How To Defend Your Images From Being Stolen On-line


Because the creation of the Web and with an increasing number of individuals in search of sources on-line, content material theft has change into a standard downside today. Most individuals don’t even suppose twice earlier than copying content material or downloading and utilizing another person’s photos with out permission. Though there are authorized procedures you may comply with, they’re very time consuming, costly and the probabilities of success can’t be assured.

One of the best ways to go about that is to forestall on-line theft from taking place slightly than preventing it. On this article, we are going to discuss methods to defend your images from being stolen on-line and this may forestall not all however most individuals from downloading and/or utilizing your photos.

Everyone knows that an increasing number of individuals are having portfolios and blogs similar to Flickr, 500px, Google photos, Fb, Instagram, VSCo, 1X, YouPic, ViewBug, Pinterest and so forth, and it’s getting simpler to steal images which is principally copyright infringement.

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is the legal rights of the owner that protects their work and stops others from utilizing it with out the proprietor’s permission. It’s merely the best to repeat.

Whenever you take {a photograph}, you routinely have copyright for the picture that you’ve got taken. For those who work for another person and you’ve got agreed to switch copyright, then you may assign the copyright to a different individual by signing a contract. If somebody needs to acquire a copyright to your picture/s, then there are numerous methods to do it. This may value the client fairly some huge cash.

Any picture that’s used not following the principles above is unlawful and may be topic to authorized actions.

What Is Picture Theft?

With out the permission of the photographer, if an individual does any of the next, it’s referred to as picture theft:

  • Reproducing the picture on-line or offline
  • Manipulating or making adjustments to the picture
  • Printing and displaying it on-line or offline
  • Making copies of the picture on the market or different industrial functions

Why Does Picture Theft Occur?

Picture theft may occur deliberately or non-intentionally. Many individuals suppose that they’re free to make use of any picture elsewhere for any goal.

Some individuals who obtain numerous images share them with out credit, making it appear like they’re the proprietor of the picture, however some even use stolen images for industrial functions, for print and sale, in books, postcards, advertisements, promotions, YouTube channels, and so on., and generate income.

We all know that photographers who personal these images have put in appreciable period of time, cash and exhausting work together with their creativity into making gorgeous images and seeing somebody stealing them may be very upsetting. The worst situation is when somebody is making a living out of your images.

Whether or not a professional or an amateur photographer, no person needs somebody utilizing their images totally free elsewhere, except they’ve made it freely obtainable. Though there is no such thing as a option to utterly cease individuals from stealing images on-line, there are some precautionary measures and strategies we will use to scale back the probabilities of our images getting stolen.

Right here Are Some Methods To Defend Your Images From Being Stolen On-line:

Register Your Images

Registering your images for copyright isn’t a necessity, as a result of the second you are taking {a photograph}, your picture is protected by copyright. In case you are knowledgeable photographer and earn money out of your images, then having a authorized doc/certificates from the federal government can be a super factor as it’s going to certify you because the rightful copyright holder of the picture. The doc may be useful to again your copyright declare in courtroom.

Not all international locations have amenities to register copyright for photos with the federal government, however wherever potential, you may fill in an utility that accommodates your images and submit it together with the copyright charge. Though it prices some huge cash, it is a bonus if that you must take authorized actions when somebody makes use of your images with out your permission as it’s going to cowl financial damages.

Watermark Your Images

You’ll be able to add a watermark to your photos, however this once more will depend on the way you add the watermark to your photos. Watermarks will inform folks that the picture belongs to you and wishes written permission and/or copyright for it to be downloaded and used elsewhere. Nevertheless, there could also be individuals who actually need the picture they usually can crop or clone off watermarks that cowl a really small a part of the picture like the underside or different edges of the picture.

Watermarks must be added in a approach that they aren’t straightforward to take away. In case you are apprehensive that it’ll make your images look unhealthy, you would barely cut back the opacity of the watermark so it doesn’t stand out within the picture.

One other approach so as to add watermark is to make use of a semi clear watermark everywhere in the picture, so it makes it troublesome for individuals to crop or clone out the watermark. This may be fairly distracting when somebody views your images, however it’s a useful gizmo nonetheless.

Use A Clear/Invisible Watermark Or Barcode

Invisible barcoding or watermarking is one thing that must be carried out utilizing an utility like Digimarc, Imatag or Icemark. Invisible watermark is a digital sample or code distinctive to your picture. This service is paid and the service that barcoded your picture will crawl the web to report again any of your stolen images on-line. As soon as once more, this doesn’t cease anybody from stealing your images, however lets you hint the place your images are getting used so you may take mandatory actions.

