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Gmail cripples DRMed PDF files’ “View as HTML” functionality

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Google has rolled out a couple of new Gmail features this week. And guess what: one of them is not mentioned on the “What’s new on Gmail?” page. Readers of this blog probably know what I’m talking about…

Indeed, Gmail has crippled its “View as HTML” functionality so as to comply with Adobe’s PDF copy-control scheme. In case an email attachment is a DRMed PDF file (= a PDF with copying and/or printing restrictions), clicking on the “View as HTML” link returns the message displayed in the screenshot.

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  1. DRM for viewable material is really pretty useless. If it can be see it on the monitor, it can be captured very easily. It may be more work to save text as text, but still, it’s pretty useless.

    » Logical Extremes on May 16th, 2006 at 06:33

  2. Note that the free license to Adobe’s software patents needed to implement the PDF specification depends on enforcing the DRM. So while it’s ineffective technically, they’re using another legal lever to force support for this crap.

    » rillian on May 16th, 2006 at 06:50

  3. there’s a firefox extension that uses the same “view as html” functionality for pdfs that still works:
    https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/636/

    » sherwood on May 16th, 2006 at 06:53

  4. [...] Google has changed the way Gmail displays PDF files, in order to prevent it from circumventing Adobe’s DRM. Previously, if you had a content-protected PDF and wanted to copy-and-paste portions of it, you could email it to yourself, and click “View as HTML” to get a plain text version with zero restrictions. Now, if Gmail sees that it is protected, all you get is this: The attachment cannot be viewed as HTML because the author has placed restrictions on its content. Download the attachment to view it in its original format. [...]

    » » Google Alters Functionality To Comply With DRM » InsideGoogle » part of the Blog News Channel on May 16th, 2006 at 08:55

  5. [...] Gmail cripples DRMed PDF files’ “View as HTML” functionality (chosaq 15 May 2006) [...]

    » 來燕居札記 » Copy-protected PDF File on May 20th, 2006 at 11:00

  6. [...] Update: Google has tweaked its PDF viewing functionality, so the trick described above doesn’t work anymore. [...]

    » chosaq » Circumvent PDF DRM… with Gmail! on July 24th, 2006 at 18:59

  7. [...] “Gmail cripples DRMed PDF files as view as HTML funcionality” from Akira.arts.kuleuven.ac.be [...]

    » Scarform.com » Blog Archive » A vanishing act on December 20th, 2006 at 04:15

  8. [...] About a year ago, I wrote about how Gmail’s “View as HTML” functionality allowed you to get around secure PDF files’ print and copy-paste restrictions. Four weeks later, Google released an update (or downgrade, if you will) of its Gmail service, and the loophole was fixed. [...]

    » chosaq » Circumvent PDF DRM… with Scribd! on April 24th, 2007 at 02:06

  9. [...] Google has tweaked its PDF viewing functionality, so the trick described above doesn’t work [...]

    » chosaq » Circumvent PDF DRM… with Gmail! on May 31st, 2007 at 05:06