Sweet Info: Designer's Guide to Protecting Your Digital Artwork

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You work really hard to create new and original ideas. You are proud of them and when you sell them, you want them to remain your work. But then it happens, you find yourself in a situation where your work, is being passed off as someone elses. Maybe even being SOLD by someone other than yourself. You’ve been design hacked, your artwork stolen. And there is nothing you can do to get it back. You contact the other party in hopes of an honest resolution.

Once you resolve this issue you find yourself wondering, “How can I keep that from happening again?”


  • In order to keep persons other than yourself from being able to do anything to your files you need to LOCK them.
  • To do this you will have to export your files as a PDF from within the Adobe software program you use.
  • PDF files allow for security via password protection.

About Adding security to PDF files

When saving as PDF, you can add password protection and security restrictions, limiting not only who can open the file, but also who can copy or extract contents, print the document, and more.

A PDF file can require passwords to open a document (document open password) and to change security settings (permissions password). If you set any security restrictions in your file, you should set both passwords; otherwise, anyone who opens the file could remove the restrictions. If a file is opened with a permissions password, the security restrictions are temporarily disabled.

Security options

You can set the following options when you create a PDF or when you apply password protection to a PDF.

Use A Password To Restrict Editing Security And Permissions Settings

Restricts access to the PDF file’s security settings. If the file is opened in Adobe Acrobat, the user can view the file but must enter the specified Permissions password in order to change the file’s Security and Permissions settings. If the file is opened in Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign, the user must enter the Permissions password, since it is not possible to open the file in a view-only mode.

Once you have exported your files as a PDF you’ll need to set the security options that best fit our business of selling “printable” files.

Follow these steps:

Set a Permissions Password

Specify a password that is required to change the permissions settings. This option is available only if the previous option is selected.

Select: Printing Allowed

Specifies the level of printing that users are allowed for the PDF document.

Select: High Resolution

Lets users print at any resolution, directing high-quality vector output to PostScript and other printers that support advanced high-quality printing features.

Changes Allowed

Defines which editing actions are allowed in the PDF document.

Select: Inserting, Deleting, And Rotating Pages
Deselect all other options here.

Lets users insert, delete, and rotate pages, and create bookmarks and thumbnails. This option is only available for high (128‑bit RC4 or AES) encryption.

Un-check the box: Enable Copying of Text, Images, And Other Content

Lets users to select and copy the contents of a PDF.

Ignore the box: Enable Text Access For Screen Reader Devices For The Visually Impaired

Lets visually impaired users read the document with screen readers, but doesn’t allow users to copy or extract the document’s contents. This option is available only for high (128‑bit RC4 or AES) encryption.

After you have gone through these steps you will need to enter your specified password again before the PDF options are saved, be sure not to skip this step.


Now your files are safe, and your customers are safe from themselves :)

For more information regarding this topic you can visit the Adobe website.