Add Copyright Info In Digicam

Most cameras today will routinely embody your title, copyright, web site, electronic mail tackle, and so on., together with different data and settings whenever you take the picture you probably have already enter these data beforehand. Some cameras could help you do that manually. This fashion the copyright data is embedded within the metadata of the picture.

In case your digicam doesn’t have this characteristic, take a look at the choice under the place copyright data may be added whereas submit processing.

Add Copyright And Different Info To The Metadata

Most submit processing purposes have an choice to embed copyright information into the file earlier than exporting. You’ll need to switch the “Copyright” part of the file to incorporate your data.

This is only one option to incorporate copyright data, however most social media and picture sharing websites take away the data earlier than the pictures are shared on-line as a part of compressing the pictures.

Disable Proper Click on

The quickest approach individuals normally obtain images on-line is just by a proper click on after which choosing “Save picture as” which downloads the picture immediately onto their pc. One of many choices to cease individuals from rapidly downloading your images is by disabling the “right-click” characteristic. There are plugins obtainable that assist with this characteristic, or you are able to do it through JavaScript or HTML codes, however keep in mind that this solely disables proper click on characteristic – individuals can nonetheless obtain photos through hyperlinks or seize screenshots.

Use Plugins To Disable Screenshot

Whereas we attempt to use numerous strategies to discourage individuals from stealing photos on-line, individuals will typically merely use the screenshot characteristic to get the picture they want. You need to use plugins that forestall a web page from being screenshot and that approach photos may be protected. This is applicable solely to your individual web site and never for different websites the place you add your images on-line.

Shrink Wrap The Images

Shrink wrapping images means including a hidden layer on prime of your images. You could have a clear foreground layer so when somebody saves the picture utilizing a proper click on possibility, the clear layer is saved. This may be carried out utilizing plugins like Shrinkwrap Images.

Disable Hotlinking

Hotlinking is when different web sites hyperlink to/or embed photos which are hosted on an exterior server which might be yours. By disabling hotlinks (through the use of plugins or by modifying your .htaccess file) you may forestall individuals from embedding your images on their web site however this doesn’t forestall individuals from downloading your images. Many bloggers imagine that embedding photos isn’t incorrect, so it’s higher to have that performance turned off.

Add A Copyright Discover

You’ll have seen on most web sites that there’s a copyright discover someplace on the positioning, largely within the footer part. For those who personal a weblog or an internet portfolio the place you add your images, then having a copyright discover in your web site will let the individuals realise that you simply personal the images and cease most individuals from downloading your images. It’s best to have it someplace in a distinguished a part of the web page so customers can see and know that it’s your mental property and can’t be used with out your consent.

You could want to say that unauthorized use of the picture is strictly prohibited, or one thing alongside these strains. Whereas this may deter a couple of individuals from downloading your images, it is not going to utterly cease individuals from stealing them.

Show That Your Images Are Copyrighted

You too can select so as to add a copyright discover on the picture itself, like a watermark. Though this may be cropped off, it’s going to let the individuals know that the images shouldn’t be downloaded with out permission and used for private or industrial functions.

Show Copyright Message

You’ll be able to select to show a copyright message on “proper click on.” This fashion people who find themselves unaware of copyright points will cease utilizing the pictures. Anybody who had an intention of stealing the picture will suppose twice earlier than they obtain.

A picture uploaded on 500px and that is an instance of a copyright message being displayed on proper click on. Picture by Dahlia Ambrose

Add A Copyright Badge Or DMCA Badge

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) offers its prospects with instruments to detect and stop on-line theft. There are different web sites that supply this service too like (here is a review),, and so on.

These web sites present a personalized free badge that may be positioned in your web site. Folks will discover that you’ve got taken further steps to guard your photos and that you’re very severe.

Do Not Share Excessive Decision Images

Most photographers don’t add excessive decision recordsdata on-line, however if you’re somebody who does that keep in mind that it’s not a good suggestion. Excessive decision recordsdata can be utilized for a wide range of functions like making prints for promoting and may even make you lose a copyright declare except you’ve the uncooked file. A picture with 1200 to 1600px on the longer facet is greater than sufficient and can look nice when considered on-line.

