I am pretty new to the adobe program and love it. I just have trouble finding answers by searching the internet. I have a certain group that likes my design posters but prefer the .eps (thus using the program) I don't want all the elements in the file to be copied then used later for something else. (I'm sure this won't happen but just in case

In some of my posters I have images that I have for sale as well, those are the images I don't want copied and reused. What steps should I take to prevent this from happening (if it would happen)

Forgive my ignorance as well, this program is very new to me. (I used to design and have someone else digitize them)

  • Like joojaa says, if I can view it I can reproduce it. It seems to me that you would be more likely to get the result you want by making people sign an agreement to not edit your work.
    – curious
    Dec 6, 2015 at 20:59

3 Answers 3


The only way you can ensure  your files are not copied is to not to share them. This is a limitation of current technology. The movie industry has sunk untold billions into this game without success. The simple rule is that if I can view it I can reproduce it. Because viewing means to read and read means copy.

So while you can not defend your content you can make it harder. First, you can degrade  the data. So if you convert it into a small resolution pixel image it can not be reproduced well on print. Second you may want to watermark the images, this also works only well for pixel based images as in vector data its usually quite easy to fix by a determined attacker.

Things that simply do not work include encrypting the image, because printers and clients need to open decryption in order to see image. Also the lock options in PDF aren't of much use as any graphic/IT department designer worth their salt know how to circumvent this.

All in all the only protection you have on the image is a legal protection. But i would advice to not be so protective of the work. As work that nobody sees is no work at all. And ultimately copying is flattery, you probably wouldn't have any means to convert those copies into money anyway (even the music industry does not know how to do it, without incurring phenomenal costs to their businesses)

  • Yes, unfortunately once a file is submitted or viewed by others it is ultimately up for grabs so to say. I've heard about those who are determined to copy movies, music and whatever fancies those individuals and they figure out how to do it. Thanks for the suggestions and I will work on a better solutions with the group on file's. I wasn't completely sure, but I did have my suspicions I wouldn't have a complete solution, well I suppose a complete solution when it comes to this stuff is non-existent :) Also thank you for the immediate response. I won't be twiddling my thumbs any longer. Dec 6, 2015 at 20:23

I don't know if this is what others may be looking for but I think I found a solution for myself.

To make an .eps or .ai file so no one can move objects around or use an individual object in the file for something else follow these steps.

Save the file as a .png or .svg file. Make sure the option to embed in the .svg file is marked instead of the linked option.

Open the .png or .svg file then save it as .eps or .ai

The file will be the same as the .png or .svg file. One layer without objects to move around. The can still be high quality for the client or individual to resize and print to meet their needs but each path won't be. The file can still be copied and used, but unless someone knows how to separate each element exactly how you put it together, your individual artist work should be protected.

I hope this explanation makes sense and is helpful to someone.

  • This does not actually work, i can still lift many elements. You can do the same better by hitting divide in pathfinder (after expand). I reverse engineer files like this all the time. Besides its the degrade file option. The svg option is really bad as it didn't actually limit my lifting in any way. All i need to do is run ungroup on the data
    – joojaa
    Dec 6, 2015 at 22:00

To add to your own answer Robin, you can also simply flatten all the layers in Illustrator and "divide" the file using the pathfinder tool. That is, if you really need to share that artwork as a vector.

This is what a LOT of artists on stock pictures sites do to their vectors and only people who have a lot of free time will try to "re-assemble" your vectors. Already by doing this you make it more complicated from them and the quality of printing will not be affected. But keep in mind any vector file has the benefit of being highly editable so if you really want to prevent anyone from moving things around, your PNG option was good; just make sure it's 300ppi resolution if you plan to sell it for printing.

Watermark and PDF security will be absolutely useless for you if you are actually selling these graphics! You'll simply make your customers very mad.

You can also export as PDF and create a flatten high resolution (raster) out of your artwork; this is a good option if you have a lot of images to convert and like to use the PDF format. See this link for how-to: How can I protect my job from a client publishing it elsewhere?

OR you can also simply "rasterize" your artwork directly within Illustrator (menu Object > Rasterize...) at high resolution and save it as eps. Even faster, you can use the "export" and save it as a tif/png. But just so you know, when people ask for a eps file, that's because they want a vector... so might as well simply save as tif or png if you plan to provide a raster image.

Additional comments:

If the group you are showing your images to isn't actually purchasing them, simply show them a JPG at low resolution. There's no reason why they'd want an .eps file unless they actually want to grab some vectors in your file!

Also, it's a common practice to sell a raster high resolution (eg. a tif, png or a jpg at 300ppi) for a normal price and the vector file (eg. a pdf, ai, svg or eps) at higher price. Some vectors are sold 2x the price of a normal flat raster image.

It's not a bad idea to also include your own terms and a license if you are selling your artworks/posters/vectors yourself. That's not a magic protection but it works the same way as a contract.

  • While flattening works. And works well for print. It can cause porblems with on screen rendering engines antialiasing mechanism. This can sometimes be painful. One can also degrade the data by converting beziers to linear segments and splitting the paths into jumble. Then expand the strokes.
    – joojaa
    Dec 21, 2015 at 23:08
  • @joojaa EPS is usually a very "print-ready" format and posters well... that's a term commonly used for a large format printing. I can only assume it's for printing. Not much point in using an oversize complex postscript vector for web. Painful? That's the whole point. Print well but painful on screen and to manipulate! Working as intended.
    – go-junta
    Dec 22, 2015 at 2:58
  • Sure mileage may vary. Currently i dont see much eps for printing. But i do see eps for laser engraving where this is indeed a BIG problem.
    – joojaa
    Dec 22, 2015 at 5:53

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