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How do I stop people from copying pictures and photographs?

How do I stop people from copying pictures and photographs?

This is in continuation to the article on how to prevent download or copying of photos from a web site and if you have read that thoroughly, take a deep breath – it will help you in reconciling to the hard facts of the web.
Now that you know there is no way to stop people from copying pictures, photographs or other content off your web pages, what is the best you can do? This is exactly what will be addressed in this article.

Stop copying of pictures and photographs – sadly no! But you can deter the casual visitor

On this page I’ll explain some of the things you can implement to stop the copying of pictures and photographs. These will most probably work for casual visitors – the majority of online surfers.

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However, people who know web development or web programming will easily be able to get hold of the graphical content. Some of the methods require you to implement a small bit of code on the web page.

  • Watermark the pictures and photos
    Watermarking is the easiest option because it involves the least effort from your side – especially, when you do not want to get your hands dirty with Flash or programming. However, it has a major downside – it changes the image because the picture or photo is modified by the addition of the watermark. A large ‘untidy’ watermark will mess up the original quite a bit while a small one placed at one of the corners can easily be removed – refer how to remove watermark from images.
    There are many ways to add a watermark to a photo or a picture. You can either use an online tool or a dedicated image editor such as Adobe Photoshop or the free Pixlr.com editor.
    Even video and music files can be watermarked. For instance, a video can carry a small logo of your company on the top right corner. Similarly, you can embed the copyright notice at the beginning or end of sound files.
    Remember, watermarks cannot stop people from copying pictures and photographs from your web site – they simply specify ownership.
  • Display pictures and photos in a Flash slideshow
    Flash is an animation program from Adobe, the makers of the famous Photoshop software. Displaying the photographs and pictures in a Flash slideshow will at least make it difficult for people to copy them off your web site. You don’t need to know how to work with the Flash program to create a slideshow of pictures because there are tools available – hunt for these on Google.
    The advantage of putting pictures and photos in a Flash slideshow is that people would not be able to copy them with a simple click – refer how to download images from the web. But a determined viewer can always take a screenshot of the web page and then crop out the photo. Tip: You can also have an animated watermark move about over the pictures and photographs in the slideshow.
  • Stop the right-click action
    As mentioned in another article (refer link above), the most common method for copying images is to right-click on the image and selecting the “Save image as” or equivalent option. You can stop this right-click action by embedded a small JavaScript code on the concerned web pages. Though this technique will discourage the laid-back viewer, it won’t be successful for visitors surfing with JavaScript disabled or using a browser in which the script doesn’t run. Remember, visitors can still take a screen capture of a web site.
  • Place a <div> with a transparent resized 1X1 pixel gif image over the image you want to protect
    This option is for people who are well versed with HTML and CSS. It involves placing a <div> with a 1X1 pixel transparent gif image over the <div> containing the photo or picture you don’t want people to copy (easily). The transparent gif should be resized appropriately.
    How does this help? If visitors use the right-click to save the image, they get the transparent gif image and not the one you are protecting.
  • Stop copying of photos and pictures by putting them as backgrounds of <div>s
    Again, this requires a little technical knowhow. Placing the photo or picture as a background instead of the <img> tag will make it slightly difficult (though not very, if some specific web browsers are being used).

Conclusion: Nothing is foolproof. If you have the content (photos, pictures, video, music etc.) available to the public, it can be copied. The above are simply deterrents and I suggest you combine two or more. For example, placing the image as a background and stopping the right-click action.

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