Furthermore, low decision photos cut back web page loading time and stop individuals from printing your photos.

Compress The Images

Apart from utilizing decrease decision photos, it is usually good to compress the images earlier than importing them. This helps significantly with stopping some actions in case your images get stolen. Compressing the picture will lower the file measurement and high quality, however the picture will nonetheless look good. This may be simply carried out in your submit processing purposes when exporting the ultimate picture.

Learn Phrases And Circumstances

Many instances, a 3rd occasion web site that you’re importing your images to could cause issues with copyright. It is advisable learn their phrases and situations fastidiously! Most of us simply click on “Settle for” when phrases and situations are displayed, however it’s at all times good to take the time and browse them.

Some web sites permit submitting your images underneath a creative commons license, for instance Flickr. Be sure you have chosen the proper possibility earlier than submitting the pictures. Along with this, some web sites could use your images for promotions, advertisements and different functions. Phrases and situations normally differ between inventory picture web sites and social media web sites.

There are additionally web sites that allow different web sites embed photos by way of sharing choices. In case you are sad with this, that you must cease importing photos and delete current images on the positioning.

How Do You Discover Out If Your Images Have Been Stolen?

It’s fairly troublesome to know in case your images have been used on-line except somebody tells you about it otherwise you discover them your self. There are additionally companies like CopyTrack and Pixsy which crawl the web and search for copyrighted photos getting used elsewhere.

Listed below are some methods to do a reverse picture search:

Reverse Picture Search By way of Google

For a reverse picture search through Google, you have to to go to Google Images and click on on the digicam icon within the search field.

This provides you with the choice to make use of the picture URL out of your web site or to add the picture out of your pc.

Google will show a listing of photos that look just like the one you uploaded.


TinEye is a reverse picture search engine the place you add the picture that you must search or present the picture URL. TinEye crawls the online continuously to see in case your photos are discovered elsewhere on-line and delivers each day stories mentioning the place your photos seem. TinEye additionally has an extension that you should utilize in your browser.


Pixsy is one other service just like TinEye and it scans the online to search for photos just like your registered photos. In addition they work on a no win, no charge foundation to get better charges and damages for unauthorized use of your photos.

What Ought to You Do If Your Images Are Stolen?

For those who discover that your images have been used elsewhere with out your permission, it may be very irritating and upsetting. Take care of the state of affairs in a relaxed method by taking the next steps:

Request To Take away

For those who see that your photos have been used on a web site, take screenshots to your reference and proof within the first place. It is advisable discover the contact particulars of the proprietor and get in contact with them through electronic mail. The contact particulars are normally on the web site both within the footer or within the “Contact Us” part. If not, you will have to test their social media pages or do a google search.

Request To Pay

If the individual utilizing the picture needs to proceed utilizing it, you might need to request them to pay for the picture after which permit them to proceed utilizing it.

When requesting to take away or pay, it’s important that you simply preserve professionalism by introducing your self because the photographer and together with proof. Connect an bill in the event that they proceed utilizing the picture.

In each instances, comply with up a couple of instances if you don’t get a response. If the individual declines to take away the picture or pay for it, you would attempt submitting a DMCA takedown in order that the web site host can take away the content material that infringes copyright. If there is no such thing as a response from the individual after repeated emails, you might must ignore the state of affairs or take authorized actions.

Take Authorized Actions

Taking authorized motion when somebody makes use of a picture on a web site could value you some huge cash. You’ll be able to ask the individual to provide you acceptable credit score a minimum of and hyperlink again to your web site. Nevertheless, if somebody makes use of your photos for industrial functions it is best to struggle the case in courtroom.


Though it’s unimaginable to utterly cease somebody from stealing your images on-line, it’s helpful to take some precautions mentioned right here.

You’ll be able to mix the strategies that you simply suppose are useful to scale back the probabilities of picture theft as a result of all of the strategies mentioned right here have their pros and cons.

Have you ever handled picture theft earlier than? What was your expertise with it? Tell us within the feedback part under!

Additional Sources:

  1. Here Are The Pros And Cons Of Watermarking Your Images
  2. Protect Your Images…By Adding Contact And Copyright Metadata To Them
  3. Why This Photographer Thinks You Should Watermark Your Photographs
  4. A Review Of Copytrack The Copyright Enforcement Website
  5. A Complete Guide to Protecting Images from Photo Theft
  6. Protecting Your Images Online?


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