It is almost impossible to completely protect your images online. The only way you can save your images, from theft and its use without your permission, is if you do not upload them to the World Wide Web(WWW); i.e. the Internet. But there are some tricks that you can apply to make it really hard to steal your photographs.
As photographers, advertisers, businesses and other professions that need digital marketing, we depend on our photos for an income, directly or in an indirect way. Uploading our images on the digital domains is a way of showcasing our talent and advertising our products. We must save them from thievery and we can!
Here are 6 ways you can protect your images on the internet:
Metadata, also known as EXIF data of an image, basically stores the information of an image. You should have your own name or your company’s name on your EXIF data. You can do that by editing the Metadata in Photoshop. Here’s how:
Also, you can do the same in camera. Some cameras have an option to add copyright info in their comment field. Some cameras even have a designated author/copyright field. If your camera has one then its better to enter your name and copyright there itself. This saves you from repeatedly editing your EXIF data in software. Here’s how you can do it with Canon cameras:
But still, Metadata can be changed. So there’s another way to prevent theft.
Watermark is a way of marking your name, logo, initials or that of your company’s, to prove that this image belongs to you. This makes some people back away from stealing your images as they feel it’s not worth the effort to remove the watermark when they can get other images that do not have one.
There are some persistent thieves who still try to remove your watermark and upload your images for some malicious use. To prevent that you can add an invisible signature to your image. There are softwares like SignMyImage and Icemark let you add a digital signature to the image data instead of the Metadata. So even when anyone tries to change the EXIF data, your signature on the image data remains unchanged and acts like an invisible watermark.
One of the most common and easiest ways people steal images is by right-clicking on the image and selecting the “save image as” option from the menu that appears.
The best thing to do is disable this option by putting up a no-right-click HTML script on the webpage. Here’s how to do it:
Another thing you can do is, reducing the size of your images to a lower resolution. This reduces the quality of an image and the image can no longer be used for any professional use. Here’s a video on how to do it.
I bet you wouldn’t have ever heard of Tin Eye!
But, trust me, it is your best friend when it comes to spotting thieves on the web. Tin Eye is a reverse image search engine. You can either upload or give a hyperlink of the image and Tin Eye searches the internet and finds out if that image has been published anywhere else. It does a very good job most of the time. There are other sites who do the same thing as well.
So you can use these 6 methods to prevent your images from being stolen by others. But the truth is you can not absolutely safeguard your images. It is better to always search if your photos have been put anywhere else. And if you find any, try asking them to remove it as the image is your property. If they do not pay heed to your request then seek legal help.
Do you use any other methods? Please share them in the comments below.
Cover Image Credits: WallDevil