Defeating Copy/Paste Annoyance

A while back, I mentioned the stupid webmaster trick of inserting extra code, including a “Read more” and a URL, when people copy and paste text from their site.   John Gruber has much more information:

All of this nonsense — the attribution appended to copied text, the inline search results popovers — is from a company named Tynt, which bills itself as “The copy/paste company”.

Gruber follows with a long, slightly profane rant about what a violation this is of the principles of the Web.  And, then, how bloggers and others who are regularly inconvenienced by this “feature” can get around it:

If you use Chrome, you can install this Tynt-blocking extension, which does just what it says on the tin. However, you wind up getting a dialog box each time you encounter a different site using Tynt. (Although only once for each site.)

What I’ve chosen to do is edit my /etc/hosts file to block access system-wide to the server. This is the server from which the Tynt JavaScript code is served to all its “partners”.

Making changes to the hosts file requires administrator privileges, for obvious reasons. If you’re not completely comfortable making changes to an essential Unix configuration file, don’t. This Lifehacker article by Gina Trapani has a good overview of where to find and how to edit your hosts file on Mac OS X or Windows. (BBEdit and its free sibling TextWrangler are my preferred tools for text editing, and both allow you to save files with admin privileges.)

Here’s the line I added to the end of my hosts file:

After saving the hosts file, Tynt’s clipboard-altering nonsense is disabled on all Tynt-using websites I’ve encountered, no matter which browser I use.

I’ll be doing this.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Michael says:

    Does this stop you from copy/pasting the code, or does it just stop you from seeing it when you do, leaving the annoyance for the rest of us?

  2. Michael says:

    Reading up more on the Chrome plugin, it seems it blocks the javascript that Tynt uses to “infect” your copy buffer. For Firefox users, NoScript can do the same (and so much more).