Protect Your Images on the Web


Worried about how to safeguard your images on the web? Aditya Nair gives you a few easy tips that reduce the risk of your photos being stolen.

Once you upload images on the internet, you have no control over who has access to them. Even if you do not mind your images being used for non-commercial purposes, you should be credited for the same. And there are a few things you can do to protect your work.

Downsize Your Images
If you are mailing images to a client, or uploading them on any website, use a low resolution fi le. An image that is 1024 pixels on the longer side is good enough for fullscreen viewing on most monitors.

Disable Downloads
Most photo sharing websites offer you the option to disable download of your photographs. Even when creating your own website, you can use certain provisions to disallow unauthorised downloads with the help of your web designer.

‘Shrink Wrap’ Your Photo
You can ‘shrink wrap’ a photograph by placing a transparent image over it. This is a technique that is already being used by websites like Flickr. For instance, have you noticed that right clicking on certain images and saving them, only results in a blank GIF fi le? You can use this same provision on your own website or blog. Just look for online tutorials that tell you how to use HTML tags to create an ‘image sandwich’.

Change EXIF data
Modify the EXIF data of your images witha tag such as ‘© Your Name’. Then, set up a Google alert by visiting
alerts. Enter ‘© Your Name’ in the Search fi eld and create an alert. If someone uploads your image on any site that is in the public domain, the alert will notify you. This trick will not work for private websites like Facebook that protect user privacy. It may also not function if the EXIF data has been modifi ed by the person stealing your image.

Mention Your Ownership
Always mention that your images are copyright protected, so that someone does not accidentally use them by assuming that they are in the public domain. You can also apply for a Creative Commons license for your website or Flickr account. Choosing the correct license will go a long way in protecting your images. The various Creative Commons licenses range from All Rights Reserved to others that only require the user to notify and/or attribute the photographer, the purpose of use (whether commercial or educational), among others. So, pick carefully!

Add an Invisible Signature
A watermark can be an effective tool for preventing illegal use of an image. Besides, Adobe Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill tool has made it even easier for an image thief to remove the watermark. You can use software like SignMyImage and Icemark that allow you to put a digital signature or an invisible watermark on your images. Since the signature is added to the image data and not to the EXIF data, it remains even if the EXIF data is changed. Ultimately, it is important to understand that none of these methods are foolproof. However, by using them, you can get some much deserved peace of mind.