Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Protecting Images - Put plain and simple: the only way to protect your images from being downloaded or stolen off a web page is to not put them online in the first place. While I put this fact out there as blunt as possible, there are several techniques we can use to make website downloads and image theft much harder. Of course, image theft can be defined in a number of ways, and its definition - and hence measures (if any) taken to prevent it - will depend upon the individual.

There are many ways to protect images from being downloaded, ranging from modifying the image itself (tips 1-3), to preventing webpages downloads (tips 4-8), to being pro-active in finding unauthorized usage of images online (tips 9-10). And while I discuss many common types of image protection, there are many others that I do not mention. A few of the techniques mentioned in this article are directed more towards web designers (these tips are marked with an *), but several can be used on photo sharing website's such as smugmug, flickr, pbase, and webshots.

What is image theft? Image theft is the unauthorized use of an image, photograph, drawing, or illustration. Well duh. Is it really that simple? Of course not. The hard part is that many people differ in the definition of 'unauthorized use'. Where one person may not care whether their photograph is downloaded from a web page and placed on another website without their knowledge, there are some that find this to be blatant copyright infringement.

Can I download an image? If you are interested in knowing whether unauthorized downloading and use is illegal: many websites will have an image use statement, and it is best and safest to ALWAYS ask the artist for permission. Ultimately, the default for image downloading and usage should ALWAYS be "All Rights Reserved" (eg don't use without permission).
Can I protect an image? If you are an artist interested in protecting your images: it is best to first define for yourself what your policy on image theft is, then define the measures you need to protect your images (even if this means not putting your images online in the first place). It is important to publicly display your policy on image use in an image use statement on your website.


  1. Uh oh, sorry to hear that, JoAnn. Hopefully the images will not be used after they read this post. :(

  2. Hopefully soon Danielle...It's not just my pictures...other families as well have been used without permission while they were still in process in country. This person has no idea how they could jeopardize adoptions for many by not following the protocols and respecting the culture and adoption process. The ignorance and beligerance is one of inexperience that hopefully will reproach oneself and understand how they can hurt the plight of the children in the end...Praying that their strong willed spirit to be matured....and Our God is Awesome! So I have faith it will.