How to Protect Photos on the Web

Protect photos

Protect photos

Whether it’s done with malicious intent or innocently, photos are stolen and misused online at an alarming rate. Misinformation, ever-changing copyright laws, and varying intellectual property protocols throughout the world wreak havoc on photographers who want to protect their work online. Though it may seem like an uphill battle, there are proactive measures photographers can take to keep their work from being used without permission.

Use a Watermark

Photoshop, Lightroom, and online services make it easier than ever to place a watermark on your images. Placed and sized appropriately, watermarks identify you as the author of your work without detracting from your photos. If you don’t want to purchase or download software, free services like PicMarkr let you add a text or image watermark to your photos online.

Post Only Low Resolution Images

One way to keep people from printing your work without permission is to post a low-resolution image. If you set the right parameters, your images will be presentable on a computer display, but they will produce poor printing results. A good rule of thumb is to keep the photo sized to 1000 pixels or less on the widest side at a resolution no higher than 100 dpi.

Read the Fine Print

All photographers who post their images on the Internet, whether it be via social media, contests, or a simple hosting service should be aware of each site’s terms and conditions. Without the photographer’s knowledge, the fine print for entering contests or posting images may dissolve his or her image rights.

Disable Right Clicking

The easiest way for an Internet user to copy or save an image is to right click on it. This feature can be disabled on your website with Javascript. While not foolproof, this method slows thieves down and can keep honest people honest.

Use Invisible Layers

An even trickier way to thwart image pilfering is to use invisible layers. Create and save a transparent layer in Photoshop or your image software of choice. Use a bit of HTML code to lay this transparent layer over the top of your image. Would-be thieves who right click on the image to save it will actually be saving a blank image and probably won’t notice until they’ve already left your page.

Add Metadata

Set up your camera or exporting software to embed metadata into your digital files. Metadata can include your name, contact information, copyright specifications, and more. This information helps others identify you as the artist even if the file has been saved by someone else and passed around.

No matter what precautions you take to protect photos, there will still be persistent deviants who will use screen capture and other dishonest methods to steal your art. Aside from hoarding all your work in the offline world, the best you can do, as far as prevention goes, is to make it more difficult for your online images to be misused.

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Profile photo of Nicoal Price About Nicoal Price

​Nicoal is a New England photographer with a penchant for learning. Her work ranges from nature-inspired portraiture to outdoor product photography. Visit for more info.

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