The “No Select Text” Script

Usually when someone talks about preventing plagiarism, they’re looking for a silver bullet that can magically prevent your content from being stolen while allowing it to be visible to the world.

Unfortunately, no such tool exists. However, that doesn’t stop many from claiming that it does and swearing that they’ve found the cure.

The first great example of this was the famous “No Right Click” script that supposedly protected images from all theft. The script, which did much more to annoy than protect, was quickly debunked as new technology came forward, like IE’s image toolbar, and simple workarounds were developed, like turning off javascript or simply saving the page. The result is that, these days, the NRC script is reserved only for the most amateur of sites.

But now, desperate Webmasters, especially those with a great deal of text content, have latched on to a (slightly) newer tool, the “No Select Text” script. The tool, which prevents users from selecting text on a page, thus blocking the ability to copy it, is less annoying and at least slightly more effective than its predecessor.

Despite that though, it’s still a dismal failure doomed for the garbage heap. If you need to know why, ponder these points…

The NST script can be defeated in many of the same ways as the NRC script. You can disable javascript, save the page to your computer, open up the HTML code or, in many cases, simply hit “CTRL+A” to select all of the text on the screen without using a mouse. If you don’t believe me, visit this test site and try these solutions out for yourself.

In the end, someone who is determined to copy your work will still be able to do so and doesn’t need a lot of knowledge to make it happen. I know for a fact I’m not the first to post these solutions.

Second, the NST script will block those who want to legitimately use your work. Even if you don’t allow any reproduction, fair use, a concept found in both U.S. and many other country’s copyright lawbooks, allows people to use small portions of your work for comment and criticism even without your permission. All that’s required is that the use be attributed, be only what is necessary for the article and not detract from the value of the original work.

Like it or not, fair use is a right you can not detract from and, even though no one is likely to file suit over use of the NST script, you are trampling on a right that’s fundamental to copyright law.

Finally, even though it won’t mess with your site navigation like the NRC script, it does limit your site’s functionality. People select text for a lot of reasons other than to copy. When reading a long passage, for example, many select text to remember their place.

In the end, the NST script is just another nuisance that protects nothing. The only way to be 100% certain that your work isn’t plagiarized is to lock it in a drawer and never let another human being look at it. If that’s not an acceptable solution, then you need to either be prepared to deal with plagiarism or learn to accept it.

Because, like it or not, there are no technological solutions to the problem, only deterrents. These scripts might stop the most amateurish or lazy of thieves, but it won’t stop the determined and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the plagiarist, they’re a very dedicated bunch at times.

If you don’t believe me, look at my Copycat Hall of Shame.

[tags]Plagiarism, Content Theft, Javascript, Security[/tags]

15 comments
GVS
GVS

These blocking tools are totally waste, one would easily select or extract them using source in any browser, or built in developer tool opera dragonfly

JB
JB

Works fine for me in Firefox. However, it does NOT work fine for me in Opera. Interesting thing to note...

John
John

dowsnt work on firefox!!!!!!

JB
JB

Works fine for me in Firefox. However, it does NOT work fine for me in Opera. Interesting thing to note...

JB
JB

Works fine for me in Firefox. However, it does NOT work fine for me in Opera. Interesting thing to note...

John
John

dowsnt work on firefox!!!!!!

John
John

dowsnt work on firefox!!!!!!

marie b.
marie b.

i used to have that script implimented, but it was a pain for people who wanted to quote part of my posts when replying in comments.

i removed it, and recently had someone copy the entirity of my post to email only for their friend to reproduce it on their own blog.

it's tricky.

marie b.
marie b.

i used to have that script implimented, but it was a pain for people who wanted to quote part of my posts when replying in comments.

i removed it, and recently had someone copy the entirity of my post to email only for their friend to reproduce it on their own blog.

it's tricky.

marie b.
marie b.

i used to have that script implimented, but it was a pain for people who wanted to quote part of my posts when replying in comments.
i removed it, and recently had someone copy the entirity of my post to email only for their friend to reproduce it on their own blog.
it's tricky.

marie b.
marie b.

i used to have that script implimented, but it was a pain for people who wanted to quote part of my posts when replying in comments. i removed it, and recently had someone copy the entirity of my post to email only for their friend to reproduce it on their own blog. it's tricky.

marie b.
marie b.

i used to have that script implimented, but it was a pain for people who wanted to quote part of my posts when replying in comments.i removed it, and recently had someone copy the entirity of my post to email only for their friend to reproduce it on their own blog.it's tricky.

Mike
Mike

Good post, but I do take a minor issue with your point concerning "fair use" and using various codes to make it dificult for others to copy your text. Just as many magazines use paper that makes it impossible to copy their photos without marring the image, the writer in under no obligation to make it easy to steal their work product. Someone utilizing "fair use" could always hand copy your text with pen and paper therefore having the access that is required by law.

Mike
Mike

Good post, but I do take a minor issue with your point concerning "fair use" and using various codes to make it dificult for others to copy your text. Just as many magazines use paper that makes it impossible to copy their photos without marring the image, the writer in under no obligation to make it easy to steal their work product. Someone utilizing "fair use" could always hand copy your text with pen and paper therefore having the access that is required by law.

Mike
Mike

Good post, but I do take a minor issue with your point concerning "fair use" and using various codes to make it dificult for others to copy your text. Just as many magazines use paper that makes it impossible to copy their photos without marring the image, the writer in under no obligation to make it easy to steal their work product. Someone utilizing "fair use" could always hand copy your text with pen and paper therefore having the access that is required by law.

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