10+ Ways To Protect Images From Being Stolen

Protecting images online is a difficult, almost impossible, mission to accomplish. At the end, the image is there and a "print screenshot" command can grab it & no way to stop this.

But, there are various ways to harden the process & make it not worth trying like disabling right clicks, using images as backgrounds, adding watermarks to them & more.

Here are the good practices of these options:

 

Hide The Images

 

Put A Blank File Over The Real Image

Protect Images Background Method

This method will make the real image unreachable unless checked from the source.

You can use the original image as a background & put a transparent-blank file over it that matches the size of the real image.

For ex:

<div id="image1" style="background-image: url(originalImage.jpg);">
    <img src="blank.gif" height="250px" width="300px">
</div>

So, when the image is right-clicked, it will be the blank.gif that can be reached.

There are also 2 JavaScript framework ready solutions for this:

 

Auto-Slice The Images

 

Super Simple Image Tiles

PHP Image Slicing

This is a very effective image protection method.

An image is automatically sliced into pieces but presented as a whole. The original image is also hidden as watermarked.

Some serious disadvantages of this method are:

  • adding a relatively more overload to the server as multiple requests will be made
  • you’ll have lots of image files

 

Using Watermarks (Pre-Generated)

Adding a watermark to an image is an effective way of protecting images.

Besides the cons like:

  • image not being presented clearly (there will be a watermark on it!)
  • can be downloaded and cropped

as the source file is marked, there is no way to get the original image.

There are several solutions to watermark images with ease. From modifying it via Photoshop, GIMP, etc. to some web-based watermarking services like:

PicMarkr

Online Watermarking

A free service to watermark images online.

Multiple images can uploaded once or they can be grabbed automatically from Flickr.

It is possible to apply a text or an image watermark.

WatermarkTool

Online Watermark Website

Another web-based free watermarking service.

You can upload images to be watermarked, customize the watermark text to be applied & download the updated images.

 

Using Watermarks (Generated Server-Side)

 It is possible to automate the watermarking process at the server level. Once applied, this is the easiest method to use.

To mention, implementing these methods require at least a bit of scripting knowledge.

Here are several libraries & examples for this:

Asido: PHP Image Processing Library

PHP Image Processing Library

Asido is a PHP image processing library that can work with GD2, Magick Wand & Image Magick.

Here is a detailed information on watermarking capabilities of Asido.

Other PHP solutions:

ASP.NET Solutions:

Ruby Solutions:

 

Use Flash To Show The Images

 

swfIR

swfIR

swf image replacement displays images inside a Flash file which makes right-click impossible.

And, images can still be styled with CSS properties

On the other other hand the image source is mentioned at the source which again can not provide a total protection.

 

Browser Based Image Protection

 

Disable Right Click

Disable Right Click

Disabling right click via JavaScript is a way to start protecting images. But it is a simple step which can stop novice users as it is possible to disable JavaScript or get the path to the original image by reaching the source.

Is this a good method? Definitely no as you will be disabling all the right-click options like print, copying the link, etc. (updated 23 Jan 2009)

It may be a better solution to disable only save functions which this jQuery plugin can help.

Disable IE6 Image Toolbar

Disable IE6 Image Toolbar

When an image is hovered for a while, IE6’s image toolbar appears automatically with an option to save the image. This can be disabled too.

Add the following code between the head tags of the webpage.

<meta http-equiv="imagetoolbar" content="no">

 

 Any more image protection solutions you want to share?

  • Awesome, exactly the thing I was looking for. Thanks alot!!

  • xanathon

    Most of this is useless since you have access to all media of a webpage via Firefox’ media manager, regardless if you try to protect them in any way mentioned above…

    So you have to live with the fact that content on the web is downloaded to your browser to see it and thus can easily be stolen.

    Thanks for the hints anyway. :o)

  • Excellent article. I think watermarking is the better one out of all because that way you can still get the advantage from Google Image Search.

  • TR1

    One point that should be mentioned about ImageTiles is that the user can choose how many tiles to make from each image. It can be made into as few or as many as you’d like.

    Also, the source is then watermarked, so even the FF media manager cannot recover a full, unwatermarked image.

