September 08, 2004
Clarifying Acrobat PDF Metadata Issues
It's easy to knee-jerk on metadata issues, especially with the amount of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) out there. While many professionals aim for the holy grail of complete metadata removal (or "cleaning"), I think a more informed approach is metadata management. Sometimes you want it, and sometimes you don't. Think of the usefulness and concurrent danger of "tracked changes" for a perfect example. Thus many attorneys have adopted the quick fix of converting their Word and other document types to PDF before transmitting or sharing them. The widespread assumption is that PDF is a safe haven for transmitting metadata-free documents -- something that isn't necessarily true.
PDF for Lawyers has a good post which clarifies some of the issues raised in an interesting August 2004 Law Technology News article, "Metadata: Are You Protected," by Donna Payne & Bruce Lewis. (Free subscription required.) Donna and Bruce stated that "PDF files contain substantial metadata," and the print version contains a comparison table listing nearly 20 items of metadata than can exist in PDF files.
Thus to get a balanced perspective, I highly recommend reading the LTN article first, and then head on over to the PDF for Lawyers post, which clarifies this a bit:
As I understand it, the 'tracked changes' in Word do not ordinarily pass into a PDF file when the word processing document is converted. It can happen, but it takes unusual conditions. After reading the article, I asked Ms. Payne in an E-mail to explain to me how the 'tracked changes' would be passed into a PDF file and she gave me two examples.
Topic(s): Legal Technology
Posted by Jeff Beard