Help Preserve Right Click on the Web

In recent years, it has come to my attention while browsing the web that an increasing number of websites are invading what I consider to be my private domain, the user interface of my operating system and my web browser to remove functionality.

Specifically, they are disabling the right click context menu in a variety of situations in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons (that was long!).

Why is the web a perfect medium for annoying other people who you've never met? Oh well, on with the explanation.

Give me some examples.

Some people (usually on personal websites) are apparently very paranoid and think the world is out to steal their precious homemade artwork. They generate a popup window on right click to deter you from using Save Picture As (or equivalent in your browser) to steal their images and become a millionaire.

What is so bad on the right click context menu they have to ban it?

Save Picture As they think you'll steal their images Copy Shortcut they think you'll steal their links. Copy and Paste they think you're going to copy their text onto your website.

What is wrong with this?

Putting aside any ethical or legal concerns, let's look at what this. What do I miss as a user if right click is disabled.

In Internet Explorer I can't:

  • Bookmark your site more easily with right-click a link in order to 'Add to favorites'. Right-click Add to Favorites is a lot quicker and easier than Favorites Add to Favorites.
  • View information about your web page using Properties without navigating to the File menu.
  • I can't use Open in New Window from right click. This was crucial to my browsing up until recently when all major browsers began to offer tabbed windows (displays more than one page in the browser window). I would go down a page right clicking the links I wanted to read in detail. They could load while I read the first page. Now I can't do this if you disable right click.
  • The Google Toolbar places useful tools on my right click contact menu. If you disable right click on your page, I can't use them. You will annoy me greatly. I may not find more pages on your site. I may leave your site. I can't see a Cached Snapshot of your old pages, I can't see Similar Pages on your site, I can't generate a list of Backward Links (those sites linking to you) and I can't Translate your page into another language using the easily accessible tools.
  • I can't right click a link and select Print Target to make printing pages I do not want to load easy. (Of course, the paranoid ninnies who disable this don't want you printing their pages for later reading either. They miss the point most magazines count secondhand reading in their advertising fees).
  • In Mozilla, I am prevented from right click Open Link in New Tab.

Why are they doing it?

Why is it futile?

Every image you see in your web browser is downloaded to your computer's hard drive. Otherwise, you would not be able to see it. Anyone can look in the browser's cache where files are stored to find any image. Disabling right click does not prevent anyone from getting to your images, should they want them.

There is no way to prevent copying of web page text. It's in the cache. It's available through View Source on the menu of any browser. It has to be. Web content is publicly available (NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN). It has to be in order for people to read it everywhere.

Is Disabling Right Click a Virus?

I consider it to be. Any unwanted software downloaded to my computer that affects how the Operating System User Interface behaves without my permission I consider to be a virus. Please understand that the right click context menu is used throughout windows as a universal user interface element. I expect it to be there. Just because it's in my browser does not give you the right to control it.

Is Disabling Right Click an Invasion of Privacy?

I say yes. Software that affects how the Operating System User Interface behaves without my permission is an invasion of my system ethically equivalent to hacking it.

What can I do about it?

  • Avoid or boycott sites that do this.
  • Use other equivalent sites that do not do it. Vote with your "feet."
  • If you use these methods, I won't come back to your site.

It appears someone else has noticed this trend and moreover gives some good reasons why this is done by supposedly intelligent usability designers (seamless app bit).