Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by chaim, Feb 1, 2006.
What's the easiest way to copy-protect images on a website?
There is no way you can successfuly do it without destroying the viewability of the image, or without embedding it into something like Flash (not a good idea). My advice, don't worry about, if someone wants a 72dpi image at a few pixels wide or high let them have it.
Agreed. If the image is viewable, it can be captured. Keep it small so it isn't worth too much other than as an image viewable on a screen.
I concur with roteague, but I'll add that even embedding the image in Flash will just be an annoyance to anybody who wants to copy the image, rather than real protection for the image. If a user can see it, the user can copy it. Period. Keeping the image small enough for screen display, and therefore too small for making good prints, is your best hope of protecting images that are intended for display on anything but a computer screen.
One caveat, though: I've occasionally seen people scale images for the Web by using HTML coding features to set the image size, but the Web page points to an unscaled image. This will indeed produce an image on the screen that's the desired size, but the Web browser downloads the full-size image, and anybody can then do whatever they want with it. If you start with a big image, this has the added downside of being a much slower download with much more bandwidth consumed, on both the client and server sides.
To keep the image small and unappealing for most non-Web uses, be sure to scale it to the desired size in Photoshop, the GIMP, or some other image manipulation program. Do not rely on HTML tags (coded by hand or via scaling features in a GUI HTML editor) to scale the image. Specify the image size in pixels, rather than inches or centimeters, to avoid confusion. In most cases, images for the Web shouldn't exceed 800 pixels in width, and smaller than that is usually preferable. Photos are most often stored as JPEGs, and you can probably compress them pretty severely, too. This will reduce bandwidth requirements at the cost of image quality. If the goal is to deter unauthorized use of your images, the loss of image quality can actually be a plus.
Oh oh, without getting too digital here.....Easy simple way is after you have done all your edits:
1. Put your copyright on your image via a watermark layer
2. Reduce your image size to something really small like 50mm x 50mm for a square image or 40mmx50mm for a rectangle - for example
3. Convert it to sRGB
4. Use "Save Files for Web", reduce your pixel size to no larger than 600x600 or thereabouts, reduce your quality to 60%
This creates an image that is viewable on the net but is crap when someone tries to print it. There's no real protection you can make, just real inconvenience.
Because it's impossible to keep people from copying your image, attempt to do so look amateurish, or make the photog looks like a over-protective computer illiterate.
The advice above is generally good.
^ that is part of the amateur hour efforts. Watermarks are easy to remove with photoshop, and just reflect poorly on the artist.
allows one to imbed a digital watermark that tracks your images. stock-houses use this sort of thing to make sure their images aren't being used without their knowledge. they have several different ways to do it, and it isn't really that expensive.
if you copyright your work, make sure you fill out the forms and register it at the copyright office in dc. just putting the symbol doesn't do much, and if someone grabs you work and uses it, without the registration from dc, you'll be outta luck.
Digital watermarks are great, especially if aesthetically pleasing and properly placed. Another strategy that my web mistress uses for my site (www.orchid-photographer.com) is to partition the images so that one has to grab two or three files and reassemble them to get one image. Good advice to keep the files small and the resolution low (72 dpi).
Yes, this is just an exercise in frustration. I have images on my website that I encourage people to download - they are specifically sized to fit different size desktops, contain both copyright and website address. So, my web address is always on their desktops (unless they want to PS it out). I don't let the whole thing bother me.
Steps #2 and #4 are redundant. JPEGs and other formats commonly used for photos on the Web are bitmaps whose size (in terms of image size, not file size) is measured in pixels, not millimeters or other physical size units. Size in millimeters (or whatever) is determined by a combination of the image size in pixels, the resolution (in dots per inch) of the output device, and optionally scaling done by software. Scaling the image in millimeters (or whatever) may or may not adjust the size in pixels; it could just set a flag in the file that tells software the intended size in millimeters, but this won't affect the actual size of the image in pixels, and the size in millimeters can easily be changed once an individual has the file. Thus, step #2 is at best redundant with #4, and at worst complicates matters and causes confusion. If done instead of #4, #2 could result in a false sense that the file has been degraded.
Concerning step #1, AFAIK the JPEG format doesn't support layers. Photoshop does, but once you export the image as JPEG, it's all one layer. If done correctly, the copyright notice will be visible, but it won't be a separate layer.
