Right-click banning does not work!

Recently one of our friends pulled all her articles off her website, in reaction to some people copying them without authorisation, posting them elsewhere, and in some cases, changing them. Today, I found all the articles posted back, accompanied by a script which supposedly disables the right-click menu, replacing it with a notice about the articles being copyrighted. I decided to do a little test on how effective this technique was, and discovered that it was even less effective than I had previously supposed. I rarely use Windows; my main computer is a Mac and I also use a PC running Linux. The main browsers you can get for the Mac are Safari (and a derivative, OmniWeb), Mozilla (and two derivatives, Firefox and Camino), Opera and Internet Explorer. Linux has Konqueror, Mozilla (and three derivatives, Firefox and the now little-used Galeon and Epiphany) and Opera.

Not one of the Mac browsers actually allow the blocking of the right click (most Macs only have one mouse button, and you use the Ctrl button with the mouse to do a right click). Mozilla and Firefox did display Sara’s warning, and then displayed the right-click menu. On Opera, Safari, OmniWeb, Camino and Internet Explorer, the mechanism has simply no effect.

On Linux, the trick works only in Epiphany. (Its JavaScript control facility is very limited, but this browser is being sidelined because of the recent release of Firefox.) It works in Firefox and Mozilla the same way it works on their Mac equivalents. On Konqueror and Opera, it doesn’t work. Whether this is because the browsers are written deliberately to stop right-click trapping or simply because they are too basic, I didn’t check. This nonetheless leaves right-click trapping a trick that works only on one popular browser.

I didn’t check it in Firefox or Mozilla for Windows, but I presume they have the same facilities as their Mac equivalents. K-Meleon, a Windows-based Mozilla derivative, also fails to trap the right click.

I suspect that authors of other open-source (and possibly even commercial) browsers will include facilities to ban right-click trapping, and rightly so, because most people in the open-source community resent the notion of someone restricting what I can do with my computer. (I expect MSIE won’t, however; MS has never cared much about their customers’ freedom.) As I pointed out earlier, the right mouse button does more than just copy text - it is also some people’s habitual way of moving back a page. People will simply find it an unawnted annoyance, especially if they used the right mouse button without any intention of copying the article. I do hope this doesn’t catch on.

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