Stop stealing my sh*t! – Skinny Artist

Stop stealing my sh*t!

Stop Stealing my Sh**t!

 

The internet is great.  With the world wide web we are connected like never before.  News travels almost instantly and communities of like-minded individuals can easily come together and share their passion. Without the world wide web, witty and informative websites like Skinny Artist could never exist.

Unfortunately, as many of you already know, the internet has a dark-side as well.  Search engines constantly demand fresh new content and those who are unwilling to create it have been known to steal other people’s content and pass it off as their own.  Images are stolen off the web everyday as this poor family discovered after they posted this family portrait to their Facebook page:

According to the AP report, a family friend later recognized this same photo reproduced on a billboard in downtown Prague in the Czech Republic:

The sad truth is that this kind of thing is happening all the time and if you don’t think these thieves are out there trolling the web 24/7 looking for something they can rip-off, I know a Nigerian banker who would love to speak with you as soon as possible.

Even Deviants like you aren’t safe!

It’s not just family photos either.  Here’s an image pulled straight off a DeviantART gallery page (it’s even watermarked!)

And here’s the unlicensed toddler shirt design.  Notice the remarkable similarities here:

 

So what can we do to protect ourselves?

So what can we do as artists to protect ourselves and our work from being ripped off, while still allowing our friends and potential customers to marvel at our creative brilliance?  In order to answer this question, we put the Skinny staff on the case and did some research.

Unfortunately after scouring the web, it turns out the only 100% foolproof method of protecting our work from these thievin’ bastards is to avoid putting your stuff on the internet in the first place.

At first I was going to simply end this article here, call it a day, and burn my ethernet cable. . . Soon, however, I realized that for those of us who are desperately trying to market ourselves as artists and sell our work online, avoiding the internet all together is probably not really an option.

So we began to dig a little deeper. . .

Turns out there’s some good news and some not-so-good news

The not-so-good news is that you’re going to have to accept the fact that for every so-called solution to stop people from stealing your work, there always seems to be an easily found workaround (heck if we can find it, I pretty sure anyone can). So the bottom line here is that if it’s on the internet and someone wants it bad enough, they can probably get it and you’re not going to be able to stop them.

Imitation is the highest form of pissing me off.  Quit stealing my content and violating my copyright.  ~Jen T. Verbumessor

Wow, that sucks!

Now having said that, there are still several things you can do to deter would-be thieves from stealing your stuff. In other words, if you manage to make it difficult enough for them, they may simply give up and move on to easier prey.

[Please note that in order to keep this article to a somewhat managable length, we’re only going to be talking about protecting your online images.  We could talk about some methods of protecting your music, videos, and text in a future post if there seems to be enough interest from the Skinny Artist community.]

 

Protecting your Images Online 101

The first thing that most people don’t realize is that by the time you are able to see a website like this one, the HTML and all of the images on the page have already been downloaded to your computer.  That’s simply the way your internet browser works.  In other words, the only way to block this from happening is to not have your images on the page in the first place.

2 Things that Don’t Work

Using Fancy-pants Technology

Now before all of you computer-savvy artists out there start screaming at me that the solution to this problem is to put all of your images in a Flash file, streaming media, or nestled safely away in a Java applet. You have to realize that the problem with using these technologies is the fact that not every browser (and the people using them) have the broadband speed, patience, or the technology to view these images.  And while it’s true that it takes a bit of technological know-how to extract the graphics from a Flash file, it can certainly be done (Trust me, the thieves you’re trying to protect your work from know how).

In the end, you’re going to have to weigh the benefits of deterring any potential thieves with the real possibility of frustrating the beejeebees out your potential customers who are still running IE3 on their Windows 98 desktop. Not to mention that for this to be even marginally effective, you would have to avoid putting your work up on any of the major gallery sites who certainly aren’t going to risk alienating their customers with your fancy-pants technology.

Turning off the Right-Click

During our research, we saw dozens of websites out there that seem to believe that turning off the right-click ability is the holy grail of protecting your images online.  Their reasoning is that if you can’t right click on an image and pull up the context menu to “Save Image as. . ” your images are all perfectly safe.

This of course is ridiculous. . .

Not only can turning off the right-click be easily defeated by the thieves, but it annoys the other 99% of people who aren’t trying to steal your stuff but who would like to use their context menu to open new windows or navigate in their browser.  Overall disabling the right-click is stupid because it doesn’t stop anyone who would be abusing it, and only irritates the rest of us.

 

3 Things that Do Work (kind of)

I hate to drive this point into the ground but you have to remember that none of these strategies (even the good ones) are going to be 100% effective.  As I said before, if someone wants to steal your stuff, there’s going to be a way to do it.  All we can do is to try and make it as difficult as possible for the thieves without annoying everyone else in the process.  This means no right-click disabling or fancy-pants Flash galleries.

Shrink-Wrapping your Images

This technique, is one of my favorites only because it involves a bit of technological trickery.  The beauty of shrink wrapping your images is the fact that it doesn’t stop anyone from seeing the image, nor does it try to stop them from copying it (like disabling the right-click) Instead it allows them to copy the image, but the image they end up saving is probably not the one they wanted.

Here’s an example of a shrink-wrapped image.  Try copying the image below by right-clicking and “Saving it to your computer”

If you did this, you should now have an image called “Image-1987653” downloaded to your computer.  If you open the image, however, you’ll discover that it’s probably not the image you were expecting to find.  Don’t worry, it’s not some kind of virus, it’s simply a transparent image that has been shrink-wrapped over top of the image that you thought you were downloading.

Think of it as a clear glass panel laid over top of your image.  So when the Mr. Shadypants tries to download your image, he is actually downloading the clear glass panel and not the image underneath it.  If you are interested in finding out more about how this is done, I would invite you to visit our How-to Shrink Wrap Your Images tutorial page for quick explanation.

Now you have to realize that this technique does not lock your image up into some kind of impenetrable vault and if the thief knows what they’re doing, there are still ways for them to get the real image.  The goal here, however, is that the thief will download the image and then move on before he or she realizes that the image they got, wasn’t the one they thought they were getting.

 

WaterMarking

Another technique that works well, but obviously isn’t 100% effective, is watermarking or embossing your images with some kind of easily identifiable mark.  Watermarking an image is fairly easy and does not interfere with legitimate visitors viewing the image which is why most online galleries like DeviantART use watermarking to protect their artist’s images and discourage any potential theivery.

Virtually any decent graphic program like Photoshop or Paintshop can be use to watermark or emboss an image relatively quickly. There are also several dedicated watermarking programs out there on the market, but I haven’t personally used them.  If there is a particular watermarking program that you have used and would recommend, please let us know about it in the comment section below.

If you have access to Photoshop or a similar program, however, watermarking your images is a fast and painless process.  If you’re interested, we’ve created a short tutorial on How to Watermark your Images in Photoshop in under two minutes.

[Update: If you are interested in watermarking your images but don’t have access to Photoshop, we recently did a short video tutorial on our Skinny WP sister site on how to watermark images for free without using Photoshop ]

 

Slice and Dicing your Images

The last image protecting strategy that we’re going to talk about in this article is called “slice and dice” and comes to us from the dawn of the world wide web . . .

[Cue old-man nostalgic voice]

You see back in it’s infancy, the world wide web didn’t have much in the way of images, audio, or videos.  Things were slow and we all connected to it through a screechy little device called a dial-up modem that  typically moved at about the same speed as Twitter on a busy day.  Because of this, when someone wanted to post an image on one of those new-fangled bulletin boards we often had to chop up the image into several smaller pieces so we didn’t bring the whole internet crashing down with our 200k image file.

So essentially we had two choices, we could either upload really tiny pictures, or we could chop up the larger ones into smaller pieces so that it could load one piece at a time. We then had to reassemble the pieces using HTML. Today, of course, we have no idea what this is like and we get irritated if our HD movie hiccups momentarily as it’s streaming through the T1 line in our parent’s basement. So no one even thinks about “slicing and dicing” our images anymore. . . but maybe we should

Here’s an example of an Image that has been Slice and Diced:

The basic idea here is that we chop our images into smaller pieces and then reassemble them on the webpage using a HTML <table> tag.  The beauty of this is that no one except the person who is trying to illegally download your image will ever know that your image has been sliced and diced.

Try to swipe this image!

Try to right-click and download the above image.  Depending on where you initially click on the image you will end up downloading that particular piece of the image. So what happens is that instead of downloading the entire image, the thief will end up downloading several smaller pieces and then have to find a way to stitch them back together.  While this is certainly doable with one of the higher-end graphics programs,  unless they are an unusually motivated thief, chances are they’ll simply give up and move on to an easier target.

So if this is method is so great why doesn’t everyone use it?

While this method seems to work well and is fairly easy to do, it can take a decent amount of time to crop the image and then setup the HTML table to reassemble the pieces on your webpage.  If you’re interested in learning more about How to Slice and Dice your Images please visit our new tutorial page.

 

Conclusion:

The world wide web is a tradeoff for artists who are trying to display and sell their artwork online.  On one hand it’s a great place for artists to share their work with a worldwide audience.  On the other hand, any images that you put on the web are pretty much fair game if someone wants them bad enough.

That doesn’t mean that we have to simply roll over and give the thieves a free pass however.  Simply by using one of the recommended methods listed above, we can frustrate and deter most amateur thieves from stealing our images.

If you know of any other effective methods of protecting your images online, please take moment and tell us about it in the comment section below!

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About the Author

Writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist community. His book "Getting Creative: Developing Creative Habits that Work" is all about finding the time (and energy) to live a more creative life.

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(195) comments

All good ideas. I usually use slice&dice and watermarking and sometimes both in one image.

The other thing is to set your website up so that search engines do not catalog your images. Do this via robot text on one’s website.
For example, included in my robots.txt file code that tells Google not to catalog the images on my website:
User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Disallow: /

Also do not give your images obvious names like: red-dog.jpg
———–

Regarding the shrink wrap idea, the easiest way for the thief to steal the image that is shrink wrapped is right-click the mouse and select “view image info”. When the new page info opens one need only search through images listed, find the “hidden” one and “save as..” to one’s computer.
Image thieves are usually knowledgeable of this work around.

My theory is the longer it takes some one to try to make the image good (remove watermarking, etc.) the less they will want to use it.

Reply
    Vinita

    hi

    I was so happy when i found your solutions to my problem related to protecting the image through the various ways u have mentioned in your website. Shrink wrapping your images was very interesting. However the solution that you have given in the website can be used in a blog or on a website with the html codes.

    Please let me how i can use this shrink wrapping if i have to send a flyer image through an email to my prospects. I have spent a lot of time making this flyer and i really dont want it to be copied especially when i am not an expert in photoshop

    please help. thanks

    Reply

      A great new service can now help you find (and manage) all copies of your images online, check out http://www.mypicguard.com
      Get a complete list of copies that are found online and take action utilizing DMCA takedowns.

      Reply
    Constance

    I am using a Mac – no right click. I cannot follow the instructions to shrink wrap my pictures. Help please anyone.

    Reply
      Kristi

      To see the right click menu, simply hold down the Control button + click. Hope this helps!

      Reply
      Mario P

      I’m using a Mac too – with a two button mouse. Just because you’re on a Mac doesn’t mean the capability isn’t there. Just get a real mouse or use control-click…

      Reply

    You realie that if you disalow search engines, very few people will find you, and it won’t keep out the bad guys.

    First:
    good spiders that go looking for you page so they can put it in search results (like google.com’s) will see your robots.txt and go away. No one will ever be able to find you without manualy typing in your url. In short, basicaly no new customers.

    Second:
    bad spiders (like the image stealers) couldn’t care less what your robots.txt file. Renemeber, it’s not like you web server blocks the spider (for info on how to do this google it), instead robots.txt is a recommendation. If I’m writing the code for an image stealing spider, am I going to program it to ignore websites that say they don’t want me to take your stuff?

    Reply
Drew

Thanks Charles for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us!

I think that you’re exactly right when you say that “the longer it takes some one to try to make the image good (remove watermarking, etc.) the less they will want to use it.” I think that combining some of these ideas might be a good idea depending on how much time you are willing to spend and how valuable that particular image is to you.

I also agree 100% that your first line of defense against image thieves is to keep the search engines from cataloging your images in the first place using your “robots.txt” file. In fact, this might be a great idea for a followup post down the road.

It’s interesting, however, because just a few days after I wrote this post I read a very interesting counter-point to this protect-your-art way of thinking by the artist Hazel Dooney on her blog “Self vs. Self”. In it she talks about how we as creative content producers (art, writing, photos, music, etc…) need to shift our attention away from the “product” of our work and back to the “producer” of that work. I’ll let her explain in her own words. . .

“In the new economic reality of the art world, increased awareness promotes increased opportunities for artists to exploit not only their work but themselves. The locus of value is shifting – from the ‘product’ to the ‘producer’. Unquestionably, the wider distribution of ‘product’ (even if it’s free product, shared without restriction) enhances the audience’s awareness and with it, the value, of the producer.

As artists, we need to be focussing less on preserving our rights in our product and more on enhancing the value of ourselves as producers and being imaginative about how we exploit and extract that value.”

Hazel is not only an amazing artist, but quite a radical thinker as well. If you get a chance, I would really encourage you to read her entire “Shifting with the Paradigm” post.

All of this reminded me again about the effect of living in a celebrity crazed culture such as our own. Maybe it’s true that we are no longer interested in buying the product, and instead we are really buying the personality of its creator (ex. Lady Gaga). I’m not sure where exactly that leaves the rest of us who refuse to wear lightbulbs and bubbles as clothing, but it is an interesting argument. . .

Reply
    Phoebe

    Hey, I found that my twitter pictures are on google which I don’t want! I went down to report picture and it came up with you can stop google by typing this into your server root?? I don’t know what that is? Any help?

    Reply

      I see that people have made cushion covers and whatever they want out of my hard work!!!

      In 2006 I painted on canvas an ‘African Lady Sunset’ which I called ‘Tallulah At Sunset’ I now see it splatted all over the internet.
      Of course whoever responsible has photo shopped it to their liking and taken my signature off it and date.
      It just feels all my hard work creating something that you created was just ‘in vain’.

      I do not want to see my hard work splattered all over the internet and made into cushion covers and the like.
      People are now selling my hard work I created!!! How do I stop this….I can’t seem to find the source.

      Reply

After the Napster / Metallica meltdown, it’s pretty clear to me that art-in-reproduction is no longer for sale, it’s for sharing.

As Cory Doctrow put it in the documentary RiP: A Remix Manifesto…
“Before the radio and the record came along, the only way that people made money from making music was by standing in a hall and being charismatic. The fact is: technology giveth, and technology taketh away. What was a business model in 1909 may be the business model in 2009. What was the business model in 1939 may not be the business model in 2007. That’s how it goes.”

Visual artists are actually the luckiest kind of artists today. Even if our stuff gets appropriated online, we still have the originals to sell. And, anyway, we all need to stop pretending that we’re creating in a vacuum and instead revel in the fact that culture builds on culture–that all the best artists know how to steal something and make it entirely their own!

It’s called free culture, and it’s about not trying to own art to the point where no one dares consume it for fear of copyright infringement. It’s about making work that’s so entirely original that no one will have a doubt as to who made it.

Reply
    Kat

    Eh, I pay for Pandora so that I do not have to hear commercials in order for my Artists to be compensated. I am currently going to school for photography. friends constantly go “where is your art, why do you not post it?” Hmm, I wonder why I don’t post my photographs to facebook? Gee, it seems counterproductive if one is to make a living. Now if one wants me to take photos for them, sure. I’ll post. But if I feel a shot can be something really good in the future, hell I won’t even post it to class. Not until the copyright is in my hand.
    Building a portfolio can be tricky in this day and age…
    So can being original.
    If you come up with something that is original and artfully successful then it is worth protecting like property. Scientific and medical breakthroughs are for sharing as they are educational pursuits; art is individual expression meant for individual gain.

    Reply
    Jimbe'

    Excellent point here, Gwenn…… I think the art , if its that well done and unique, speaks for its self. from the get-go.
    “Work that is so entirely original”~ No copy write infringement intended~ LoL like a Worhol or a Salvador Dali.

    Reply
Drew

I think you nailed it when you said that “technology giveth and technology taketh away” — As artists and writers we tend to forget sometimes that it is this ease of sharing content that drew us to putting our work online to begin with.

We forget that ten years ago, this world wide web thing was all simply a novelty. Twenty years ago, it was completely unheard of. I would guess that if you went back and asked any musician or artist back then if they would be willing to show off their creative work on a platform that would make it fairly easy for someone to steal it and pass it off as their own, they probably would have laughed in your face.

So why do we do it?

We do it because we know that it’s still the easiest way to get our work exposed to potentially millions of people around the world. Not that any of us want our stuff to be ripped off, but maybe instead of spending our time trying to fight off these internet parasites, we would be better off using that time to create new work and as you said, “making work that’s so entirely original that no one will have a doubt as to who made it.”

You’re right when you say that visual artists are the luckiest kind of artists today. Then again, you’ve always been the cool kids on the block. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that musicians were merely thought of as blue-collar workman used to fulfill the composer’s artistic vision, and writers. . . well writers have always been the introverted little stepchildren of the artistic world. While the visual artists were busy collecting patrons, we were busy nurturing our neurosis alone in our musty little rooms (except now we sit at Starbucks) — Some things never change!

Reply
    Mario P

    I’ve been building websites since 1994. Twenty-years-ago.

    Reply
    Frank C Pusateri

    Digital artists existed more than a decade prior to internet thievery. So no, it is not what brought me to be a digital artist. You cannot extract value of equipment and experience so we will have ultimately less creatives. This entire system is devaluing quality not expanding it. Most will think it’s a huge expansion, but it is actually minimizing the process and like music – we no longer have musicians, we now have processed sound.
    Also – it is not about me posting it. People scan and shoot photos of my work and post it – so no, it’s not me even putting into the digital world. Nothing is safe, nothing can grow.
    Art and culture are being destroyed, just like our excessively processed food, music, sports… it’s horrible.

    Reply
chris

This site will help all digital artist’s. It’s amazing! and it’s free.

http://www.copyrightclamp.com

Reply
    Drew

    Hi Chris,

    This site/tool looks interesting, although I am curious what your relationship is with this particular company. I always encourage our readers to share valuable resources that they find around the web (especially free ones) however, the fact that you posted this link under two different names starts to make me wonder. Just be honest with us, and we’ll be happy to check out this resource.

    All the best,
    Drew

    Reply

Even the methods that make right-click saving difficult are easily circumvented by making a screenshot. Furthermore, you can only use those on your own website. The usual portfolio websites – deviantart, epilogue, CGhub, etc. – won’t let you do this, you can only upload the actual artwork image files there.
Therefore, in my opinion, these methods are quite useless. What I think might be better:

1) Watermarks, as you mentioned. Both well-known and unknown artists’ work alike is stolen, but the work of the unknown artist can be identified more easily if it has a watermark (Few thieves make the effort of removing a watermark).

2) Promote your work! Yes, that makes it more available for thieves, but that’s really no reason not to do so. More exposure also means more chance of recognition if it’s stolen. Luis Royo’s work, for example, is often stolen but also very easily identified because it’s so well known.

3) I assume you all know http://www.tineye.com . Their image library is still small but can be very helpful.

Reply
    Drew

    Thanks Kristina for stopping by and sharing your ideas with us :)

    I think you’re right when you say that the more you promote your artwork and get it out there online, the more people will begin to know you and recognize your unique style.

    We tend to forget that although the worldwide art world is huge, the online art community is far smaller and much more interconnected. Those artists who share their work online and are actively involved in networking sites such as DeviantArt, RedBubble, Facebook, and even Twitter are far more likely to have their pirated work noticed by one of their online connections.

    The concept behind TinEye looks to be very promising for visual artists and especially photographers who are attempting to keep track of their work online. I would be very interested in hearing from artists who have used TinEye and what they have discovered about how their work has been used (or abused) online.

    In the long-term, however, I think that we are better off finding a way to shift our focus away from protecting the old and instead using that time and energy towards creating our next work. Easier said than done I know. Most of us (including myself) become so emotionally attached and protective over our work that it becomes difficult to let go and move on. . .

    Reply

Na realidade nao estou preocupada com as fotos do meu site e sim daquelas que coloco no facebook, alem de ser fotografa faco alteracoes nas fotos, um photoshop bem natural e maquiagem digital, mostro o meu trabalho, assim as pessoas ficam interessadas e compram pois tambem imprimo e coloco em album personalizado, mas o que vejo acontecendo, as pessoas pedem os retoques como se nao fosse perder meu tempo e ainda nao pagam. Restauracao entao, nem se fala, da o maior trabalho e elas pedem…pedem…e eu boba, faco e entrego.
Ontem msm um amigo me chamou a atencao, poxa, vc trabalha horas e nao recebe pq acham que e’ um hobby
teu e agradecem como favor???? Dai achei voce!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Por favor, o que eu poderia fazer para nao fazerem download da foto ou salva-la? A marca d’agua e’ excelente ideia
mas acho que fica tao inapropriado e deselegante….sei la’….teria uma outra ideia amigo?
Desde ja, te agradeco e parabens!!!!

Reply
    Drew

    Obrigado por acessar e compartilhar seus pensamentos com a gente! Concordo com você que watermarking não é muito atraente, mas parece ser a melhor opção disponível.

    Thank you Leo for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us! I agree with you that watermarking is not very attractive but it does seem to be one of the best options available.

    Reply

[…] of stolen images was first given attention for one of my clients. I agree with everything in the related article below, and I also enjoy it’s great title Stop stealing my […]

Reply
Vicki France

My question is once the art has been stolen and I have asked them to remove the art from their website and they still continue to use it..How do we find out whose behind a website if no business name or phone is on the site?

Reply
    Drew

    That’s a great question Vicki. One online tool that I generally recommend to find out who’s behind a particular website is Network Solutions WhoIs database search which you can find here http://www.networksolutions.com/whois where you can usually find the contact information of the website owner. However, if they have a privacy feature enabled, it will only show the name of the website hosting company which you can also file a complaint directly using the contact information provided. The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) requires that individuals and hosting companies remove the copyrighted material from their site quickly once they have been notified of the violation. If you’re interested, you can find out more about the DMCA here at the Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Millennium_Copyright_Act

    Hope that helps!

    Reply
      Vicki France

      Super reply! I have found everything I needed from your link and sent them email today (Dec 7, 2011) I found so much stolen artwork that I was sickened. GoDaddy.com is the hosting agent and Wallace Internet Properties are the folks stealing. Wallace has several internet sites that distribute “Computer Wallpaper” that they have stolen from various places around the web. I also see that they generate money everyday from these sites. If they don’t removed it can I sue? And if so I wonder for how much? It just makes me so mad!!

      Reply
        Drew

        I’m glad it was helpful Vicki :)

        Hopefully once they realized that they’ve been caught they will do the right thing and take your stolen artwork (and everyone else’s) off their website and find something else more productive to do with their time. Usually if it’s as large-scale operation as it sounds, however, things could get a little tricky depending on how much money they are actually making on these websites.

        At this point I would simply stay after them with repeated emails and try to get as much contact info as you can. If nothing happens, inform then that your next step will be to contact their hosting company (GoDaddy) which is your right under the DMCA and start the process to have their hosting account suspended. Now of course I’m not a lawyer or any type of legal expert, but the way I understand it the hosting company can also be held liable so they should be much more responsive.

        Good luck and please let us know how it all turns out!

        Reply
          Vicki France

          Over 20 emails with ZERO responses and then a break through because of your link…I contacted Go Daddy.com and reported the abuse, in turn GoDaddy.com wanted me to fill out a form that proves my art was indeed copyright protected. I told them it does not need to be protected, that it mine, that I created it and I have proof…but they wanted me to send in the $65 to have it protected with an agency…BULLSHiT is what I thought. At any rate I found out through GoDaddy the information I needed to phone the guy and email him…and guess what HE called me back and is removing the art. He has at least 30 different websites all of which offer out free art for downloads and I am sure that most of it is pirated art. But! I won my battle. The guy makes about $1000. a month through all the sites he owns. I told him if he doesn’t take my art down I will sue. I think I finally won a battle…wish he had removed the art months ago when I first asked. If any of you want to search and see if your art is being handed out through him search “Wallace Internet Properties.”

          Reply
      priya

      i had a fear tat anyone can copy a photo from my facebook profile or facebook album. but i’m interested in adding that. can u please tell me the clear and easy way for protecting my photos.is there any software for that

      Reply

My jaw about dropped seeing that family photo in a advertisement! WOW! I’m currently trying to shrink wrap images my self but nothing seems to be working….

This is an excellent article :)

Reply
    Drew

    Thank you for your kind words, I’m happy that you found this article to be useful. Shrink wrapping images does take a bit of practice, however, once you are familiar with it and you get it working, you can often copy and paste most of the HTML code for all your other images. Good luck!

    Reply
      Taylor

      I’ve been in foreign countries and taken pictures of my friends pictures on shop fronts. (Model images stolen from the original client) many a time.

      Reply

Very interesting article and more interesting ideas in some of the comments. I’m going to be taking a closer look at shrink-wrapping and the robots.txt option.

Both of the image stealing stories at the beginning of the article (the family photo and the hippo/buttterfly artwork) were stolen to be printed. Personally (when I remember) I try to post my images in a compact form – as compromised JPEGs – and at never more than 110dpi. The result can be printed out, but will only look good in a very small format.

However, my feeling is that if someone wants to borrow one of my digital images to use on line – and if they’re prepared to give me credit – then, good luck to them! If they want to use one of my pictures in print though, that’s a different matter…

The truth is as you state – if you don’t want people to use your images, then don’t post them. If you DO post them, then look on them as “loss leaders” – something you’re giving away in the hope of attracting customers/fans/followers/like-minded network buddies. I would love to get paid for some of my images, but till that happy day it’s really encouraging to get praise, positive comments, “likes” and messages from people you’ve never met saying they have used one of your CC licensed pictures or asking for permission to use one where the licensing isn’t clear.

I for one would also be interested to see a further article on protecting text.

Thanks again!

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    Drew

    I think that’s a great way of looking at this complicated issue John.

    You’re right that it is sometimes hard to draw the line these days between what to share and what to “keep protected” offline. In fact, this whole idea of sharing our work online through social media sites like Flickr, DeviantArt, or even Facebook is still so new that we are all still adjusting to this new way of looking at “ownership” and what exactly is okay and not okay to do with our work online.

    Luckily, all of us are in the same boat and I think that over time we’ll at least individually figure out what we are comfortable with in terms of people “borrowing” our work without attribution. I know that I’m still trying to figure this all out myself, but it turns out that so far my best defense against these content thieves has been to not create much material worth stealing ;)

    Reply
    Ashiya

    Actually the second image is not the same one stolen (the watermarked one). It was traced, or copied, a shadier kind of stealing… so the size doesn’t actually matters to these people. They can copy any image in whatever size they want unfortunately. Shameless plagiarizing.

    Reply

I had to write and tell you that this article is so helpful. I literally discovered another blogger not only stealing my self created unique photos, but entire content and publishing it on their blog as their own. I am out using Google to find ways to protect myself. I feel completely ripped off and irritated. I don’t even consider myself to be that creative, so when I found the few things I make that are uniquely me stolen, I got very agitated. Maybe if I felt I had creativity flying out of me I wouldn’t be so ticked. Anyway, thanks for being my afternoon therapist and thank you for the shrink wrapping tip in particular.

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    Drew

    Wow that really sucks :(

    Unfortunately, this type of thing is becoming far too common online. At first it was pirating music and movies online, now it seems these online thieves are branching out and have moved on to “content scraping” which is where they simply rip off your creative content (writing, pictures, music, or whatever) and use your content to get them some traffic from Google and then try to sell people stuff from their affiliate links.

    Sooner or later the technology for sniffing out and stopping these idiots will catch up to them and hopefully those of us who create original content online will still be around. Thanks again for your kind words about the article, I hope that this whole experience won’t deter you from sharing your work online.

    Keep creating and don’t let the bastards win!

    Reply

    We are now very far from the publishing date of this article, and it is still relevant: images can not be copy protected on the web as long as they are displayed in a browser. Publishing low resolution versions or using watermarks are the only solutions.

    But concerning texts published on the web, at CPROTEXT, we managed to design an efficient solution using only HTML and CSS: no javascript, no fancy flash or java applets. Only web standards available to all browsers.

    The example page of our site let you experiment with our solution freely so that you can see by yourself that it is really effective.

    If you want to know more about how CPROTEXT is different from other easily bypassed text copy protection solutions, the FAQ page should have the answers.

    PS: As I would not want this comment to be understood as a spam, the link to our website is associated with my name above. Feel free to remove it if you consider its presence inappropriate.

    Reply
Tai

Digimarc
http://www.digimarc.com/

Copyright info encoded right into the image
You can search the web for anywhere your image is being used.
Also the data is still readable if the image is resized or printed, and I think recolored.

Only thing is the basic service cost about $50 a year.
But, if people are buying your prints–or you think they will eventually–then I think the equivalent of a little over $4 a month is worth it.

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So, my photographs on my website are photographs of products, not art per se, but I still don’t want lazy people to use them. According to Vickie F. they don’t have to be copyrighted for it to be considered theft? Just wondering if I should watermark even my product photos.

Once again, great information. Thanks for sharing.

Ronna

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    Drew

    Thanks Ronna :)

    I’m certainly not any type of legal expert, but it is my understanding that any original content that you create now automatically has some form of copyright protection. Unfortunately, the problem is not so much getting your work copyrighted, as it is enforcing your copyright against the lazy parasites who may live half way around the world.

    Generally speaking, I would seriously consider watermarking any image that you are interested in maintaining your copyright over. Although watermarking is certainly far from perfect, it will deter those who may not realize that it is a copyrighted image (if they found it on a Google image search for example). The ones who are going to take the time to digitally “scrub” your watermark off aren’t going to be deterred anyway, but at least they won’t be able to claim ignorance and say they didn’t realize the image was copyrighted.

    Reply

    I’ve had problems with people stealing my product photos for years, first on EBay and now from my website. It’s not that I think my photos are so great. It’s just that I took the time to take them and make them look semi-presentable and I don’t want some clown using my own pics to compete against me. So I always try to scare them into taking the pics down.

    Bloggers are a different story. One the one hand If a blogger uses one of my pics then most likely they have an interest in the products I sell so they may just buy something after being drawn to the website. On the other hand they use the pic but don’t give me any credit. I would perfectly alright with them using it if they just gave me a little blurb for my site.

    The thing I have discovered about pics taken from Google (and I assume from Bing and Yahoo as well) is that the picture file remains linked to the original website even after it is copied and pasted. You can tell when you’ve been linked to if you scroll through your website visitor logs. If the blogger has any following whatsoever you’ll see a ton of visits from his website all showing that same picture. If you alter that picture file on your website the picture that they have stolen will be altered too. I have been simply pasting my domain name across the stolen pics so at least i get some credit. Of course you could do something more sinister if you’d rather….

    Reply
Mandollyn

The problem with this is that I usually hit print screen after I zoom in until the picture fills my screen. It captures the screen image and then paste it into a graphic editor…

I can copy all of the above images – the might not be as high resolution, but the images I may need are not usually larger than 800×800 in their final form!

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    Drew

    You’re absolutely right. Unfortunately the “morals & ethics” of technology hasn’t quite caught up to the capabilities of technology. So unless we are willing to sit around and wait for the inevitable karmic backlash to catch up to these thieving idiots, all we can do is to try and deter them from stealing our online content.

    Let’s face it, the ones who are going to steal our images and content are going to do it. They know what they’re doing, they have the tools, and they know how to get around all of the tricks we might have in place. As I mentioned in the article, the best we can do is to make it as difficult and time consuming as possible for them and hope they decide to move on to easier prey.

    Eventually, I think we’ll get to the point both technologically and ethically where this will all become a moot point, but for now we just need to continue to adapt, and perhaps even more importantly, continue to create new and even better content.

    Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us!

    Reply

hi Drew, that shrink wrap technique is a thing of beauty! Since we can’t stop anyone from grabbing and using our stuff online… I’ve made sure my name(instead of a watermark) is embedded and easy to read in all of my new images. I’m at a point where I actually encourage people to use my work in wallpapers, calendars, blog posts, etc… and if anything, it’s brought me more traffic and sales than copyright violations. Embrace the inevitable. ;-)

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    Drew

    I think that’s a great attitude Marti. It’s always a good idea to do what you can to protect your creative work, especially if you plan on selling it later, but then again it turns out the only 100% effective way to protect it is to not put it online in the first place. So instead of worrying about losing control with the stuff you post online, why not turn it around and give people (preferably nice people) the tools and the ability to share your work online. Like you said, why not encourage people to use your online images (perhaps under a Creative Commons license) and use it to get your name out there. You’re right that in the end, that is going to bring you more traffic and sales than worrying about copyright violations.

    Reply

I’ve not had any art stolen, however, articles I write are constantly taken from my site. It was fairly easy to discover this, as I have a name that very few others in the world have. I searched for my name (in quotes), and got 11,900 hits, almost all of them about me. Many many of them are articles that I’d written and posted.
People are scooping them off my other website and posting them on theirs. However, most of them have left my contact information intact and live, so these articles all point back at me. Now I actually encourage people to steal them now, as long as they leave the contact info intact.
I’m not sure if there is a technical way to have photos connect back to websites. Too technical a question for me.
Keith

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    Drew

    You really can’t hope for better than that! Back in the olden days of the internet, people like me would actually write free articles and post them on article submission sites where other people could then use those articles on their own websites as long as they kept the contact information attached to the article. This was a win/win because these people would get the content they wanted and you would get the name recognition and the valuable link back to your own website. Unfortunately, now people (the slimier version) don’t use these article directory sites as much and instead simply search for the topic they want and cut and paste it to their own website after removing all of your contact information. Luckily, Google has gotten much better in recent years about recognizing duplicate content like this and they have been known to blacklist a website if duplicate content like this continues to be an issue.

    By the way, you can link images back to a website, which is what we do here on the site when we use a Creative Commons image and provide an attribution link back to it’s creator. It’s just good karma!

    Reply

Excellent article, thank you!
Cheers

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maha

I was googling around, try to find a simple way to trick away my pictures being “easily” saved, and i landed on your blog. It’s really a nice trick (not mention creative) , and it works pretty well. So, thank you for sharing some insight!

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Thanks for the article. Shrink wrapping sounds awesome. I’m sick of people ripping off my images I bought online.

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I sell jewelry online for many years. I remember years back before any of our manufacturers were able to supply us the jewelry photos. I photographed all my jewelry photos. To this day, I am still finding my photos were used by some other sellers. The sad thing is when I asked them to take the jewelry photos down because we own them (I actually copyrighted them, sent form to Washington DC and paid fee), they told me the jewelry supplier gave them the photos. Okay, that means my jewelry photos were used by the manufacturers and the sellers.

There was one CZ jewelry seller who stole 80 plus of my photos and used in their newly built website a few years ago, later on I noticed they also stole the entire website layout from ice.com. This was a few years ago. We even hired a lawyer to tell them to remove our photos that they claimed they took those photos themselves. How could that be? I have all the originals and used Photoshop techniques on every one of these photos. How could they just lie to me? I should mention their name here but I am not one to hurt anyone and I do not want them to destroy my good personality.

I used watermarks on my photos until all the jewelry suppliers were able to supply us the jewelry photo then I stopped photographing photos myself. Yes, anyone can edit a watermarked photo if one knows Photoshop. I like Shrink Wrapping Image method suggested above. I will give it a try for my next group of new jewelry.

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Hello Drew, this is my first visit to your site, and your info on fighting image robbery is excellent! Thanks for your efforts to do this. I usually put the copyright symbol next to my name/web site, and only put a small version of photos on the web display, so that it’s practical use is not great for printing.

I have not burned an image to a cd and tried to prevent copying the image, but wondering if you know if it is possible to for example, send someone who ordered a large image in .jpg on a cd, and have it protected to be not just copy protected, but also limits the number of times it can be used to print. So I am imagining the cd being brought to a print shop, and the person brings it up on the monitor to send it to print. It would be helpful if I could program an instruction that could set the number of times a print instruction could be used. Maybe there is software designed to do this.

Thanks and best wishes!

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    Drew

    Thanks Charlie for stopping by and joining in the conversation. Welcome to the community and feel free to make yourself at home :)

    Honestly I don’t know if what you are describing is possible or not. With all of the technology that’s out there these days, I would certainly think that it would be, but I haven’t yet seen it myself. Maybe some of our other readers might know where you can find a service/software like this.

    Reply

    Sorry, but I think there is no way. If the person you are giving the cd to can see the image, they can copy it. They could an external camera if they really wanted to and take a picture of the screen

    Reply
Allan

Just do what I do, send them an invoice for unauthorized use. I usually hit them for £1300 per picture.

They all try to fight, but by the time they recieve the invoice, they have already comitted the crime. They all pay up, sooner or later, especially when the legal papers/summons to small claims court land on their desk.

Ive only had to go beforethe”beak” once, and he ruled in my favour.

I also still make them pay, even if they remove the picture. They have already used it.

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Erosu

Sorry but I stole 2 out of 3 pictures you gave out because there is a back up if you can’t right click or save image.It is “Print Screen” ha ha.

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    Exactly. The Mac has a really cool function where you can click Command+Shift+4 and you can instantly crop whatever section you want printed within the Print Screen function.

    Watermarks just look trashy.

    Reply

the cloud is dangers it is not safe and it will never be safe that is the lie they are telling you so you will put
your info in there to be stole it is not safe at all

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kb

Watermarks are probably the most effective. The shrink wrap my thwart some but no matter what you do there is always the print screen method and then just crop out the image. This does not download the original image so there is nothing you can do.

Reply

    Do you have any tips or links to share about using watermarks?

    That would be helpful.
    Thank you.

    Reply
kb

The thing is people seeing your work on other sites is what may have brought you to the attention of your customers in the first place and going viral is free advertising so people too protective of your work also works against you.

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    Drew

    You’re exactly right. The creative work we put online is the best way we have to build our online (and offline) reputation. Every time someone shares our work, it is like receiving free advertising. The best part is that it’s not the annoying in-your-face-look-at-me kind of banner ad that we all have learned to ignore, it’s the recommendation from someone that person knows and trusts. Unfortunately, if you make it too difficult to share your stuff online most people won’t bother.

    But if you make your content freely accessible and easy to share doesn’t that mean that the bad people can steal your content as well? Why yes, yes it does, which is why at some point you have to decide what’s more important to you— protecting your content (kinda) or building your online reputation.

    Reply
priya simon

If you are planning to be Secret Service Jones Bond007 who wants everything to be Secretive…you have your WeBFeed Feet in the wrong NET!!
Friendly Feed Advise:WEB NETS..are for people who understand Grace!Freely I received Freely I give!No Hassles!

Reply

Thank you for this article.

It’s well written and needed.
I just signed up for your newsletter and shared your site on G+.

I think kb made some important points, and am interested in learning more about watermarks.
Every individual has to experiment
and decide what their own boundaries are.
Clearly there is a line of over-protecting that then becomes a negative
for the artist, but there is so much theft, there isn’t a cut and dry solution.

Cheers.

Reply
    Drew

    Thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate you taking the time to share them :)

    I think that it is difficult to know where exactly to draw the line. Just like in our everyday life we generally want to be kind and generous, but at the same time, we don’t want to be taken advantage of. You’re right, it is hard to know how much is too much and exactly how high we should build our protective fence. Unfortunately online, it’s often an all of nothing proposition. We can either put our creative work out there and hope for the best, or we can protect it by keeping it offline. It’s when we try to find that middle ground, that we tend to run into issues.

    The problem, of course, is that we want to allow people to enjoy and share our work, while still being able to keep the thieving bastards away. As I mention in the article, however, anything we try to do to protect our images online only ends up frustrating the people we are trying to reach and is pretty much ineffective on the internet parasites because they already know their way around all of the technological tricks.

    So does that mean that we just give up and throw in the towel and let them take whatever they want? Not necessarily, but we may need to loosen up a bit because in the end the only people we are keeping away are the people we want to be there.

    Reply
Sadie

this happened to somebody on deviantART I watch. They make little clay animals and post pictures of them on dA, and one of their animals (a little white unicorn with a rainbow mane and tail) was used in a hidden pictures game!! >:(

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sam

How can you shrink wrap images on your Facebook profile. You’ve mentioned that one family’s portrait was stolen from facebook and I think it’s really important to protect photos on Facebook.

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    Drew

    Unfortunately, I don’t believe that you are currently able to shrink wrap or slice-and-dice your images on Facebook because you don’t have access to any of the HTML code of the page. That’s part of the problem with sharing these type of images on a social media platform like Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, etc… because you are essentially forced to use their image uploading and presentation software.

    When it comes to Facebook, your best bet is to watermark any images before you upload them, or better yet, don’t put them up on Facebook in the first place. Save these images for your own website, where you are able to have a little more control. Also double-check your Facebook privacy settings to make sure that only the people you want to see your images will be able to (this only applies to images on your personal profile page) Keep in mind that pretty much anything on your business page is viewable to anyone including non-Facebook members.

    Thanks again for stopping by Sam, I hope this helps.

    Reply
Hans Rudolf Wellinger

How do you stop people from taking your artwork via screengrabs? Is it possible to have such illegal screengrabs traced?
I am not a computer whizz but I would like to know the answers to these two questions.
Ta Hans

Reply

This is an incredible resource! Thank you for sharing. I recently started a blog and have several of my images on it already. I haven’t done much to deter would-be thieve because I didn’t know what I could do other than not uploading my images at all. So this is great!! Now…where’s the follow button so I can follow your awesome site? :)

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Robin V.

These were helpful, and not that I want to steal any photos, but you could always just do a screen shot of the screen. (on mac is command shift 4) and drag it across the image you want. Is there anyway to prevent that?

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Connie Lim

Hi,

I facing the same problem. My images for my product is keep using by other. I now trying to find a way cause I listen my friend saying that last time he have an visit a website, the picture at that website he just saving. Who know after the picture saving, the images is “images.php”. So when he try to open it, the images is at .php and open at Adobe Dreamweaver. And the images is cannot view as a images, but just a coding. So he say maybe this is the best way from prevent your images direct downloading from website.

Anyone know about this way?? How to convert the images become .php?

Thanks,
Connie

Reply

    So there are four ways this could be happening that I know of.

    1) I have to mention this, but it could be that your friend is just clicking on the a web page and not the image by accident.

    2) The creator of the web pages is shrink wrapping the images, but instead of using a blank image they are using a html element (For instance the reply button on this page is an html element, but image it transparent without any text). That way, when they right-clicked they would by right clicking on the website and not an image. (In five seconds I could get the image anyway, so that isn’t very useful)

    3) They are using a php script to take an image from a hidden location on their web server and then displaying it

    4)I Don’t know from what you said.

    If you could post the url of the page, I could help you.

    If you could post the php code, I could also help you more.

    In other words, we need to know more.

    You are welcome to ask me questions, just go to my website http://danielzfranklin.com

    No matter what you use, if the viewer can view your image a person can get it.
    Daniel F

    Reply
The Kajun Queen

Hate to tell you guys, but I was able to get both of those photos from your page. There is a way and it’s fast…….I will not post how to do it on here. I have both photos in my photo file. I had them in seconds! No I am not a thief…just a computer student!

Reply

Thanks for share. I was confussing how t protect my online image before read this useful post.

Reply
Kristiiina

WHat to do on facebook, though???

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Nessa

I am learning how to use webpage how ever….where I can find the Turning off the Right-Click on the web page or on the note pad or what? Please help me ….I want to protect my webpage in the future. Hear from you soon.
Thank you
Nessa

Reply

A way around a lot of those protections is print screen + paste into whatever art program you have access to
If the picture is too big, you can print screen multiple times & just paste the pieces together

I usually just put my webpage address on instead of a watermark & not worry if the picture ends up places I didn’t put it – free advertising at that point. (obviously I mean if people upload it online, not if they take it & use it IRL)

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JK

Just a heads-up, that ‘backstory’ you linked to leads to spam. I had a huge CHEAP CANADIAN CIALIS PRESCRIPTIONS all over my screen.

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Petr

Remember, unless you are showing something it could be stolen. They can use print screen, viewing the page source amd even the shrink-wrapping is not safe. Sorry people, that’s the whole story.

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Petr chkrov

Remember, unless you are showing something it could be stolen. They can use print screen, viewing the page source amd even the shrink-wrapping is not safe. Sorry people, that’s the whole story.

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Kiki

Question… Can the shrink wrap technique provide any sort of protection from Mac users who can just grab and drag images right on to their desktop? Thank you.

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    Unfortunately Kiki there doesn’t seem to be too much you can do to stop screen-grabs and grab-and-drag image thieves these days. The problem is that these things have a lot of positive uses as well so trying to disable them in some way is just going to irritate your visitors (like disabling right-clicking). My best advice is to only post lower resolution images online (72 dpi) to reduce the chances of offline printing, watermark your images if necessary, and accept the fact that anything you post online is going to be available in some form or another if someone is willing to take enough time to steal it. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it seems to be right now. We can’t have our proverbial cake and eat it too — so if we really want to share our stuff online, we’re just going to have to accept that it’s out there and partially beyond our control. The only truly effective way to protect your images is to keep them offline — at least until the technology to protect our images catches up with the technology to steal them…

    Reply
joe

Hi

Just use the ‘print screen’ button on your keyboard to capture an image, and then paste it into Photoshop, simple. And as for watermarks, they can be edited out with Photoshop really easily, just takes a bit of time.

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Chicken Sock Puppet

Right-click, View Page Source

Look, here is your shrink-wrapped image:

https://skinnyartist.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/hndsup3-300×199.jpg

You need to disable right-clicks in addition to shrink-wrapping them…

Reply

I am really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog.
Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself?
Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one these days.

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I found this article interesting, but I must re-enforce the fact that if you don’t want it stolen then don’t put it on the internet. Disabling right-click is a “disable javascript” away from stealing your image (google chrome even has a fancy extension that you can disable and enable javascript in less than a second).

Watermarking is good, but it really can ruin the look of your image. I use this technique along with the transparent image overlay on my protected content. You won’t find protected content in the website I listed here, but for clients who want to protect their images watermarks are the best. The best way to use watermarks though is to make them extremely light and in the worst places where people who are trying to steal your image will have to put work into making it look good again, but people who are looking at your image won’t have their image ruined with ugly text.

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Ben

Do whatever you want but anyone can grab any image not matter what you do to it with print screen. Only a watermark is going to do anything about that. Dice it up, disable save image. put it in flash and print screen will get it every time perfectly intact.

Reply

“Protect your Images Online – Stop People from Stealing your Stuff!
” ended up being quite enjoyable and informative!
In the present day society that’s challenging
to deliver. Regards, Declan

Reply

I really blog as well and I am writing something very
close to this post, “Protect your Images Online – Stop People from Stealing your Stuff!
”. Would you care in case I personallywork with a few of your personal suggestions?
Thanks a lot ,Sasha

Reply
William

Digital mediums cannot be protected on a computer. A computer by its very nature copies. Other people are only able to see stuff over the internet, because guy A has stuff (pictures) and then girl B goes to his website where girl B’s computer copies everything from guy A’s website to her computer so her computer can process the information and display it, thereby allowing girl B to see something. If you don’t want something copied, don’t put it in a computer or make it digital.

If computers had there ability to copy disabled, the computer would literally not work. No more internet, no more programs, no more anything on a computer, or any other device that uses a computer; which by today’s standard is everything, which is exactly why laws like SOPA and PIPA need to be destroyed; because if they’re not, nobody will own anything, nor will anyone have the right to copy anything, which means no more computers, phones, ipads, or anything else that uses the internet or a computer.

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    Yes Yes Yes.

    Do you mind if I quote you?

    Thanks for the awesome answer that conveys to people what I’ve been trying to say.

    If the viewer can view it I can get the image
    Daniel F

    Reply

Excellent way of telling, and nice paragraph to obtain data about my presentation focus, which
i am going to convey in college.

Reply

Great Article!
We watermark our images but still have people steal and borrow….. I would love to know how you attach a link back to an image so that when ppl do this, it will still bring them back to our sites!

Thanks for all you do!

Claudia
http://www.ClaudiaOlivos.com
http://www.SergiOlivosM.com

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    Digimarc http://www.digimarc.com does exactly that. The watermark is encoded right in the image and you can’t see it. Someone mentioned it in an earlier comment.

    I think that if people are serious about protecting their photos then paying for professional watermarking is worth considering. At $50/year I don’t consider it that expensive compared to the peace of mind it offers. At the very least you can track down all your images where they are being used on the web and send a cease and desist notice, and you don’t have to put an ugly watermark smack bang in the middle of your photograph. That is the best of both worlds. People always want “free” stuff, however a lot of these free watermarking/protection approaches either take time and learning and/or are ineffective.
    Good article and very topical.
    Nicky

    Reply
Brianna Coffey

this was really helpful, thank you!

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    There is a WordPress plugin that should allow you to watermark your images. it is called NextGen Galleries. I was in a hurry the first time I tried to use it, and i could not get the watermark to work. but I have seen people talking about it and it has a good reputation, so I plan to give it another try. It is a free plugin.

    Reply

good article , i was wondering if there is a wordpress plugin can do that .. if not .. so the only way is the watermark .

Reply

This kind of solution is ideal for those who don’t have the kind of budget a true surround setup can cost. These programs are related in that they have a similar interface and features and they are able to interact. Ensure that the sound card you pick up can handle the number of channels required to work with the speakers you want to install.

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BigJon

In Conclusion WATERMARK your work.

I came here to ridicule your entire article, (as its too long with too many failings) then realised there is a real need for legitimate artists to protect their work – quickly and easily. But I do take offense at the idiotic world view that some, not necessarily you, have about showing work.
If you present something in public that suck it up! If I take a picture of my friends in the street, I have EVERY right to graffiti the billboard poster in the background (on MY photo) and share that on youtube.
(if I try and make money out of it, then obviously that’s stealing)

For all your schemes it took me less than a second to steal all your pictures, no matter what you did – just with one keyboard button we all have !!

The only protection is WATERMARK right across the middle. get Real People.

Reply

    Yes!

    Lets not forget Fair Use people.

    If the viewer can view it I can copy it,
    Daniel F

    Reply

This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking
more of your wonderful post. Also, I have shared your site in my
social networks!

Reply

Your stumbleupon link for the hippo image now leads to a Canadian drug site. You may want to adjust the link.

You may also want to take a second and give credit to the creators of the images that you use in this article. I find it very strange that you’re discussing copyright and protecting creator rights but appear to use the images of others without granting those folks those same rights you’re trying to protect.

Sorry for being anal about this but I know if I’ve come across sites that have used my images as well. Imagine the creators of the images that you’ve used coming across this article and the topic being discussed.

Reply

Wonderful website. Lots of useful information here.
I’m sending it to a few friends ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you on your effort!

Reply
kara

Um … ever heard of snippy tool or screen captures?

Reply

Have you ever considered writing an e-book or guest authoring on other websites?
I have a blog based on the same information you discuss
and would love to have you share some stories/information.
I know my viewers would enjoy your work.
If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e-mail.

Reply
Annoyed

Seems that image ‘stealing’ is a hot topic again. This time it is not business related but personal/private content. http://hub.me/aflYQ

Reply

Hello this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG
editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.

I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding experience so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

Reply

    SkinnyArtist uses WordPress, a way to blog with no coding.

    I don’t particularly like WordPress, bu tthen that’s a personal opinion.

    If you’d like to talk to me more about how to make a blog easily,
    Feel free to contact me using my website http://danielzfranklin.com

    Good Luck
    Daniel

    Reply
Distraught!

Recently it was brought to my attention that my picture that was stolen of a private album on facebook and is actually being used in an extremely inappropriate website (it is a completely ordinary picture). I am honestly extremely pissed of as this person has stolen many pictures from others from what i can see once i went to visit the website to have a look for myself so to report it. I reported it and it was added back literally the next day by the same user! THIS IS WRONG AND ILLEGAL and i don’t know what else i can do other than to keep reporting it??? how can i stop this mug!? help!

Reply

    Do a whois lookup (try http://whois.net) to find out who ownes the domain.

    Send them a DMCA takedown notice (google it for a how-to), as well as their website hosting company and domain registrar. To find their hosting company look for “nameserver” in the whois data. The url is usualy their name. If not, do a google search for something like “who ownes [Insetr nameserver url here] ”

    Good luck and feel free to email me at my website http://danielzfranklin.com for more information,
    Daniel F

    Reply
Kelvin

Unfortunately everyone knows how to take a screen grab, rendering all these defences pointless.

Reply

    You’re right of course, but then again even a screen grab can’t erase a watermark. In order to remove a watermark someone needs to have at least some degree of Photoshop skills. Having said that, I still wouldn’t put any image online that I needed to protect 100%

    Reply
Asha

Can you shrink wrap an image for facebook ? is watermark the only option there?

Thanks so much for your article!!

Reply

    Good question Asha! Because Facebook doesn’t give you any way to edit the HTML of your images, watermarking your images is probably your only real option. When posting images on Facebook, I would probably also recommend making them low-resolution (72dpi) and not any larger than necessary to see the details of the image. This not only makes the images load faster, but it also makes them a slightly less attractive target for image thieves.

    Reply
Chris in WI

Snipping tool beats all your suggestions. If its online it can be screenshot.

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SakuraoftheValley

Hi ya’ll
I would just like to point out that NOTHING is SAFE on the Internet. Even with these fancy shmancy shrink-wrap and right click disabling. All one could do is just take a picture with their phone or regular camera and then upload the picture via their USB on PC.

I used to an ongoing artist (I refuse to be called a deviant) on DeviantArt a very wonderful place for putting up your artwork. But alas, that site is being slowly corrupted with TROLLS.

It’s sad as I would like to put my art up for people to enjoy but fear the fate above would some day befall me.

I myself wish I could create a website like DeviantArt for artists like myself. My friend unfortunately was a victim of having his photograph being replicated by someone from another country. HIS image.

But as already stated above and though it’s sad it’s true, in order to protect your work, DON’T POST IT UP ONLINE!!

Reply

The problem just keeps getting worse and worse. Even Google itself is now stealing the peoples images and displaying them at full resolution is their search results. It’s astounding the level is greed a disrespect.

I wrote a guide on how to stop Google image search from stealing your images. I hope some may find it useful, but it’s a shame that it is necessary.

Reply

    You know, that’s a matter of opinion. Others would say google search is a great way for people to find out about you.

    It’s all how you look at it,
    Daniel F

    Reply
Jurgen

Image theft has gone out of control online. People can bypass watermarking like it was never there to begin with. For WordPress users (and I just think I should mention it here), there is a plugin called WPCCP which has an extended version that is pretty awesome when it comes to protecting images. One of the best I have come to find anyway. Have a look: http://www.securiilock.com/

Reply

flash images and slice and dice images? ….really the way you discribe of getting the image isn’t that hard…

people will just hit PrtScr and then paste it and crop the image out of the screenshot…

so there’s no need to bother with going to such lengths of protection that are no protection at all…

Reply

    You’re right Robert although, depending on the original source image, if they print off a screen grab they may end up getting a lower resolution then the original image. None of these options are really a solution, but more of a deterrent I suppose. Unfortunately our best defense against image theft is also the least attractive options — either post low-res grainy images that have been obnoxiously watermarked, or simply don’t post anything online at all. Sooner or later I believe the technology to effectively protect images online will catch up with the ability to steal them, but until then…

    Reply

      I have to agree with Robert on this one, the slicing and dicing is just way to complicated for little to no benefit. In the end the only way to protect images is through watermarks and just not making them too big. Take the incentive away, it’s all you can do.

      Reply

Slice and Dice can easily be overcome with a screenshot. A watermark makes the most sense since that is probably the hardest to correct and if it is not removed it at least is marketing your name.

I am amazed at the number of artists who do not watermark and also do not embed meta data such as copyright notices and contact info in their images. If you care about people “stealing” your images then you are not creating art for the pure bliss and that means you should try to approach your online presence with a dose of business sense.

Reply
Deepika

Hi, I have been worrying about posting my works since some of my friends work has been stolen .
Thanks for your ideas . Its true , technology takes what it gives .

Reply
Dawn Nader

If I want to know who is taking my photos on Facebook, Pintrest & Etsy is there a top 5 list of ways to locate your photos on-line. I hope I do not need to type in each individual photo into the browser.

Reply

    Try tineyeing the image (http://tineye.com) Also, many other people on this thread have talked about invisable metadata, basicaly info about the owner of the image that can only be see with the right software and isn’t anyoying like a watermark. Try looking up stenography

    Reply

15 seconds: https://skinnyartist.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/hndsup3-300×199.jpg

Not a screenshot, the original image as hosted on your website.

Check out the link.

If the viewer can view it I can get it
Daniel F

Reply

    You’re absolutely right and unfortunately this problem seems to have only gotten worse. Sadly as you said, if someone can see the image in their browser they can get it one way or another. These days I generally tell people that the only way to secure images online is to not put them online in the first place. Beyond that, I suggest that they do what the stock image sites do and only post small, low-resolution images that have obnoxious tiled watermarks. Sure it makes your image look like crap, but then again, I guess that’s the point — which of course brings up the question, if you’re really that worried about protecting a particular image, why are you uploading the image in the first place? Unfortunately I think, for now at least, it’s just the price of putting something online. You just have to take the good with the bad. The bottom line here is that if something is really valuable, don’t post it online because chances are (if it’s any good) somebody somewhere is going to help themselves to it.

    Thanks again Daniel for stopping by and not only checking out the article, but also for taking the time to respond to our other readers’ questions in the comment section. We really appreciate it!

    Reply

I am not a fine artist, however I have an online store and I have worked very hard learning to photograph my products, edit, well….you know the drill. I don’t normally spend time checking up on my competitors, however, one of those price scanner comparison things hijacked its way on to my computer somehow. and while trying to get rid of it I thought..might as well do some price comparisons, since I had just raised some prices. OMG ended up on Amazon seeing my images being used by 3 different competitors so far. I was livid. I shot off an email via Amazon to one and asked that she remove them at once! And Shame on her. ( ok , probably not the best way to handle it but… it is what it is. She called me and said she would cut off my nipples and shove them up my a__! Charming lady. lol Now leaving nasty comments and bad reviews on my facebook page. Making threats! Her husband is an attorney claim . lol

They could use the manufacturers images, they didn’t have to steal mine.

I had most of my images watermarked though not at the very beginning. . I also had them right click disabled. I know you can get around all of that but she seems like a lazy thief. I am wondering if they are taking them from pinterest and facebook that woudln’t have had the copyright terms like my website. Also, I have not gone back and deleted the images from facebook and pinterest and replaced them with watermarked ones. Perhaps I should do that. Not that it would stop anyone. Maybe the lazy thieves?

Just very annoyed. Do these people shoplift at Target also?

Reply
John Cowell

You’re right. There’s no such thing as bulletproof defense if you want to market your artwork online. All you can do is devianart like watermark and a password protected section on your server with the original artwork for potential clients. Registering every piece of artwork for copyright is strongly advised.

Reply
Frankenhomi

We use a program called ” Watermark Factory”.
You can purchase it at http://www.watermarkfactory.com

Go to the website and it explains how it works.
We like it. It is easy to use.
You can watermark 40 pictures at a time if you
want. Just be sure to save them in a different
directory than the originals or you will have
covered your originals.

Reply
lindsay

Honestly, there’s no REAL way to protect your images from download because all someone has to do is take a screenshot of the image on their screen. Pretty much EVERYONE knows how to do that.

Since you really can’t stop illegal use from downloading, your best best is a watermark in a place that will be hard to photoshop out. It will be more work for someone to photoshop out a watermark than to simply ‘inspect element” and download the source file directly or simply take a screen shot (cmd + shft + 4)

If you are REALLY invested in true blocked access to the files themselves, you can use a base64 encryption code which will encrypt the file path (so no one can link directly to the path and download it) and then you use php to decrypt the file path to show the image. That’s your protection from hot linking and direct downloads but it adds a lot of bulk to your code and if you have a lot of images will drastically slow your site. It will NOT, however, stop someone from simply taking a screenshot of the largest version of the image they can find and uploading it as their own.

Your best best is to simply create recognizable work and focus on your clients and your work as a whole and just do a check every once in a while to see where your images are. There is a service called TinEye which will search images by what they look like. Google images also has a “search by image” option as well.

(a web developer)

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scott

Print Screen and steal away! Nothing can stop that. Unless you want ugly watermarks all over your photos.

Reply

These tips sound useful.

I like to believe that the majority of people on the internet are honest people.

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laura

What about honest people who don’t know what is stealing and what is not? Because I use images on my website that I just “pick up off the web”. It really doesn’t occur to me that those images are not freely available for my use.

**If I have used anyone’s images on my website… and they let me know… and I can track it down and understand they really own the image… and they are not a Nigerian banker just telling me they own the image… well, I guess I gotta either remove their image and replace it with a “common use” image… or pay them whatever I am supposed to pay them to use it.

I don’t know what belongs to whom… really???

Reply
    Karen Mitchell

    You are using those images illegally! They are not yours.
    Put it this way, if you haven’t created it yourself, or bought the right to the image outright, then you have no right to use it!!!

    Reply
LLia

If they want your image they will get it, it wont deter them if you watermark it, chop it up, or put up a thumbnail with mouse over zoom scripts to only see parts of the full image at a time.

There are plenty of basic ways they can download the image directly or copy the entire screen, with the default screen shot command or screen capture program, then the image parts are stitched together with very little hassle for the likes of photochoppers, or any other seasoned vet of image manipulation.

Reply
Chris

This article is so so good, thanks.

There are plenty of artists have there work stolen and used by huge companies as a t-shirt print or a fabric printed design without payment.

I can name and shame if you want.

Reply
karen

I like to do pyrography and am always loking for images to burn into wood. then is use my inks to color them as I see fit. I add and take away from the orginal, maybe making a backgroiund, or adding extra characters to it. I only do this if there is no copyright mark, no signature and no watermark. I give these away as gifts for birthdays and xmas presents to my friends and family. Am I doing something illegal? Because I do not want to do that.,,I am very honest person, and would be very upset if I was doing something I should not. I must also say, I draw my own work and burn those as well. Most of the time I look at images to get ideas, and maybe take a little from this a little from that, and come up with mine. Is that Ok?

Reply

As someone who used to download every art ever so I could look at them when I had no internet, I know exactly how to deal with all the trickery used.

Well except the watermark, but that’s like shitting on your own work and going “HAH!!”

Yeah you got me. Good one.

I think the only good way to stop this shit is to make the laws more strict or something. Otherwise you’re just going to have to tell Hot Topic to stop stealing your art.

Reply
ellie

Hey–so I run an amazon business but people keep stealing my personal jewelry pictures. Is there a way to stop people on amazon from stealing pictures from you?

Reply
Riley

I’m not really an artist but I am creating website artwork and photos for my small offline business. I am putting a lot of effort into the images and having them appear in google images will link to my site and be good for business. The images mostly won’t have my company name etc within them but are more for decoration, enhancing the design and overall feel of my site.

I have noticed other businesses in my area that use images from google that are not their own for exactly the same purpose as I am (except with my own creations). I accept the argument that as an artist allowing your images to be freely available creates publicity, but how can I protect my images without having watermarks or my company name plastered through the middle of all the images on my site. Having advertising through the image to protect my hard work will look tacky.

I’ll happily sue anyone that uses my work (unfortunately this is the times we live in!) but I’d much prefer my images to be original and not used willy-nilly on websites promoting similar businesses to mine. This will only water down my site rather than it standing out because of its originality in design.

How can I protect my artwork AND find out if anyone has been using it without permission and still keep the images looking classy?

Reply
Jagger

Pic-Decoy plugin works wonders! Available on securiilock.com. Worth having a look

Reply

    Securiilock’s links don’t work (links for the Pic-Decoy plug-in or demo, and the Contact Us link). Not promising! I’m wondering if this is a pirated or hijacked website, since I would expect WordPress to be on top of their link repair.

    Reply

      You’re right Eileen. I tried out the Pic-Decoy demo myself and was able to both right-click and save the image and also drag and drop the image directly to my desktop, however, then I refreshed the page (as mentioned in the directions above the image) and then the image was not able to be dragged or saved to the desktop. Instead you could only save the clear “image.gif” file.

      If anyone else reading this would like to see what I’m talking about, you can check out the link here: http://www.securiilock.com/image-protection-demo/

      So it kinda worked, but I’m not sure I would trust that a thief would “refresh” the page before trying to swipe you image. So in my humble opinion, it seems to be an imperfect solution at best.

      Reply

Excellent article! First, to Jagger: securiilock’s links are not working – did the website get pirated, or what? It looks like it was, at least originally, a WordPress tool…

I am the Executor of the estate of a very famous photographer, and handle requests for online reproduction of photos very frequently. There is, of course, no question in this case of continuing to provide new work, as he died thirty years ago; and among those requesting permission to publish photos, including on Facebook, are museums like the Metropolitan in New York, so refusing is not really an option, either. I did insist that his name and copyright information be embedded with the photo on Facebook, so that at least, if it’s Shared, the credit line will go with it.

I think I will look into Digimark, and see if my gallery can embed Digimark coding in all image files that go out. It’s also good to know about shrink-wrapping and slice-and-dice, even though there are ways around these methods.

Reply
    Linda

    I understand that using digimarc will help protect the artist with any image he wants to put on social media in the future, but what about the images already on the artist’s website, images that have been there for quite some time, and other images he has out there? Must the new digimarc subscriber then remove all images he wants to protect from his website and social media, mark each image individually and then replace it? It is like starting all over again to create an online presence. It would still be worth it because the people you are looking to attract will find you with digimarc, whereas previously you had pirated images out there without your identification, your identity stripped.

    Reply

Hi,
Very interesting article

Currently we’re working on technology that provides the following:

1. Copyright protection.

You have a photo, you create a unique photo fingerprint (hash), then this fingerprint is signed by author and our service (using strong cryptographic algorithms). Then this fingerprint is registered on a special site and is used as method to detect image manipulation and possible fakes. Even if you change one bit of original photo, the fingerprint will be completely different

2. Image protection.

The idea is to protect the original photo while still keeping the possibility to see the image contents. The original photo is encrypted and combined with its preview. Preview can be the same image with much lower quality or the same image with watermarks. Or it can be another specially made image (with word “protected”) and etc. So if somebody copies this file, he/she won’t have access to the original photo. Current encryption techniques allow you just to encrypt photo and upload this encrypted file to public hosting. But this file won’t be treated as image. In order to see its contents you need to download it and decrypt it. It’s not a problem for one photo, but it will be rather challenging if you want to store a large number of photos

3. Private photo sharing.

Our technology allows you to encrypt photo not only for you, but also for specific people. So, while encrypting your image, you can specify a list of people, who can decrypt this photo. Then you upload your image to any public hosting and send link to this people. What’s more important we’re not using passwords thus the decryption key is never sent across public internet.

If you’re interested please share your thoughts,

Thanks in advance and best regards,
Alexey

Reply
Paul Thompson

Escher’s “Relativity” in LEGO by Andrew Lipson? #credittheartist

Reply

[…] that one method of discouraging theft of work is to upload low quality images. Skinny Artist’s blog offers similar advice for discouraging theft, including using techniques such as placing a […]

Reply
Archae Abillar

These are very clever tricks however there is one thing that people seem to forget about…and probably something you can’t get away from is the print screen function. If the image is either not downloadable or either of the tricks listed above, as long as people could see the image and take a screenshot it is easily stolen and they could easily just crop it up.

Reply
    Linda

    If they take a screen shot with a digimarc watermark on it do they get a messed up image or does the image look perfect?

    Reply

I use zoner photo studio 16 for all most of my work and watermarking its pretty good .
But as you say there ant no way you are going to stop them remember this Apple as a thing builded into ther’e windows that removes water marks i have seen my son and law doing this as he works for Apple computers .

Reply

PS Flicker is as good as you can get for blocking people from downloading your pictures along with 500px .

Reply

I found this by researching hope this works

Reply

[…] EVERYONE! Please please PLEASE go to this link listed RIGHT HERE: https://skinnyartist.com/stop-stealing-my-images/ […]

Reply

[…] also found this article from Skinny Artist on Protecting Your Images Online to be really intriguing, specifically the “Shrink Wrap Your Images” and “Slice and […]

Reply
hugo speer

right so you put your images on to a medium that can show them worldwide to any one who has internet on the screen of a pc..yet you dont want them downloaded
you might as well stick a pie in front of a fat kid and tell him not to eat it
if you dont want your images (stolen as you put it)dont post them you idiots
personally ive no wish to download your latest plantpot collection or your fat wife in a slinky so no worrys there

Reply

I don’t do photography for $. I do it for love of freezing time.

I encourage people to use my photos for education and editorial use, just not commercial use.

“Looking at photographs, like taking them, can be joyful, sensuous pleasure. Looking at photographs of quality can only increase that pleasure.” Pete Turner

“A photograph that has not been shared or at least printed is almost an unexistent photograph, is almost an untaken picture.” Sergio Garibay

That expresses more of my line of thought. Now, if I did it for $, then I’d think different.

I used to give my reject work prints to an artist that cut them up to make collages. Another photog I read about had an artist rifle though his trash to do the same thing with his reject prints. He found out and shredded them thereafter – he was money motivated.

I am art motivated, so we are on different wavelengths.

Reply

[…] Shrink wrap, watermark, and slice ‘n’ dice your images […]

Reply

I’ve been dealing with this issue for a few years now. I did many of the things mentioned here, but the problem with technology today is that anyone can just take a screenshot/screen grab of whatever they want and steal it anyway. The resolution they end up with may not be great, but it’s a lot easier to reproduce with that than having to photoshop watermarks out. So, on my most popular project (that’s already been spread around from China to Czech Republic unfortunately), I had to put the most obnoxious tiled watermark. It sucks, but it’s the only way.

It’s sad people don’t understand we need to post our work to get clients and make a living. Their solution of “don’t post it if you don’t want it stolen” is so ignorant. How about they chant “don’t steal work you have no right to” instead?

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chinedu

the security measures are good and would apply the measures

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People. don’t steal social content, stay honest! We have created the world’s honest place to exchange rights for Instagram, Flickr and other content, everyone deserves to get paid and renowned!

Example: Easter photos on Instagram available to license via Lobster at $0.99 http://goo.gl/0UMbFR.

See you!

It’s http://lobster.media

Reply
gracie

What can be done about people taking screenshots of your work with their phones?

Reply

[…] Skinny Artist says – “After scouring the web, it turns out the only 100% foolproof method of protecting our work from these thievin’ bastards is to avoid putting your stuff on the internet in the first place.” […]

Reply

[…] Skinny Artist says – “After scouring the web, it turns out the only 100% foolproof method of protecting our work from these thievin’ bastards is to avoid putting your stuff on the internet in the first place.” […]

Reply
scotty

I really enjoyed reading this article, or post. it help me with my homework, and gave me a little bit more insight on what steps to take to protecting my art work and photos, so thank you for the tips, and I will differently save this page to my favert and check in time to time,

Reply

[…] are online, in digital form. Digital protection these days is really tough, but there are ways to claim what’s yours to dissuade others from stealing it. Keep a data backup of your images on an encrypted portable […]

Reply

I am going to use this piece for the class I’m teaching. It’s a great informative piece with excellent information.

Teach ’em young!

Thank you for putting it out there!

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WolfyChan

I have a confession I`m really young and I love art most of my drawings are from real life people but sometimes I draw pictures from artists like on DA or Tumblr or on google but I never thought about selling this art or want to sell this art I only do that for fun and to show my family that sometimes I can`t be perfect my mom isn`t happy that I do that (copy the art) but I always tell her and she knows and I only do it to get better and more creative and discover what art style I want I would NEVER sell anybody`s art and I just want to apologize….

Reply

Yeah, it’s a pain and sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. There is also the approach where the user just screenshots it, which defeats every option listed here.

I think I prefer a logo that is elegant an not too obtrusive, with the hope that it’s considered not worth removing. Then, when they steal the image, at least it still says where it came from.

Reply

Thank you for laying out options for protecting photos. I’m planning on loading some of my collection soon and just want to protect ownership to a degree. Two quick bits to add.

1) a tip I picked up from a UN field photographer was to only load the image size you need. Social media, for example never really needs more that 800 pixels on a side. You can prove ownership by having the larger file. This, of course doesn’t counter those that only need a small image…

2) Helping you do the above, adding watermarks and/or watermarks (any object some transparency) a good ‘batch editor.’ I use PhotoScape which is actually free but as Drew notes, I’m sure there are many options out there. You set what you want to done to all images selected and save the altered set to a different folder.

Of the options laid out, I plan to ‘batch edit’ photos to a smaller size and add a watermark/signature. The shrink wrap method is pretty cool and will look into it further if easy. I plan to upload to Flickr and embed back from there though.

Many thanks.

Reply

The first step to stopping image thieves is finding them! You can sign up for a service like Picture Guardian to search for web sites using your photos without your permission.

https://www.pictureguardian.com

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There is a new way to protect your images!

With ‘Picard’, you can safely display images on your website, application or blog – without having to worry about someone else downloading or using your photos.

Thanks to Picard’s unique interpolation process, even a screen-capture is useless, and saving the images becomes impossible.

Try it yourself: http://picard.tech

Reply

    This is an very unique concept and method of protecting images online. The test image on their website seemed relatively stable on Firefox and Chrome, but appeared to be somewhat jittery on Safari. The screen capture prevention works quite well. This service is still in beta testing but might be worth testing out and keeping an eye on

    Reply

good ideas, thanks – esp for the shrink-wrap idea – had never heard of that one.

thing is, though, almost anyone who knows how to take a screen shot can outwit any of these ideas as easy as pie. it’s not that hard to p-shop out watermarks.

Reply

    You’re absolutely right. Unfortunately, technology changes quickly and things that may have worked last year, often no longer work today. I actually did some more research and wrote a more in-depth update to this post and put it together in the ebook “Stop Stealing my Stuff!” You can pick up a free copy of the ebook here on the site if you’re interested. Thanks again Angela, for stopping by and I wish you all the best!

    Reply

This topic is the reason I stopped doing any art for ages as I could not figure out how to sell it and I don’t have space to just collect / store my art.

Selling off-line does not = no theft. I had a tough situation with a couple who came to a sale of mine and photographed a number of images I had out for sale. When I told them they could not photograph my work they got upset. Refused to delete the images from their phone.

It happened so quickly, while I was busy with someone else.

So selling in person is not proof of no theft either.

What is the answer?

Reply

    You’re right that this is a difficult and frustrating situation, and one thanks to technology, that isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s not that people haven’t been plagiarizing and ripping off other people’s work for hundreds if not thousands of years, it’s the fact that it’s so much easier and faster now. Twenty years ago, very few of us were carrying around cameras and video recorders in our pockets (unless you had really big pockets). Now we can copy, borrow, or steal other people’s work in a matter of seconds–especially when it comes to something like a photograph.

    This type of creative theft can happen both online or in real-life. I was just reading an article the other day about a war photographer who was exposed using another photographer’s work (multiple times) and would slightly alter the image in an attempt to fool the online image search images. At the height of his deception, he had over 120,000 followers on Instagram and was doing interviews with national magazines. Later on, it was discovered that even his profile image had been stolen from someone else.

    So what’s the answer?

    If we can’t publish or show our creative work online or our local art show, is our only other choice locking it away in our attic? How do we get our work out there for others to see (and hopefully buy) without some jerkface stealing it all from us?!

    I think in the end, we have to find some type of balance. Realistically, we can’t just throw our work out there online and hope for the best, any more than we should stuff it inside a box in our basement. This is actually an issue that I talk a lot about in my free book “Stop Stealing my Stuff” that you can check out if you’re interested :)

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Jodie

You could upload your image as a low resolution, so people can still view your work but anyone printing it etc will only have a very small image and when enlarging the image it will be terrible quality and cannot be reused or sold.

Apparently 600 pixels by 600 pixels, at a resolution of 72 pixels per inch works. So if they wanted to print a good quality print, they would have to reduce overall height to about 2 1/2 inches. Not a size many will buy.
Also enlarging to edit , the image will be bad quality on the screen, take a lot of work I would say. A glossy magazine print requires 225 dpi or more and a fine Art print 300 dpi before going to print.
This is what I read , sounds like a good idea to protect your work

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FYI, I wrote a WordPress plugin based on your shrinkwrap idea. It’ll automatically “shrinkwrap” every image on your site. Check it out: https://wordpress.org/plugins/shrinkwrap-images/

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    Thanks Ben for letting us know. It looks like a promising plugin and much easier than constantly messing around with HTML. I’ll definitely have to check it out!

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I’m late to the party and have already posted 4 years worth of paintings on my facebook business page. Is it possible to add a watermark to the already existing pics? I’m afraid if I delete the old image add a new one it will delete the whole post. I don’t want to lose the comments. Plus I just started instagram and did the same thing there. Luckily, I only have a few weeks of posts on there instead a years worth.

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    You’re certainly not alone Tricia, and trust me, there are a lot of photographers and visual artists out there who are starting to realize that uploading their images to social media may have a downside as well. Unfortunately, there’s not any way to watermark an image after you have uploaded it to Facebook, Instagram, or really any website because a copy of the image is now stored on their web servers. I certainly understand that you don’t want to delete the entire post and lose all of your comments. The good news is that any publicity (or at least attention) you have received from them will probably be more valuable to you in the long run than spending your time worrying about what if someone idiot uses one of your images on a calendar without your permission. I talk a lot about this issue of balancing protection with getting your work out there and being noticed in my free book “Stop Stealing my Stuff” which was actually inspired by this post and all of the awesome comments we received from it. If you haven’t already you can download your free copy here if you’re interested. If I were you, I honestly wouldn’t worry about it too much at this point. Now, of course, I would probably do things a little differently going forward, but you have to accept the fact that those images are already out there so you might as well make the best of it and try not to lose any sleep over it. Don’t beat yourself up about it because we’re all just making it up and learning as we go :)

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