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  1. #1
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    Online Collaboration site - help with copy protection

    I'm in the process of designing an online collaboration site (I've got a couple developers helping, I'm not a developer, myself), and we've got a bit of an issue in trying to find an open-source collaboration tool we could use on our site. We'll be hosting the files ourselves.

    My requirements are:

    -One individual uploads a manuscript
    -Others (separately) annotate and change the manuscript but are unable to copy-paste to another application (to protect the original intellectual property)
    -The uploader can see all or one set of annotations at a time, each annotator can only see their own.

    The biggest issue that we're looking at is the copy-protection, which is a must.

    If anyone could point me in the right direction of tools that are already available, or how to go about creating such a tool would be helpful.

    Thanks in advance!

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  3. #2
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    There isn't a tool one way or the other, and you probably are going to have to create it. But it's going to pose its own set of challenges.

    1) If text is editable, then the ability to copy / paste will be there. You either make the manuscripts read-only or the copyright issue is there. That, unfortunately, is the nature of just about any format you pick.

    2) If text isn't editable, you're not going to be able to allow for annotations.

    You're pretty much down to "making a plugin and hoping / expecting others to download it." Personally, I'd suggest that what you're doing is probably too much for what the technology of the web allows.
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  4. #3
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    I was just thinking of how some websites allow you to enter a password, but won't allow you to copy from the same cell (to protect the previous password). How is this typically done? I think something like this would make the idea workable.

    Am I off base? (thanks for the reply, btw... I'm not ready to give up just yet. :-) )

  5. #4
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    I haven't ever seen the feature you're referring to, so I can't speak to it.
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

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  6. #5
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    I'm seeing it this way ...

    One person (Person A) creates and uploads an original manuscript.

    Person B creates a copy of the original manuscript and is allowed to update only his/her copy.
    Person B can only see his/her copy.

    Person C creates a copy of the original manuscript and is allowed to update only his/her copy.
    Person C can only see his/her copy.

    Person A can open the original manuscript at any time and also see any of the copies others have altered.

    Is that sort of correct?
    To me, that part seems like it would be easy to do.

    The part I don't understand is ... Person B and Person C get to see the original manuscript. They can read it and retype it elsewhere, or even take a screenshot or photo of the manuscript. I don't see how that could ever be 'protected', other than by a vow, or promise, that they never plagiarize or repost the manuscript anywhere else. What if they take some photos and then retype it on another computer and that computer gets stolen or lost? How secure is the server where the manuscript files are stored? What if Person C writes down their log-in password on the bottom of their keyboard and everyone knows to look there, just like a key under the doormat?
    Last edited by mlseim; Oct 21st, 2013 at 11:50 AM.


  7. #6
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    Yes, mlseim, that's it exactly.

    They would, of course, be able to manually type and copy the manuscript through screenshots, but the idea is to make copying it as difficult as possible (I'll likely be working with trustworthy people, but I'd like to make it more difficult to copy the ideas that were seen). There will also be a legal agreement in place.

    The manuscripts will be very long (book-length) so it wouldn't make sense to type (without significant effort), and screenshots would be fairly difficult, considering the size.

    I can't guarantee complete protection, as you said, but I feel that this option is better than doing nothing. Do you have any ideas that might work better? How might one go about putting this in place?

  8. #7
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Actually, I just had a thought as far as who you could hire as a consultant for this. If anyone will know the answers you want, it'll be Jonathan Bailey. Dude's forgotten more about copyright and IP theft online than I'll ever know.

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  9. #8
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    How are the manuscripts currently written, in a plain text file, or on what kind of software? And is it just plain text, or are graphics involved?


  10. #9
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    Thanks for the tips, guys! Sorry it's been a while since I posted (work's been quite busy with other parts of the project). Thanks for the tip, thegame! I do have a group of programmers who could likely do the job... though we just need a direction to point in terms of researching the problem.

    mlseim, the manuscripts are actually going to be in a wide variety of text formats (.doc and .rtf will likely be the most common) and will be converted as needed to a new format. There will be no graphics involved.

    Hope that helps!


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