Protected PDF writing software

The request was successful.

Dear Sir or Madam,

In response to two earlier FOI requests, the University of Southampton attached two special PDF files.

These files contained a cover page, which on compatible PDF readers, asks users to confirm they are the requester before viewing the document. The main content of the documents also has a watermark saying which FOI request the document was sent in response to.

Could you please send:

1) Any documents describing the process by which these special, protected PDF files are made. This should ideally include the software used, and a feel for the staff time taken to protect the PDF files.

2) Details of the cost of the PDF writing software, and any related services. This should include the name of any companies or individuals who have been paid, and if available any contracts.

3) Policy documents, memos, minutes or emails relating to the policy decision to protect responses to FOI requests in this way.

Yours faithfully,


Sent request to University of Southampton again.

Foi, University of Southampton

Dear Sir,

With reference to your Freedom of Information request dated 9 September 2009:

1. Process: the University does not hold any documents describing the process by which “these special, protected PDF files” are made. The software used is Adobe Acrobat Professional and the process makes use of documented features. If you do not have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Professional (and hence access to the manual) the online support pages (<>) may be of some assistance. The University does not hold recorded information on staff time taken to protect the PDF files.

2. Cost: as mentioned above, the software used is Adobe Acrobat Professional. This is a standard off-the-shelf package and the cost will vary according to retail outlet, promotional discounts available, etc. (see<>).

3. Policy decision: The University does not hold any recorded information relating to the protection of responses to FOI requests. Informal discussions were held within Legal Services (the University’s in-house legal department) with regard to how to respond to Freedom of Information requests where the University’s response would be published directly on the Internet. It was felt appropriate to remind applicants who intended to publish the University’s response to their request on the Internet that their entitlement is only to the information contained in the response and not to any material protected by intellectual property laws.

If you are not satisfied with the way in which the University has responded to your request you have the right to appeal. Questions, comments or complaints should be sent to the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom.

The Information Commissioner is responsible for enforcing rights of access to information and the operation of the publication scheme. You may appeal to the Information Commissioner in writing (FOI/EIR Complaints Resolution, Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF) or electronically<>. The Information Commissioner will not normally take action unless he is satisfied that the University's appeal procedures have been exhausted.

Yours faithfully,

Freedom of Information
Legal Services
University of Southampton

Francis Irving left an annotation ()

Someone wrote to me to say the following:

"Adobe Acrobat is not covered by the full CHEST agreement so is not site licensed for every machine. A separate (but discounted) license must be bought for each machine that uses it. Here's the Southampton University form:

"This suggests that their assurance that there is no cost involved may not be entirely accurate. Especially since all Southampton University 'UDE workstations' (their standard staff image) has 'cute PDF writer' installed, so that people don't necessarily need to spend money on Adobe.

"Of course, there are a number of additional reasons to have Adobe Pro, but the very basic need to create normal PDFs is not one of them."