I have not done PDF distribution, but from what I know, section access is actively applied when the user enters the QVW and not when the publisher e-mails the QVW. Instead of section access, the publisher will reduce information based on a task you define in the Reduce tab.
For example, Reduce and Loop will create a separate document or report for each value in a field and then in the Distribute tab you send the document or report with another loop that references a field that contains the e-mail address(es) that are possible for each reduced document or report.
So, no, section access is probably not available for PDF distribution, but you can reduce and distribute the report in the same way in Publisher without using section access.
Karl, thanks for this response. This morning, i tried a few more variations of Loop and Reduce and Loop and Distribute to try to get the section access to trigger on the PDFs before sending, but no joy. I think what you are saying must be correct - the section access only kicks in on physical opening of the QVW, and clearly that does not seem to be something that Publisher does. I was sort of hoping that it opened a QVW instance in the background in the context of the section access user before generating the objects on the PDF, but the more i think about it, the more it makes sense that Publisher probably does not have the ability to do this on the fly.
Of course, setting up separate tasks to manually Loop, Reduce and Distribute PDFs is something i could do, but it means repeating a lot of the work done in the section access, and it is also a lot of manual server maintenance. I suppose that is something i now have to consider. Or just send out the section access-ed QVWs instead (which i'm not too keen on).
If you have any more thoughts, feel free to holler!
Just to add some more perspective, when it comes to handling security in Publisher, I would focus on adding a couple fields to your data model that would act as filters for the Loop and Reduce and Loop and Distribute.
Also, you should only have to create one job that runs the 2 tasks. I agree that if you have to create multiple manual reduce and distributes you would have the terrible problem with maintenance and the Publisher is there to make your job easier.
In fact the Loop and Reduce and Loop and Distribute is in Publisher so that you don't have to write the script to do section address. In an ideal case a QV Administrator and not a QV Developer would manipulate the values of the field he/she is using to Reduce and Distribute as if he/she were modifying permissions. The QV Administrator should not have to touch the load script to define the security.
Agreed with comments so far... see Server manual and the Static Data Reduction.
What we do is to define a bookmark for the PDF. The bookmark is constructed using Advanced Search so that you can use formula and so as QDS loops, we apply bookmark to the Report and PDF produces a report based on the selections of the bookmark.