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I'm trying to highlight words in a pdf document. However, behind the words, there is written in big letters "DO NOT COPY" all throughout the document. Sometimes when I try to highlight words it is those big letters that will get selected instead. How can I highlight the words I want instead of those big letters in the background?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Your pdf document can be protected for making it uncopiable.. so that could be a problem. Secondly that text can be a watermark too...which can be removed from a pdf creator software like Adobe Acrobat proffessional or NitroPDF

for restrictions removal you can use services like but removing restriction from a PDF can be illegal as also warned by this site.. so it depends upon the content of the pdf.

Good Luck..

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Illegal? What is this world coming to. PDF controls don't even depend on any encryption or anything. It's completely up to the PDF viewer program to enforce them based on some bits that are set in the PDF. It's not crypto, so there's nothing to circumvent, so I don't see how the DMCA could apply. Obviously you can do illegal things like breaking copyright, but I don't see how stripping the password from a PDF could be illegal by itself. – Peter Cordes Dec 10 '09 at 2:16
I would also note that Okular, an open-source pdf reader, can be configured to ignore those restrictions. You might want to try that application... – marcusw Dec 16 '09 at 16:05

This would be good to try:

  1. Open the PDF
  2. Select All, Copy
  3. Paste into a word processor such as Word
  4. Use your the built-in Find & Replace feature to find "DO NOT COPY" and replace it with nothing.
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You can also use Adobe Reader's Export as Text function and then remove the DO NOT COPY – Daniel H Dec 10 '09 at 0:43
The pdf has pictures. I want the pdf to look the same except not have those words in it. – Phenom Dec 10 '09 at 8:02
You may just have to separately copy those pictures out and paste them into your word document. Basically a full reconstruction sounds like the only option. – Travis Dec 11 '09 at 20:03

The big letters which say "DO NOT COPY" were probably added to stop you selecting text and copying it to the clipboard.

This would also make it difficult to select text and highlight it.

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It may be enough to start highlighting from a different point.

Try highlighting from the end of the passage instead of the beginning, or from slightly before the text you're interested in.

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It appears that you want to remove the watermark while keeping the file in PDF format.

I found a file on the Internet with the same "Do not copy" background image and, though it doesn't keep you from selecting/highlighting text, indeed it may make it a bit difficult at times.

Not to reinvent the wheel, here are presented three solutions (you still have a PDF in the end) and a workaround (you have a series of images):

  1. from the original document, re-create the PDF without the watermark (yes, well, I don't think it applies, doesn't it?);
  2. install Adobe Acrobat (not the Reader), even in trial version, and use it to remove the watermark;
  3. convert the PDF to a Word file, remove the watermark, and then export it again as PDF (the outcome really depends on the formatting and content of your PDF file);
  4. convert the PDF to images, and delete the watermark by hand (may be a bit of work).

Which one is better depends, probably, on the number of files you want to remove the watermark from, and whether this is a contingent need or something you'll be doing day after day. If it's just this once, then I suggest trying the Adobe Acrobat solution mentioned in the linked blog.

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If you can't copy because it's "encrypted" and the permissions don't let you, then just use a PDF password remover program. There aren't any easy-to-use free ones that I know of, though. Even most open source PDF programs enforce the no-copy, no-printing nonsense. (although pdftotext doesn't care, and lets you dump the PDF to text).

For my own use, I modified the source of pdftk to not check the restrictions. Recent updates to the library its based on made me re-do that change, which I haven't gotten around to getting working yet, or I'd post the patch.

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I'm not trying to copy I'm trying to edit. – Phenom Dec 10 '09 at 8:01
Right yeah, sorry. Have you tried more than one PDF editting program? There are a few open source ones. – Peter Cordes Dec 10 '09 at 10:10

You can use a free PDF reader that knows how to extract text:

PDF-XChange Viewer :
Can extract text from a PDF page/File.

Foxit Reader :
Can convert the whole PDF document into a simple text file.

Both these readers are fast and easy to use.

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