Tag Archives: Copyright

Will I get my images stolen online?

• Transparent Covers •

• Transparent Covers •
The picture shows a transparent image slightly lifted off the page demonstrating how a transparent image can be stacked on top of the image below. It is normally invisible when set up properly – it’s shown lifted here only for effect. If you right click/copy the on an actual transparency you only copy a transparent shape not the image you want below.

Can images be protected online?

There are a number of ways to steal an image off of a website. And, yes, there are a number of ways to protect an image on a website. How effective is that protection? When it comes down to it we lose sleep over our images being stolen. So if that protection is not 100% we have a problem.

What protection is available?

Probably the most common protection for images on a website is a programmed solution. A small piece of code detects a right mouse click over an image. The code disables the right click preventing you saving or copying the image or the image address.

The picture above shows another method of protecting images. It is possible to place images on top of each other on a page. If the top image is transparent the image below it can still be seen. When you right click the image you are actually only able to get the top transparent image not the image below. This is an interesting method because it also masks the internet address of the image below. If you try to copy the location of the image you get the location of the transparent image.

Press and grab!

Both the methods above, and similar ones, are sufficient to prevent the casual, non-technical user from stealing images. However, they are absolutely ineffective against one simple theft method – the screen grab. If you click on the window where an image is displayed, hold down [Alt] & press [PrtScrn] the image selects a copy of the window that is currently selected. You can then paste that image into an image editor. If you use [Ctrl] & [PrtScrn] you grab the whole screen as an image. Some web designers have used code to disable these button combinations but it is not reliable. It is also completely ineffective against selection tools. There are many little applications that you can download which will give you the ability to select any section of your screen and copy it. The copy is then pasted into an image editor for saving.

The ultimate solution…

When it comes down to it there is no full-proof method of preventing image theft. If you can see it online, you can steal it. The ultimate solution to preventing image theft online is not to put your images onto a website.

Of course this is not an answer really. If we cannot publish then we cannot get sales, acclaim, support… whatever. These days, if you are not online then your images are not seen. Are there other practical methods of protecting images?

Water marking

One of the more common methods of protecting images is to put a watermark on it. This effectively renders the image unusable on another website or for printing. However, it also makes it difficult to fully appreciate the art in a picture if it has a trade mark or copyright symbol plastered across it.

• Little Langdale •

• Little Langdale •
Watermarks can be rather obtrusive like the large one here (centre). Less obtrusive placement and size is easily cloned out or cropped out (the small watermark bottom right).

Generally speaking the smaller or less obtrusive a watermark is on an image the less effective it is against theft. On the other hand the more obtrusive it is the more impact it has on the viewer looking at the image. Writing in particular draws the eye very strongly. So you are in danger of the viewer having to peer around/behind your watermark because the eye is drawn to the watermark before the subject of your image. This is not satisfactory and rather destroys the point of putting the image online.

Copyright and copyright registration

Copyright refers to the established right of the author of a picture to maintain control over the image. However, the law of copyright differs worldwide. So how it applies in your country is something you will have to research. In basic terms a country like the UK has an assumed right of copyright ownership. So the original image file would stand as proof of ownership. In this case it is best to ensure that you also embed your copyright data in the image data (see: Exif data). The Exif data will then reveal the owner. However the data is not secure so the method is not full-proof.

In a country like the USA copyright owners can protect themselves against theft by registering their image with the Library of Congress  External link - opens new tab/page.

Copyright is good protection in that the force of the law lies on the side of the copyright owner. However, in many countries a dispute over copyright involves a lengthy and expensive legal process. This may be beyond the means of the small artist/photograph. This renders it an ineffective method of protection. However, recent legislation in the UK has made it easier for authors to make small claims for disputes covering them for up to £5000 pounds fine. This could change the balance in favour of the photographer/artist seeking remedy for stolen images.

Show the useless image!

