How to protect my photos from theft?

If you are making a photography website, then should you be concerned about people stealing the photos you post on your website?

With today’s technology, no matter how hard you try, it is not possible to protect your photos from theft. If you are reading this, then that means that this web page including all photos in it was downloaded onto your computer and your browser is just showing it to you. So, if you put a photo on any website, then it needs to be downloaded into a person’s computer in order to be shown to that person. There is absolutely no way around it.

Who are you trying to protect from?

There are mainly two types of people who may take your photos.

  1. Casual people: – They do not have any intention to steal at all. All they do is probably use your photo as desktop wallpaper, or share it with a friend, or maintain an offline collection of the photos they like. They may even share on their blogs without even realising that they are using your photos.
  2. The Pros : – These are tech-savvy people who know they are using your work and use it for commercial purposes.

Whom do you want to protect against? Do you want to stop casual people who are anyway not going to pay you anything or the pros, from whom there is no real way to protect from?

Here are some protection methods which were used by some websites:-

1. Banning right click

It is possible to ban the user’s ability to right click on your website using simple javascript. The easiest way to do this in WordPress is by using the No Right Click Images Plugin. But, it is very simple to go-around it.

All a person needs to do is press F12 in their keyboard and they can see the entire code on that web page. Then, they can either directly access the photo from there, or simply delete the javascript.

Another simpler way is to just choose the option ‘no scripts’ in their browser and they won’t be banned from right clicking.

If you still want to do it then paste this code under the <body> tag.

[syntax type="html|php|js|css"]<script type="text/javascript"> document.oncontextmenu = function(e) { e = e || window.event; if (/^img$/i.test((e.target || e.srcElement).nodeName)) return false; }; </script>[/syntax]

If you want to disable right click, we have written a detailed article about it right here.

2. Putting the image as a background image

This is a CSS trick. If a photo is a background image, then the user won’t be able to right-click and download the image. But still, he can press F12 and view the source code and easily access the image.

The only thing this does is making your website full of non-standard code.

3. Adding a copyright message.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to add copyright symbol on the content so your site to protect it. If the content is created by you and it is on your website, then it is automatically protected. The only reason you may want to register for copyright is if you believe that someone may in the future claim that your work is theirs. Unless you are a top photographer or artist in the world, there is no point in going through this hazel.

However, due to the same popular belief, adding a copyright symbol may act as a deterrent in some cases as it may make the person know that they are stealing copyright protected image.

If you are using PhotoTheme WordPress theme or any other modern theme, then you don’t need to code anything, as the admin panel will have an easy way to add a copyright symbol to the footer. Otherwise, you can use the following code:

[syntax type=”html|php|js|css”]Copyright ©
< ?php $the_year = date(“Y”); echo $the_year; ? >
< ?php bloginfo(‘url’); ? >
All Rights Reserved.[/syntax]

If you want a stricter copyright message then you may add such a message somewhere:

[blockquote]

© [Full Name] and [Blog Name], [Current Year or Year Range]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Your Name] and [Your Blog Name] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

[/blockquote]

4. Adding a WaterMark on your photos

You can put a watermark on your photo. This is the only real way to protect your photos to some extent. However, everyone dislikes photos with a watermark. It makes the photo loose some quality. So you may want to think twice before doing this.

There are WordPress Plugins which can automatically watermark all of your photos such as Easy Watermark. However, I do not advise any serious photographer to use such plugins. Do watermark manually using PhotoShop or other good photo-editing tools instead of relying on an automated online plugin. Such plugins generally reduce the quality of your photos and since it is automated, you may get unpleasant watermarks on your beautiful photos.

Not too many people are using watermarks anymore, but if you are really worried about image theft, it may be worth a thought.

5. Disable Hot-Linking

Hot-Linking means someone directly linking to the image on your server and posting it on their website. This means whenever someone goes to their website, the image is loaded from your website, wasting your server’s bandwidth.

Most folks do not do this, but newbie bloggers are known to do this as they usually have no idea they are not only stealing your photo, but also your bandwidth.

There are WordPress plugins like Hotlink protection which can automatically stop direct image access to your server. There are other plugins like ByREV WP-PICShield which can not only block the image access but also show a copyright violation image instead. If you know what you are doing, then you can do this by editing your .htaccess file too. Be careful while using such plugins as some of them may also disallow Google from putting your image on Google image search.

Our Suggestions

It makes sense if you do few things like a copyright symbol on the footer and Hotlink protection, anything more is just waste of your time. Don’t be obsessive about doing the impossible of fully protecting your images.

If you rely on income from selling photos, then the maximum you need to do is to put a beautiful elegant copyright symbol along with the website’s name at the bottom of your photos. While people without any morals will still crop it out, the majority won’t bother about it.

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