Most of you will read this post and think that it has nothing to do with Civil 3D. Here’s my teaser – wait for the bottom of the post.
Now, at one time or another, some of you may have seen a drawing come out of your plotter with this nasty watermark along the edges that talk about the drawing being created with an educational version of the software. This is bad – if we send this out to clients or other engineering firms, they’re going to know that we’ve been doing less-than-ethical things with our software. However, you may be thinking “How did that get there? We don’t even OWN an educational copy of the software!” How do you get rid of the stamp?
First of all, a little about “educational versions”–these are versions sold (cheaply) to students who need practice with the software. They may be doing their senior design project in Civil 3D, or just have things that they’d like to learn in order to be proficient with the software upon graduation, thereby making themselves more valuable to prospective employers. Since they’re not making any money with the software, Autodesk provides them with a cheaper version, called the Educational Version of the software. You get full functionality, but a nice “value-add” (that’s a little reseller humor there….) is the big honkin’ watermark that this puts on every one of your drawings, proclaiming to the world that you are, indeed, using the educational version. No problem for students, it’s expected. Big problem for companies, though, because the software is not supposed to be used to make a profit with – i.e. for production work.
Now, there are unscrupulous users out there who try to get by “on the cheap” and use the educational version of the software. Even worse, they don’t care if the watermark is there. However, if they send that drawing to a firm using legal software, the watermark starts showing up in inexplicable places. Let’s draw an example here:
Joe Surveyor can’t afford a full seat of Civil 3D. However, he can afford the educational version, and somehow gets his hands on a copy of it (I’m not sure what the requirements for purchasing are, but let’s assume that Joe met the requirements.) So he goes about his merry way doing his survey jobs, not caring that his software is illegal. Now, one of his survey jobs is for Bob Engineer, who is developing a large subdivision. He sends his survey to Bob, who either inserts it into his plans as a block, or XREFS it into his drawing for a base. Now, suddenly, Bob’s drawings are beginning to plot with this hideous watermark. Even worse, Frank Architect sees Bob’s drawings, realizes that he’s not using legal software, and reports him to Autodesk (it’s been done, folks.) Autodesk comes down on Bob with the full wrath of a team of lawyers and Hapless Bob (we’ve changed names here on the fly) is in for it–all because Joe tried to get by on the cheap.
See, this watermark that we’re talking about is a very well-designed virus. Once it gets in a drawing, nothing you can do will get rid of it. If you XREF that drawing into a clean one, the watermark is there. If you detach that XREF, the watermark remains. Doesn’t matter – you can’t get rid of it. I’ve seen entire projects get infected because of one small detail drawing that came from an outside source…not good.
Remember me saying that you couldn’t get rid of it? You should, it was only a few sentences ago. Well, the good news is that it CAN go away, with the help of your reseller. Like ’em or not, believe me, your reseller is the ONLY source that can help you with this particular problem. What we will do is go to Autodesk on your behalf. They have a little program that will strip the drawings of the offending watermark. They will send you this program (through your reseller) with a 90 day license. After that 90 days, the little stripping program goes *POOF* and you can’t use it anymore. The real catch here–you only get once. Once Autodesk sends you that 90 day program, they’ll never do it again for your company. That’s it, you’re done. So use your token wisely.
Now, since this IS civil3d.com, and the words “Civil 3D” are in the title of the web site, you are likely wondering how this really affects you. This is the important part…
The little “stripper program” wasn’t developed past the 2000 drawing format. That means that any drawing “stripped” by this program has to be in the 2000 drawing format. Well, Civil 3D wasn’t around for that format. So how do I get it stripped off my drawings if I’m using Civil 3D?
No, not your head (although mine almost did this past week.) You’ll have to explode your drawings back to lines, arcs, and text, send them to Autodesk (through your reseller) and get them stripped. Doing this loses any and all Civil 3D (or Land Desktop, if that’s your flavor) objects. You’ve now got a dumb drawing that you can’t do much with in Civil 3D. But, the plot stamp is gone.
What’s the moral of this story? Whenever you get a drawing in from an outside source (a drawing that wasn’t 100% created and produced in your own shop), open it up and look at it–even print it to a PDF to look at it. Make sure that it doesn’t have this watermark, because if you attach it to any of your drawings, you’re hosed. And don’t always blame Joe Surveyor–he may have gotten “infected” from someone he does work with.