It sounds daft, but if you present your images as a low resolution small size image this is a simple and effective protection against most theft. Image thieves want a quality image to use on their own site or to print or to sell to others. If you limit your image longest side to 500 pixels as a *.jpg image compressed to around 60% you will provide partial protection for your image. This size and compression is an acceptable size on a web page for the purpose of viewing. However, the thief cannot blow the image up larger without damaging it. The low resolution at 500 pixels will make print sizes too small. In effect this makes the image perfectly viewable for your site users, at the same time it renders it pretty useless for the image thief. This is a practical and simple method of protecting against theft. It is not full proof – since thieves can still use it small size. However, it does at least limit the possibilities for commercial exploitation by others.

There is no 100% protection – its about risk

When it comes down to it you have to take a risk. There is no method of absolutely protecting your images online. However, there are enough different types of protection to be able to protect most images enough to feel confident that your images ‘probably’ will not be stolen. In the end you have to decide if you are going to gain more by displaying online than you would lose by having an image stolen. It is a very personal decision.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

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Copyright infringement situation improved in UK


Copyright infringement has been a serious problem.

Photographers and other artists have long seen erosion of their sales territories by image theft, ‘passing off’ and blatant non-payment of fees. Now things are set to improve with this new development.

Copyright infringement law changing in UK

Ordinary snappers to professional photographers now have a practical, effective legal solution to copyright infringement. In September 2012 the UK Government announced a simple and easy method to pursue damages for copyright infringement. For damages of up to £5000, photographers can make a ‘small claim’ in the Patents County Court  External link - opens new tab/page (PCC).

The growing Internet and the explosion of online images has created a lawlessness around image use. With billions of images being published annually there is a huge reservoir of potentially available images for copyright thieves to target. This has put pressure on image makers to lower prices and made tracking of stolen images difficult. If photographers find one of their images has been copyright infringed the legal route has been a nightmare.

To improve the plight of UK photographers and others the UK Government has taken radical action. UK copyright laws are sound, but a legal solution has proven expensive and unwieldy until now. Copyright cases take years to progress and costs far outweighs the value of the disputed image in most cases. For photographers, small business owners and amateurs, the legal route has so far been impractical. The little guy loses out. Introducing the “small claims” route makes copyright legal action easy. You don’t even need to appoint a legal representative.

Proposals also mean damages awards may rise to a £10,000 limit next year (2013). Such a limit would make it worthwhile for photographers to pursue claims. The new system means long court battles are avoided and there is no fear of huge legal fees being awarded against you if you lose a case. These changes make it increasingly likely actions will be taken against relatively minor infringements. This will put strong pressure on people not to steal or misuse images.

This move should be considered a great improvement for photographers in general. Interestingly, the new legal route is not restricted to copyright infringement. The jurisdiction of the “Patents County Court” within the “Small Claims Track” also covers:
• trade marks (UK and Community registered trade marks).
• passing off.
• unregistered design right (UK and Community unregistered design right).

To find out more about the legal process download: “Guide to the Patents County Court Small Claims Track”  External link - opens new tab/page. (PDF 0.21mb)

Readers of this blog around the world should watch the situation in the UK with interest. Many countries suffer from legal problems with copyright infringement. If the new UK legal model works, other governments worldwide would benefit from considering the same route. Image theft is a global problem. The PCC “Small Claims Track” could looks set to improve the UK situation. However, UK photographers are still going to have problems over images stolen by overseas organisations and individuals. Similar laws worldwide would make everyone’s life easier.

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training courses ing digital photography.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Photographing Signs. They Are All Sorts of Fun!

Signs can be humerous - they can do many other things for our photography too.

Signs can be humerous - they can do many other things for our photography too.

There are many reasons to take photographs of signs

Sometimes it is the ordinary and everyday things that provide us with the most fun, the most information, and something to identify with. Here are a few reasons you should look out for signs on your photo-shoots.

