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Numly tags help protect your digital content

© May 2019 Anthony Lawrence

Thanks to Bruce Garlock for pointing this out: Numly can help protect your digital content by providing a third party verifiable time stamp that you create at the time you create your original content.

You'll see the Numly barcode at the end of this post just above the copyright notice. If you click on that, you'll be taken to Numly where you can verify that this content really belongs to me.

Can this prevent content theft? No, not really, but it is yet another safeguard you can add to your content. It does serve to help prove when you created the content, but like everything else, it isn't absolute. For example, I have thousands of old posts here: if someone took the trouble to register some of those with Numly, what does that prove?

Update Sept 2010: I decided to drop Numly. They have raised prices and it has become a fairly complex job to get the barcodes from their site. I still think it's a fine idea, but I'm not using it here any more.

It is possible for me (or anyone else) to automatically request Numly ESN tags using their ESN Toolkit, so if I did want to generate tags for all that content, I could do so - though even at that, because of the limits Numly puts on the number of ESN's you can generate per month, it would take me at least three months to convert everything (Numly allows 3 per month at no charge, 100 per month for $59.95 a year, and 2500 per month for $1,995.95 a year). Given that, I think I'll leave most of the content as it is..

However, if I did want to do something like that, I'd use Perl LWP to get the tags - it would be trivial to run through the content.

I was initially confused as to how to best use this service, but browsing through examples of what other people have done straightened me out. Basically, you just identify the content and yourself, and put a description of it in the "Description" field. For web posts, most people seem to paste in the post itself for the description, though for videos or audio content obviously you'd do something else.

I harbor no illusions that this will stop content theft. The sites that do that are going to continue to do it and if they are aware of the Numly tag, they'll just strip it out. More likely they'll just leave them in because their theft is often automated by web robots. If that's the case, doing Google searches for the ESN number might even be helpful in locating stolen content - though I'm sure the thieves will catch on soon enough and start stripping these.

By the way, I have changed my Copyright Policy to require the inclusion of the Numly ESN tag when I have applied one.

Added Perl script to get Numly

WordPress Plugin

Got something to add? Send me email.

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-> Numly tags help protect your digital content


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Mon Jan 7 19:31:24 2008: 3414   bruceg2004

Funny, I thought I heard about Numly from your site, but I guess not :-) I think we did talk about some kind of serial number for articles for copyright reasons at some point over the years. I have no idea how I found Numly now. O well. I signed up for a year, and it has been working well for me, but it is mostly for my family, and the few political rants :-) I am going to be getting a tech. site together, it's just not easy with a 5 month old waking you up almost every night. 5am comes quick, and hard on those days, and by the end of the day, there is not much time left for me to do very much for myself :-)

- Bruce

Sat Jan 10 22:58:45 2009: 5131   Will

Anthony - Do you insert the Numly code manually? I used Numly for a couple of years, but recently stopped. I use WordPress and there is an old plugin that would insert the Numly code automatically. The plugin is not supported and is ling out of date and I find inserting Numly manually for 3 or 4 posts per week is just too cumbersome. I do agree that Numly is a good product, though. Just needs to be automated.

Sat Jan 10 23:08:24 2009: 5132   TonyLawrence

No, I don't do very much manually..

I have a little Perl script that fetches the code and writes it to a "postname.numly" file and then the code that renders the page includes that file.

Sat Jan 10 23:10:00 2009: 5133   TonyLawrence

Here's a link to the code I use: (link)

I don't know much about Wordpress so can't help you there..

Sat Jan 10 23:23:56 2009: 5134   Will

Thanks! I know nothing about Perl but I don't think that is something that would transfer to WordPress. WordPress uses php coded plugins to do things like that. The original plugin worked well, but it needs some updates and revisions to work correctly with the recent versions of WordPress. Too bad as Numly is a great service, but without a working plugin the massive WordPress market is unavailable to Chris, the developer of Numly.

Sat Jan 10 23:29:37 2009: 5135   TonyLawrence

One goal I have for this year is to learn more about Wordpress so that I can be more helpful with things like this. It's probably trivial to write this (php is very similar to Perl) but I would have no idea at this point how to interface with WordPress.

Maybe I should make this my first WP project..

Sat Jan 10 23:49:45 2009: 5136   Will

If you decide to do it, let me know. I can help you with suggestions and testing. I have a few things already detailed that need to be fixed in the existing plugin, which is open. I have discussed this in the past with Chris of Numly, but he is not knowledgeable enough with php to update the plugin himself. I can send you the php plugin file if you like. Much of what you would need to know is probably already in the there as it was set up to interface directly with WordPress aand actually worked well except for a few flaws. Email me directly if you want it!

Sat Jan 10 23:53:18 2009: 5137   TonyLawrence

Sure, I'll take a look at it..

Sun Jan 11 18:34:53 2009: 5140   BruceGarlock

I have the numly Wordpress plugin working just fine on my site. Is this still a problem? The only thing I did notice, is that after a post, you need to go into the post as if you are editing it, and save it again, and then the numly code will be added. Make sure to read the manual, too.

Let me know exactly what is or isn't happening..



Sun Jan 11 18:52:42 2009: 5141   Will

Bruce - Go to the Numly site, log in and look at your ESN's The permalink url will be wrong. It is the url for when the post was in draft form, not the link after you published the post, This is the main thing that is trying to be fixed. If you have to go to the Numly site to edit the ESN every time you post, that defeats the purpose of the automated plugin. You do not want the incorrect url on the Numly site as that shows up as a separate page from your main post in Google. Duplicate content on every one of your posts. If we can fix that one bug, that would be great!

Sun Jan 11 18:53:32 2009: 5142   TonyLawrence

The question is WHICH Numly plugin - see (link)

Sun Jan 11 19:14:28 2009: 5143   TonyLawrence

I think the problem under Manage is a Numly problem. If you follow the link that I or that plugin generate, the Reference URL is correct, so I think that's fine.

What I see is that under "Verify Link: Copy and Paste into Blog , THAT is incorrect at Numly. But neither I nor this plugin uses that, so it doesn't matter.

Sun Jan 11 19:32:06 2009: 5144   BruceGarlock

My ESN's all seem correct, and I am using this WP numly plugin:

< (link)

Which seems to be dead now!

What I meant by going into 'edit the post' was through WP, not numly. My numly ESN would not be generated when I would submit a new post (through MarsEdit), so I would have to log into my admin WP account, and go in to edit the post, and save it, at which point the ESN would be generated, and a link appending to my post.

Like I said, the link to the plugin I downloaded (probably shortly before Tony Wrote this original post) is not working now, so where did you get the plugin? Maybe if I email you the plugin I have it will fix your issues, or maybe you can patch what you have now with code that the plugin I am using is doing.

All of my ESN's on the numly site seemed fine. I did not see any duplicated posts or anything. Can you tell me exactly where you were seeing that after logging into numly (i.e. exactly what links are you clicking on to observe that)



Sun Jan 11 20:30:06 2009: 5145   TonyLawrence

Bruce - if you can mail it to me I'll generate a diff against what Will sent and maybe we'll solve this mystery.


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