Don’t Copy my Image!

Protip: if you don’t want people taking your images and posting them all over the internet, do not put them online. In fact, do not make them available in an electronic format – ever! Just sell hard copy prints. As soon as you convert your image into a jpeg or a png and give it to someone, chances are they will make copies. Then people will make copies of the copies, and sooner or later your image will end up somewhere on the internet.

Blocking the right mouse click via Javascript is not a solution, because most people these days know how to get around that trick. And no, they don’t even have to know how to disable javascript.

You see, most of these scripts are found somewhere on the internet, and then copied and pasted to the offending websites. Unfortunately, roughly half of them are badly written and work only in IE6 and 7 but fail in modern browsers such as Firefox. A lot of times when I encounter these scripts I simply need to close the alert box that pops up, and once it is gone my context menu shows up anyway allowing me to save the image.

Oh, and a lot of people know that pressing Print Screen will take a screenshot that you can later crop to get a copy of the image. This doesn’t always work for high resolution stuff, but if you just want a small or medium sized pic, this is probably the easiest way to do it.

I understand that an artist who sells high rez copies of his/her work might want to protect their stuff. This is really not the way though. For example, look at all the major websites that sell stock images. They don’t even bother with the right-click blocking tactics – the know better than that. Instead, they put up low-rez, watermarked copies on their website, and hide the high rez stuff behind, requiring a credit card payment before they give it up. Most of the time they don’t care if people steal the samples – they are watermarked and therefore mostly unusable anyway.

What kills me is the websites that try to protect their stuff even when it doesn’t make sense. Let me give you an example – I recently found this funny shirt at the Zazzle.com online store.

I was like, let me tumbleblog it and link back to them. Sadly, when I tried to grab the image I saw this:

Protection Fail

Protection Fail

Not only is this ineffective, but also a bit silly. Here I am, trying to send some traffic their way and they throw obstacles in my way. I mean, what is the purpose of “appearing to protect” the images of the products you sell? I mean, the image itself has no value. They make money on selling the actual physical product it represents. So you would think that having the image shared on the internet would only improve their business. People would see it, an be like “dude, where do I buy that” – and someone would google it and then comment back with the link to Zazzle.com. How is that bad for them?

I mean, what is the worst that could happen if their image was “stolen”. Someone puts it on the internet and doesn’t link back to them? Someone makes an identical t-shirt on Caffepress? Well, that’s when you send a lawyergram to the company that put up the store and get it booted off the internet. Sadly, they can make an identical tshirt design whether or they copy that low resolution image from your website.

So, Zazzle.com fails at internet. If you want to be an online pusher of silly tshirt designs you have to know how to internet the right way. If you don’t know how to internet, then you shouldn’t even be on it. That’s my oppinion at least.

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10 Responses to Don’t Copy my Image!

  1. Zel FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    My personal technique to circumvent such protections (that NoScript doesn’t disable by itself) is to manually browse the source file of the page, search for a string of text close to the image I want (best is the “alt” text, although it’s still not as widely used as the W3C would want to), and scan all the IMG tags nearby until I find the link and copy-paste it in the address bar… Not very fast but at least I get the full resolution image. It works on some .flv embed flash videos too, but I usually use a Firefox extension to save those.

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  2. Morghan UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    My personal technique is to send them an e-mail telling them how they just lost a sale due to javascript abuse. Of course I also attach a copy of the image they are trying to protect. So far only one site has written back and said I had a point, the rest have said nothing, but hopefully it is added to the “fire our web designer” file there at the office.

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Zel: In Firefox you can also go to Tools, Page Info, Click on the Media Tab and scroll through all the images on the page until you find the one you want as they are displayed in a preview window. When you find the one you want you just hit the convenient save button and you are done.

    It’s actually easier than checking out source. Especially when the designer tries to be tricky and puts a transparent overlay gif in the IMG tag, and hides the real image url in some css include file.

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  4. Zel FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Luke Maciak:
    Very nice, I had no idea Firefox had this feature, thanks.

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  5. Daniel GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Hell Guys,
    if you are already using firefox, just use drag n drop?
    DRAG the image,
    DROP it to your desktop or so.
    no JS can prevent this ^^ it works everywhere!

    And since every dumbass is capable of that, i don’t understand image protection at all…
    Luke is right: don’t put it online!

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  6. Lironah UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I love the ones that show one piece of the larger image at a time in a preview window. *printscreen*

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  7. Maenil BELGIUM Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    If you don’t know how to internet, then you shouldn’t even be on it. That’s my oppinion at least.

    If you don’t know how to spell, at least use a spell checker. That is _my_ opinion at least ;)

    But yes, I agree, these protections are incredibly silly.

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  8. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Daniel:
    This won’t work if they use the transparent overlay trick. But the Page Info trick always works.

    @ Maenil:
    Ah, yes – one of the sacred laws of internet is “Thou shall always point out spelling and grammar errors in the comments”. Congratulations sir, you do know how to internet the right way. :)

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  9. Tino UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Speaking of annoying copy protection measures, your post title reminded me of this old Internet classic:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up863eQKGUI
    The Internet is so wonderfully full of fail :)

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  10. Morghan UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    Luke Maciak wrote:

    @ Maenil:
    Ah, yes – one of the sacred laws of internet is “Thou shall always point out spelling and grammar errors in the comments”. Congratulations sir, you do know how to internet the right way.

    Aww, and I only point them out when the poster is calling others dumb for their opinions. Actually quite amusing how often those who are calling others stupid have horrible grammar and spelling.

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