Protecting Images Online

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by MAXIMUM7, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. MAXIMUM7 macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2007
    I would like to create an online web gallery.

    Is there a way of protecting my images so they cannot be copied etc. please?
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    Not absolutely. If they image can be transferred to the other web-browser to be displayed then it can be copied. The best bet if you really want to make it impossible to use the images is to watermark them.
  3. -hh macrumors 68020


    Jul 17, 2001
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    Whatever can be viewed on a seen, can somehow be grabbed. For the most part, I think the best one can do is to make it more difficult, as well as to have hidden data embedded in case you elevate to a lawsuit.

    What I generally do is some combination of the following:

    Option 1: when using JPEGs:

    a) Don't put high-rez versions of your files online

    b) Embed a visible copyright noice on the image.

    BTW, I sometimes put on two: one that's obvious and relatively easy to remove, and one well hidden that they'll miss. I did use some watermarking stuff years ago, but stopped when it was no longer free.

    c) In Photoshop, use the "File Info" command and turn on the copyrighted flag and fill out the data fields for ownership, etc, in the image's EXIF data.

    Warning: if you then use Photoshop's "Save for Web" option, it wipes out your EXIF data. Instead, do a 'Save As' and make it a JPEG to retain the EXIF.

    Also, be aware that using EXIF isn't foolproof because it can be changed fairly easily, but it should generally be good enough to prove a theft for an unsophisticated user, and if a smarter thief wipes it, that can be used as evidence that they *knew* that they were stealing copyrighted work.

    Option 2: Don't use JPEGs.

    a) Consider using Flash.

    b) Consider using Adobe PDFs.

    I don't know Flash, so I'm using Acrobat Writer. There's several promising authorship and data protection options in them that you can password-lock and so forth. It won't necessarily stop them from downloading a copy of the file, but the format won't let them re-upload it to flickr or other hosting sites to represent it as their own. Even if they do do that, your ownership data should still be well embedded.

    Regardless of your choices

    a) Do periodically search the internet to see if someone has hotlinked to your stuff, if it has shown up someplace unauthorized, or whatever.

    Personally, I have found that myspace is pretty unresponsive to getting hotlinks removed, so one option there is to watch the offender and your domain's log files to figure out their IP address and then block their IP addresses from being able to access your domain :D

    b) Be very studious and read the fine print regarding copyrights in any 'free' (or semi-free) photo hosting website that you choose to use, because some of them give themselves a little too much data rights on your works. (Note: many online "photo contests" are really little more than free stock photography harvesting schemes).

    One of the easier ways to avoid this whole mess is to simply buy your own domain and host them yourself. Last month, I picked up a second domain ( over at Fatcow and my expense will be ~$100/year for 300GB worth of storage. If anyone is thinking about going this route, go pick which hosting service you like best without any particular influence from any of us, and then after you've decided, ask here if any of us already use them and you can decide if you want any of us to get the "Referral" credit that some of them offer.

  4. killerrobot macrumors 68020


    Jun 7, 2007
    Yeah, do what -hh said (that was a very complete and great answer) - and never, ever, ever put full resolution pics on any website. I think lowering the pixels to 640X480 at 72 dpi and saving as a low quality jpeg will give everyone enough detail on the computer to see how good your photo is and even using awesome resing up programs the largest photo quality print they'll get out of it is around 4X6. (This of course is where the watermark would come into play.)

    Good luck setting everything up and throw us a link to to see it all once you've got it set up.
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    First off you have to decide why you care about this and come up with specific scenarios you want to prevent. Do you want to sell prints and you don't want others to download yur files and sell prints. Then it is easy. Post only small web-sized files of say 600 x 400 pixels. Or maybe you don't want others to use them on their web sites. Then you can put some big ugly water marks across them.

    Some photographers put full quality, un-watermarked images on the web to show off their work. The idea is that no one want s to rip off a photo from some one else's wedding but might come to you to shoot theirs because your web site looks so nice. Putting up examples that no one would want to rip off works for many.

    So you have to ask (1) why am I putting photos on the web? and (2) what specifically do I need protection from?

    If you think some one is ripping you off and using your example photos commercially, save your server logs. You should have the IP address of everyone who looks at the images in the logfile.

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