The Scourge of the Educational Plot Stamp is No More

Disclaimer: I am not a legal representative for Autodesk. For all questions regarding license compliance, check out this website or refer to your product's EULA

Autodesk provides educational versions of its software at reduced rates (often free!) so that students, teachers and other non-commercial entities can learn without worrying about trial licenses expiring.

Educational software is strictly intended for non-profit generating activities. Files generated with educational versions have an embedded flag that the software can detect. When you plot from these files, "Produced by an Autodesk Educational Product" will appear on the output.

However, students often become interns and interns have access to companies that have traditional paid licenses. If the student decides to work on a file at school or insert that really cool tree block he created for his midterm project - BAM - you're polluted. I truly believe that the vast majority of plot stamp issues are due to innocent accidents rather than nefarious intent.

Working with these files in a production environment is a bad idea. Do you remember the pink spots in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back? Every time the Cat and his buddies try to clean the pink stain, they only succeed in spreading it further, until the whole house and yard are covered in pink spots. The educational plot stamp is a lot like that. Once a file has it, it will cause any file it touches to have the plot stamp!

Things that will cause the education flag to spread:
  1. Any file created or edited by an educational version of the software
  2. Or contains a block edited or inserted from an educational version
  3. Or Has/had an xref from an educational version.

In the past, it was darn near impossible to remove the plot stamp. For a short window of time, if you aligned the correct forces (something like: your reseller, no fewer than two Shamen, a blood sacrifice, and a gross of rubber chickens - but don't quote me on it) you could remove the plot stamp with a one-time-use tool from Autodesk. When that got the kebash, your only option was to recreate the file from DXF.

Ugh. Damn interns!

If you receive files from a contractor that contain the education flag, the contractor is in violation of the end user license agreement (EULA).  It is completely within your right to decline acceptance the files (which I recommend). Odds are, the other company is unaware that the drawing has been polluted with the educational flag.

Lately, the behavior of AutoCAD when it detects educational files has changed dramatically.

The good news is that as of AutoCAD 2014 sp1 (and related vertical products), the educational plot stamp is noted (see above dialog box image) but not plotted (yay!). AutoCAD 2015 will not only ignore the educational plot stamp, it can remove it!

If you need to work on an AutoCAD file in a previous version of the software, you can save it in AutoCAD 2015 (or TrueView 2015) and save it back down to the version you wish to work in.

Here’s the updated Technical Solution for the educational plot stamp, including new 2015 functionality (plot stamp removal).

Other than a few out-of-work Shaman types, most people are very happy about this change. As long as you are running legit, full licenses of 2015 Autodesk products you no longer have to worry about the unwanted plot stamp.  If you think the company who sent you the education file is using the software in a shady way, you can always narc on them to our license compliance folks.


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