The Internet is a great way
to show your photographs to the world. Putting images up on a web site
is child's play compared to hanging a gallery show or publishing a book.
But what is to stop an unscrupulous web site visitor from stealing your
images? In truth, all the images that are seen by your visitors are already
copied and stored in their computer's browser cache. But there are still
effective, low cost ways of preventing their misuse.
1. Adding your copyright
as a text layer.
The easiest and most effective way to protect your images is to place
the copyright symbol and your name directly in the image. This tells everyone
that your work is copyrighted. We recommend including your web site URL
(or phone number if you don't have your own web site) so anyone who prints
out or copies your picture can easily find you in the future. This turns
every copied image into an advertisement for you.
Each graphics program handles
text differently, but look for the Text Tool on the tool bar within your
program. Use an easy to read font like Arial in a small point size. If
your image has light and dark areas that make text hard to read you can
select the area behind the text and reduce its contrast.
2. Size and compress your
There are two benefits to this approach. Smaller images will reduce both
the quality of a printout and will also speed page load time. Keep your
image size to under 500 pixels on the long dimension. If anyone were to
print it, it would either print small or, if forced to be a larger print,
the image will look pixilated (pixels will spread out). Next, compress
your images until they just begin to show artifacts. This will help them
load faster, and further reduce the chance they will be misused. We recommend
using one of the side by side compression tools that give you a visual
confirmation of how much you can compress the image before it starts to
visually degrade. Photoshop's "Save For Web" (also available in Photoshop
Elements) is our tool of choice. For more information on image compression,
check out www.ImageCompress.com.
3. Image slicing to protect
Using your graphics program, you can slice your pictures into two or more
slices. Right clicking and saving would only get the view of the part
of the picture that was clicked on. And the browser's cache will only
have fragmented bits of images in it.
The individual image parts,
which are really separate pictures loading into different cells within
the same table, are joined in the HTML when viewing the image on the web.
An added benefit of slicing is shorter load time when you optimize each
slice individually. In a program like ImageReady (part of Photoshop 6),
different parts of the same image can be optimized as GIFs or JPEGs.
4. Right click disabling
can disable the right mouse button, and even pop up an alert box with
a message of your choice. This won't stop more sophisticated users, as
a screen capture is still possible. And it can even be annoying to your
visitors who prefer to use their right mouse button for navigation on
5. Mouseover image swap.
when the user's mouse passes over it. The replacement image can include
a warning about not copying your images.
6. Table background and
This is a bit more complex, but quite effective. First create a table
exactly the same size as the image you want to protect. Next, set the
image as the table background. Create a transparent GIF with a similar
name and exactly the same pixel dimensions as the original image and insert
it into the table. If someone tries to copy it by right clicking on it,
all they get is the transparent GIF.
All six of these methods can help protect your images from improper use.
They won't stop a sophisticated user from accessing your work, but they
will limit what can be done with it. The relatively low-resolution images
you put on the web are a wonderful way to promote your photography, and
by taking some simple steps like including a copyright notice you can
ensure that they work for you, no matter who sees them.
Supporting information can
be found on the authors' web sites: www.ArtWebWorks.com