  • using flash to display the images is also an option!

  • @dirk,
    Thanks for that. I knew that something serious was missing. Added that to the post.

  • TR1

    @dirk,
    many people think that flash creates a blackbox that doesnt allow users to find image paths.
    The truth is with tools like Safari’s activity monitor, or FF web dev toolbar, you can see all the files flash loads in.
    unless you compile each image in the SWF, it can be found in an unprotected form

  • Eno

    Another option is to configure your web server to check the referrer – if its not from your site then refuse to serve it. This can be used effectively to stop people using your images remotely on their site.

  • You say “almost impossible.” Sorry it is _absolutely_ impossible because of the way the internet works. All these techniques are a waste of time. If you don’t want people downloading your images, don’t publish them on a publicly accessible website. That is the only fool-proof way but once a copy is downloaded, you have no control over it thereafter so even if the copy originated from a private site, it can still end up in the public. The best you can do is prove authorship through watermarks, but even those can be removed or would be destroyed through derivative works. Plus there’s absolutely no protection against a user simply taking a screencap and pasting into a graphics program. The concept of digital “property” is a farce and can only be propped with dubious legislation. Stick with physical media (at least until the universal assembler is invented). You’re better off using digital copies as a marketing tool to advertise your services and (higher-resolution) physical works.

  • I agree with everyone who has pointed out how easy it is to rip off images, regardless of the protections that one puts on them.

    But the notion of “protecting” images on the web is kind of a misnomer anyway. The appeal (and purpose, really) of the internet is the exchange of information…and of course, people want that information for free and will get it for free whenever (and however) possible. So if you have images you don’t want ripped off, don’t put them on the web, or watermark the hell out of them. Such an approach, of course, will make you immediately irrelevant to most everyone, but at least your precious pictures will be protected…

  • I hate to say this, because you’ve obviously put a lot of effort into this post, but really people should give up trying to protect their images. There’s really no effective way.

    Some of the above solutions are easily circumnavigated (there’s a Firefox plugin to re-enable right click if it’s been disabled, I can grab a screenshot of a flash image), some of them lower the quality (ie watermark), some of them confuse accessibility (slicing your image into 6 pieces mean you need 6 alt tags to validate, so what do you put into them?).

    Now hotlinking can be prevented as per Eno’s comment, but if you really want to stop someone actually getting the image, don’t put it on the Internet!

  • @Brian, @existdissolve, @Stephen Cronin, @xanathon,

    I totally agree that it can not be protected but it is sometimes worth to make it difficult.

    Disabling right-click & running a warning at that time may have a stronger effect to mention that the image is copyrighted, or showing them behind Flash may prevent search engines from indexing them..

    But at the end, I think the same, if it is on the web, then there is no safety.

  • Hello

    Regrettably, there isn’t any way for a perfect image protection from being stolen, except of a good watermark. Indeed, a simple screen capture cancels all protections which not really touch the image (the watermark is also the only good one !)

    On the other hand, there are some other solutions to “protect” (sic) images :
    – add a hotlink detection (with a .htaccess file and a php script saving all referers of each image, for example)
    – protect images directories on your website (with a simple “index.php” empty file)

    I have written a similar article in french last year => http://blog.aube-nature.com/?2008/01/22/197-protection-photo-site-web

    😉

  • Iain Fraser

    Nice post. Most of your suggestions could thwart a large percentage of casual users. But anyone who know’s what they’re doing can get past any of these in a second – use with caution.

    I don’t think there is any truly secure way to show images online without interrupting them with watermarks. Even slicing the images up (while annoying for would-be content rippers) doesn’t really work because you can always screen-grab as a last resort.

  • There is no method to protect your imagery from being misused. If a user is able to see it, then there is a way for the user to download it. Calling it practically impossible is wrong, it is impossible.

    All you can do is watermark your images, as discussed, to ensure people maintain proof of ownership. You can even embed extra data in some image formats (such as PNGs), without affecting its content.

    “Disable Right Click” is one of the most useless relics of
    the early browser days to still have some legs in web design. When you disable right-click, you disable right-click on everything. Which means people who wish to right-click links, or copy text, are completely screwed. Ultimately, when a use disables right-click, I just refresh the web page with Javascript disabled.

