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HTML Forum

Guard my source code

 2:23 am on Jan 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've spent so much time optimizing my site (all static pages) and finally it is done. I plan to launch it next couple of days but I'm concerned about the risk of the webmasters of competing site stealing away my months of hard work. I've been thinking of ways to prevent this:

1. Disable "View > Source Code"/"File > Edit with..." command on the browsers' menu bar and mouse right click menu;
2. Disable "Edit with..." command on the browsers' toolbar;
3. Prevent pages from being cached by browsers (I don't worry about Google version of cached pages because they're inaccessible here in my place);
4. Stop off-line browsers from downloading the pages or the whole site.
5. Replace link URLs at browsers' status bar with something else to hide the link structure.

I know it's a mission almost impossible but I'm still wondering if there are scripts that can do at least some of these jobs. Anyone can help? Thanks



 3:18 am on Jan 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Nothing concerning stopping them from stealing your html is completely efficent... All web designers have to deal with the possibility of their site layout being viewed, but you've got to accept that and move on. Also, I'm sure that when you were new to HTML and were still learning that you viewed other sites' sources to see see how it was done.


 10:32 am on Jan 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

You can't stop anyone from stealing the code sent to their browser. Full stop.

Disabling right click will drive away visitors - a high number of people use that for the back button and to open links in new windows.

You can't stop Netscape from allowing you to save the page.

If you are sending anything unencrypted over the internet, you have to take the risk that it will be possibly stolen.

What you are basically saying is this: I want to put up a poster in the middle of town, but I don't want anybody else to use the same (or similar) idea. Put it in the publics hands and they'll do what they want with it.


 10:40 am on Jan 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've spent so much time optimizing my site

They would have to copy your site, code for code, word for word, to receive any ranking that is close to yours. But that would be a duplicate site, which could result in the both of you being banned.

It's my opinion that the fear of being copied is greater than the likelihood of being copied.


 10:56 am on Jan 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Important optimizations include things that can't easily be copied:

  • Links from other sites to you
  • CGIs that do clever things (think of Google -- any one could copy their HTML. But what have you got if you do?)
  • Database contents
  • Special deals (buy Brand X deluxe widget at 10% off from this site only)
  • Server-side SSIs (or equivalent) that edit or present pages according to user's history (Welcome back! Add a super deluxe widget to the one you bought last week to make a breeding pair for only $xx)

Visible code is only the tip of the iceberg for a good site. Think deep, and don't worry about people mistaking the visible bit at the top for the whole site.


 4:02 am on Jan 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

ok, important point to note, due to the nature of the internet the act of viewing a page causes a copy to be made on the local computer viewing the page. So the only real way to keep yourself safe is to not publish, but that kinda misses the point


 5:43 pm on Jan 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have seen some source code written by people that include hidden tags declaring the codes origins. Make the code enough of a pain to copy and maybe people will not try?

Throw in dozens of the <!-- --> tags and that would deter some people. It might have the adverse affect in declaring to the world that you are a bit too into yourself though.


 9:22 pm on Jan 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

It kindof does miss the point. But then TV companies broadcast their copyright material and you record it, right? Radio companies broadcast music and you record it, right? All completely illegal of course, but that's a risk they have to accept. If it's recordable, people will record and copy your work.


 10:35 pm on Jan 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

hey, i think you may want to take a look at
i downloaded the program from their site, and it does protect your source code and disable people from copying/stealing. however, there will be a 'html guard' flag on the very top of your webpage if you choose to use it.


 10:51 pm on Jan 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

>it does protect your source code and disable people from copying/stealing

It does not, because it cannot.

It may make your pages difficult to modify and republish, which may be all you want.

Disabling the right mouse button is an asininely stupid way to irritate visitors, and has absolutely no other effect whatsoever. As has been mentioned already, the user has ALREADY copied the page at that point, and all you can do is interfere with the normal browser navigation.


