Protect Your Photographs from Being Stolen on the Internet
By on August 2nd, 2011

Most photographers work hard in protecting their photos from being used by others. This is one of the greatest challenges that photographers are facing when it comes to protecting their work. Despite several techniques like watermarking and copyrights, protecting pictures has become nearly impossible.

Although the Internet has changed a lot of things on how art is shared and distributed, it has also shown a way to steal them. Thousands of photos are uploaded every day on free/paid hosting sites such as Flickr, 500px, Picasa and elsewhere. If the hosting service  provider  says that the photos uploaded are protected, then they are wrong. There are several back entries to gain access to them (Well, viewing the source code is one way).

I have to admit, nothing on the internet can be protected. The best way to protect your art/photos from being downloaded or stolen is to not upload them online. However, it is possible to make image theft harder, but like I said, there is always a back entry.

This article reveals some of the techniques required in order to protect your photos from infringement, ranging from preventing downloads from blogs, finding unauthorized usage of images and modifying your photo’s EXIF data. Let us take a close look at each of these techniques.

Preventing Downloads

Photos uploaded on your photo blog can be prevented in several ways. Here are two basic, yet useful ways – disabling Right-click using Javascript and placing images as a background to Tables.

Disable  Right-click using Javascript:

When you right-click on an image, you have an option to save it. Disabling right-click will prevent visitors from saving your images. To do so, just add the following code in your HTML page -

Place this javascript code after the <head> tag.

<script type="javascript">
<!-- Begin
function disableRightClick(e) {
var msg = "Go hang yourself!";
if (navigator.appName == 'Netscape' && e.which == 3) {
alert(msg);
return false;
}
if (navigator.appName == 'Microsoft Internet Explorer' && event.button==2) {
alert(msg);
return false;
}
else return true;
}

function onRightClick() 
  {
  if(document.images)
    {
    for(i=0;i<document.images.length;i++)
      {
      document.images[i].onmousedown = disableRightClick;
      document.images[i].onmouseup = disableRightClick;
      }
    }
  }
// End -->
</script>

Replace <body> tag with this -

<body onLoad="onRightClick()">

Placing Images as a Background to Tables

You can place your photos as a background image to Tables. Doing so, will remove the option “Save image as…” from the right-click menu. Replace the background-image with the URL of your image in the code below -

<table style="background-image:http://cache.techie-buzz.com/images/joel/copter-burnout.PNG');
</table>

Here’s a demonstration of the technique.

Right-click on both the images to see the difference.

Alternatively, you can hide your image behind a transparent image. i.e., by placing a transparent image within the table data <td> cell. This will, however, enable the Save image as…option, but when someone tries to save/download the image, the transparent image will be downloaded instead of the original image.

Here’s a demonstration.

Right-click and save the image below and see what you have downloaded.

Finding Unauthorized Usage

Recently, Google introduced a new functionality to Google Images where users can search photos by just dragging them into the search bar. Impressive enough, however, the feature focuses on finding similar photos, but not exact ones. To find if your photos are being used elsewhere, you can make use of TinEye. Designed by Idèe, TinEye can be used as an alternative to Google Image search. It is a free image search service that allow photographers to upload a picture and then search for the same image across the Internet.

TinEye allows you to either upload an image or enter the URL of the image, in which the attributes of the image are analyzed instantly, and its fingerprint is compared to the fingerprint of every single image in the TinEye search index. It then provides a detailed list of websites that are using the image.

Modifying EXIF Data

Almost all digital cameras save JPEG files with EXIF (Exchangeable Image File) data. EXIF data contains camera settings such as camera model name, lens, shooting mode, exposure and so on.

When you are uploading a photo online, make sure that you edit the EXIF data and add your information (like your name) in the comments field. It is rare to find infringers to go through the EXIF data and modify it. When you come across someone using your photo without your knowledge, you can sue them for it.

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Author: Joel Fernandes Google Profile for Joel Fernandes
Joel Fernandes (G+) is a tech enthusiast and a social media blogger. During his leisure time, he enjoys taking photographs, and photography is one of his most loved hobbies. You can find some of his photos on Flickr. He does a little of web coding, and maintains a tech blog of his own - Techo Latte. Joel is currently pursuing his Masters in Computer Application from Bangalore, India. You can get in touch with him on Twitter - @joelfernandes, or visit his Facebook Profile for more information.

Joel Fernandes has written and can be contacted at joel@techie-buzz.com.

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