The following image protection techniques are sorted in order of their effectiveness:
|Secure Web Browser
|While it is possible to copy protect web content while viewed in
popular web browsers (see below), the situation is not ideal due to the
nature of those browsers as they have been designed to be popular rather
than to preserve web content. So the better alternative is to have your site
visitors use a secure web browser, one specially designed to protect
content that it displays, and the only secure web browser that provides
protection from all copy and save including screen capture is the
The ArtistScope Site Protection System (ASPS) provides an encrypted
stream of content from the web site to the ASPS Web Reader which is the
only tool that can decipher and display the content. ASPS can copy
protect all web pages and and all embedded media such as images, Flash,
PDF, videos providing an unexploitable viewing environment that is also
safe from data leakage and cache retrieval.
|Web Browser Plugin
|Screen capture can be prevented by ensuring that site visitors
install a web browser plugin specially designed to manipulate the
clipboard while the copy protected page is on display. Plugins
registered with the user's operating system have the elevated
are powerless. The only plugin that prevents all screen capture and at
the same time can be used in all Windows web browsers is the
CopySafe Web plugin. Sites can be licensed by domain and
operators get to use image encryption software for preparing their
images and creating the code to use on protected web pages. The image
encryption provided by CopySafe Web provides the most secure method of
copy protecting images on the Internet because images are domain locked
and safe even from your webmaster. CopySafe Web can copy protect all web
page content from all copy and screen capture.
|Watermarking, which is the burning of another image or text into the
image permanently is the most effective deterrent against image theft,
but it can also be a deterrent to sales because it can destroy the
atmosphere being presented. Whether it's an artist's drawing or a
photograph of a product being advertised, having a text message in the
middle is not only a deterrent to image theft, but it's also a deterrent
to pleasant viewing. Watermarking can be performed by most image editors
and there are many programs available for applying watermarks. Or you
can simply use the free watermarking tool
provided at the top of this web page.
has some hidden benefits because while it may offer no protection on its
own from Printscreen or screen capture, but yet still prevent copy by
page saves and mouse saves, and be safe from search and site grabbers,
the images that are stored on the web site are safe from anyone who can
get to them directly. Because the images stored on the server are
encrypted they cannot be used anywhere else, especially if domain lock
has been used in the encryption process.
|Image splicing is the cutting of an image into segments that are
then held in place with table cells, each part of the image in a
separate cell of the table set. This process has been used for a very
long time and a real killer for mouse saves and page saves because all
the visitor can get is a series of smaller images which they then have
to re-arrange and join before it can be used. It doesn't prevent anyone
from copying but it sure makes them work for it, that is until they
realize that by pressing the Printscreen button they can get a screen
shot to use.
|The process of using a
transparent overlay is good protection from
mouse saves, which is the most commonly used copy method. When a user
right clicks to save the image all they can save is the transparent
image which is uppermost in the image location. The original image is
seen because it has been added to the page as a background tile in a
table cell. A lot of image stock libraries use this method because they
want all browsers on all platforms to to view their catalogues.
Unfortunately such a trade-off means that they cannot effectively copy
protect anything, and all it takes to circumvent this technique is to
save the page and all of its contents... or take a screen shot.
|Image viewers that can used on web pages will be either Java, Flash
or ActiveX based. ActiveX is only supported in the Internet Explorer web
browser for Windows, so that leaves Java and Flash. Both Java and Flash
can run in most web browsers but their support is not standard and their
plugins have to be downloaded and installed. If the images are encrypted
and/or embedded into the viewer there will be some protection from copy
using mouse saves, page saves and direct downloads, but there will be no
protection for images from Printscreen and screen capture. If the images
are not encrypted and the image viewer is simply loading the image using
a raw link then those images will not be protected from pages saves or
site grabbers either.
|Search & Spider Prevention
|Most people find your images before even visiting your web site,
because for anyone looking for images all they have to do is perform an
image search using any one of the popular search engines. To keep search
engines from your images you can add a robots.txt file to your site but
you still need to ensure that they do not have unbroken access. See
Link Protection and HTML Encryption below for some ideas.
Some web designers have gone to the trouble of
detecting search engines
and site grabbers by checking for stringent requirements and redirecting
when deficiencies are found.
|Link protection that uses referrer checking and session checking to
prevent direct links from outside of a web site can be useful for
preventing site grabbers and spiders from locating media on your web
pages. However it cannot prevent or even slow down the copying of images
from web pages that are already on display a web browser.
|The process of encrypting HTML (the web page code) is very
over-rated as a copy protection technique but it is popular amongst
amateur web designers. While it can sound secure in theory, in practice
it offers no copy protection whatsoever because by the time the visitor
sees the page, the web browser has decrypted it for display. Most web
found on the same page and therefore is most insecure. HTML encryption
spidering tools like some search engines.
|Disable Right Mouse Click
the web page. While it can confound most amateur web surfers and slow
down other visitors who want to copy your images, it will not stop them
from simply saving the whole page and collecting everything from buttons
to backgrounds. The simplest exploit for getting around no-right-click
redirect them using a NoScript option when their web browsers is
found to be deficient.
|Digital Tagging - Digimarc
|The process of adding a digital tag to an image using the Digimarc
process is very much over-rated because it does not offer any protection
for an image at all, nor is it a deterrent from copying an image. The
only value gained from this process is as a means of identifying the
owner of an image as the Digimarc tag can serve as a business card for
professional photographers. Editing the image will immediately remove
|Register Digital Signature
|The process of tracking images on the Internet has been around for
more than a decade. Although novel when it was first introduced it
hasn't been popular mainly because it is not a deterrent to pirating
images in any way, and most images borrowed from the web are usually
edited which immediately removes any digital semblance to the original.
Some sites have recently started promoting the service again to create
sites for advertising revenue. The only value to the owners of images is
as amusement and to see where they go..