    Using Flash to display the images is a poor substitute, as it not only requires a separate plugin (which a nightmare for some users), but it means your images aren’t getting cached by the browser (so your server load will increase). Plus, in the end your browser is still making a request for the image (via Flash), so you can intercept the full image URL regardless (this is how its still possible to rip music from sites like MySpace).

    One option would be to encode your image data, deliver that to Flash, decode and display it. But, I can still press Print Screen or use Grab.

  • Wazooka

    Totally agree with the comments about protection being the wrong way. Be happy if somebody really likes your work enough to share it with their friends. Rather anticipate on that to make it possible, give them a link to donate or something. And above all, put in an active effort yourself to get your work out there where it really counts, otherwise you would be better off printing it and putting it in a safe.

  • ricardo esteves

    There´s no way to protect 100%.
    Still have the Print Screen Button, View Source and a lot of FF plugins…

  • I’ve been watching this site for its great posts, and this one will really help out – it’s always so difficult to find something like this, and putting them together, makes it easy to use one.

    Yeah I agree with many, but the in-experienced user doesn’t even know those shortcuts.

  • Jason

    Stealing:
    given to or characterized by theft.

    Theft:
    the act of stealing; the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another; larceny.

    What you are describing is not theft. Taking a picture of someone’s car does not deprive them of their car.

    What you are describing is ‘copying’ at best and copyright infringement at worst. To call ‘right click->save as’ theft is a misnomer. Theft would be breaking into the server, downloading the art and removing it from the server.

  • 90% or more of all image borrowing is for non-monetary gains. Get better at taking photos and worry less about being “borrowed”. Who cares if a kid puts up a blog post with your image? Call it flattery, I do.

  • ment0r

    Can we just stop screwing around with right mouse button. The technique is so useless and does absolutely nothing to protect the images but just irritates users because you remove legitimate uses of the menu. E.g. I may want to print the page or select and copy text or open a link in another tab/window. If you really want to protect your content you shouldn’t make it available online. If you do, someone who really wants will find a way to get it.

  • garrow

    …or *10 Ways to Break Usability on the Web*.

    People who actually want to copy your work for malicious or commercial use are going to have the skill to get around almost all of these options, even watermarking, unless you make it stupidly insidious.

    So the only people this will really hurt are normal end users, who might just like the image, and want to print it, or save a local copy for their desktop, or any number of fair usages they will no longer have.

    Congratulations on spreading more DRM.

  • Andrew

    Really, what we’re talking about is preventing people from *copying and archiving* of images.

    In a sense, images are already copied so they can be displayed on the person’s computer (ie. a file is transfered from a web server to a local computer). Some people object to the user viewing the image out of it’s original web page context.

    Personally, I feel that it’s better to focus on providing value (ie. more good images) then people will keep coming back (and clicking on ads, etc) than worry about individual users looking at locally stored images at a later date.

  • Paul

    That’s totally crap. “Hotlink detection”, “traffic theft” vs. “prevent image copying”. Instead motivate your users to deep link to your file, the source is still there, it’s the url. No need for image destruction (watermarks) or other usability disasters (change mouse behaviour of _user applications_).

    Don’t put information on your side, which should’t be copied. – It’s the internet, that’s how it works.

    You can’t defeat the net, but your visitors and yourself.

  • Hay

    Sorry, but this is a complete waste of time. There is *no* good way to protect your images and *all* of these methods have drawbacks that are either very user-friendly (let me use the right mouse button to select this piece of… wtf? ‘This image is copyrighted’?) or cripple the image (don’t get me even started on watermarking).

    When you put something on the internet, accept that it might be stolen and used in ways that you don’t want.

  • Surprised to see this much “no protection must be applied” comments. I agree with most as I’m aware that there is no 100% success and in most situations think the same. But:

    A talented thief can stole everything, whether it is an image or a masterwork in a well-protected museum.

    Car producers create high-tech methods to prevent car theft like immobilizers, card entry systems, even alarms. At the end, they can be & they are stolen.

    You can just make it difficult. And if that image needs to be shown but musn’t be stolen, for me, you should make it difficult.

