FiveFingers Blocks Right Finger — Just Asking For Middle One

from the say-what-now? dept

Treating fans and customers as if they might be criminals is a really bad idea. But, so many companies seem to do it these days. Mr Klein alerts us to a ridiculous programming decision on the webpage for the famously funky Vibram Five Finger shoes (which are sort of like gloves for your feet):

I was looking into buying a Vibram Five Fingers running shoes. Wanted to open one of the links in their page in a new tab in my browser. Right-clicked and… bam! I get this ridiculous pop-up warning saying

“Sorry, that function is disabled. Contents & Graphics Copyright Vibram ® Our work is not Public Domain, and should not be taken from this site.”

I admit I’m not the most patient person when it comes to someone acting stupid, so this just pissed me off big time. I mean – I don’t care about those shoes anymore. They’re treating me like some kind of a cyber-pirate that is going to steal… Wait… Steal what? What exactly is on that web page that might harm them if copied? What if I was going to write an article about how great their shoes are? Would I really want to continue doing that after this warning? I can imagine they’re afraid of counterfeit products being advertised using photos taken from their site, but – come on – if I was going to steal a picture, a simple screenshot would do the trick. So their effort is pathetic and annoying the hell out of customers like me.

Klein’s analysis is dead on. I just went and checked myself. First, this a really stupid programming decision — blocking all right-clicks on a website for all sorts of legitimate purposes (such as opening in a new tab, as I frequently do) seems like tremendous overkill. But, more importantly, as Klein points out, all this does is serve to piss people off while doing absolutely nothing to stop the action they think they’re trying to stop. Finally, making a statement about the public domain, just because someone right-clicked is also extreme. None of it makes sense, and all it really serves to do is piss off legitimate users.

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Comments on “FiveFingers Blocks Right Finger — Just Asking For Middle One”

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Marcus Carab (profile) says:

The right-click-blocker is a script that started in the age of GIF-farmers and over-ornamented Geocities pages, when the proto-4channers would bicker over the “theft” of a four-grame animation of a fist punching through the background. Sadly, every now and then you see it crop up on a modern website, employed by some extremely misguided business owner (and likely perpetrated by a beleaguered web-designing nephew who found himself powerless in the face of impossible demands)

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Re: Maybe not.

I may be biased since I have two pairs myself, but my reaction is more in the “that’s kinda silly” range than “I’m outraged and taking my business elsewhere”. Especially since the US site doesn’t do it.

I’ve also read a bit about the counterfeits you can order online; as research before buying. As far as I can tell it’s more of a trademark or consumer protection issue since the knockoffs are of inferior quality, with stitching that irritates and falls apart and rubber that wears quickly. That’s why they require any retailer who sells VFF’s online to have a physical storefront as well. The knockoffs are sold as authentic Vibram products and look surprisingly good. Most consumers would have no idea they’re getting ripped off, especially without the genuine article for comparison. So it’s a bit different than knock-off Oakley’s in my view, where the buyer pretty much knows they’re not getting the real thing for $5 at a bus station.

P.S. Yes, having a pocket for each toe is wildly different than two toed boots would be. The main purpose is to be able to fit and control the shoe against your foot while using as little material as practical. I’ve got the Bikilas with a little more padding for running and KSOs for hiking, I’d recommend either!

Rob Bodine (profile) says:

Drama Queens

First, for the technologically ignorant, this might not be such a bad prophylactic. Some people can’t get around it. More importantly, though, is that if you’re right, you’re being babies about this. Who cares? If they spend a ton of money putting together a website they want to secure, what’s the big deal.

Yes, Eldred gave copyright owners way too many rights, and yes, that has probably made a bad economic system even worse, but this isn’t worth the time that’s being spent on it. My purchasing decision isn’t affected one bit by this, and the reason is that 1) I’m an adult, that 2) doesn’t complain for complaining’s sake.

Move on with your lives, people. The world doesn’t owe you nearly as much as you demand from it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Response to: Anonymous Coward on Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 4:39pm

Really? A marketing win? I’m looking for a company that makes this type of shoe that spends their time worrying about a better product, not a web page where you aren’t allowed to copy images. Turns out their are 2-3 alternatives. I’m going with one of those, even though it’s a bit pricier…

AW says:

Drama Queens

Has nothing to do with drama, but thanks for insulting an entire group of people who find tech ignorance amusing on a tech site. You’re that guy who goes to movies and tells the people walking in how overrated it was ans the critics blew it way out of proportion aren’t you?
why don’t you let us have our fun and you can take your ball and go play at home by yourself.

You know why people complain? BECAUSE IT WORKS! yes I was screaming at you. You obviously have never heard the common expression the squeaky wheel gets the grease, anything about political parties anywhere in the world, revolutions, etc. People complain because they want something o change and are aggregating with like people because we are social creatures. Stop calling us children when you’ve got no idea what you’re talking.

Bryan Price (profile) says:

A couple of different ways to blow the blocking up

Using NoScript, everything I could see was right clickable.

Using RightToClick (Firefox extension), after the warning popup, I could freely right click.

I’m reminded of a site that had images, and using transparent gifs (stretched out the same dimensions as the picture) while the actual picture was made the background of the frame. You couldn’t quite do a right click, save as, you had to do a view background, right click, save as.

