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Head First Servlets and JSP, 2nd Edition by Bert Bates, Bryan Basham, Kathy Sierra

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Making static content and JSPs directly accessible

When you deploy static HTML and JSPs, you can choose whether to make them directly accessible from outside the web app. By directly accessible, we mean that a client can enter the path to the resource into his browser, and the server will return the resource. But you can prevent direct access by putting files under WEB-INF or, if you’re deploying as a WAR file, under META-INF.

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Note

If the server gets a client request for anything under WEB-INF or META-INF, the Container MUST respond with a 404 NOT FOUND error!

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