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Decreasing the odds of content thieves

Any tricks, gimmicks, ideas or suggestions?



7:19 pm on Jan 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jenstar is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I have one content-rich site that seems to be a copyright infringer's dream. I send out about two C&Ds per month, sometimes up to four, but recently, the problem has been escalating. I have just sent out two C&Ds in less than 24 hours.

Now, I am well versed in what to do when I have an infringer. But the problem is getting out of hand when everyone it seems wants to make a site to compete with mine. But unfortunately, those people think the way to do it is to take my content or entire sections from my site and place it on their own site and then slap their own copyright notice on it. I don't know if this is a particular problem in my niche, or if this problem runs rampant for other sites with a lot of unique content.

Yes, I do have a copyright notice on the bottom of each and every page. I use the "ondragstart="return false" onselectstart="return false" on some of my pages (and am now adding it to all of them). It is not the code I am worried about, but rather the articles and content.

Does anyone else have any tricks that have worked for them? Yes, I know there will always be those who will take for free, I will always have to send out these darn C&Ds and DMCAs. There is nothing you can do that will prevent someone from stealing who is determined to steal. But I would just like to make it harder ;)

I should add that some of these thieves aren't the most tech savvy in the world - some have left my hardcoded links intact, some have pasted my own tracking code into their own pages, you get the idea. So even basic deterents will work in some of these cases.

So what has or hasn't worked for others who are trying to protect their content?


1:25 pm on Jan 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Jenstar, you must have great content! I don't think I've heard of anyone being ripped off with that frequency.

There aren't any great technical solutions - if people can see it in a browser, they'll be able to copy it. I suppose you could make your content into images - that would slow them down a bit, but wouldn't do much for your SE performance. You could cloak the image pages and feed the SEs text, but that would entail risks that probably aren't justified.

Damage control may still be your best approach. I'd insert a few errors or unique text strings that will serve a dual purpose - careless ripoffs will be easy to find, and proving that the content is yours will be easier, too.

Anyone have a more elegant technical solution to slow down unsophisticated copiers?


11:04 pm on Jan 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Do this (and then PM the code for me for doing it):

On right mouse click pop up a nice big message:

This material is copyrighted. If you steal from us we will know and you will regret it. Ask us about licensing our material. See out copyright notice link for further information. Thank-you.

If it's possible imbed a link to the copyright page.

I would guess this will reduce theft by 3 to 5 cases out of 10, possibly more.

Let me know and send me the code for contributing the idea....or at least send me flowers ;-)


2:58 pm on Jan 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Of course, now that I'm a bit more relaxed (it's Saturday A.M.) I would suggest a little less severe sounding notice in response to a right click on the mouse ....;-) Let the innocents know it's okay to copy for personal use but that it's a violation to republish without consent...blah, blah, blah

Now, thieves being thieves, this might not do the trick, but it may work - like I said - 3 to 5 times out of 10. I'd be interested to know the results if you ran it as a test for a little while and what you observed about a drop off - if any - in pirating.

I've observed that thieves are somewhat deterred when they know that they are being watched. I've represented more than a few shoplifters in 20+ years of being a country lawyer. They don't like the stores with video cams and the more conspicuous the cams the more likely they will shop elsewhere. Of course, some are pretty dumb and if you don't hit them on the head with the camera they don't notice it.

Your right click notice might include a "your IP address is....." notice.

Just a question of cost/benefit analysis. Do you worry you will scare more friendly users than theives? How much time will you have to spend protecting your property if you don't deter thieves?


5:17 pm on Jan 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It looks like you've disabled the ability to highlight what's on the screen, and that's a great start. The problem here is that it's easy enough for someone to view the source, then copy and paste from there. But you can likely make that a bit more difficult with some JavaScript. I don't recall the correct functions, so following is a bit of pseudo-code:

(Disclaimer: I don't know how many people still browse the web with JavaScript disabled, so this may not be practicle if the number is too great).

if(the.site.youre.on == 'http://www.mysite.com')
document.write("This content has been stolen");

The code is checking to see that the page is being viewed on your site. If not, the user will get the latter message. This would occur when the previously-mentioned not-so-technical people simply view the source and copy the entire thing, or copy what they think to be the code. They'd have to manually parse all of the actual content out of the document.write() functions.

Someone savvy enough may simply change the URL in the if() function, so you can probably have it hex-encode the URL so it is unrecognizable to them. In fact, I think you could also hex-encode all of the content within the document.write() functions.. so it'll look fine when it is printed to the browser screen (which they already can't copy and paste), but it'll look like gibberish when one views the source.

I'd be curious to know if this works for you.


5:23 pm on Jan 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jenstar is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Oooh, I love it. One of my most stolen pages is a horrendously long 180K page. Inserting something like that into the code would take a lot of work by the infringer to go through the code and figure out what it is.

I'll see if I can get a workable code going.


7:28 pm on Jan 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I don't think it's possible to protect your text through document.write or scripts that block the copying function. I agree this can make it slightly more difficult, but only at the expense of, e.g., as NickCoons suggests, making the content inaccessible to those with js disabled. If I want to steal your copy, I can just read/write the old-fashioned way with pen and paper.

The only trick I've come up with to deal with this issue is to copy/paste phrases into a search engine to see if others are using them. Try it and you might get an unwelcome surprise.


11:38 pm on Jan 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Your protection methods are nice and all, but not one of these methods will take more than 45 seconds to get around.

If your worried because these people have mirroring your content and hindering your SERP's as a result. Try cloaking..


2:45 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Or just sue...it can work.


3:48 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

sadly,I've wrestled with this too... problem is that the entire site is downloaded to my computer anyway, it's the way the web works. If I really want your content, it's right here on my computer.

furthermore, disabling the right-click is widely regarded as being in poor taste. Many many people legitimately use the right-click to navigate and access other functions. You may end up ticking people off.

One way to deter is disabling highlighting, i think you can do this:

<body onSelectStart="false">

I think it should work for most browsers.



11:22 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

There are a bunch of tools which can help catch content thieves as well. Just type "copyright infringement" into google and search.


12:22 pm on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

There are tools that will encrypt your page or hide the source code - zend encoder and phtml encoder are two names that comes to mind, but there are more than these. Of course you can also print out the whole page with javascript using "document.write()" ...and finishhing with "document.close()" (that's a nice touch).

In any case (encryption or JS alike) you should consider what happens for some "special" browsers, eg. Googlebot/2.1


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