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Protect your site's content from opportunistic thieves and make it harder to steal from your site
The lowdown

PART ONE: The basics of protecting your site's content

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urban75 web project Protect your site's content
Make it harder for no good bums to steal from your site
By Mike Slocombe for Internet Magazine, Feb 2004

The web makes it easy to steal content

As soon as someone views your page, all the words and images on it (along with the source code) are already downloaded to the Temporary Internet Files folder ('cache') on their PC.

With the web page already downloaded, saving its graphics or text is simply a matter of moving files from the computer's cache to another location on the hard drive.

Put simply, if something's viewable on your machine then - one way or another - plundering types will be able to get their thieving hands on it.

However, there are plenty of clever bodges, code tweaks and cunning tricks you can add to your site's code to deter casual thieves.

Keep your web site under lock and key! You'll never be able to stop really determined thieves from nicking content off your site, just as it's almost impossible to protect your home from a professional burglar who really wants to get in.

But you can make their lives difficult - which might just be enough to make them give up and try an easier target.


Most of the solutions listed here are fairly simple to implement, but almost all of them may annoy visitors, make your site less search-engine friendly and create accessibility difficulties for some users.

Of course, if you want to go the whole paranoid hog, you can make your site near-watertight by employing drastic security measures like encryption, password protected directories and hidden files, but that would surely defeat the whole object of having a website!

In reality, the best protection for most webmasters is to liberally scatter their site with clear copyright notices, embed logos and copyright information wherever applicable and keep a watchful eye out for copyright infringement.

Check your server logs to make sure no-one's stealing your bandwidth and type in unique, key phrases from your site to see if anyone's using your original text.

Ultimately, the best advice is that if you really value something and don't want people using it without your permission, don't put it on the web!

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