    The oldest right-click method, you can still make it work for you. If you apply it only to related images and display a warning that “the image is copyrighted” & show the real context menu later, this is something. You don’t break usability, don’t limit the user but acknowledge them.

    For ex: if you’re an icon designer, then you need something (widely used: watermarking), because you can not market it without showing.

    Like mentioned in the post, most methods are for preventing novice users.

    And to be clear, “howmany times an image is stolen” is more important than whether it is or not.

  • sky

    wow..nice tips..

    sky

  • I promise every designer here one thing, and that is if you disable my context menu or put your image inside a flash container, that will be the last time I ever, EVER visit your site. Reducing functionality is a cardinal sin.

    If you are that worried about tracking your images, watermark. Anything else is downright hostile to your users.

  • Most of these methods (if not all) can be overcome by a user using Firefox’s plugin FireBug, which lets you edit the page HTML & Javascript on the fly.

  • thanks for the tips

  • Disable right click? Really?

  • @Timothy,

    You read the post in a whole?

  • and what about a simple screen capture?

  • Filip

    I think you have forgotten watermarking by invisible signature. Its better because it doesnt damage photo impression and thiefs cannot crop the watermark so easily, because they dont know that it is watermarked. I prefer Digimarc or much cheaper SignMyImage. Btw. good article 🙂 F.

  • Wow, thanks for saving me time. Who knows how long I would of tried to protect them. Guess its just a waist. Post and go with the flow. Appreciate saving my the time. My computer is slow as it is.

  • Davy

    Im creating a website and try to protect my images to and I found some ways but still I will be able to find the images to copy them. First of all i created my images in a DLL file so all images are show with a webresource.axd file.

    Problem here is that if they save the axd file as a png file they still have the image.

    Next what I try is place the pic online with a transparant png file on top of it and protect the image src code from being placed in the url to get image. Like this you cant get it by right clicking and not by pasting in the url.

    Problem here is that you can put the image in an own html file (not online) and then take it from there.

    Conclusion. You cant protect your images. Even I went on websites where they tried to protect images and still i was able to take it. I never saw a real website where its impossible to take the image.

  • Jacki

    Good grief there’s a lot of know-it-all whingers around. Yes we all know people can get around these protections. So what? People can get around the locks on my doors but that doesn’t stop me from using them to deter that happening.

    When people take stuff from a website that is clearly marked NOT FREE then that is THEFT – just like taking an apple from a market stall without paying is called theft. There is no difference.

    And get over this “everything on the net must be free” rubbish. Some stuff is free – some isnt. Why should it always be free just because it’s on the internet??? I like free stuff as much as anyone but it’s not some inalienable right of all internet users. How old are you people?

    Do your own artwork or pay for it to be done if it’s worthwhile – and stop being such cheapskates and lazy scroungers.

    Oh and thanks for the nice free information umut.

  • Nadia

    How do you protect images from the right-click functions and etc. on MySpace or Facebook?

  • Eric pan

    This is impossible to protect the image don’t copy. Yours’ way maybe to make the image copy to be difficulty.

  • This is good to see protection of images.

  • Phil

    While it’s understood how the internet works and pages are downloaded onto the viewers browser (copied). This doesn’t imply that the viewer can do what ever they wish with the data and/or photos. I’ve read several of the above replies and a few need to understand that copyright laws do protect digital format. Once it is written, it falls under copyright laws. It doesn’t have to be registered like in the old days, however, it would be beneficial to do so. A viewer having these files in their broswer cache is expected; however, it is not expected for an author to have their work copied and posted all over the place. This is where the violation has been committed and the violator can be sued. Bottom line, it’s what the viewer decides to do with the data which may or may not get them in trouble.

  • Great article, do you also have a tool like copyscape.com where yo can check if a image is shown on different websites?

  • Amber

    As a professional photographer, I have had images stolen, re-edited, and then used to promote a graphic-artist’s services. It took a the PPA’s copyright infringement defense department to straighten everything out for us. From the moment an image is created, it is copyrighted by it’s creator, and nobody except theimages creator can assign permission to repost, edit, or use the image an ANY way in ANY media. Bottom line. Stop right there.

