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Usage restrictions and monitoring

Usage restrictions and monitoring

PDFs may be encrypted so that a password is needed to view or edit the contents. The PDF Reference defines both 40-bit and 128-bit encryption, both making use of a complex system of RC4 and MD5. The PDF Reference also defines ways in which third parties can define their own encryption systems for use in PDF.

PDF files may also contain embedded digital restrictions that provide further controls that limit copying, editing or printing. The restrictions on copying, editing, or printing depend on the reader software to obey them, so the security they provide is very limited. Documents that are printable can be printed by using Microsoft Office Document Image Writer to create .mdi files. Image Writer has an OCR to Microsoft Word conversion option that seems to preserve tables and yields files that can be edited.

The PDF Reference has technical details or see for an end-user overview. Like HTML files, PDF files may submit information to a web server. This could be used to track the IP address of the client PC, a process known as phoning home.

PDF hardware

With increasing popularity of PDF, some printers also support direct PDF printing, which can interpret PDF data without external help. Currently, all PDF capable printers also support PostScript, but not the other way around.