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I am signing a contract with someone remote in another country in regards with creating a new style sheet for their website. In our agreement the client pays 1/3 of the money first as deposit and the rest will be paid when I show the completed project online to him.

Now my question is, since I know CSS is viewable online and there is no way to encode it, apart from the fact that I need to trust him, is there any way that I can protect my work from being stolen before the final payment?

How do theme developers usually work remotely?

I would appreciate if you please share your experiences with me

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Aug 26 '11 at 13:15

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You would probably find a better crowd at webmasters.stackoverflow.com (even though most use both) –  Phil Aug 26 '11 at 13:04

3 Answers 3

Show screen shots only. Send the style sheet when he pays.

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You could improve this answer by explaining why you think this is the best course of action instead of just stating it. –  blubb Aug 27 '11 at 9:08
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@Simon: The utility of this action seems obvious to me. –  Robert Harvey Aug 27 '11 at 20:40

Is there any way that I can protect my work from being stolen before the final payment?

If he pretends to look at the website containing the CSS (or have the CSS code at hand directly) no, you cannot protect it.

The CSS file will be downloaded by the browser. He will be able to look at it and copy it entirely if he wishes.

I really see no point in having a CSS being copied. I used CSS for years and there are really no magic tricks or something only you can accomplish. All the things you can do with CSS can be freely available online somewhere.

The same applies for your HTML code and JS (though you can obfuscate your scripts, but the code will still be available to others).

The most you can do is minify your CSS to make it "harder" to read.

You may want to sign a contract with him which states this is your own work and cannot be copied or reused, etc., and appending a copyright notice on the top of your files.

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Thank you very much for the complete answer, although I wish there was a way around so I can work on this project with ease of mind. –  user35348 Aug 26 '11 at 13:30

Well, he is willing to pay 1/3 in advance, so I would show some good will and trust and wouldn't care about that.

But if you insist on some technical solution, then you could show him your work via some shared screen (Skype and others IM programs have this feature). Also with some shared desktop (such as LogMeIn) you could let him try application and watch him.

OTOH, as a client, I wouldn't be very happy about that, but I am good man throughout :)

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