I HAVE seen a lot of bad decisions made on corporate websites over the years, but this may be the worst by far.
Apparently in an effort to stop people copying photographs from its website, health care giant Johnson & Johnson has coded its pages to make it impossible for people to use the right-click button on their mouse.
The move makes the company’s website extremely frustrating to use and obstructs legitimate users like investors and journalists from performing common tasks like:
- copying and pasting text;
- saving PDFs;
- subscribing to RSS feeds;
- creating shortcuts;
- bookmarking pages;
- opening links in new browser windows or tabs;
- viewing the page source code; and,
- performing a range of other tasks depending on their software.
Treating all users like criminals
Worst of all, Johnson & Johnson’s implementation of the right-click restrictions treats all the company’s web users as criminals without achieving its intended objectives of preventing copyright infringement.
The company is the first we have seen to disable right-clicking on a corporate website in all the years we have been reviewing investor relations websites.
Amateur webmasters sometimes disable right-clicking on their websites — a very rare occurrence, by the way — when they want to prevent people from copying photographs or other content from their sites.
If you don’t want people to use it, don’t post it
But here’s the rub. These measures don’t stop people who are bent on stealing content from websites. It is very easy for an even modestly experienced computer user to circumvent J&J’s blocking script.
Even advanced techniques for trying to prevent people copying images and other content from a website are not foolproof. The only sure way to prevent people stealing your website content is to not put it online in the first place.
Chasing people away
As it stands, by disabling right-clicking Johnson & Johnson is undermining its ability to build online relationships with interested stakeholders. It is insulting its audience, acting like an overly possessive child that won’t share its toys, and ultimately discouraging people from visiting or using its website resources.
Want proof? Well, consider this. We first noticed the blocking script during our recent review of J&J’s IR website for the World’s Best IR Websites program.
It became an issue when we needed to copy the link location for a podcast feed into a feed reader. The way I normally do this is to right click the link, copy the location and paste it into the feed reader.
Off course, I couldn’t do this on J&J’s site, even though the company itself invites users to copy and paste the link in its explanation of how to use its podcast feed (see below).
In effect, the company is making it exceptionally difficult for people to subscribe to receive updates. The objective here should be to encourage as many people as possible to subscribe, not chase them away by making it harder for them to do so.
And chase them away is exactly what the company seems to be doing. For instance, J&J only has four people subscribed to its podcasts on Bloglines, the biggest online feed reader. That’s a sorry number for a company of J&J’s size and profile.
When all things are taken into account, J&J’s decision to disable right-clicking is just incredibly stupid. It demonstrates a lack of clear thought and an almost knee-jerk overreaction to something that is likely not a big problem anyway.
After all, who wants to steal pictures of baby powder bottles?
P.S. If you want to see what pictures are on J&J’s website, here’s 37 pages of them on Google’s image search site