Two software products have brought features to the Web that had been thought impossible.
PixSafe, from the Israeli startup CSafe, allows content providers to protect the use of images on Web sites, meaning that surfers could not download or copy them.
The second offering, a controversial free plug-in for Web browsers called Third Voice, allows any surfer with the software to post or read messages attached to a Web page - but in a fashion independent of the page and its authors.
PixSafe protects Web site images, CSafe said, by filtering outgoing Web browser requests and adding micro-code that allows the browser to display the image. But the code stops the user from downloading the picture, copying it manually, taking a screenshot or printing it.
The company said this involves no reduction in picture quality or browser performance.
CSafe is planning more products that will protect text and other content, which could lead to a flourish of Internet content from users who previously feared breaches of copyright.
PixSafe is due to be released this summer and will cost roughly $10,000 (£6,200) a server, CSafe said.
Third Voice, billed as a free "browser companion service", allows users to post comments about a Web page that other Third Voice users can see and reply to, without changing the original page content.
But the software has drawn criticism already from both users and Webmasters, as some users are using the fsoftware to post insults or ads for salacious Web sites. Webmasters also complain that the software allows pages to be defaced, could breach copyright laws and is used to post spam.
A Web page has been set up entitled "Say no to T(hird) V(oice)," which includes examples of Web pages with irrelevant and irreverent Third Voice postings.
Others have defended Third Voice, however. "It really enhances the way the Web works, and provides user interaction you can't get any other way," said Barry Parr, director of Internet and e-commerce strategies at US analyst firm IDC.
Parr compared PixSafe and Third Voice: "One is about control, the other is about giving up control."
Third Voice is available free for Internet Explorer 4 users from www.thirdvoice.com.
A plug-in for Netscape users and IE 5 is expected to be available soon.
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