your Work, Part 2
By Virtual Mechanics
| Last time I talked about
attempting to protect your web site design, ideas, graphics
and code from people that would want to unscrupulously use them
on their own web site. If you did not have a chance to read
it, it is posted here.
The fact is that HTML and the World Wide Web are open formats.
There are things you can do to help protect your work but there
is probably no way you can fully protect it. The first question
you should ask is if it is worth protecting? Last week I gave
you an example of a cartography company that wants to post their
vector-based maps on the Internet using SVG. There is no doubt
that the ability for a potential customer to buy and download
their maps electronically would provide a significant business
advantage for them. These vector-based maps however, are the
core of their business. Once posted there would be little to
stop someone else from selling the maps themselves. The potential
business gain or loss could be significant. Protecting this
asset is obviously worth a major effort.
For many of us our web sites are important but they probably
do not represent a core asset. But if it does, what you can
do to protect it?
If the work is really that valuable and the potential loss significant
then don't post it. This is the safest option but it obviously
has some very real limitations. The Internets most valuable
asset is the ability for many of us to post examples of our
work. Not posting could simply mean that we are not in
the business. In addition, if the work is something that can
be easily posted and downloaded like a map, then there would
be nothing to stop someone from acquiring it by other means
and posting it anyway. Not only will you have lost your work
but you will have also lost the business opportunity that the
Internet could have provided. Still, the safest way to stop
someone from hacking into your computer is not to connect it
to the Internet.
Post a Facsimile:
Posting a low-resolution version of your work has the advantage
that it could be sufficient to let someone know the value of
your product without making the hi-resolution version available
to everyone. Once you have verified the legitimacy of the end
user you could make the full version available exclusively to
them. Maybe this is an option for the Cartographer. They can
post a bitmap or low-resolution vector version (missing points
and data) of their maps before making the full version available.
This would not prevent someone from posting the hi-resolution
version after they acquired it but it would give them a greater
level of control. But be careful. The music industry initially
considered MP3 files to be a low-resolution version of their
copyrighted music. MP3 however, improved to the point where
it became good enough for the majority of listeners. We all
know what happened next.
Use encryption and/or a Secure Server:
Encryption and secure servers are used to protect credit card
numbers and sensitive information. They will not work to protect
an Image or other asset that will be converted into some human
readable format after it has been downloaded. Depending upon
the type of work you wish to protect and its value, this could
be a good option to use in conjunction with other options such
as posting a low-resolution test version.
This is what we use to distribute software. It can be used with
many other assets such as a database or access to a protected
area on a web site. It is also not foolproof but it can be effective
in many of cases.
If we used Quantum Mechanics as an analogy, this would be considered
the "weak force" also known as Gravity. It is weak
because it cannot stop anyone from taking your work. In Quantum
Mechanics however, gravity is also considered to be the most
powerful force in the universe that will always try to pull
everything back no matter how far away and long gone. The other
protection methods only work to prevent a theft. Once an asset
is taken, they are of little value. Although a copyright can
often be difficult to use and enforce, it is probably the best
protection you have in the long run for your assets. Even though
it is expensive to use it is cheap to setup. Simply let everyone
know that the work in copyrighted, that you are the owner and
that you will enforce it. Although not required, your web pages,
artwork and all other valuable posted material should include
a copyright notice.
Copyright (c) year Your name or owner. All rights reserved or
some other simple to the point message.
Fully protecting your intellectual property can be expensive.
The extent to which you are willing to go will depend on how
valuable it is or you believe it to be. For most of us most
of the time, we cannot afford or justify going to extreme measure
to protect all of our work. In the past I have posted several
methods that can help minimize the casual visitor from taking
your work and ideas. They are definitely not foolproof but you
can look at them anyway.
I have often been asked how you can hide your HTML. Well here
is an example. If you attempt to use the View Source command
it will generate an error. http://www.IMSWebTips.com/is1fig1.htm
Why don't all web sites use this trick? Because that is what
it is, a trick. Try and figure it out. If you cannot, send an
email to news@VirtualMechanics.com and I will tell you.
Click Lock your images:
This is a method to stop someone from right clicking on your
image to download it. Simply create a transparent gif and place
it over the picture you want to protect. Then if someone right
clicks to download they will get the transparent gif and not
the picture. If you use a small rectangle you can stretch it
to fit over the real image without increasing the download significantly.
Swap the names so the transparent gif would appear to be the
legitimate image and they want know what hit them. Lets hope
they don't think to use a screen capture.
Password Protecting a Web Page:
correct password before sending a visitor to a protected page.
I have discussed this in the past so I will not repeat it now.
You can take a look at these articles for more information:
Finally try to remember that unless you are talking about serious
money and major assets that cannot be easily reproduced, then
try not to be too concerned about protecting your ideas. The
Internets value is in its ability to freely exchange knowledge
and ideas. You give one you get one. If it did not work that
way then its value would be significantly diminished.
Source: "IMS Web Tips" is a weekly news letter for
all web site managers regardless of experience who are looking
for detailed information on creating, maintaining and promoting
their web sites.
To subscribe send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit www.IMSWebTips.com
for subscription information and a list of past articles.
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