From pdftk man page, I should be able to protect a pdf document from content copy, printing, snapshots with:

pdftk 1.pdf output 1.128.pdf owner_pw foopass

But it fails, I can do any of them !

I have also tested qpdf:

qpdf --encrypt "" "foopass" 128 --extract=n -- 1.pdf 1.128.pdf

With the same failing result.

And also a commercial pdf tool with the same failing result.

I remember I could successfully protect pdf files with pdftk in the past with this command.

I am on debian jessie.

Have I missed something? Other solutions on Linux are welcome, but with 3 sproducts failing, it liiks like I have a problem with my setup.

I don't want to use a user password (confidentiality), just a owner password (protection).


It mostly depends on how compliant the PDF reader is. Many of the Linux PDF readers don't honor all the restrictions that can be enabled with pdftk or qpdf. You should test your resulting PDF files with Adobe Reader in Windows. You may be thinking what is the point of PDF protection if the protection can be worked-around, and you'd be right there isn't much point to protecting a PDF if you omit the user password.

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Note in the pdftk program, owner_pw prevents the file from being edited (burst, join etc.) without entering the owner_pw. If you want to protect the file from being opened, use user_pw instead

pdftk 1.pdf output 1.128.pdf user_pw foopass
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  • 1
    This does not answer the question. The user shall be able to open the document – lalebarde May 21 '18 at 17:41

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