecting a DRM solution, consider:

  • Simplicity: Test both sender and recipient experiences to ensure ease of use.
  • Format Support: Ensure all necessary formats (PDF, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, video, image) are supported.
  • Completeness: Verify the solution provides all needed features and feels secure.

VeryPDF: Your DRM Solution

VeryPDF offers a feature-rich DRM solution that is simple to use, supports multiple formats, and includes comprehensive document security features such as encryption, access control, permissions, expiry, file tracking, and watermarking.

Experience VeryPDF’s affordable DRM solution with a seven-day free trial.

Managing Digital Rights: How to Control and Prevent PDF Copying, Printing, and Forwarding