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Old 08-03-2006, 04:43 PM   #1
NatCh
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Lightbulb Encrypted PDF Converter?

Hey, all, I ran across a link to a software called PDF2Word. It claims to convert PDF files to Word files (surprise!), but it also claims that it "Supports encrypted PDF files."

I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with this product, or barring that, if anyone who already has an encrypted PDF or two (like Amazon sells) lying about, would be willing to try the free trial and let me know if it will, indeed, convert those files to something that could be read on say, Sony's PRS500 or the iLiad? I know that for the iLiad you'd would have to then re-convert the output back to properly sized PDF, but it's supposed to support RTF eventually, so it's still a good data point.

In any case, the important bit is can the software get a viable RTF out of an encrypted PDF. Once you're there, you can go wherever you need to, and the $40 price tag starts looking like a pretty cheap ticket.

Last edited by NatCh; 08-03-2006 at 04:46 PM.
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Old 08-03-2006, 06:42 PM   #2
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I just gave it a try. I really don't have any protected PDFs, so I can't verify that claim and I didn't pay for it, so I got the demo version.

Overall, I'm not impressed. The resulting file was no better than the pdftohtml utility that I have already.

For me, it's not worth $40 since I have a free tool that works just as good.
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Old 08-03-2006, 07:18 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
Hey, all, I ran across a link to a software called PDF2Word. It claims to convert PDF files to Word files (surprise!), but it also claims that it "Supports encrypted PDF files."
If the software *does* decrypt PDFs to unprotected Word files, it's illegal to sell and use in the US. Which makes me immediately suspicious. I wouldn't pay for anything that claims to violate the law - if you're going to do that, just do it for free. (I'm assuming there's a free solution to cracking PDFs?)

(note that I don't think there's anything morally wrong with the software, just legally...)
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Old 08-03-2006, 07:51 PM   #4
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Ah, well, I just wanted to know if it worked. Sounds like not.

Thanks for trying, guys.
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Old 08-03-2006, 08:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle
If the software *does* decrypt PDFs to unprotected Word files, it's illegal to sell and use in the US
I'm not sure that this is so, bingle. I don't think there's a law against just breaking decryption, any more than there is a law against detecting police radar.

If I'm mistaken, however, please enlighten me.

On further consideration, however, I think this must only process encrypted PDFs where you have the password/key to decrypt them in the first place. As I recall, breaking encryption is notoriously time consuming, and I doubt anyone would sell a program that could do it quickly for anything like 40 bucks.. Again, now that I actually think about it.

Thanks anyway, guys. (sheepish grin)
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Old 08-03-2006, 09:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
I'm not sure that this is so, bingle. I don't think there's a law against just breaking decryption, any more than there is a law against detecting police radar.

If I'm mistaken, however, please enlighten me.
Heheh, now you're in for it ;-P

In 1998, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) was signed into law. Its most controversial provision was one making it illegal not only to violate copyright, but also to circumvent protections enforcing the copyrights. This made a lot of people quite unhappy - all a company has to do is put trivial protections around content and it's illegal to access *even if the access is legal*. This meant, for instance, that making an open-source DVD player for Linux was technically illegal. It also had a number of other consequences - magazine 2600 was sued for posting a link to the source code for cracking the protection on DVD movies. (So, you could be liable under the DMCA for pointing us to a program that can crack PDFs - I won't tell!)

Since then, a number of other consequences have been seen - Ed Felten, a university professor, was sued for demonstrating weaknesses in a music protection scheme, BNetD was sued for making game servers that interact with Blizzard's, and, most relevant to ebooks, Dmitri Skylarov, a Russian software developer, was arrested when he came to speak at a security conference in the US. His company develops readers for PDFs that allowed screen-reading for blind readers - in order to do that, they had to break the PDF encryption, and Adobe came down on them hard. (I participated in some of the Free Dmitri protests when he was arrested - Adobe eventually backed down and dropped the charges, faced with overwhelming negative publicity.)

Among companies, Lexmark sued a cartridge manufacturer for making after-market cartridges, a garage-door manufacturer used it to prevent a competitor from making interoperable devices, and Apple sued Real Networks to prevent them selling FairPlay-compatible music.

Of course, this means that even if you're allowed to read a protected ebook (you already own a print copy, you're a student quoting it for class, it's in the public domain) you're violating the law just by doing so. Or by demonstrating how to do so. Perhaps even by talking about it ;-) It's as if you could be arrested for picking a lock to get into your own house (or telling someone else how to).

