Website - blocking copying of photos

  Paul, web designer 02:22 01 May 2004

I have designed a website which contains photographs under copyright. I am happy for the pictures to be on the website but want to block them from being copied by anyone visiting the website. I know that it is possible to do this. Can anyone kindly tell me how I go about this please? Thank you.
Paul, Web designer.

  Talented Monkey 02:42 01 May 2004

In short there isn’t a way of blocking content from being copied. Scripts that ban right click don’t work with browsers like Opera, and if you use likes of JavaScript people can turn this option off and by pass it anyway. And if you do implement anything, theres always the print screen button to just take a screen shot anyway.

Your best bet to protect your images, is to include a watermark logo with your web page address etc in a prominent position and of course being large enough so it cant just be edited out by cropping or touching up.

Do people look at the site need to see a large high quality image? By reducing the file size you will render the image unsuitable for quality print out.

I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear, but I hope this has helped you.

  Taran 07:04 01 May 2004

There are ways of deactivating the Windows XP image toolbar.

You can also put a transparent GIF image over the top of your pictures so that if anyone does save the image they will, in fact, have saved the transparent GIF and not your detailed JPG or PNG.

A watermark is another good option, as suggested by Talented Monkey, but at the end of the day you cannot ever prevent image copying 100%.

There is nothing stopping someone from browing their web cache and saving the images from there and has already been mentioned.

There is also nothing stopping someone from hitting their Print Screen button and taking a screengrab of your image, which will work with or without a transparent GIF over the top. They may then save and/or print the screen grab as if they had a Bitmap copy of your picture.

JavaScript support may be turned off or may just not correctly process right click prevention.

It's a whole lot of work for little chance of success.

You could study selective degrading of your images, so that they display fine on a web page but if they are enlarged or printed they come out looking very blurry and blocky. There is no shortcut to this and a lot depends on the graphics program you use, but try fiddling with image size in terms of physical dimensions in width and height, along with image resolution, then use any optimise feature your image editor has to save or export for the web.

The short answer is no, there's no sure fire way of protecting your images.

  Taran 07:21 01 May 2004

By the "Windows XP image toolbar" I meant, of course, the Internet Explorer toolbar, since it is part of the latest releases of IE and not confined only to Windows XP.

Anyway, you disable it by including this metatag into your web page code:

<META HTTP-EQUIV = "imagetoolbar" CONTENT="no">

You can block screengrabbing to a certain extent but it requires some pretty sophisticated and expensive 3rd party encryption software, like ArtistScope's CopySafe click here

So when I said you couldn't stop someone taking a screengrab, technically you can, but it isn't cheap and it can get rather unwieldly.

One possible method I forgot to mention is to use Flash, Shockwave, or a Java applet to scroll or display your images. I personally dislike this, since I'm a great believer in not using plug-in driven page elements unless necessary, but embedding your pictures into a Flash, Shockwave, or Java driven image scroller or gallery does make it difficult (but not impossible) to obtain your images.

Finally, Digimarc click here have a rather good system that stamps an invisible watermark into your images and your pictures may be tracked by web spiders. This is only of any real use if someone swipes a copy of your picture(s) then places it on their own site, but it does work even if the image is renamed since it relies on the embedded watermark as a digital signature.

There is still no certain way of protection though. All you can do is make things difficult for people.

  Paul, web designer 18:13 01 May 2004

Thank you to Talented Monkey, Taran and Forum member for responding to my enquiry. I'm studying your responses at the moment.
Very grateful for your speedy replies and helpful advice on blocking photo grabbing from my planned website.
I do know from a work colleague that trying to 'save as' from some websites have resulted in a message appearing preventing photo. copying proceeding.
Paul, Web designer
6.15 pm on Sat. 1.5.2004.

  Taran 19:56 01 May 2004

The copyright message on right mouse click that you mention is a simple JavaScript that doesn't work reliably in all web browsers and doesn't work at all in any web browser that has JavaScript support disabled or not even installed.

If you want to mess about with it there are loads of variations on the theme available for free use. Here are three of the better scripts:

click here

click here

click here

You can alter the text in the pop-up message to contain your copyright notice if you like. Personally I think it's a complete waste of time and effort, it aggravates some visitors to your site and I always hate embedding unnecessary code into my web pages.

I'd far rather selectively degrade my web images to the point where they look good online but go pear shaped and pixellated if saved and printed. It saves messing around with watermarks and whatnot. I like to keep things simple.

Good luck with it.

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