Image theft is the unauthorized copying and use of Images and Photographs from documents including the electronic media. Some people are ignoring this matter and simply downloading, modifying and using the image in their websites or blogs without seeking the permission of the author. But most of the people are aware about the copy right rules and they do not use the image if there is a copy right symbol. Now the use of internet activity is very high and there are websites especially electronics websites uploading the original images painfully made by designers as their own. Some are interested in comparing circuit designs with their own circuits and trying to attract people to their websites. If you use the photo of a scenery or gadget, it will not harm much but it is serious if you use an artistic work, circuit design or rare image without permission. How to solve these problems? Here are some tips to protect your images even though it will not give sufficient protection since a tricky thief can do many things.
If you want to tell others about your image protection, give an image use statement and direction to get permission before downloading the image. It is better to display your policy on the image-use publically by putting the statements like ‘do not copy’, ‘get permission ‘etc on your website or blog.
This is the circuit of Mobile Bug published in Electronics for you magazine few years back. I spent lot of time to design the circuit and to make the circuit as a functional gadget. Many students used this circuit as their project and there are queries and feedbacks. It is not a protected image and the copyright is with Electronics for you. This circuit appeared in many websites with or without mentioning the source or author’s name. Some websites published the circuit indicating the source or link. But some used the circuit as their own after removing the name of magazine and author from the pdf available in the website of EFY. Interestingly, a company released the gadget as their own product without any acknowledgment to the people behind the circuit. This is one case noticed by me but the same thing is happening daily in many websites.
How to make a protected Image ?
Some images are free downloadable sharing images and you can use such images indicating the source. But close watch the images containing the statement or other indications showing protection. Down load and use the image only after getting permission from the author. Some images are simple without any copy right and the authors will not have any objection to use it in other websites.
One simple and easy method to show protection on the image is giving a Watermark of the web address or copyright symbol. Even though it seems to be simple, it is considered as the strongest indication about the protection. Watermark appears across the middle part of the image or at the corner of the image if the author wishes to lower the visual distraction. If the water mark stretches across the image, the chance of theft is lower. You can put the water mark on your image using the Photoshop. Type text over the image and adjust transparency.
Free downloadable software is also available to add water marks easily. One good software is TSR Watermark Image Software available in http://www.watermark-image.com. Digital watermarking (Digimarc) is stronger which is generated using the Photoshop plug-in through digital noise. Remember, watermark indicates only the intention of the author to show that the image is protected but there are techniques to erase the water mark from the image. Still it is giving protection and if you see your protected image appearing in another website, you can file complaint against the violation of copyrights. Two images with watermark are shown below.
Watermarked using Photoshop
Watermarked using TSR software
One drawback in watermarking is that it may affect the beauty of the circuit if the watermark is not sufficiently transparent.
- Use of low resolution
To protect the image from theft, low resolution images are typically used in websites. A low resolution of 550 pixels image saved in 72 dpi is a good choice. Such low resolution images are difficult to manipulate in Photoshop and other image editing software.
- Colour profile
Uploading images without colour prevents its use and editing. If such images are edited, a large shift in colours and contrast may appear and it is difficult to rectify the defect without affecting its resolution.
- Right click blocking
Most of the people use right clicking to copy and save the image. This action can be prevented by placing the image as a background to tables. You can use this simple technique in CSS using the ‘background – image.url’style.
- Making transparent Gif
Another method to prevent right clicking is placing a transparent Gif image over the code table data cell. If it is placed so, the image can be copied using the right click but the saved image will be a transparent one.
- Multiple images
Another method is creating multiple images. Using tables, the image can be cut into fractions and pastes them together using the html table. The image can be reassembled in the table without cell padding.
- Hotlink blocking
Hot linking is the method used in websites to steal and publish images and texts. It is a kind of Bandwidth theft in which the image appears on a website by keeping the original image in your server. Hot linking is important since the useful websites can be linked to other websites doing malicious activities. Many servers give provisions to prevent hot linking. They provide a protocol for preventing hot linking using the service protocol panel. Alternately hotlink blocking codes can be placed in the root directory of the website to prevent linking.
What is the solution?
Even though the image protection methods are simple and giving protection to a certain extent, a tricky thief can do a lot of things to steal the protected image. Watermarking can be edited and right click block prevents only downloading but not the screen dumps. Print screen option is also available to print the image. It is hard to identify the theft by searching the whole web. But if found, give an intimation to the contact address of the website about your policy. Also intimate your disagreement to the action and give direction to remove the image immediately since it is violating the copyright rules.