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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
    6ebb4949d640ad13b78a1bb8e40ddda64d5017a356a3e054d4e1051a6bef
    a74a655154d80bc1e572a832e3a113270ca21bc7f22bb0d921288f9fdb1b
    65980fc8986fd90f583455f2d67b7cddc1be414b1a01e4209d1c1e5a5ece
    e16abdf9dc96d5b3286d08b880b27069f230eb17c6f5ffc4c814730800a2
    858b048265b04bc3145f63150f12ba7b03c273e367942289c4c00caeea46
    233185aa941a68a65553e43f51aef1632b74d2d237320932e572ba2c9a0e
    c068f285c48e9bdb0d645fbd86fb46c8cb99f2bb0d2d4db8b8d8f6be99f2
    3f38cd9d077436b46d5e5048bcf0f4eb0c79c842bb074e92be0717220322
    6641d3dbc7cda5576ac556416da0051814c2705e

    PDF DRM is a complete joke.

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

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

    kitkatz23x@gmail.com

    » 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?

    J.

    » 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