How to disable LibreOffice's DRM-like features


I’ve been a happy user of LibreOffice for a while now. However, there is something that’s been bugging me. The problem is, that LibreOffice has a lot of DRM-like features I will list below.

So, the ones I have a problem with are:

  • Sheet protection
  • Edit passwords

I’m not talking about encryption. These features very clearly do not require it, because in the former case, the functions are still run, you just can’t edit or see them. In the latter case, you can see everything you just can’t edit it.

So, is there a way to make LibreOffice ignore these restrictions? Something like Okular’s “Obey DRM restrictions” option. Or something different.

As TDF has been a long time supporter of both free software, and anti-DRM campaigns, I believe there ought to be an option somewhere.

I used to make spreadsheets for pricing and similar. I always protected formulas because my boss would otherwise overwrite formulas with fixed numbers. I would have got the blame in those circumstances.

Price lists that went out to customers were protected so they could not edit them but they could print and copy the information. Those were the prices we had to stand by, if someone could edit them easily and then demand a lower price based on “our price list” where would we stand?

I think you are naively confused between DRM and simple precautions or helping verify authenticity.

LibreOffice has a license you must accept before you can use the software. Part of this is so that you cannot claim copyright of the software and prevent anybody else from using it. Should LO remove this license too? Cheers, Al

It is my computer though. I would expect free software to obey me, not the creator of the document. This is exactly the same as PDF permission bits.

These restriction can be removed from documents without much trouble, but I would prefer LibreOffice obeyed me in the first place.

This cannot be relied upon to protect others from editing your document. Alternatives to LO, such as AbiWord, ignore these already, making them utterly pointless.

Alternatively, it would be fine to have a button that will unlock all sheets and let me edit without the password.

LibreOffice has a license you must accept before you can use the software. Part of this is so that you cannot claim copyright of the software and prevent anybody else from using it. Should LO remove this license too?

I don’t know how the licensing of LibreOffice is relevant here

This is not even DRM related, but right, it’s your computer and it’s free software, so load the free source code onto your computer and modify it to behave like you want and build it. Good luck. Geez…

Oh, you’re the guy from the bugtracker, no?

Also, I’ve seen you post the same stupid opinions years ago while searching. Good job. Your name has burned into my memory as a DRM supporter.

By the way, I do plan on doing that.

The codebase only seems to be around ~5GB if I’m not mistaken. Although the build will take some time…

I might try to find some cloud build service. But until then, thanks for the idea, that’s what I’m gonna do.

(But I will fork it on GitHub because if I download the whole source then uploading to my own repo will take a hundred years with my crappy internet)

Until then, goodbye and if you give me your email address I will even notify you!

@erAck actually I forgot to thank you for wishing me good luck!

Strange people flying by here…

The features are not sufficient as DRM, but covers the needs of “end user protection”. The one who created the sheet deemed that the user should not see and/or alter the locked content. When password is used, the creator also suspected that the user may try, but REALLY should not.

The file can be manually edited to disable the locking. See the first answer (the one just below the opening post) on this thread in the Apache OpenOffice forum for a detailed procedure.

Instead of opening the XML in Writer as that procedure explains, I’d use a plaintext editor, Notepad or similar.

It will work using Writer also, as long as you don’t alter the save format (which Writer may suggest that you should do).

Yes, I know of this method. However, it is cumbersome, and still leaves a bad taste in my mouth that I have to basically hack around to make my computer do what I wanted.

I am basically completing the checklist given to me by a reddit user, so that:

  • I try asking around if a solution already exists (this question)
  • If no, try to contact the devs somewhere (they said this to me, but I don’t exactly know what i should do)

Anyway, this solution should work for now, but I will still continue my checklist.

Yes, also the other software not respecting the “hint” may provide a solution, just like it did for the old xls files with protected sheets, where solution used to be “open them with OpenOffice Calc”.

Keep on the good work!

Document creator is also a user of the software. The software should obey that user commands, too, no? “My software should ignore what you put into your document”?

The format(s) have provisions for the functionality, and that functionality has specifications (what should the present protection mean). LibreOffice implementing the specification is doing the correct thing; doing like the other software could (as you say AbiWord does) is just breaking the specification, and is not a correct thing an application should do.

It should obey the user whose computer it’s running on. It’s the same as with PDF copy-paste permissions, yes, it breaks the specification to let the user copy-paste, but sometimes it’s reasonable to break the specification.

After all, the HTML specification allows loading third-party ad scripts, yet we still block those and break the specification.

Software isn’t really meant to uphold some random specification, it should solve people’s problems. Specifications are cool but they can be wrong too