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We are building a set of documentation for our business with Visio 2010.

We need to make the Visio files accessible to external consultants for review, but we want to ensure that they cannot copy any of our custom shapes or formulas.

How can we protect custom shapes/stencils so that they cannot be used outside of our documents? Or, if that's not possible, how can we mark our shapes in such a way that we could prove that they were created by us?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

In short. There is no way to protect "visio resources" (shapes/etc...). You cannot even really protect the contents of visio documents at all. You can copyright visio documents, shapes and tools... but you're really copyrighting the actual characteristics of the document, shape or tool. If you find someone else using your "shape"... it's up to your legal department to go after them. Generally, it would cost more to pursue legal action than the shape is worth.

Visio documents are not intended to be shared with 3rd parties. It is meant to be for internal use for creation of diagrams... and then exported to other programs/formats for distribution. Unfortunately, those formats typically aren't editable by the end-user.

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So far, those formats haven't even been easily readable by the end-user. Thanks, I'm guessing we'll have to just deal with exporting the documents from now on. –  Chris Sep 27 '12 at 16:05
    
Export as PDF, using any of a number of free "PDF Printers." There are very few people who have trouble reading PDFs, and if that's the case, they need to have a talk with their IT department. –  Jonathan J Sep 27 '12 at 21:50
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