    It’s happened to me. It can happen to anyone. It is a SERIOUS CRIME, and any possibly way to help people protect their images is WELCOME.

    Thank you SO much for posting this – every little bit of help is greatly appreciated!

  • @Camilla,

    TinEye is a great “similar image search engine”.

    @Amber,

    Your welcome with that.

    I know that it is not possible to “really” protect images but, sometimes, making it difficult can at least stop a % of the theft.

  • ben

    I am interested in the first method of placing a blank image over the real image. Does this require coding or is there way to do this in Photoshop or another piece of software?

  • thanks man great article i like first one

  • pixelshield can protect the image from download without any coding. you should check it out.

  • Graham

    Here’s a true situation: a friend has had her photo’s taken from a dating site and used to make an advert for a sex contact site. (The photos are NOT nude btw). Coupled with that they have used her screen name from the dating site which just also happens to be almost identical to her (own) company’s web site. So.. a prospective customer googles her company’s name and finds a link to the sex contact site. Too late to repair the damage already done but what can she do to get the photos removed?

  • Quentin

    The best way I found is to have your original photo stored outside the web root. Nobody can access this. Then when you display to the browser, take the original from outside the web root, place your watermark over it, drop the quality and then display. The photo will be pretty useless to the viewer if they want to steal it. Also do not give image names like 1.jpg, 2.jpog, etc. Give each image a random generated number mixed with Alpha and numeric characters. It will almost be impossible for a user to write a script to run through all your images.

  • Quentin

    Graham — There is such a thing as Model Release. If she did not Model Release her photo to them, she can sue the CRAP out of them. Scare them with an email saying that if they do not remove it within 24 hours, you will take further actions.

  • David

    Whilst it’s true that ultimately preventing someone taking your image from the Internet is almost impossible, using the techniques described here simply make it more “awkward” to do so.

    Re disabling the right click; simply only prevent if the source element is an image, using jquery $(this).bind(“contextmenu”,function(e){if(e.srcElement.nodeName==’IMG’){e.preventDefault();}});})

  • David

    whoops, slight typo there:

    $(document).ready(function() { $(this).bind(“contextmenu”, function(e) { if (e.srcElement.nodeName == ‘IMG’) { e.preventDefault(); } }); });

  • Russell Harrison

    I liked the article and found it immediately helpful since I am required to display some of my work online. As an online teacher, I see a percentage of students plagiarize each term. They even copy another student’s answer that is posted earlier in a thread. So….you can imagine what they do when they need a photo or graphic for a art assignment? If you do not protect your photos or art, you can be certain that someone else is getting an “A” for your efforts.

  • I interested to transparent image method, thanks.

  • Will Bockemuehl

    As a jeweler with unique designs, I find this article interesting. With the advent of CADCAM, it is too easy for another jeweler to steal a design and copy it, with no requirement of being able to physically reproduce it without a machine.
    The watermark and .GIF image over sounds like the best to protect. I accept that the image can be printed and reproduced manually. It is the capture and reproduction with CADCAM that bothers me.
    Thank you for this information, and the forum to get it.

  • lesm

    Best trick to protect images (Please do not spread the word) *Keep it secret*.

    1. Order a Leica S2 37.5MP Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3 inch LCD with Sapphire LCD Cover Glass and Platinum Service Package.
    2. Order Adobe Dreamweaver CS5/Fireworks CS5.
    3. Ask you girlfriend or boyfriend to pose. Not necessarily nude.
    4. Take at least 10 shots.
    5. Select the best picture.
    6. Open Dreamweaver CS5.
    7. Create an HTML page.
    8. Write some nice text about the selected picture. Do not include phone numbers nor street addresses. Better if you don’t use real names. A nickname is okay.
    9. Insert the image in an appropriate place and check it with Fireworks. Check size and compress as necessary.
    10. Do not upload the page to your website.

    Using this 10-step procedure ensures that no one would steal the picture.

  • Roger

    I agree with lesm. What he suggest is the best method indeed, but a little bit expensive 🙂

  • :)) I heard that Canon’a are compatible with @lesm’s method as well.

