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Benefits and Cautions of Different Methods Used to Protect Photos

written by: Dawn Meisch•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 2/25/2010

You have worked hard on your digital photography and want to protect it from being stolen and used it elsewhere. Many ideas on how to accomplish this are used by professional photographers, and this article describes several methods, including disabling the right-click save option.

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    The only foolproof way to keep your images safe is to keep them off the web. However, as digital photographers, we like to share what we've created with others. By combining many different protective measures, you can certainly make it harder for people to steal your photos. Knowing the different effectiveness of these ideas can help you determine how you display your images on the web while protecting your copyright at the same time.

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    Disabling Right Clicking

    While there is no fool proof way to protect your digital images from being taken by someone with extended web knowledge, disabling the right-click function will deter a casual user from taking your image.

    To disable right clicking on your web pages, you need to have access to your site's code and have a working knowledge of HTML. Dynamic Drive has some javascript for web developers to use on their websites to disable right clicking. This script disables right clicking on the entire web page. When the user tries to right-click, a pop up box appears with a message informing that this is not allowed. This script does the same as the previous one, but it doesn't alert the user with another message.

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    Fooling the Photo Thief with Transparent GIFs

    Another way to deter photo thieves is to create a transparent gif and place it over your photo. When a user right-click's the image, the invisible gif files is saved onto the computer, not your photo. To do this, place your image as the background of the table's cell, while the .gif file is displayed on top of that. Here is an example of how to do place this transparent file into your code:

    <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" >


    <td background="yourimage.jpg" width="450" height="500">

    <img border="0" src="transparent.gif" width="450"height="500">




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    More Copyright Information

    Another method of protecting your photos is to use watermarks to add your copyright information to a photo. A watermark can be either visible or invisible. Many different programs include methods for adding this level of copyright protection to your photos. For information, read Visible Watermarks and Your Photos. The article offers great explanation of the pros and cons of watermarking as well as links to tutorials on how to do it with various software programs. For general copyright discussion, How to Protect your Copyrights is a great resource.

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    Cautions about Using Code to Protect Images

    While these codes may seem like good protection for your photos, it doesn't stop the experienced user from using the many ways around this type of protection. Here are a few ways of how to copy pictures which are right-click disabled:

    • Someone can just press the printscreen button and use a photo editing program to access it.
    • IE6 has a process that enables users to enable the right click function with no regard to what the page code says.
    • IE6's Image toolbar makes it extremely easy to grab images from any website.
    • Java can be turned off by the computer's user, so your javascript code would not work.
    • Someone with coding knowledge can view your source code and find the location of your photo and copy it that way.