Protect Your Digital Images Online: Methods for Controlling Your Intellectual Visual Property

  “We Are More Often Treacherous Through Weakness Than Through Calculation.” -Francois De La Rochefoucauld

Large copyright sign made of jigsaw puzzle pieces

It is my intuitive belief that most theft of images happens online because it is really, really easy. Indeed, this isn’t the first and it won’t be the last article on the Internet about preventing people from stealing your visual images. The only real way of guaranteeing that no one steals the digital copies of your artwork is to not put it up. This, however, is n

ot necessarily a viable option for those interested in reaching an audience in the information age.

The following are a few simple ways to make it more difficult for others to copy your images.

1) Disable right click on images Code in commands to disable right click on images or <body oncontextmenu="return false;"> You will circumvent a good portion of casual illegal copying your images.

Pros: Easy, fast to implement Cons: Doesn’t block other common types of theft.

2) Digital watermarking Enter this term to any search engine for vendors who can help you acquire these services. They vary from simply imposing a subtle image onto your work once it is copied to embedded code that helps you track usage of your image whenever and wherever it is used.

Pros: You can embed visual trails back to your home website and boost your traffic, helps prevent people from passing off images (once they are stolen) as their own, and relatively fast to implement. Cons: The software will cost money and take time to implement. The watermarks are superimposed on your images and can detract from their impact.

3) Copy protection software Type ‘Copy Protection’ into your search engine and numerous software products will turn up for a variety of price points.

Pros: Copy protection software can be quite sophisticated and can dissuade a great majority of the population from coping your images. Cons: The software will cost money and take time to implement.

4) Adobe Flash Images in an Adobe Flash slide-show are much harder to copy.

Pros: You maintain quality, Flash is nifty Cons: Not everyone has Flash on their computer. People can still take screen shots. If you don’t know flash it will cost you money to implement through a designer.

Protecting intellectual property is also a matter of law and a serious one at that. For more information, legal information, please consult with a intellectual property attorney. Most states have pro-bono service organizations for artists. Simply enter in “lawyers for the arts <your state name>” into your search engine and you will be well on your way. For more general information about copyright law I would suggest you review a few more nifty articles about protecting your intellectual property.

(Photo: CC by Horia Varlan)