It’s common that people want to protect their intellectual property. When it comes to AutoCAD drawing, the question is how we can protect our drawing and don’t let people take what’s inside. At least, we don’t want to make it easy for them.
The standard practice is to share our drawing in PDF or DWF format. These file formats can be reviewed and people can add markup/redlining if necessary. But they can’t modify it or use the drawing for their design.
However, sometimes the requirement is DWG. We need to figure out how to protect our DWG before sending it. Unfortunately, there are no features in AutoCAD that can protect your drawing. AutoCAD 2016 doesn’t even provide password protection anymore.
The unexplodable block
There is some workaround available to make it less easy for people to steal your work. The easiest way is to make your whole drawing as an anonymous block. You can’t explode anonymous block or insert it into your drawing. Certainly there is some workaround, but this is much better than nothing.
We can’t create anonymous block directly within the drawing area. Only LISP program can create it. Don’t worry; you don’t have to build it by yourself. WAI engineering provided free LISP routines that you can download. Go to http://www.wai.com.au/ and click the Freebies link in the left sidebar. There are 3 LISPs that you can use, but it seems that the only one that works is WAI-LOCKALL. WAI-LOCK and WAI-LOCKEACH don’t appear to work, probably because they were created for the old version of AutoCAD. I tested them on AutoCAD 2016.
Make a copy of your DWG file, then open the copy. Running WAI-LOCKALL will make your entire drawing as an anonymous block. So make sure you don’t run it on the original file.
This routine will not touch your existing block in your drawing. It means other people can insert your blocks with INSERT command and use it. If you don’t want them to use your block, explode all your blocks before you run the routine. And don’t forget to purge them. Otherwise, your effort will be useless. Exploding all objects before you run the routine probably will be better. Even if they can explode the anonymous block, the drawing will be practically useless.
Hint: Use QSELECT or FILTER to select only blocks.
This is probably not a perfect solution. But it works in most cases, and it’s free. Not many people know anonymous block (But if they read this, now they know) and they will need some time to find out how to explode it.