Circumvent PDF DRM… with Scribd!

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.

Scribd logo However, when trying out Scribd today—a site with the noble goal to “create the world’s largest open library of documents” and even touted by some as the “YouTube of documents”—it seems that a similar feature/bug is also present in Scribd’s online document converter.

As a little test, I uploaded this secure PDF document to Scribd, and as you can see, all text extraction limitations are gone: HTML view, plain text view and even unencumbered PDF view!

I’m very curious to see whether the Scribd folks are going to cripple their service, or leave it as is…

N.B. This only works with PDF files with text extraction and printing usage restrictions, not with PDFs that prompt for a password when you try to open them.

Update: as pointed out by C2162 and Josh in the comments, Scribd has altered its service so that this doesn’t work anymore.

Comments on “Circumvent PDF DRM… with Scribd!” (feed)

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  1. It’s also possible to use gsview & ghostscript to do this. Just load a restricted PDF and convert to PDF, job done.

    » Don on April 24th, 2007 at 08:23

  2. If you convert a PDF to a PostScript file, which is human readable, the DRM is hilarious. Here it is, in its entirity:

    % Removing the following ten lines is illegal, subject to the Digital Copyright Act of 1998.
    currentfile eexec

    PDF DRM is a complete joke.

    » David R on April 25th, 2007 at 00:28

  3. I recently bought a book from without realizing that it can’t be printed! can someone please provide a detailed instruction as to how i can overcome drm? Please?

    » Kay on May 14th, 2007 at 22:43

  4. Darn. Seems like this does not work anymore.

    » C2162 on June 16th, 2007 at 00:59

  5. I think this Scribd DRM-circumventing feature doesn’t work anymore.

    I tried the GSView/Ghostscript suggestion but it doesn’t seem user-friendly. I didn’t make it.

    Any other way to do it?


    » Josh on July 9th, 2007 at 22:46

  6. tried it on a locklizard document… no luck either

    » Jason on May 20th, 2008 at 21:06