Why You Can't/Shouldn't Hide Your
Hiding your HTML source code sounds like a great thing to
the unsuspecting newbie, but as always there are two sides to every story.
People new to making web sites tell me "I've worked hard to make my pages, I don't want people to steal my code". This is fair
enough, you have spent ages getting your CSS to work just right (more likely tables if you are a true
newbie) and the pages are
working just right in all the browsers you have tried. Why should you let other people steal what you have spent so long
True enough, you can use various little techniques to try and make it difficult for people to take your code, but all of these
techniques are fundamentally flawed.
Disabling the 'right-click' menu is one such way that people attempt to stop you from viewing their source code. It might
work for some people running Internet Explorer, but this method is easy to bypass. Simply by holding the right-mouse-button and
then pressing return before releasing the button will, in most cases, allow access to the context menu. You can also access the
source code by selecting 'View > Source' (or similar) on the menu bar of most browsers.
technique is useless. Secondly, it doesn't work in some non-Internet Explorer web browsers - so some Netscape users are
immune, as are a plethora of other browser users out there. Finally, the Apple Mac has no right-mouse-button - so how are
you supposed to disable something that doesn't exist?
your page will be 100% blank. This means that your visitors will won't only be unable to see the source code, but they will also
be unable to see the page! This method can also be overcome, but it is slightly more tricky.
a few bells and whistles to a web site, but you shouldn't use it for mission critical functions of your site such as for printing
the pages to the screen as in the second method.
Of course, there is a real reason why you shouldn't try to hide your code. the Internet is a way of sharing information and
ideas - not hiding them - and if you don't want people seeing your ideas then you shouldn't put them on the web, but rather
dig a big hole and bury them where no one can find them or better still keep them in your head. Once a visitor goes to your
site, they download the whole page to their computer automatically and so they have a copy that they can do whatever
the want to it.
Copyright laws pertaining to work on the Internet state that all of your published materials (i.e. original text, original
images) is considered copyrighted as soon as you created and published it - it does not however extend to the source code of
your site (i.e. HTML) and so you cannot stop people from copying your code, but you can do something about people stealing your
text or images. As a general rule, if you believe that you need to protect your site in this way and stop people from being able
to view the source, then you probably don't have anything that is actually worth stealing!
My personal belief is that you should let people use your source code in whatever way they wish. After all, that is how ideas
spread and that is one of the fundamental principles behind the Internet! So stop trying to hide your code, and share it with