  • XTREEMMAK

    People need to READ!
    I agree that there is no sure fire way to prevent image theft on the web other than not publishing it at all. But rather than whore your image out there, give the thief a big middle finger saying f*k you, and make him work for it.

    I myself am not trying to waste too much time on this protection method as the only ones who will be first aware of the images I’m trying to protect, are registered users. In anycase, users who view the content away from the site, miss out on the opportunities geared towards registered users. That is where I think I’ll find my niche and user protection considering in the long run, it’s all about the experience.

    So yeah, I’ll probably use right click disable and maybe image ghosting via transparent gif….now I just need to find a php script that generates the page from an XML document lol.

  • Great article – there is alway a way around alle these procetion methods, but I think I will use the watermark.. thanks.

  • Bret

    @lesm
    Nice solution I will think about it. 🙂
    But, seriously, there is nothing we can do to protect images (or text) from Internet delinquency. Maybe some time in the future, who knows. But not this time with current technology.

  • Thanks for good tips. I have this problem like other websites. Do you have method to prevent other websites from direct link image from my host.

  • lesm

    @crib
    That’s easy. What you mean is known as Hot-linking You must modify (or create) an .htaccess file. There are lots of examples in the web. I suggest you google “prevent hot-linking”.

  • well as a confessed photo junkie, I collect photos from all over the internet for my personal use. I have a tumblr where I repost pics i like when I find them but link back as best I can. so that the author gets some free traffic. but truely, with a frew tools and the right browser set up there is absolutely no way to even slow me down. flash is annoying,yes. but can be worked around easily…
    best point made, if you dont want people downloading it, dont display it online. period.

  • Thank you, good ideas and tips. I’m just starting making “better” pictures so this is very useful. Still like @Taylor’s post. If somebody uses my photo with a backlink so I get some credit, the better.

  • Erika

    I know my horse show images are on every rider’s Ipod, even though they are watermarked. With the IPod and IPad, pinch to enlarge the shot to crop out the watermark, press two buttons simultaneously and it copies any photo. And even though I now have my watermark diagonally across the shots, riders don’t care – the shot can clearly be seen behind the watermark. The only solution is to pass out cards at an event, post one great shot as an example, and a few partial shot teasers, and make people come to you to see your photos. If you are good enough, they will come. If not, they were likely the ones ripping off your shots in the first place.

  • Watermerk works best!

    An Peters

  • Something to consider:
    Though it *is* impossible to fully protect your works/art/photos/etc on the web, there are good reasons to take steps to make it harder.
    Example: There are average only 13% of web users who take the time to learn the tricks or know how to rip media files that are “Protected”(statistical reference).
    That means that, average, 87% of your visitors will do as you intend, visit your site and view your media as you have it.
    For the other 13%, if you have media which you did not create (own copyright to) posted, you are required, by copyright law, to have not only a reference (web link, wording, etc) to the origin of that media, but you must reasonable effort to protect the copyright owners media. If those reasonable efforts are not made, the copyright owner (person who took the photo,made the pic/song/”media”) can include You, along with whoever have download/ripped the media, in any lawsuit of copyright infringement. They can also place you as being held for higher financial responsibility/jail time than those who ripped, because you facilitated the breech of copyright (by placing it on your website).
    Just a heads up.
    Great Post
    ~Sun
    *Source- USPTO & retained Copyright Lawyer

  • I found out that a lot of my artworks have been stolen… and I can see them on other sites just by using image search on Google… but they were lower resolution, with my name on them. So, at least I get credit.

  • Awesome! The copyright thieves almost destroy all my hope to start up a photography blog. Then u light me up again
    Thank you so much <3 <3

  • The Mule

    Most of these suggestions are useless and easily defeated. And none of them are foolproof. No matter what you do – NO MATTER WHAT, someone can take your image if they can see it. You could do every single trick on this page and I can still go to your site and take a screenshot, then trim the image I want out of that.

    Better off either a) changing the way you think about copyright and ownership, and/or b) stop putting images you don’t want publicly available in a public place.

