3 Methods To Protect Your Web Images From Thieves

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how to catch a thiefThe most widely used method for photographers and artists to protect their work online is by using the watermark. Basically, a transparent yet fully visible image laid over the original image to signify that the image is not to be copied or used for free or without permission.

This will work for most people, but then there are the determined thieves who target the prized works of well known photographers without giving the poor schmuck a dime.

You see, watermarks aren’t 100% fool-proof; there are programs that some unscrupulous characters use to digitally remove the watermarks or to minimize them so they’re barely visible. Thus defeating the purpose of trying to protect images by using what is now a primitive method – not to mention crude and unattractive.

In this article I’m going to show you three great ways to protect your web images without breaking the bank on complex encryption programs.


One method to protect web images is to cut them up into several different images and put them all side by side to form one whole image. Then, anyone who tries to save the image will only get a small segment of it. The result is that they have to tediously click around the image, guessing where the cuts have been made and then paste them all together. Big images such as the ones found on photographers’ and artists’ blogs can be cut up into over 20 or 30 pieces.

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This acts as a deterrent to most copies and they’ll look elsewhere.

Probably the best program for the novice user to automatically splice images before they go live on your site is Super Simple Image Tiles.

protect images splicing HTML

All you have to do to activate it on a particular image, once you have installed it on your web directory using the instructions included in the download, is to slightly alter the image’s HTML. Most blogging platforms such as WordPress and Blogger offer HTML editors alongside the text editor. Simply enter “˜Protect‘ in the image HTML as I did in the screenshot above.

J-Query Plug-in

The way most people steal an image is to simply right-click on it and select “˜Save As‘.

protect images install pluginsThe tried and tested method, if you will. However, you can nip the problem in the bud by taking away the “˜Save’ function when someone right-clicks on your image.

The plug in for this is available right here to download for free, along with the instructions. It will also disable any kind of image saving toolbar or add-on in a browser which a user may utilise instead of right clicking.

The plug-in is as lightweight as possible and as such shouldn’t effect the speed or functionality of your pages, all the while keeping your images safe.

Again, this program simply needs to be installed onto your web directory as a plug-in which the big names offer on their dashboards.

Embed as Flash

The final option to protect web images is to upload your images as a flash file instead of as an image. This will disable right clicking as well but it also gives you more options about what to do with your images in terms of web-design which would be hindered if you were using a plug-in which may conflict with Flash design. Basically, you can style your images using CSS properties.

SWF”“IR (the SWF originating from Flash’s file extension and the IR standing for “˜Image Replacement’) is available here. Upload it to your web directory.

Then, to put it to work on your post, place this HTML in the <head> section of your post:

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”swfir.js”></script>

So there you have it webmasters and photographers. Protect your images the best way you can for free by using the above methods. Remember, images are never 100% secure online but these methods will stop 99% of thieves from stealing your high-resolution originals.

BONUS: To see whether people have already copied your image(s) online, use Google’s “˜Similar Images’ app here.

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