 10:58 pm on Jan 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

alright then, maybe nothing is perfect so far.
i dont use htmlguard anyway since ithe banner kinda ruined my websute.

maybe you can put images, background music, etc in a different directory from your current directory. in that case, even someone bothers to save your webpage, the image just wont show up.

however, i cant help with those people who will try hard enough to search for it under their temporary-interent-files

either case, i think we just cant win :'(


 2:36 pm on Feb 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

1) protecting your source code:
I completely fail to see the reason for a need for this.
I would be flattered if somebody found my HTML code to be sufficiently interesting to be made the base of another web-site. And lets face it : how many times have you yourself - wakao - taken a look at somebody else HTML code in order to see just how *that* effect had been achieved?
And who would be interested in taking a wholescale copy of your site for their own use? They would have to modify the coding heavily afterwards - at least contentswise - for their own use.

2) HTML-Guard
I've taken a look at the site and what the software does.
I can wholly support all of the claims the author states.
However, as stated by the author of HTML-Guard, any JavaScript savvy person (like me :) ) is able to break the encryption and get at the original source

3) disabling right-clicking and the like
That also at the most a temporary stop-gap, as you can *always* just capture a screen-picture.

yours in happy hacking :)


 3:31 pm on Feb 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi, BjarneDM

i'm just wondering how you protect your website from others. surely you won't leave your hard work off guard.


 4:53 pm on Feb 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

surely you won't leave your hard work off guard.

Surely you don't still think it can be guarded? It is a fundamental fact that if people can see what you publish, then they can copy it. Anything you deliver to the user encrypted, they must be able to decrypt in order to view. If you are providing the decryption method/key/whatever, then the user can use that to decrypt the content and do whatever they want with it. Period. You can make it a pain in the ***, but that's it.


 5:06 pm on Feb 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

but I'm concerned about the risk of the webmasters of competing site stealing away my months of hard work.

Wasting time concerning over this and/or being overly protective of your "skill" means you are not concentrating on your potential customers.

Thus the best protection from theft - is keep it off the web.

Better though -- add a copyright statement and focus only on those customers, at some future date when you realize someone has "stolen" something that was clearly yours -- you might have the resources to take action.

Preempting this though means less business - effectively you don't trust even your customers, and in return they probably won't trust you.


 6:29 pm on Feb 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

alright, dingman

just because we cannot stop someone from robbng banks, it does not mean that banks don't use any security systems at all.

any security/protection is not perfect and there will be ways to get around with it. but at least it can make the attempt harder to achieve.


 6:51 pm on Feb 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

I regard my "hard work" to be open source - at least as regarding the javascript and html coding - as it's based on what I've learned from books, web-tutorials and taking a look at how others achieved something. And that doesn't in my opinon mean the I've 'stolen' somebodys work.

And as I stated previously : how many times have you ourselves taken a look at the code on a site while you were learning to construct web-sites?

It's quite another issue as regarding the pictures and copy on my sites! *THAT* I'll protect to fullest using every legal means at my disposal. But html, css and javacript are people more than welcome to feel inspired by.


 6:53 pm on Feb 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Triple_H wrong perspective

any security/protection is not perfect and there will be ways to get around with it. but at least it can make the attempt harder to achieve.

I would think this would be similar to NOT publishing your FTP accounts usernames and passcode on every page of your site.

...rather than limiting the usability of your web site.

Cause & effect... protecting yourself from a few thieves by limiting everyone seems a little rash.

If your don't trust anyone what the point?


 7:46 pm on Feb 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

it does not mean that banks don't use any security systems at all.

Banks don't have a business model that requires them to hand the keys and access codes for the vault to every Tom, Dick, and Hary on the street. Publishers do.

<added>In case it's not obvious, we're all publishers in this context.</added>


 8:46 pm on Feb 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

"If your don't trust anyone what the point?"

i believe the dicussion is "Guard my source code." if we can trust everyone that easily, why do we have to bring the whole topic of guard and protection?

maybe it's just a dilemma:
Making a website open to everyone because we trust them, but we will risk its contents and graphics being ripped or altered and being put up on someone else's webpages.

