With the explosion of the Internet and the proliferation of social media and bloggers, copying images has become common practice. However, what many people don't realize is that the person behind the lens owns the image they capture. In other words, they own the copyright for it. Copying images is tantamount to theft, and it's become something of a problem online.
Although it's not entirely possible to prevent people from copying the photos on your website, the good news is that there are steps you can take to dissuade them. Read on to find out more.
The easiest way for someone to copy an online photo is to right-click it and then select the save as option. If you have a WordPress website, you can install a plugin that disables this function. It's called the No Right Click Images Plugin. Alternatively, you can ask your web developer to disable the functionality in your site's code.
If someone tries to save one of your images, they'll either receive a standard pop-up that states right-click functionality has been disabled, or you can create a custom message asking them to contact you if they wish to use your photograph.
It's not just people who steal your photos. It's search engines and bots too. To prevent this, you can create a robots.txt file. To do so, you'll need to open a folder with all of your images and then restrict access to it.
There's also 3rd party software that's been developed to protect your images online. Some available products are:
As the person who took or created the image, you automatically have copyright over it. But this isn't always enough to stop it from being stolen, as many people are not aware of copyright law. The © symbol can, however, be a more concrete deterrent, and this clearly defined stamp of ownership acts as a significant deterrent.
It can be time-consuming to seek official copyright protection for every photo you take. If you're keen to register your work, it may be worthwhile to pick the best, most valuable, commercially viable images and go through the registration process with them.
Watermarks are an excellent way of enforcing ownership, and they're easy to add in almost all editing software.
If you opt to watermark your images, ensure that the signature, logo, or stamp cannot be removed or cropped out easily. You need to place it prominently without detracting from the image's impact for it to be most effective.
A watermark is a great way to ensure that if your photo gets copied, it's easy to see who the original owner was—and at least you are credited to a degree!
Sometimes, we unwittingly give sites or social media platforms permission to use our images, or we sign over ownership rights to them without even realizing it.
Before you load any content online, check the terms and conditions that you agreed to. Often, these clauses are hidden in the fine print, and you'll lose the rights to your photos by merely uploading them.
Hotlinking is an often-seen technique that many bloggers use. It involves linking to an image on another site, so it displays on your own. It's a clever way of using an image that doesn't belong to you and avoiding hosting fees for larger files too.
If you don't want to be a victim of hotlinking, you can implement hotlink protection. This means that only specific referrers can access your photos, and they cannot be linked at random.
Hi-res images are the first prize for anyone wanting to reuse or reproduce them. Because of their size, they don't pixelate and can be kept large without losing any quality. To avoid image theft, only load low res images on your site.
If you have a photography portfolio online, rather keep your images on the smaller side. You can still post decent quality pictures, but if they're lower res, they won't be as valuable for someone looking to steal them.
If you think your photographs are at risk or want to find out where an image is being used, you can do a reverse image search.
To do this, navigate to Google Images. Click on the camera icon and type in the URL of the page on your website where the image is. Alternatively, you can upload an image from your computer or mobile phone and see where it's been published online.
Once you have the information about where it's being used, you can contact the website owner and ask that it be taken down. Often, they'll do so, but if the image remains, you can contact their hosting provider or the owner of the platform the image is published on and ask them to intervene.
In a worst-case scenario, you'll need to take legal action to ensure that your content has been deleted permanently by the offender.
Unfortunately, there will always be those trying to steal images online, regardless of what measures you put in place. If someone really wants a photograph, they'll find a way to copy it. The trick is to make it as hard as possible for them to do so, and to keep tabs on your work by using the tools at your disposal. This way, when an image is copied, you can act fast and get it taken down.
Until next time, Be creative! - Pix'sTory made by Carmen Docampo