[nycphp-talk] Making text hard to copy

David Krings ramons at
Fri Aug 6 23:13:46 EDT 2010

On 8/6/2010 21:50, Anthony Papillion wrote:
> I'm starting to work on a system that will require a bit of extra security.
> One of the security protocols the customer's decided on is that the outputted
> page should be fairly hard to copy. Yes, I know making an HTML page uncopyable
> is impossible but I want to make it as hard as possible.
> So far, I've come up with the following possible solutions:
> - Put all the output on an image and disable right click
> - Output a PDF
> Both of these solutions really feel nasty to me and don't really solve the
> problem at all.  Does anyone have any other ideas?

An image would be better, copying text out of a PDF is a piece of cake. And 
even with all the protections in place one can always make a screen shot and 
use OCR. All you can do is making the process a bit more annoying. If the 
customer doesn't want anyone to copy the content, don't have them put it on 
the web. And in that sense, why bother with any tricked out web site. Either 
put it out there and be prepared to have it copied or don't do it. It is 
possibly one of these cases where management tries to solve  a management 
problem with some technology. That usually fails.

Other options would be audio. The text gets recorded and you play the audio 
file. Any optical means fall flat here. So the only way is to use voice 
recognition or stenography. Could even do video, maybe that gives an option to 
present the content nicely.

In the end there is always a way and the real question is, how much damage 
could occur if indeed someone copies and distributes the content. If that 
would be potentially bad the next step up is paper copies and an NDA. At least 
the customer has something to base a lawsuit on.


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