Monday, March 17, 2008


Great info from today's SF Chronicle newspaper...

Q: I'm starting a personal Web site that will include photographs I've taken through the years. I'd like to make it so viewers can't copy or save the photos. I've visited sites where a pop-up will appear saying something like "You are not allowed to copy this" when you right-click and attempt to save an image. How can I enable this feature for my page?

A: You can prevent right-clicking of images by adding a simple piece of code to your Web site, but it's not a foolproof solution. A clever user might be able to extract a photo from a browser's cache or use screen-capture software to save it. Also, the right-click trick may not work if the user has disabled JavaScript in the browser.

A better option would be to watermark your photos with your name, a warning about unauthorized use, or a copyright notice. Watermarks can be placed so they don't interfere with viewing photos, but might dissuade Web site visitors from copying them.

Programs including Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro let you watermark groups of photos. Or, you could use a software program designed for the task, such as Picture-shark (free at or Visual Watermark ($34.95 at

By the way, you don't have to register or pay in order to copyright a photo you've taken. Just add a notice that includes the copyright symbol (press the "c" key while holding down the Alt and Ctrl keys).


Anonymous said...

You don't even need to add the copyright notice in order for something to be copyrighted. It simply is.

Of course it doesn't hurt, especially when you want to say that it's your copyright, not that it belongs to the website that you may post on.

(I can't stand that right click thing, sometimes I want to copy how something is spelled in the text to do a google search or place in my comments so I don't look like an ignorant dunderhead ... I pretty much avoid sites that disable right click.)

Anonymous said...

I really can't stand it when people disable right click. There are lots of reasons for me to right click on text (copy a url, copy a phrase that I want to google, copy a quote in order to send it to a friend to encourage her to read the blog, etc etc).

The other watermark advice is good, though.

Dawn0fTime said...

Ah, yes...something I've been putting off for a while. The idea of watermarking all the photos that have already been uploaded is daunting. Of course, the longer I put it off, the worse it gets! =)

Anonymous said...

Watermarks are ugly and I don't like sacrificing the integrity of my photos. I'd rather have my photos stolen now and again. For now, there is no perfect solution for me anyway.

Sam said...

As well as visually building my name into my photo 'frame' and making the copyright part of my design (like an artist signs a picture), I also name every photo file with the words "by Sam Breach" in the file name. ie "custard tart by sam breach.jpg"

Neither of these things are foolproof methods of protecting my work. But I hope that they, along with my stringent and clearly set out terms of copyright, might at least make people think twice before stealing my photos. They can't just take them - they have to go to the effort of cropping and renaming them if they really want to pilfer.

meathenge said...

Yeah, don't like looking at watermarks either. I used a program a few years ago on Meathenge and did that for a while. I stopped for two reasons, 1 being it was an extra step and am not willing to add extra things to my daily doings. And 2, the program was degrading the quality of the image, noticeably. Even when I selected best possible quality, gack out. Yeah yeah, I know repeated JPG savings of an image will degrade it, but I didn't expect a Spanish Inquisition.

I'm sure the new progams do far better, but still ain't interested. Unless I was actively selling my images, then I would in a heartbeat.


Elizabeth said...

Personally, I can't stand it when right click is disabled. I know that I can disable javascript to get right click back but it's just not worth the effort. It's easier to simply leave the site, never to return.

What you might do, if you really don't want to watermark the images, is to put your photos into divs and use css to have the actual photo as a background image. Place a transparent image (possibly with a watermark) in the div so that anyone right clicking to view the image will see the transparent image.

Again, this isn't foolproof and will only stop the casual thief. The determined thieves can capture images by going into their browser cache or by taking screenshots. (Which is the same thing that can be done with right click disabled.)

I think using the css method is a little less jarring. (But a lot of work....)

Alternatively, you could display smaller lesser versions of the photos with a passworded link to the actual image.

Hope that all made some sort of sense!

Sarah Caron said...

Wow, it's really interesting to read the perspectives on the right click thing. I had thought of doing that myself, although you all bring up a great point about it being off-putting. I hate when I can't highlight a recipe and just print that portion of the text, for instance.

The reason I was thinking of it was to keep one person - an estranged family member - from printing the very infrequent photo of my children. They rarely appear on my blog as a result of this person, but I think after reading the comments the best solution really is to just keep them off the blog as I have been doing. Ultimately, it's my food that I want highlighted and I don't need to show my adorable babies to do that . . .


Mike of Mike's Table said...

As a technical person, I not only find the right click thing annoying, but it is also trivial to get around, so really, all you'll accomplish is frustration for your users. For instance, some versions of it don't work in all web browsers, so viewing your site in a different browser can skirt around it...or viewing the source code...or disabling Javascript, etc etc. I would advise against it to save you and your reader's time.

As for watermarking the images, I've also never bothered. If somebody is determined to steal your image, they'll crop out your copyright or perform some other equally trivial measure to undo it. If you instead plaster it across the bulk of the image, then it will just look...not so good. So far, I've had no problems with it, but if I saw somebody else using my photos, I would just contact them directly rather than burdening myself with the extra work on such a regular basis. *shrugs* The copyright is implicit and whether you plaster it on the image or not, it is nonetheless your photo.

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