  • Mike

    I know this is an older article, but I hate to say it, but image theft is actually a positive thing. Why do you think Terry Richardson, high paid fashion photographer, has large size images on his tumblr with no protection? Because he doesn’t care. Go ahead, download them, and try to use them and watch what happens. Lawyers are now hoping and praying someone will steal images, rather than photographers trying to prevent it. You can spend so much time trying to prevent image theft and chasing people down in the Ukraine, etc. who will never honour your take down request anyway. Or, you can just let people take it. Why do you care if some kid uses your work as a wallpaper? No magazine or publisher in their right mind was use a 72dpi 1280px image from Tumblr because the quality is too low, and they would have lawyers on them for 150,000 USD per image if they made the mistake of using it. What I’m trying to say is….ignore the small fry kids who share and repost your image. Let them, who knows, you may turn them on to photography. Only go after the big frys, the TMZs, the newspapers, etc. Otherwise you are wasting your time.

  • This is a humorously out of touch article I found after I wondered if anyone had written an article about the ridiculousness of Flickr allowing the “disabling” of image downloading, when screengrab programs, which are *impossible* to block, allow any image to captured in seconds. It is not possible to make image capturing even remotely hard. Lol.

  • Terence

    Reading comments with interest. have to disagree with the poster who said it is a misnomer to want to protect images as the internet is about sharing info.

    I own a business and recently came across a competitor who had used one of our images of our work claiming it as his own. The guy refused to pull it. We are working on a new website where there will be hundreds of new images and I want to protect them as best as I can. I have also come across competitors who have ripped our copy off to the word. Plagiarism is rife on the web and there really should be better tools to protect this.

  • The only sure way to protect images is to watermark them. Anyone can take a regular old screenshot of your image, whether it’s in Flash or something else, but if it’s watermarked they cannot use it.

  • Baritac

    Don’t forget this tip : Never put online the largest size of your pics. A mere 800×600 or 1024×768 is enough.
    What will happen ?
    – 1) No one will be able to have great printings with a 800×600 image so they wont steal it and
    – 2) You’ll have a proof by keeeping the real size of your pics in your PC (if you are using RAW it’s still better). Try to get a 4500×3500 SHARP pic by using a 800×600 one 😉

  • Ben Cowell

    My wife and I are about to start a new company supplying innovative teaching aidsand I know they will be knocked off. We are in the fashion industry for nearly 40 years and saw my wife’s designs in various shops, other designers collections etc. We shall trade mark the brand, register the designs properly, but I want to supply work sheets from the web which customers will pay for, and for schools we’ll issue a licence. Does anyone know of a way of introducing a watermark, which when scanned or photocopied will be so prominent to the point that it’s made useless? Cheers BC

  • Ben Cowell

    I should correct (it was 2am when I wrote the above) ‘we were in the fashion industry’.
    Cheers BC

  • Hi Ben,

    As far as I know that’s not possible, specially for the scanner as it -almost- scans what we are seeing.

    Personally, I use my mobile camera as a scanner.. simply no way to stop that and sounds like that should be the risk that needs to be accepted.

  • Ben Cowell

    Hi Umut M
    Thanks for your posting. I’m just sure there is something out there as I have a distant memory of reading of it. Maybe it was a hard copy which was laminated or something like that? -:) Cheers Ben

  • As a photographer, I understand I should be flattered when people “lift” my images and use them on their sites.

    However, many of the copied images now appear above my original pics in Google image search, so I’m losing out on traffic that should be visiting my site. This is hurting me financially.

    I hope some day a clever programmer will find a way of watermarking images as soon as they get downloaded so they become unusable.

    But until then, I agree with the general sentiment that it’s hopeless trying to stop people using images once they’re published on the Web.

  • Thanks for the advices.I had the same problems (like all the people) with the images.

