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Chapter 12. Security > Hacks #97-100

Hacks #97-100

With HTML-based web sites, a user can quickly download a site's source files and review them without permission (by definition, the HTML page is just a text file that is sent to the user's browser or any client that requests it). A web browser or "site-sucker" program can also easily download any text and images displayed on a web page. Unfortunately, copyright laws offer scant protection, especially outside the United States and Europe, so most site owners accept that content will be copied or try to adopt technological defenses against it. On the mild end of the spectrum, a developer might add a visual copyright watermark to her images, forcing would-be pirates to at least edit out the watermark to cover their tracks. On the more aggressive end of the spectrum, files can be invisibly digitally watermarked to prevent their playback on unauthorized systems (of course, all such digital protection is prone to cracking, and we don't deal with that extensive technical and politically charged subject here).

The SWF file format is binary, so it cannot be read as easily as a text file, but this offers little extra protection. It simply requires software designed to read the SWF file format, which Macromedia makes publicly available at http://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/open/licensing/fileformat. (The license is free, but the SWF format is still proprietary to Macromedia, not open source.) For those interested in writing software to create SWF files, see OpenSWF.org (http://www.openswf.org), a resource site for developers working with the SWF format.


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