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Protect Tabular Data
Prevent data copy

 5:24 am on Aug 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Any suggestions on how I might protect tabular data from easily being copied?

I am pulling unique data from a db and have no preference how to output it; rather, I am more concerned with it being copied and pasted.



 8:23 am on Aug 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi there jabraltar,

just look at your problem logically.

If your tabular data is kept private, it's existence will remain unknown and protected.

If your tabular data is made public, it's existence will become known and unprotected.



 9:20 am on Aug 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

it is possible to copyright data that you've compiled into a database. i recently had to remove a football fixture lists from my site because, believe it or not, the dates that each team are playing are under license. they argued that they put considerable work into creating the database, so the output -- however it is displayed -- is under copyright. the courts agreed with them too. so maybe you could protect your data the same way.


 6:01 pm on Aug 6, 2010 (gmt 0)


I have a few questions regarding the "dates" comment in your reply to my message regarding protecting tabular data.

I will assume you are talking about American Football? Did the NFL actually contact you? Were the dates for specific games or other?

I am working on a soccer "Football" website for my German colleagues. One feature will display player names and the year they played for specific teams. It sounds like you were doing something similar?

Any other comments to the above would be greatly appreciated.


 12:03 pm on Aug 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am pulling unique data from a db and have no preference how to output it; rather, I am more concerned with it being copied and pasted.

If it is copy / paste protection of text you are after this is extremely difficult to achieve - and at best you will probably only be able to make it difficult enough to deter the average user.

Not something I have ever done but in theory you could use a server side language to process your text and output it as an image (like using PHP's GD library) so the text is embedded in an image and not higlightable. You might also need to employ some encoding/decoding to hide the text when is passed to the script. i.e.


encoded to :


To stop people for scraping your HTML. I believe you can also encrypt Javascript so you could also do something similar where JS outputs your data onto your page.

Not sure how practical these approaches are .. just thinking outloud :)


 1:06 pm on Aug 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

The PHP/GD is efficient for this case, another method is to include the cells as embedded html images. And another is to generate the text as CSS something quite heavy on the browser.

Of course search engines will never be able to read it using any of the graphic or scripting methods.

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