  • Humour – lots of fun!
    There are literally millions of funny signs around the world. Try a search of Google about funny signs and you will be laughing for hours. I have managed to grab a few fun shots of signs over the years. This one above has given me lasting smiles. Keep on the look out. You will see some of the most extraordinary mess-ups if you look at hand-made signs. Sometimes quite serious ones bring a smile too.
  • Orientation – know where your shots were taken…
    Often, particularly in out-of-the-way places it is not always easy to get an idea of where you are. If you take a shot of a lovely landscape you want to remember where it was. Sometimes the nearest road sign is a great help. You don’t need to show it to anyone or to do anything special with the picture. Keep it. One day it will remind you of where you took that landscape and you can tell your friends where to go to find it.
  • Sense of place – helps give a feeling of where you were…
    Travel photography can be surprisingly stressful. You are on the run all the time; trying to make the best of your holiday/trip. Stopping to take snaps is great fun, but where were you when you took that one of the man holding a six foot red banana? Very bizarre – yet so absorbed in the moment you forgot to take note of where it was and what sort of place it was. Taking a quick snap of a few signs or local shops can be a great help. Your pictures remind you of the place and the character of the surroundings. It does not need to be road signs – shops sign, location or building signs, even schools, hotels and other places that can identify and convey a sense of the local character. One day you will look back and remember in much more detail the character of the place.
  • Direction – signs help you to know where you were looking…
    Looking in one direction or another is important. When you are trying to orientate a shot to the direction you were shooting, road signs with arrows are particularly useful.
  • A way to remember – your adventures geo-tagged…
    Having fun in a restaurant on your holiday? Take a picture of the menu, take a picture of the shop front. Best of all take a picture of a road sign from inside the building looking out. You will never forget where it was, and the fun of doing these quick shots will also help you to fix the adventure in your mind. Issues of the moment are often what makes a memory vivid.
  • Memorable places – the sign reminds you of a visit…
    I once went to see the Leonardo Da Vinci’ house in central France. Outside was a wonderful sign. It was quite lengthy, explaining the museum and the exhibits found inside. I took lots of photos of the museum and its exhibits. When I got outside and read the sign it was hilarious. The translation was awful – so awful it was hugely funny. I took a shot for the humour, and because it reminded me of what I saw inside. Unfortunately the camera was stolen before I took the film out. That was 30 years ago and I still regret not having that shot! What a fine summary of the days memories it would have made today.
  • Conveying local culture – signs tell you what sort of place you visited…
    Signs tell you a surprising amount about the local culture. Building signs can be quite a cultural clue. The grandness of a sign sets the tone for what is inside. The language, font or characters can be quite illuminating or interesting. Sometimes they make great photos in their own right. Especially shops with a bit of character or interest. They can really say something about the place you are in, and what you see there. It is also interesting to see how many signs there are in a place. Sometimes the presence of lots of signs tells you about the activities. Markets and high streets in developed countries are often quite regulated. Signs are not allowed to become too obtrusive. In underdeveloped countries this is not true. The signs in the main shopping district can be a riot of colour, fonts, shapes, sizes, placement, pictures… you name it. Everyone is trying to get a message out over everyone else. These sorts of shots make for a fun view of a frenetic area and tell your viewer about its character and tone of life there.
  • Reminders of exhibits you have photographed…
    My son taught me this one. When he goes to a museum he photographs the info-sign next to every exhibit which takes his interest. I don’t go that far. However, when I am photographing aeroplanes at air museums (an interest of mine) I take a picture of the info-sign for any plane I photograph. Then I have a record shot of what I have seen. It just serves as a memory jogger for the picture and its contents. Beware you do not use the photo however, you might be infringing copyright.

As you can see, signs provide more than basic information. They are also about a place. They provide an inside guide as well as a pointer on where to go… and they are fun. Enjoy!


Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is managing editor of Photokonnexion.com with professional experience in photography, writing, image libraries, and computing. He is also an experienced, webmaster and a trained teacher. Damon runs regular training for digital photographers who are just starting out.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’
By Damon Guy :: Profile on Google+