PDF Metadata: How To Remove It From Court Filings

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PDF metadata can expose case or client information and breach confidentiality. Learn more about hidden data in PDFs and how to remove it using PDFpen.

Here's what you should know about PDF metadata and how to remove it from legal documents.

E-filing is harder than it looks. The rules change from court to court, the deadlines are hard to make sense of, and there’s pressure to not make any mistakes and protect sensitive information.

The invisible threat of PDF metadata

When it comes to protecting sensitive information, there are methods that work and methods that don’t work. It’s important to use a proper redaction tool, for example, to guarantee the removal of sensitive text. 

But redaction alone sometimes isn’t enough. That’s because sensitive information can be embedded in your document—in other words, it can be invisible to you, but minable by the opposing counsel or the public at large.

Here’s an example of how PDF metadata—or data about a PDF—was used to win a case:

In 2015, Sanford Wadler accused Bio-Rad Laboratories of firing him for investigating and reporting the company’s involvement in bribery. The company denied this and presented a poor performance review as evidence that Wadler had been fired for cause. 

The metadata, however, showed that thedocument had been created after Wadler had left the company. As a result, the jury ruled against Bio-Rad and Wadler walked out with approximately $11 million.

PDF metadata removal

While automatically-generated document properties such as Creation Date cannot, or at least should not, be removed or altered, other types of metadata can easily be deleted.

We recommend third-party metadata removal as an additional way to sanitize PDFs before making them public. 

To do that, you don’t need to know what to look for. An advanced PDF editor such as PDFpenPro can find and delete third-party metadata for you.

PDF metadata removal with PDFpenPro

PDFpenPro allows you to add, edit, and remove metadata with just a few clicks. You can:

  • Remove background metadata from objects and images, including thumbnail images, image data, object data, objects that are images (such as XML) for privacy purposes
  • Reduce PDF file size to meet the requirement of the US Supreme Court of Justice’s Electronic Filing System (case files must be under 100 MB)
  • Add or edit PDF metadata including Title, Author, Subject, and Keywords to make files easier to catalog, index, and search
“[PDFpenPro’s] option to ‘Remove third-party metadata’ will delete background metadata from objects and images for privacy purposes. It’ll also provide the extra advantage of reducing file size.” The Mac Go

Try PDFpenPro's third-party metadata removal feature—FREE for 30 days

Make e-filing less complicated by using software that is designed to help you preserve confidentiality. With PDFpenPro, you get true redaction and third-party metadata removal guaranteed. 

Download a 30-day free trial.

For instructions on how to find, edit, and remove PDF metadata, check out PDF Metadata: Find, Change and Remove Hidden PDF Data.