Four Techniques for Protecting Online Images

Image theft has become a cause of concern for many photographers and artists. This has resulted in many looking for ways of protecting their work from being plagiarized. Here are some of the methods which are used to protect images.

1. No right click script

The no right click JavaScript is one of the most common techniques used to protect images. This script, which can be used on almost any site, works by preventing users from saving an image by right clicking on it. However, this script is not very effective because it can be disabled in the browser. In addition, anyone can easily take a screen shot of the whole page and then access the image.

The no right click script presents several problems. Many people navigate around the internet using the right mouse button. For instance, in Firefox, web pages can be opened in a new window using the right mouse button. Therefore, using this script will only end up inconveniencing many innocent site visitors who would like to make use of the right mouse button functionality.

2. Transparent overlay

This method allows you to protect an image by placing another transparent image on top of it. When someone attempts to save an image by right-clicking on it, they end up saving the transparent image instead. This method can be implemented in many different ways, including CSS, HTML, as well as other advanced programming languages. Compared to the right click script, this method is much more effective.

For the average thief, using transparent overlays can be a very effective technique. However, people who are more tech savvy can easily find where the image file is hidden in the HTML code.

3. Segmented images

What may appear to be one image might actually be two or more images pieced together. An images can be cut into pieces, and then put together again using HTML. Viewers see the image as complete. However, anyone who attempts to copy it will end up with a puzzle on their hands. The image can only be saved one piece at a time, after which the pieces then have to be reassembled to form the entire image. This is enough to discourage any would be thief.

The maid disadvantage of segmenting images is that it is very complex compared with other techniques of protecting images. It involves significant code manipulation as well as image editing. In addition, this method doesn’t work very well with smaller images.

4. Watermarking

A watermark refers to a line of text or a logo which is put on top of an image for protection purposes. It can be either translucent or solid, and is usually visible to the viewer. Most times, watermarks show the source of an image through an address or a logo. The effectiveness of this technique is determined by the location and size of the mark. A large mark which is smack in the middle of an image is very difficult to remove. However, a small mark on the side can easily be removed by cropping.
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It is very easy to apply a watermark. With the proper software, you can watermark all your images within minutes. No HTML knowledge is necessary. However, watermarking your images with logos or text will only leave you with unsightly images. Since most people prefer looking at clean images, a watermark can significantly lower the value of an image, especially if the image is for sale.


The method you opt for will depend on several factors:

  • The personal and financial value of the image
  • The size of the file
  • The type of image
  • The specific role the image plays in your site

To maximize protection, you might have to use different techniques on a single image, or multiple methods on one site. However, you need to realize that there is no way of totally preventing plagiarism. All you can do is just slow down people who would want to steal our images.

Guest article written by: Charles Mburugu is a HubSpot-certified content writer/marketer for B2B, B2C and SaaS companies. He has worked with brands such as GetResponse, Neil Patel, Shopify, 99 Designs, Oberlo, Salesforce and Condor. Check out his portfolio and connect on LinkedIn.

16 thoughts on “Four Techniques for Protecting Online Images”

  1. So I have just started by blog and I have a lot of pictures on there. But I am horrible at coding stuff… I think I am going to try the watermark process first. Seems like the easiest…

  2. Transparent overlay certainly seems the best idea to secure your image, though I never heard about this technique before but would give it a try on my site with the help of our developers team.

  3. This is becoming a significant problem today. Even though it might affect a nice image, I think that using Watermarks is one of the most effective methods to protect against theft.

  4. I find the most frustrating thing is google images. People take your images and because google overlays the image you dont even get the chance to turn them into a visitor. Watermarking is also something I have started to do but I hate to admit its difficult to stop image thiefs and it seems to be getting worse. Great advice much appreciated

  5. Watermarking is the most effective one, I myself when I take a picture, or buy one, the first thing i’d do is add Watermarking with a freeware i’ve downloaded some years ago, it’s very effective to make digital bandits avoid picking up your stuff.

  6. I agree with Salin..Watermarking is the most effective technique versus lazy plagiarist!
    I thinj that watermarking is the best protection for no value/cheap images over internet.

    If your job is based on make photos, you surely knows how to protect and sell them and eventually take legal actions.

  7. These are great tips and advises for us to protect our own photos for privacy sake.before I really don’t know about this until have read this post, it proves that watermarking is the most effective technique.

  8. Your four tips here are great to protect online images. Most people loose money due to piracy and violation of copy rights. Great work.

  9. No right click script certainly seems the best idea to secure your image, though I never heard about this technique before but would give it a try on my site with the help of our developers team.

  10. The watermark is by far the most effective way to keep your images safe.

    However, for every effort to stop this type of theft there is always somebody who is willing to take the time to work around your efforts be it checking the source code or using photoshop.

  11. This is awesome tips! Well i guess i have to follow the number 1 tips which is the no right click scripts because its really common and it is safe to protect images to avoid viral of images. 🙂 Thanks for the tips

  12. Yeah you have given nice tips but some other tips I want to include like you can create the copy right protected photos on the website and on that photo you have all legal rights for authorized access. You can create the transparent layer and put the image on that layer so the downloading of the photo be more difficult.

  13. Is there any better technique other than watermarking beacuse some time watermark can be removed by using photo editor

  14. Charles,

    you did a great job presenting the pros and cons of each technique for protecting online images. I am aware of the “no right click” script, and I know how annoying it is when your intention is not to steal the image but to browse the web.

  15. The Transparent overlay feature is genius! I get my images stolen all the time and I’ve never come across that one. Thanks for the tip.


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