On 3/13/2013 4:38 PM, Dale H. Cook wrote:
Let me preface my question by noting that I am virtually a PHP novice. Although 
I am a long-time webmaster, and have used PHP for some years to give visitors 
access to information in my SQL database, this is my first attempt to use it 
for another purpose. I have browsed the mailing list archives and have searched 
online but have not yet succeeded in teaching myself how to do what I want to 
do. This need not provoke a lengthy discussion or involve extensive 
hand-holding - if someone can point to an appropriate code sample or online 
tutorial that might do the trick.

I am the author of a number of PDF files that serve as genealogical reference 
works. My problem is that there are a number of sites which are posing as 
search engines and which display my PDF files in their entirety on their own 
sites. These pirate sites are not simply opening a window that displays my 
files as they appear on my site. They are using Google Docs to display copies 
of my files that are cached or stored elsewhere online. The proof of that is 
that I can modify one of my files and upload it to my site. The file, as seen 
on my site, immediately displays the modification. The same file, as displayed 
on the pirate sites, is unmodified and may remain unmodified for weeks.

It is obvious that my files, which are stored under public_html, are being 
spidered and then stored or cached. This displeases me greatly. I want my 
files, some of which have cost an enormous amount of work over many years, to 
be available only on my site. Legitimate search engines, such as Google, may 
display a snippet, but they do not display the entire file - they link to my 
site so the visitor can get the file from me.

A little study has indicated to me that if I store those files in a folder 
outside the web root and use PHP to provide access they will not be spidered. 
Writing a PHP script to provide access to the files in that folder is what I 
need help with. I have experimented with a number of code samples but have not 
been able to make things work. Could any of you point to code samples or 
tutorials that might help me? Remember that, aside from the code I have written 
to handle my SQL database I am a PHP novice.

Dale H. Cook, Member, NEHGS and MA Society of Mayflower Descendants;
Plymouth Co. MA Coordinator for the USGenWeb Project
Administrator of http://plymouthcolony.net

You can't link to these files outside of the web root using any html tags - you have to do it thru php. So, instead of an <a> tag pointing to it, just have the <a> tag point to a script with a url containing a ?file=xxx portion as in:

<a href="pdflookups.php?filename=pdf_1">Show Me File 1</a>

In that script you simply recognize the filename argument and retrieve it from the folder that you are storing it in and send that pdf to the client or place it in the page that you are currently trying to display. Whatever.

And use a captcha (which I personally can never read!) to keep the robots at bay.

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