Anonymous Coward says:

In defense of programmers I must say that those decisions are not made by them. All the good ones know that it is impossible.

I get tired of people asking what to do when a client asks to disable the ability to copy something from a webpage, my answer is always “tell them that it is impossible at the moment with the current technology and probably well into the foreseeability future, webpages where not designed for private viewing but to reach others and show something to them, it goes to others and what others do is difficult to control”, the reply is always the same “I already did” to which I reply “then you did everything you could, give them what you can, but make it clear it can’t stop anything”.

Rekrul says:

You don’t even need a Firefox extension to get past this. Just go into the prefs, click on the Content tab and then click the Advanced button to the right of the Javascript option and uncheck the option to allow it to disable or replace context menus. You still get the warning, but the menu appears after you dismiss the warning. Or just disable javascript and you never even see the warning. Actually, I unchecked all the Advanced JS options.

Another way to save images from sites which employ tricks to stop you (like placing a transparent GIF over the image so that you can’t click on the actual image) is to go to FF’s Tools menu, select Page Info and then click the Media tab. Every graphic on the page will be listed there.

Also, middle-clicking on a link will usually open it in a new tab. At least it does for me, but that may be because I have Tab Mix Plus installed.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

It Works Anyway

I tried right-clicking on a link on that site in Firefox/Iceweasel (Linux). I get the message that that function is ?disabled?, but after dismissing that the usual right-click popup menu appears anyway, and I can still access the usual functions to open the link in a new tab or whatever.

I?m not running any special Firefox/Iceweasel extensions.

Pete Austin says:

Article is Wrong. I just tried the site. Can open all links in new tabs

Both these methods work, so I had trouble recreating the issue…
(1) Use NoScript and leave this site disabled (which is what most people do for new sites, right?).
(2) Or use *MIDDLE CLICK”, if you want to open the links in a new window (which is also what most people do).

The script is at the following URL. There’s no copyright statement, which can’t be an accident given its content, so maybe the programmer wasn’t too keen on writing it.

Aaron Toponce (profile) says:

.it, not .com and Snopes

For those who didn’t click the link in the post, but instead tried searching for Vibram FiveFingers in Google, and got sent to the .com page, it doesn’t work there. The script is only installed on the .it, or Italian site.

This reminds me of the scripts that are installed on Snopes. They won’t let you select text or right click. They want the ad revenue of people going to their site, rather than you just emailing the results to your friends. Of course, disable JavaScript, use NoScript, view source, Save Page As…, many, many ways to get around it. Of course, with all the chain email, it makes you wonder who the real source is…

Anyway, this sort of JavaScript crap is annoying at best, and all it does is piss off the honest. Well played Vibram, well played.

Aaron Toponce (profile) says:


Way to make the rest of us in the Free and Open Source community look like elitist pricks. Quit giving us a bad name.

For the record, I’m on Debian GNU/Linux in KDE using Opera, Chromium and Iceweasel, and guess what- if you actually read the post, and click the link, you’ll see the JavaScript banner in all three browsers.

It has nothing to do with your operating system, and everything to do with JavaScript in your browser.

crade (profile) says:

Article is Wrong. I just tried the site. Can open all links in new tabs

You are a pathetic tester if you can’t reproduce the issue given the instructions provided.

You have listed two workarrounds, neither of which were in the instructions to reproduce the issue.

The article never said it is impossible to work around the issue of opening new tabs. Middle click is browser specific though (not to mention you need a wheelmouse)

slander (profile) says:

There's always a way...

1. Fire up WireShark.

2. Start viewing the data stream.

3. Open up a command prompt.

3. Type copy con URL.txt.

4. Begin refreshing the browser, watching for the direct URL for the image.

5. Repeat step 4 until you have the URL memorized.

6. Type the URL into the command prompt.

7. Hit F6

8. Open URL.txt on your favorite text viewer.

9. Copy the contents (by hand) into the browser’s address bar.

10. View image in all its raw, untampered-with glory.

11. Save image

12. ???

13 Profit

iveseenitall (profile) says:

This article appears to usher in a new standard of sensitivity.
Anyone able to conjure up anger over something as insignificant as this more than likely have too much time on their hands.
Save the finger pointing for those who deserve it.

……..(‘(…?…?…. ?~/’…’)
……….”…………. _.??

Not an electronic Rodent says:


Why are you all wasting so much time talking about this? You clearly know how to bypass it anyhow and Vibram is just trying to take a stab at slowing down Chinese counterfeiters that keep trying to use their graphics on their own sites. Why not grab a pair and get off your asses instead of wasting time here?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me the point is that since there are so many ways round it, it is 100% pointless as an attempt to stop “piracy” or “counterfeiting” or whatever other vicious nasty thing they are frightened of. On the other hand is is likely to be minimally effective in annoying customers who want to legitimately use the sight and possibly be a factor in driving them elsewhere – people are often not too patient when it comes to web shopping.
The story then is about risking driving off paying customers due to fear of something that the change has no effect on. That’s not a good business model and worth a mention on a blog that often talks about how fear of piracy can have worse effects than piracy itself.

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