So yeah, it is illegal to break the encryption on a digital work. And it's a travesty. Here's more information (exactly what you want, I bet, after my tirade): http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/unintended_consequences.php

Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
On further consideration, however, I think this must only process encrypted PDFs where you have the password/key to decrypt them in the first place. As I recall, breaking encryption is notoriously time consuming, and I doubt anyone would sell a program that could do it quickly for anything like 40 bucks.. Again, now that I actually think about it.

Thanks anyway, guys. (sheepish grin)
What you're thinking of is brute-force decryption, which given a decent key size, takes a long long time. But encryption methods aren't perfect, so there's usually another way to crack it. It's quite possible that there's such a weakness in PDF (probably guaranteed, actually). Even if it did work on something where you have the key, it removes the protection by changing the format (probably) so it's still illegal.

Also, cracking tools usually aren't that expensive - most of them, like ConvertLIT and DeCSS, are totally free. However, some slimy companies attempt to wrap things like that up in software and sell them. I have no idea whether PDF2Word even works, or if they're slimy, or what's going on, but I'd be cautious!
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Old 08-03-2006, 11:37 PM   #7
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@Bingle

Well I did, quite literally, ask for it!

Okay, so maybe it is illegal. But that is about the stupidest "law" I've ever heard of. And I (generally) pay attention when I hear of stupid "laws."

I think I remember the magazine article/DVD encoding thing. I remember the t-shirts with the decoding algorithym on it anyway. I thought that had pretty much gone away. I ought to know that stupid laws don't ever really go away.

I'll have a look at the link you provided ... but not tonight.

Thanks for rescueing my innocent self form my (potentially) criminal ignorance.

Don't worry, I think after reflection, I wouldn't want the software package enough to buy it anyway. Especially since there are aparently better free utilities to get text out of a pdf anyway.


Say, doesn't that mean that Adobe should sue itself over its own "Save to RFT" function in Acrobat 7.0?

Last edited by NatCh; 08-03-2006 at 11:39 PM.
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Old 08-04-2006, 04:09 AM   #8
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There is encrypted PDF and there is encrypted PDF. Standard encrypted files using Adobe tools are usually easy to decrypt. But then, for instance, I bought a science document that is protected with SoftSEAL, where the original PDF content is encrypted and placed in a "container". The only way to view the content is by using a "special viewer" that is hooked into Adobe Reader. Quite a nuisance - but it appears to have been secure from crackers so far.

I'd ignore commercial tools like PDF2Word that claim to generally support encrypted PDF documents.
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Old 04-30-2008, 09:16 PM   #9
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I have books that I purchased from "Books on Board". They are in Adobe DRM and MobiDRM. Is there anyway to make them usable on my Sony PRS-505?
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Old 04-30-2008, 09:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clueless View Post
I have books that I purchased from "Books on Board". They are in Adobe DRM and MobiDRM. Is there anyway to make them usable on my Sony PRS-505?
3 posts and all the same question. Of course, people here can't answer it.

BOb
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Old 04-30-2008, 09:58 PM   #11
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I have books that I purchased from "Books on Board". They are in Adobe DRM and MobiDRM. Is there anyway to make them usable on my Sony PRS-505?
Where there's a will... For pdf there are password removers. Passware makes ones for all sorts of things, office files, zip, rar, etc. They are advertised as being able to get past "forgotten" passwords. I'm sure there are other products as well. Many came out of the brains of all those highly educated Russian Mathematicians in their spare time.

For mobi, lit, etc. there are equivalent programs.

As mentioned before, it's illegal to use these for copyrighted works that you don't own the copyright for.
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Old 04-30-2008, 10:20 PM   #12
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I have books that I purchased from "Books on Board". They are in Adobe DRM and MobiDRM. Is there anyway to make them usable on my Sony PRS-505?
You may as well write off the PDF. Call it a loss and move along.

The Mobipocket format eBooks MIGHT be able to have the DRM removed. But, I did come across one from BooksOnBoard Using Mobipocket (PX) that doesn't work to have the DRM removed. The problem is that when reading it with Mobipocket Desktop, it needs a login or it cannot be read. I have no idea if the iLiad or Gen3 can read this eBook. It is free so it's not a problem for people to try it.

Search the forum for MobiDeDRM.
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