The more deterrents you add, the less appealing your images become to thieves.
The Internet has changed the face of global trade but it has also greatly impacted the use of images online. It is now easier than ever to promote products online - organising, editing and sharing images is just a few clicks away. Unfortunately, this also means that image theft through unauthorised use of photos is easier than ever. To put this simply, if you don’t want your photos stolen, don’t put them on the Internet.
It is important to understand that there is no way to guarantee that your images won’t be stolen, but there are some steps you can take to make them as safe as possible. The more deterrents you add, the less appealing your images become to thieves.
Watermark your image
This is the most effective and convenient way to prevent unauthorised use of an image. By placing a watermark on an image, you make it more difficult for someone to use it without permission. For the watermark to be most effective, place it at the centre of the image where it is more difficult to remove. Some watermarks are even dispersed over the entire image.
The more time consuming it is to remove the watermark, the less likely the image is to be targeted for unauthorised use. You can add watermarks to an image using online tools such as PickMarkr or Watermark Factory or in Photoshop, the image editing software. This watermark can be "invisible", i.e. hidden into the picture.
Use the image as a background
Place a blank file over the original image, which then becomes unreachable unless checked from the source. When someone tries to right click the image, they will only be able to copy the blank image that overlaid the original background image.
Block 'right click/copy' from your website
Use low resolution images
Use low resolution images to make it more difficult for others to reuse an image even if they used "print screen" to copy it.
Use flash format
Create and upload image files as a flash format (.swf) rather than a picture file format (e.g. .jpeg, .png), to help prevent others from directly copying the file. This is less effective since it can be re-saved as another format and easily reused without authorisation.
Coding with .htaccess
A .htaccess file is a plain text file that can prevent others from using a web link of the image to make a copy.
Disable print screen
There is a way to disable Window’s "Print Screen" function, but even this does not technically prevent someone from stealing an image, because it is possible to write applications that can capture a window’s image pixels.
To disable print screen, simply register a hot key to your app or web page, which prevents others from copying an image with print screen. More detailed instructions on this process can be found online at MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network Platforms).
Monitor and report unauthorised use
If you find unauthorised use of your images on an e-commerce site, contact site security to report the stolen images. The web team should be able to work with you to resolve the issue.
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