Protect your online content

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This has happened to me recently:

Normally I check my webservers logs regularly — partly to find out whether my page views have increased (if only ๐Ÿ™‚ ), partly to see where my visitors come from (and more importantly to make sure that I get other visitors than my friends ๐Ÿ™‚ ), partly to see who’s linking back to my pages and also to see whether there were any “illegal” requests that would give away some wannabe hacker trying to find some exploits in my sites. While doing so, recently, I have noticed that I kept getting a lot of hits from a certain page from jamosoft.com. While this normally wouldn’t worry me — as there are a few people out there who have made links to some of my pages in their blogs and/or sites — I found it unusual that possibly a company was linking back to my site!

A little investigation revealed that in fact they are not linking back to a particular page, but instead to a zip file which contains a project of mine. So I decided to visit the page that was referring visitors to this zip file on the jamosoft website. And it turns out that these guys provide a set of applications (with title and description and even screenshots!) without mentioning anywhere that the applications are not in fact written by them, but also without stating otherwise — which, of course, would lead most of the people in believing that it is the owners of the site who have actually developed them. The links for downloading the applications, stupidly enough, though points back to the original developer’s site — so one of them was actually pointing back to my server! So while I was happily offering this application for download toally unrestricted, in fact, a part of that was actually giving this guys credit for my work!

I’ve emailed the webmasters asking them to solve this issue by either removing the listing for my application from their pages or by adding a visible note and link back to my site. Surprise, surprise, of course no reply came back and nothing happened.

So then I finally decided to add a referrer protection onto my website so that any file type apart from the webpages themselves can only be downloaded if the link to them comes from one of my sites. (Read more about this here.)

No matter how much I support the idea of free software (hence the reason for providing my applications with sources free from my site), I don’t want some idiots to put together a page which links back to my site, claiming silently that they wrote the application. And I would suggest to anyone to start looking into configuring your server so that you only allow downloads from pages originating on your sites only. This indeed limits someone who is genuine providing a link for the purpose of download only, but I would argue that such a genuine person would have no issues in emailing you directly and requiring access for such a facility and also making sure that the link back to you clearly states that the download will begin from your site, and that the application belongs to you. And obviously, for such a genuine request, you wouldn’t have a problem to allow them to place such a link on their page.

Lastly, as much as I don’t like generating traffic for them, the page I was talking about is this : http://www.jamosoft.com/applications3.htm and my application (at the time this was written) is J2ME Convertor 1.0.2 (meanwhile, the version provided on my site has reached version 1.0.3!). If you recognize any of the other sites linked to from this page and have a way to contact the owner of these sites, it would be a good idea to drop them an email and signal the fact that these guys are claiming credit for their work, as they might not have noticed the traffic coming from this URL yet.

One Response to “Protect your online content”

  1. liviu.tudor

    Update: It appears that finally Jamosoft have taken my application off their pages. I had an email from them informing me that really they had actually placed a visible link to my site — the link however was still to the zip file — and based on this they wanted me to re-enable access to the zip files for traffic coming from their site. I replied back asking them to actually place a link back to the application page rather than just the zip — which I would be happy with — but I got no reply and shortly afterwards, obviously not prepared at all to do that and therefore give me credit, they have removed it from their listings. Oh well, what a loss ๐Ÿ˜€

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