Protect pictures on the internet – the 5 best methods

Protecting your own images, to which you own the copyright, is a tedious topic in the daily work of every photographer. Images are often stolen and illegally reused. How to prevent it? Is there a method to protect his pictures efficiently? Find out what methods exist to protect your images and what compromises you have to make.

Protect pictures on the Internet – the best methods.

It’s a dilemma. As a photographer you have to present your work to get the attention you deserve. Pictures are the language of the photographers and if one says nothing, one is also not heard. As a photographer you are forced to publish your pictures so that potential customers can be addressed. There is no universal solution for efficient image protection including the necessary marking for copyright protection, otherwise this article would be superfluous. But there are methods how to deter image pirates. We evaluate the methods according to Time expenditure, deterrent factor, disfigurement and efficiency. Ultimately, it is up to each person to decide where to place the emphasis.

#1 Copyright and copyright notice above the gallery

Usually the copyright information is hidden somewhere in the footer or disclaimer on a website. As a rule, no one reads them and the effect is correspondingly absent. With a concise text notice – for example, above a gallery – with clear copyright notices or even a reference to legal consequences can be signaled that violations are observed and, if necessary, legal action will be taken. The disadvantage here is that the mood of a desired visitor can tilt.

  • Deterrence: Medium
  • Time Expenditure: Low
  • Defacement: Medium
  • Efficiency: Low

#2 Low resolution of images as image protection

The attractiveness of stealing an image can be reduced by publishing it in a lower quality and resolution. The pleasant side effect of this is that the loading time of the website can be reduced. Load time is one of about 200 factors on Google that can influence a website’s ranking. With most graphics programs, an image can be quickly "saved for the web" to achieve the desired reduction in quality. This, without noticeable blurring o.a. to be perceived by the human eye. In most cases, the quality can be easily reduced to 60-70% and the resolution reduced to 1000-1200 pixels. See the difference?

This will still allow the image to be copied and used on other websites, but will severely limit its use as these images are no longer suitable for printing.

Do you already know my 52 world’s best cheat sheets?

  • All my photo knowledge
  • Better photos in 5 minutes
  • Reference to look up
  • Compact, always with you!
  • Do not miss discount! -50%
  • Deterrence: Low
  • Time investment: Low
  • Defacement: Low
  • Efficiency: Medium

#3 Protecting images: The watermark for identification

A name or logo on an image lets you know at first glance who owns the copyright to that image (see article Copyright under Swiss law). Most often, the logo and lettering is incorporated into the image semi-transparently and placed in one of the corners. A watermark can negatively affect the appearance or feeling when viewing the image. It is often also referred to as "defacing". Nevertheless it is a good variant to protect your image.

The initial effort for an image thief is much greater if he first has to laboriously remove the watermark with a graphics program. Last but not least, large stock companies also rely on this method. If the watermark is simply cropped away, copyright infringement can be proven relatively quickly.

The amount of time it takes to apply the watermark can vary greatly. Some photographers deliberately place the logo (you can create one here) in the best / least distracting places, others automatically insert it in the same place every time. Here are our tips and instructions on how to watermark your images.

  • Deterrence: High
  • Time required: Medium
  • Defacement: Medium
  • Efficiency: Medium

#4 Technical image protection on your own website

There are different technical approaches to create a small hurdle for image theft. The classic is suppressing the "save as" menu when you click on the image. This is done by a few lines of JavaScript code. Further, CSS overlays try to add another layer over the image (often with an appealing hover effect / animation). With this, the right click also does not lead directly to the image. However, since all displayed images are stored in the temporary internet files on the visitor’s device when visiting a website anyway, this does not help much at all. A little basic knowledge of HTML is also enough to easily find the path to the image in the source code in order to subsequently download it in the provided resolution. The possibility to apply the image with a print screen tool also remains. Concludes:

  • Deterrent: Low
  • Time required: Medium
  • Defacement: None
  • Efficiency: Low

#5 Preventing image indexing by search engines

Many images are also found through image search engines like Bing or Google. you can tell the search engine robots not to index certain parts of your own website. For this you create a short entry in robots.txt file in the root directory of his website. The search bot can use it to see what it is allowed to index and what not. So you can partially prevent the indexing of your images, if you put them centrally in a folder and create the following entry in the robots.txt does. Attention: Get support from your webmaster, otherwise it can happen quickly that nothing is indexed anymore.

  • deterrent: Do not use
  • Time required: Low
  • Deface: None
  • Efficiency: Low

Preventing the embedding of your images on other websites

This technical measure requires that the stolen image was included on your website by means of linking. So it is not mandatory that someone downloads your image and uploads it again on his website. The thief can also simply use the known URL to your image to display it on his page. How to prevent this? How the robots.txt file, on most webspaces with an Apache server there is also a file called .htaccess in the root directory (where also the index.php or index.html lies). With an entry in the .htaccess file can be used to determine which image is displayed if someone embeds the URL to one of your images on their site.

These lines of code will cause the thief’s website to display not your image, but an image you’ve made especially for it. This can be a simple gif image with some writing or an image with the inscription "Someone tried to steal an image here" – or something similar. The image – in this case "stolen image.gif" must be placed at the specified path (in this example also in the root). Attention: consult your webmaster if you are not so familiar with this technique. In this case all pictures on other websites will be deleted by the "stolen picture.gif" replaced. But if you want to exclude only certain websites, you have to specify them explicitly. Without this information, it can be z.B. it can happen that also a picture shared on Facebook is not displayed any more.

  • deterrent: None
  • Time investment: Means
  • Defacement: None
  • efficiency: Low

#5 Consistently update Exif data

Exif data is so called metadata, which besides the pixels also stores other information in the image. Read here in our article about metadata, how you can read and edit it. It is important that your meta information is always captured correctly (z.B. your address in the camera). Also be careful not to lose meta information when compressing or optimizing images with plugins or software. Complete exif data does not protect you from actual image theft, but at least you can use it to prove your authorship.


You wonder with which equipment we take pictures? Here you can find our equipment.

There is no single measure for effective protection of one’s images. A combination of the approaches listed can nevertheless prevent one or the other image theft. The most important thing is to be aware of the problems and risks involved in publishing images on the Internet.

Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: