Copyrighting digital images

Protect digital images online

Written by Gail Bjork

Though far from perfect, there are a few things you can do to help stop others from unauthorized use of your photos.

Protect your photosThe only foolproof way to protect others from copying your digital inmages is not to post them on the internet at all. But, for many, this is usually not a desireable option.

Though far from perfect, there are a few things you can do to help stop others from unauthorized use of your photos.

Image resolution, size and quality

Keep the resolution, size, and quality of your photographs to a minimum. Never post full resolution, full sized images. Doing so is equivalent to giving away the digital negative and might prevent you from proving that the image is yours should an ownership conflict arise down the road.

Watermarking a digital photo

Watermarked image

Watermarked image. Click for larger view.

Placing a watermark on your photographs is a very effective way to protect your images online. Watermarking photographs, in addition to placement of copyright notice, makes it more difficult for someone to alter and use your photograph without your permission.

You can use any number of photo editing software to create watermarks. Also, there are several watermarking programs available.

Disable right-click

Although not a foolproof method, disabling right-click on a web page will make it a little more difficult for others to acquire your images, especially the less computer savvy.

Transparent GIF

This technique involves placing a transparent GIF layer directly over the image. When the user right-clicks on the image, they can only directly save the transparent GIF file, not the underlying image. Again this method is not foolproof, but anything to make it more difficult is better than doing nothing.

Flash/Java applets

Both Flash and Java applets present another way to prevent the easy theft of your images. Although the Flash file is downloaded to the user’s computer, only a skilled Flash user will know how to extract the individual graphics. Thus, using Flash or Java applets will only prevent more novice users from stealing your images.

If you do decide to use this method, use Flash instead of Java applets because it will download and display faster.

This article was contributed by Stephen Murphy.

Disclaimer: Content in this article is informational only. For complete, accurate and up-to-date information, or if you seek legal advice, contact an attorney.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

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