How To Copy-Protect Images On A Web Site

Most people know that they can steal an image from the web by right-clicking on it and selecting "save image as."  Be forewarned though - You may be downloading an image that contains a watermark and might be confronted if you use it on your site.  If you would like to protect your own images, this article explains a few measures you can take.

How do I copy-protect an image?

There are three main methods that you can use to protect your images on the web:

  1. JavaScript
  2. Watermarks
  3. Specialized software

JavaScript Method

This method essentially captures the "right-click" mouse event and runs a JavaScript that informs the person that the images on the page are copyrighted and not available for download. This method would not prevent the person from doing a "screen capture" to get the image.

Watermark Method

This method allows you to add a digital watermark or signature to each of your images. The watermark is invisible to the naked eye, but can quickly be retrieved using a watermark reader. Additionally, some services (like Digimarc) will search the web for your images and generate a report for you so that you can confront the offender. Watermarking doesn't prevent someone from copying an image, it simply makes tracking down the offenders possible.

Adobe ImageReady (that ships with Photoshop) includes a filter to watermark your images (after you register and get a PIN number from Digimarc).

Software Method

Specialized software that walks you through protecting your images.  Weblock Pro will even protect your web page source code.

Further Reading

Note: This article was previously published here


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David Andrews has been helping small business owners get established online since 1997. He has experience as a measurement standards engineer, a technical writer, a web designer/developer and speaks several languages.