You Shouldn't Disable Right-Click
working hard on a design, image or article you may
right-click while optionally warning a visitor that
the content is copyrighted. It might sound ok, but
this is not generally a good idea. Why not? Read
You don't realise just how much you use right-click
until you can't use it! There are a lot of useful
features in the short menu that it opens up. While
most are also available in the main browser menu,
it is often much quicker to use the right-click
menu as it is usually the closest menu you have
available to your mouse.
If you think disabling right-click will protect
your source code or images, think again! Anyone
who is determined to copy your content or code will
do so regardless of his or her ability to bring
up a browser context menu. If they want your source
code then it's as simple as selecting ?view source'
from the main menu. Article text can be highlighted
and copied, images and media presentations can be
retrieved from the cache, and streaming media can
Disabling right-click will only make people more
determined to learn exactly what it is you are hiding.
This could end up being counter-productive, as your
images and source code attract unwanted attention.
Not only that, but you can only disable right-click
options to be able to ignore the script altogether!
Mouse gestures that enable quicker navigation are
starting to become a feature of browsers; Opera
has them, Mozilla has just added support, and it's
only a matter of time before Internet Explorer adopts
them. Disabling right-click on pages viewed in these
browsers also disables the ability to use mouse
gestures, so you won't be popular with those that
use them frequently!
Even when you don't make use of mouse gestures,
disabling right-click can seriously affect your
ability to browse the Internet. I tend to open any
links from a page I like in a new window from the
right-click menu, so that I can read and compare
both pages and return without having to use the
back button. While you can open a link in a new
window by holding down shift while clicking on it,
many find it easier to use the option from the right-click
menu. Disable this menu and you will loose these
visitors pretty quickly.
Not only would disabling right-click limit the functionality
of your visitors browser, it could also damage your
search engine rankings if care is not taken. Any
could easily confuse a search engine spider.
Ask yourself this, would you buy something from
a site that reminds you it's images are protected
by copyright every time you go to use right-click
(even when your pointer is nowhere near an image)?
No, I thought not! Disabling right-click suggests
a lack of professionalism to users.
Most of your visitors will come to your site looking
to buy something or to find information. Only a
small percentage of your visitors will land at your
site with the intention to steal from it. By trying
to protect yourself from the minority, you effectively
insult the majority, who will use the right-click
menu for legitimate reasons. Do you really expect
your visitors to trust you when you offer them "helpful
reminders" that imply you can't trust them?
Granted, some people will want to view your source
code - but don't assume that everyone who looks
at it will want to use it on their site! Savvy visitors
that are aware of deceptive techniques used by some
unscrupulous site owners may just want to check
that a link is going to take them where they think
it will take them. Does that make them a thief?
There are other, less controversial alternative
solutions available to the problem protecting your
images or source code.
Protecting your Images
If you really must disable right-click, then limit
the aggravation and use a script that disables it
on images only (some scripts also prevent the IE6
image toolbar from appearing). Of course there will
be times when people want to use right-click and
have their mouse over an image, so I'd recommend
you change the message slightly to reflect the fact
that only images are affected.
Another way you can identify images as your own
is to mark them in some way. The best way to deter
the would-be thief is to make a visual mark on the
most interesting part of the image. Marks such as
your logo, your site address or even the word "sample"
in either a solid or translucent colour make it
obvious that an image is not intended for general
distribution. This graffiti style tactic works well
on sites that offer artistic services, and can also
help to discourage hotlinking.
Digital watermarking is the practice of embedding
identifiable information into a file. Typically
this is a unique ID code or the image creator's
contact details. This embedded information is invisible
to the average surfer but can be viewed with the
aid of graphic program plug-ins or specialist stand-alone
decoders. A digital watermark is typically stronger
than a physical mark, because it is not obvious
when you look at an image whether it has additional
information embedded inside it. Having said that,
this method provides no deterrent to a thief, although
in theory it should make tracing your work (and
in some cases derivative works) much easier.
If you want to show the level of detail in your
high quality images without giving away too much
"for free", then you could use what I
like to refer to as the "window" method.
Imagine you were looking at the full image through
a square inch hole in a piece of paper; you wouldn't
be able to see much of the final image, but you
would be able to see the quality and detail in the
image without having to display the full image.
I've seen this approach being implemented in Java
at some image galleries (allowing you to move the
viewable window), although it is probably simpler
(and quicker for your visitors) to use a cropped
image based on the original.
Protecting your HTML
Using a script to disable right-click is not the
most effective way of making your source code difficult
to read. Most of the techniques used to protect
happen to have it switched off, the site becomes
to protect the source code of a page: -
Encode the source code making it unreadable without
Open the page in a new window with all menus disabled
The only way to make it more difficult for curious
people to decipher your HTML source code without
needless white space. The effect is to turn your
code into one or more long lines of code so that
anyone using the view source function in a browser
finds it difficult to read without taking the time
to tidy it up.
Obviously, which alternatives you choose to use
will depend on what you need to protect and how
important it is to protect it. You should bear in
mind that anyone who is determined to steal your
stuff will find a way to steal it - even if this
means taking a screen capture or typing out an article
you've disabled text highlighting on!
Of course, there is a much easier way to protect
your content from would-be thieves without ever
having to disable any browser functions! If you
want to protect something that badly, don't even
put it on the Web!