Limiting access to text-selection and right click, together with source code encription do not always guarantee full protection of your websites. (no one can guarantee his house will not be caught on fire one day)
But the drawback is to bring annoyances, to make people less interested in your creation.

which way do you vote? it's up to you.


 10:26 pm on Feb 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

which way do you vote? it's up to you.

As developers of exposure, we expose our selves for the purpose of reaching a market.

A negative affect of this exposure is our competitor's have direct access to "more clearly" see what we are up to" and if they believe they can benefit from this... they use it against us.

Obviously this is a risk.

In all honesty though and IMHO (please read carefully) - the markets you are attempting to reach through some "specialized code" that must be so "highly secretive and guarded" that it limits your markets usability to quickly "print", "add to favorites", "create a short-cut", "email a friend", etc., so that this somehow guarantees and limits a competitors ability to see, thus use that code (which you created) so that they can reach the same market as effectively as you...

Does this sound accurate?

I'm reminded of a thread about Microsoft posting "hack-proof" code, all the hackers went crazy trying to hack it, when one hacker got wise and posted "hey, we're helping Microsoft!"... then, nothing for 3 days, until a Microsoft rep posted "see... hack free, no-one can break it!"... and a thousand hackers were right back at it again...

Who's fooling who?


 5:43 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have a few thoughts on this...

While I understand that designing and optimizing a site can be very laborious, I don't know if there is any real benefit in taking these measure. Protecting a site so that it only runs in a Javascript-enabled web browser to me seems to be counterproductive. It feels like a record company "protecting" their music by not letting me play a CD on my computer or DVD player. It just hampers too many perfectly legitimate actions that a person could be trying to perform.

Ultimately, a person can't steal the real thing that makes your site what it is: your creativity. If they have to steal graphics, you can pity them as you create new graphics or layouts that are just as good or even better.

I've personally never thought of a web design as being something to be guarded closely anyhow. The content is clearly the greater asset. I don't know if Rolling Stone would sue somebody over emulating their column layouts, but their articles? I'm sure that's a different story. The only exception that I would see to that would be business logic, but then that's always transparent to the end user.

It just shows how far things have come. Back when I started web design (1995) the way that you learned practical web design was by using view source. Even now I look at source code if I see an interesting effect and I would laugh at anybody who called me a theif for implementing it in one of my own designs.


 7:42 pm on Feb 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

you can generate the html code on the server,
php perl asp ...
so you can hide a lot of your algorithme.

They can just viewing the html code thats
produced by your program on the server.
The html code can be just printing instructions to
the console like text and fonts table div ...

not scripts...

for your script at the server you need to change the file mode
:'reading and writing must be protect for strangers'
also you need a server with cgi running possibility.


all the calculations for the scripts happens on the server
and not the client. Their must be more traffic between
server and client. That way you can reached easier your stream limit of the server.

I think you don't like Opensource

your code or idea is probably used similary
in other sites on the net, may be better.
Why do you think your code is so special.
You don't like the idea that other people
can learn even wins time by viewing your code.

If their is financial reasons. I can understand this.


 2:44 am on Feb 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

IMHO, the people that are least interested or motivated can be stopped. The people that are the most motivated cannot be stopped.

An analogy to copy protection would be apt (to some extent). Despite ever increasing money and resources devoted to stopping illegal copying, the BIG pirates have all the resource and tools required to churn out large numbers of copies. I have been stunned to see so many “cracked” disks of popular software, etc.

The question I keep asking when I see "right click" blocks is: Who is the real threat?

Humble suggestion: If there is a particular facet of the display, structure, or code that is sitting on the client side, it might be possible to "walk through" the design and consider moving the "precious parts" into the server side scripting and/or middle ware? Perhaps narrowing down the particular area that you find dear to your time, effort and heart could be “hidden” is plain sight with the help of some other eyeballs…


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