Paying For JavaScripts? Just View Source

ThemeForest.net is an online marketplace for developers to sell themes, templates, and other web development related goodies. A lot of the files are for the backend making it next to impossible for someone to copy them without breaking into your server. But ThemeForest offers JavaScripts for sale and even offers a live preview.

By the very nature of the web, a front end technology like JavaScript requires the source code to be downloaded to your computer before it can run. This means anyone with a little know-how can easily bypass the need to buy the script and piece it together themselves.

For example, take this JavaScript calendar widget which has 0 sales as of this writing. All you have to do is go to the live preview and remove the frame by clicking the link in the top left corner. From there it’s just a matter of viewing the source (Choose View->Source in Internet Explorer, View->Page Source in Firefox) and copying the necessary JavaScript and CSS files. Here’s everything you need for this calendar widget:

Now before you get all upitty about the ethics behind this, you should know that this script is freely available from the author’s own site, which was based on an open source project from around 2006 according to comments in the CSS files.

Granted ThemeForest isn’t targeted at professional developers like me so someone might be more than happy to plunk down $8 to download everything in one nice, neat package. But if I were selling scripts on ThemeForest, with the expectation of a profit, I would be pissed that ThemeForest didn’t take more precaution to protect my source code. At the least they could obfuscate the live preview code using a tool like /packer/.

At any rate this demonstrates why it’s so hard to sell JavaScripts by themselves due to the very nature of how they work in an open web.

7 Responses to “ Paying For JavaScripts? Just View Source ”

  1. I think ThemeForest is aimed at professional developers as there’s no point re-inventing the wheel if someone else has done it – that’s just wasting your own time and your client’s money. However, the fact that this javascript was freely available on the authors website breaks the T&C of ThemeForest, especially as it’s based on open-source code.

    But you’re right, it is almost impossible to sell javascripts due to the nature of ‘view source’… but then again, there are people out there who are morally obliging and will be happy to stump up $8 for the work that someone else has put in.

    Reply

    Russell Heimlich responded on November 5th, 2009:

    It’s ok to sell your themes/code whatever on other sites but you just get a lower percentage of the sale from ThemeForest. I don’t know how they would really enforce that.

  2. I am fogtower, the author of JSCalendar in ThemeForest.

    >which was based on an open source project from around 2006 according to comments in the CSS >files.
    You are wrong, in fact, text.css and setup.css are not parts of JSCalendar. They just use to create layout of demo page, make the page looks well, and JSCalendar don’t use them.

    >know that this script is freely available from the author’s own site
    After I selt JSCalendar in ThemeForest, the source in the my site is comperssed now.

    By the way, I also am a professional developer, but I have to sell my product in ThemeForest, because I can’t find better way to sell it. Maybe like jQuery, free use, but need donate.
    Now I selt 9 copies in ThemeForest, got less than $30. 🙁

    Reply

  3. I agree with Phil. If you want to sell something in some other site to make some money, then why do u put it for free on your own site?

    It simply doesn’t make sense, or does it?

    Reply

  4. It is stealing plain and simple – yes you can just steal the source code but where are your ethics? Most of these plugins are only a couple dollars and the author only gets at a max 50% of that. You could at least pay for it.

    Reply

  5. This discussion reminds me of the image thefts.
    All you have to do is save the image from someones page and use it how ever you wish.
    Dumb things like javascript disabling right click only has to be turned off temporarily.
    People that don’t like this get the response “sue me” and the cost outweighs the value,
    or the person just removes the copied content in his answer to the legal letter.
    Same is true for all the copyright notices all over pages and scripts. The internet is an open place to utilize other peoples designs, and tho there are packers and the like, they too can be unpacked with scripts readily available.
    Don’t get me wrong, I loath people stealing costly work and making money off it, but it has been done to most all of us.
    “The Internet used to be a nice place.” – JRBeaman 1999

    Reply

  6. Innovation is an evolutionary process. It takes time, profound body of knowledge and continuous passionate efforts to build technology and process breakthroughs.
    Regards – marketplace scripts

    Reply

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