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Can You Copy An Electronic Signature?

Digital Signature On Document

An electronic signature is a fixture in multiple documents, for instance, invoices and contracts.   What’s great about using an electronic signature is that it’s safe, secure, and convenient, especially when using PDF software with inherent security features.

You don’t have to spend money on paper and ink cartridges since the signing process can be done on mobile devices and computers. In addition, using an e-signature saves time, making it faster to send documents digitally through file-sharing services or email.

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But can you copy an electronic signature? Yes and no. Keep reading to find out why.

Making an electronic signature

Most software applications allow users to sign electronically on a digital sheet. Sometimes, a user must sign on a physical paper and have it scanned to keep an e signature.

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However, it’s crucial to take advantage of security features that document and image applications offer, so your electronic signature can’t be extracted, duplicated, and attached to another digital document by others.

Your e-signature can be saved either as an image or extracted from a PDF file. When scanned from physical paper, you have several file conversion options, including .jpg, .bmp, .pdf.

Keeping a copy of an e-signature

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Similarly, an e-signature you’ve affixed to a PDF file can be extracted from the file itself, copied and converted into an image, and pasted onto the document where you need it. The method of reproducing an e-signature will differ from one software to another. Often, it involves:

  • Highlighting or cropping the signature from the document file
  • Clicking ‘copy’ or ‘save as image’

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to copy an e-signature if the file has been protected, usually with a password and other security features.

Why can’t you copy an e-signature? 

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email signature More often than not, you’ll have no issues copying an electronic signature. In some cases, though, you won’t be able to because of two main reasons:

  • The author is using PDF software   

Some applications, such as PDF solutions, have security settings prohibiting copying a portion or the whole file.

If the author has activated any of the security settings, you’ll be unable to perform specific actions. In most cases, the software may have prevented other users from printing, editing, or copying the file.

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  •  A digital signature was used  

You can’t copy a digital signature and paste it onto another document. Digital signatures are types of e-signatures, but they offer more security and are used in transactions that require additional identity and document validation.

The differences between an electronic and digital signature   

Electronic signatures are often an image of a signature that’s added to a document that doesn’t require stringent security or further verification. E-signatures can also include a symbol or process associated with a document to confirm a signatory’s identity and obtain consent.

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Using e-signatures in legal documents isn’t allowed in most states. In Illinois, e-signatures are only used in some forms for e-filing.

Generally, e-signatures are used to confirm an identity while digital signatures are used to secure a document. Below are a few more differences between these two.

  • Digital signatures offer better security

Digital signatures have security and cryptographic features and identifiers that can link it to a certain user, Internet Protocol (IP) address, and specific documents.

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Using a digital signature is like setting up a fingerprint for the signature and document itself. It isn’t the same with online social media registration, which according to a study, has about 77% young children lying about their age and getting away with it.

  • Digital signatures can be validated  

Digital signatures are embedded with audit trail capabilities. This lets users know the document’s history: when it was created, viewed, and signed. Or, in a few cases, revised. Sometimes, it can include the signatory’s location during the record signing.

Any changes to the document and digital signature post-agreement will put the document’s integrity in question or invalidate it.

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Digital and e- signatures are used for different purposes

Although both are legally binding, depending on local laws, some documents can be signed using e-signature whereas other records prefer digital ones.

Normally, business records, like sales contracts, invoices, and agreements, can be signed using e-signatures. On the other hand, healthcare and legal-related documents often require digital signatures to make a record secure since such documents are exposed to more serious risks.

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Concluding thoughts 

Using specific PDF applications, keeping your own electronic signature, and using it on different documents aren’t a problem, especially in internal company processes and some business transactions.  However, using a digital signature is mandatory for some record types to ensure security and validity for all parties involved.

Before making and copying an e-signature, ensure that you take all measures to keep it safe and protected from potential risks online and offline.

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