How can I keep people from taking my online images?

This is the eternal question. It’s frustrating to know that anyone and everyone can simply right-click to save your photos to their own computer for their own use.

The short answer to the problem is nothing can prevent this action completely. Just about every work-around has a loophole. The good news, though, is that there are a few things that make the user think twice about just downloading your graphics and photos.

I found a very useful article at about.com called Protecting Your Online Images. The article outlines three ways to protect your images:

  1. Watermarks Probably the easiest way to make sure everyone knows this is your graphic.
  2. Disabling right-click Remember, this is a Windows platform fix; it doesn’t work for Macs. This solution also has many hacks. In other words, people know how to get around it.
  3. Shrink-wrapping your images This particular solution may be too advanced for some of our readers. You’ll need to know how manipulate your code because the directions here are a little confusing.

Another extremely useful article is at James Huggins’ Refrigerator Door. He explains how your computer works with your browser and why that matters when you’re trying to protect your images. He also explains why disabling the right-click on your site is so easily hacked. In addition, he gives some other ideas on helping you protect your images. However, his suggestions are along the lines of Flash, Java, and streaming media (all of which are too technical for a site like Blogging BASICS 101).

The bottom line is this: The only way to make sure your images aren’t stolen or used by someone else inappropriately is to not post them online. You can copyright your images and employ ways to make it harder for people to download your images, but you can’t actually stop them from taking them if they are determined.

The Write Spot has recently discussed this problem with a few other bloggers.

This article was originally published August 13, 2007.