  • priya

    can u temme the procedure to disable right click

  • Andreas

    Due to the technology used there is absolutely no way to protect a displayed image. First the image is already stored in your HD and second you can make a printscreen. However, there are two options to lessen this problem, one is to follow lesm’s procedure above, and the other is to watermark the image. Period.
    By the way GettyImages is using a new watermark style.
    http://www.gettyimages.com/Creative/Frontdoor/NewWatermark?isource=usa-en_home_ftv_spotlight_watermark

  • Roy

    I know a method to prevent stilling of images… stream them as secure media video… some formats you can’t even printscreen because the image will not be grabbed, and some times, because they are executed directly in the video card you can’t even print screen. Ok, you can still take a shot with a camera.. good look, with the quality of that :p

  • LisaDiane

    I love to copy my favorite images to my hard drive to look at and be inspired without always having to be online (I bookmark the pages too)…..that’s all I use the images for. I don’t have a website or a blog or Facebook or anything like that. I don’t consider what I do “stealing”, any more than photocopying part of a library book would be considered stealing (I’m sure most people don’t think that’s wrong – the library even offers a copier!)

    With that being said, I don’t think anyone on here would mind if what I do was the only thing that their images were copied for — but reading some of these responses really shocked me! I didn’t realize that there were people who literally stole images to use as their own, sometimes competing businesses!! That’s disgusting to me! And I don’t blame anyone for trying to lock out people like that!! Maybe there should be a website that lists serious copyright violators like that, to shame them, and so that potential customers would know what kind of companies/people they are giving their business to….I know I’d never use a business like that!

    Now I won’t be as irritated when I can’t copy an image that I love, now I understand why people protect their images as much as possible!! Now, I hope they win that battle!

  • Masselyn

    I was wondering, and forgive me if this was mentioned in comments (sooo many thoughts, I could have missed it), if there is a way to track an image once it is copied from your website? I mean tracking a “normal” copy (right-click or actually pulling from the image URL) because I can not see how a screenshot could ever be tracked. Like can meta information, or something else be inserted into the image that you can track across the internet

    I have a client asking about this feature, and I didn’t think it could be – but thought I would ask the brains on this site!

    🙂

    Thnx.

  • @Masselyn,

    Tineye (http://www.tineye.com/) can help.

  • kch

    dwProtector for jQuery

    WTF? after seeing the red border given as example I was able to see the picture… What a great script rofl… I won’t rely on this sh*t

  • As web creator, I ever made option for simple methods instead of using long javascript codes. Once it is abolutely impossible protecting my images, at least I can provide the webpage with a good appearence.
    First, getting rid of the image toolbar by the well-known metta tag. Secondly, disabling the right-click button, by adding to the body tag,

    oncontextmenu=”return false”

    You can also use this for each tag image, but to simplify, you’ll get the whole page, not really protect from being copied, but reasonably clean.

    In addition to the tips on above posts, none of them can prevent the webpage to be copied, including their images going to Edit / Select All / Copy

  • There will always be thieves who are not creative themselves except to profit from those who are. Not just with digital images and text. I just came across a page w a free download of a book that took me 3 yrs to write. Not only that, they had ads on the page to profit from the subject of mybook. You do have the option of flagging and reporting the site/URL. With all luck it will be on some service like tw or fb who try to abide by copyright law. But I don’t avoid sharing things on the net for fear of that small % who are thieves. I always keep my img files small. If someone wants a 3″ copy, fine. Having clear copyright notice will also deter some. I appreciate when people link back to my site.

  • It’s incredible to see how the society is flouting terms like “property”, “author’s rights” and things like that. For instance, more and more societies are LEGALLY selling watermark removing softwares.
    That kind of crap are nowadays included as a feature in some photo editing softwares. 🙁

  • Robert

    Look I agree its not foolproof but to say why bother is simply ridiculous. The internet is difficult place to protect your images agreed and if you decided not to visit my site after experiencing right click issues etc. Then so be it. But my images are my images and my copyright which is a legal entity.

    I like many. Take my copyright seriously and will use the full force of the law when it has been breached – make no mistake!

  • Chris

    Don’t try and cloak images on top of one another on your pages. Google will delist any pages that do this. They consider it black hat SEO to hide things.

    You need to watermark your images or use Zoomify which tiles images. Or use a site that has powerful viewing controls like SmugMug.

    Currently the Stock Market has been slammed by Google and Bing’s new image libraries.
    If you are smart, a water mark with “license this image” on your photos could possible bring you more business now, since people are now viewing your images in these new search catalogs. People need to take advantage of these new image library hits. Name your images for maximum hits in multiple categories.

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