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One method would be to set the image as a background image for a normal HTML element. Another is to use absolute positioning to put a transparent gif over the protected image. You could use both methods together if you want to get around Firefox's "View background image" feature. And of course, there's always the ever-popular "disable right-click" scripts.
None of these are anywhere near bulletproof if someone really wants the image, but like I said, they'll prevent most casual visitors from taking the images.
A watermark can be helpful, and in case of people flagrantly stealing your images and using them as their own,posting a slightly cropped version of the photos online can be an effective method at proving ownership since you will be the only one who can produce the full, uncropped image.
[edited by: MatthewHSE at 6:23 pm (utc) on Aug. 4, 2008]
However, we link to quite large images for almost everything and 'brand' them heavily across the top or bottom. That doesn't mean that they can't still be ripped and cropped, but if it is an image that we care about, and a wannabe competitor or 'fan' takes it - we will find it. I stay to pretty small niches, and there are only so many players. It still amazes me how stupid they are - stealing when getting caught is nearly inevitable, but it happens all the time; images, text, whatever they think is useful.
C&Ds are nearly 100% effective for us. Proving the theft is usually pretty easy, even for simple color swatches. When every shade of light, shadow, and swirl is the same you've got a fingerprint; plus the original RAW files:)) Our choice is always simple. Be disgraced privately and quietly and remove the content immediately, or..... Kills me every time that I have to let them get away with it - but I don't have time for anything else. Crime pays on the internet.
However, in the case of a photographer, where the stolen content could be very difficult to ever find, I would stay to fairly small thumbs with no watermark, and only modest sized 'large' views. I would watermark them corner to corner and across the center. Knock the opacity down enough so that image is still worth displaying. After a sale people can have the full versions, or have the their prints sent, whatever. Photography is a niche where the ripped image is going to be very hard to ever find. Go very low res; take the quality down to the point that even though it may look great on the website, it is worthless for print.
That in conjunction with your low res approach I would say is a strong option..
[edited by: Lobo at 12:47 am (utc) on Aug. 5, 2008]
If it is stolen, they would have to crop the watermark out which usually ruins the picture or promote your site/artist since the watermark will be there.
95% of my photos end up on Myspace in galleries as it is.
I am just thinking that you could also consider to have a gallery with 5 or 6 pictures that can be downloaded freely... Very useful if another person from a blog/website/forum want to promote the photographer. And I am sure that 10% of people who wil come to steal your pictures will end up in this section if pictures are protected against "casual" thieves (like right-click >> alert message "Hey ! We have free download section").
Oh, not mentionned above, do not forget to prevent hotlinking in your .htaccess
you do have the option of using flash, it prevents right click and source path and PrtScr
Is that flag you have to set when compiling? I just went to youtube and prtscrn worked fine. Having said that there is plenty of programs for circumventing any protection flash provides other than ones that give you acess to the source files.
As already mentioned you can slow them down but if it can be seen it can be copied.
When watermarking use a gradient fill or texture fill, simple single color transparent ones are not that hard to remove.
Why is this harder to remove? If it is a small mark can't just crop it out as you would a single color one or cover it up some other way just as easily as a single color mark?