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On Fri, Dec 08, 2006 at 04:45:47PM -0500, Leo Razoumov wrote:
> An interesting approach is taken by "Pragmatic Programmers" (Dave
> Thomas & Andy Hunt) of Programming Ruby and Agile Web Programming with
> Ruby on Rails fame.
> They sell *personalized* PDF files of their books. For each customer
> they generate unique PDF file with the name of that customer displayed
> on every page footer (name is checked against the credit card).

That sounds like a product with a threat stamped in: "if anyone grabs
this from your computer, we're coming after you", as if I'm supposed
to keep my copy in on a CD locked in a safe.  I don't like buying
things that have personal threats stamped on them.

I'm not sure what the threat really is, either; I'm not sure that
a person could be held liable for copyright infringement if someone
steals the document off of their computer (where it, realistically,
would be stored) and posts it on Usenet.  The person whose name is
on the document is probably guilty of nothing more than not updating
a server often enough (which happens to everyone); all of the real
guilt lays on someone else.

FWIW, I find the idea of a PDF manual terrible.  It's a horrible
format for reading text online.  I want my documentation (both
reference and PIL-style) in HTML, where I'm not stuck with a small
set of horrible software to read them.  (Acrobat is awful; all of
the alternatives that I've tried are equally awful, in differing

> Of course, if someone steals your credit card, orders PDF file and then
> posts it on the web, a poor victim of identity theft is royally
> screwed.

In this case the victim of identity theft is the publisher of the
document, as this breaks the "protection" completely, and the person
that had their credit card stolen is not to blame.

Glenn Maynard