I'm not sure what the point of step #3 is. AFAIK it has absolutely no benefit from a "copy protection" point of view, although it might improve the color appearance of the image; I really don't know.
In sum, only step #4 has any technical value in preventing unauthorized use of your images, and that only by degrading the image to the point where it's useable on-screen but looks bad when printed. #1 has some legal benefits, but as others have said, for serious protection it helps to register with the copyright office. (In theory this isn't required, but having the registration will simplify things if you want to press charges in the event of a copyright violation.)
I would normally debate points made here, but there are digital sites for that. I stand by my assertions. This is a film site.
Oops, I forgot to attached the results as examples. Note this method reduces the pixel real estate, replaces valuable real estate with unwated pixels in a watermark, reduces the quality in each pixel and gives a very poor print.
This won't stop anyone from copying the image, but at least it will have your copyright on it. If they want to spend that much time getting rid of a watermark - go ahead - it would be quite flattering!
While that definately does make it more annoying to restore than usual, it also very distracting and destroys the enjoyment of the image.
I guess if your point of putting images on the net is to say "look what I can do with a camera", then your method works. If instead the web is a way to present your work to a lot of people (a sort of gallery accessible to the internet) then your solution isn't very good.
I'd find it hard to admire these images for any length of time. Though I do see they are nice images.
Here's a link to an interesting (and trivial) attack on the digimarc protection scheme:
Where there is a will there is a way to take your image and display it, rendering low resolution images that don't print well is one of the best courses of action, your not going to be able to stop the determined theif, but making it inconvienent seems to be the best right now. In our day and age, people do and will continue to steal images...
In the past month i've heard 3 different tv directors talking about stealing images from google. "They aren't copyrighted" or "you just open the file in another program if the photographer has tried to protect it"
It's hard to keep my mouth shut when people bring up the subject.
I guess a question that we haven't addressed is: what kinda of theft are people looking to prevent?
Are we talking being able to print a crappy 4x5 glicine to stick on their refrigerator?
Using the image as a background on their desktop?
Hosting the image on their own website w/o permission (or reference)?
Taking the image and implying / stating that they are the author of it?
As a silver printer, I couldn't much care about the glicine. And would enjoy if someone made my image their desktop background. Perhaps the only thing I'd really be concerned about is that if someone saw an anonymous image they'd know who the photographer was.
I guess plastering graffiti on your own image is one way of doing it. Just looks like crap to me.
Would be nice if there were a way to sign photo that viewers would look to for a signature on the work. Maybe stegonography is the solution? Too bad it's not widely used.
You are taking my EXAMPLES too literally.
I am answering a question posed by the original poster. He asked a question about protecting an image, not making a gallery, not about "look at what I can do with my camera". Do you have a answer? Or just critiques?
Thanks for the unsolicited critique of my images that are EXAMPLES of a way to protect images on the internet. This thread is not about my images but about methods to protect ones images.
Really? Tell that to Corbis & Magnum, to name a couple organizations full of poorly reflected amateurs.
Yes, the Magnum photos do seem amateurish -- from the computer culture side, not from the photography side. The photos are of course excellent. Great photos with on a website with blink tags, and obnoxious colors etc, still looks amateurish.
Sorta like if HCB put up a gallery of pictures with lots of dust spects, crooked framing, and mis-cut mats.
Sorry for misinterpreting your examples: i thought they were suggestions of how images should/could be displayed on the net.
As for an answer, mine is not to worry about it. I haven't found a good technical solution.
Perspective is everything.
An original Ansel Adams print can cost tens of thousands of dollars today. Do you think that would be true if most of the images were not already present in the form of cheap posters and calendars and postcards etc... ?
As has been stated above, if the image is truly worthwhile, people will want to possess it. If the extent of their desire can be satisfied with a cheap low res rip off of a monitor screen, then they are not the people who would have paid top dollar for a hand-crafted original. But without the masses consuming and copying the cheap rip-offs, the original has less commercial value.
Think about what would happen if you woke up tomorrow to a world where most of the computer screens on the planet were using one of your images as their desktop wallpaper - and every one of them had been copied without your permission. Then imagine the reception you would get if you walked into a gallery, any gallery, with a handful of originals. .........
The key is to find the right balance between marketing and protection. None of my images are so good that I have to worry about marketing or protection!
Tim, very insightful. Thanks for bringing that to our attention.
That's funny Art, but your very modest. I think your work is impressive.
Separate names with a comma.