Copy protection techniques for images
The methods and measures for protecting images on the web have been neither clear nor easy to understand. In fact, they were often confusing and if anything, misleading. Some measures that have been touted as offering protection are actually not protective at all. Still, even if others may offer may offer a poor quality image for people to copy, they also fall short of any real protection.
Some protective techniques are discussed below.
Using over compressed images
By 'over compressing' images to prevent either theft or copy,
the image is degraded to the point that all texture and effect
are lost, even when viewed on a high-resolution monitor. Such
action may work in headlines or ad captions, but treating works
of art in such a manner is ridiculous. This method is not
recommended for portfolios or any artwork.
Using a digital watermark
A watermark is not actually a mark at all but rather, an invisible tag added to an image file. The mark is not evident when viewed on a computer screen or when it is printed. The process was developed for photographers to attach their names and image details for cataloguing and circulation amongst the advertising agencies. Unfortunately, the tag may be removed in one of the many graphic applications that support the plug-ins used and it offers no protection for creators nor is it an effective deterrent to copy thieves at all!
Using a message insert or branding
Sometimes also referred to as "watermarking", a message or logo
is burnt into the image file and cannot be removed. It is
permanently visible on and off the screen and offers the viewer
a disfigured image that is useless for reproduction.
Unfortunately, the result is unsightly and not conducive for
good presentation, especially for artworks and paintings, which
need to convey their atmosphere.
Using a fragmented image
By breaking up an image into segments and displaying those
parts on a table set, an artist might think their work is safe.
Unfortunately, however, most images can be reassembled in the
most basic of photo editors. If an unauthorized user is
determined to either copy or illegally download a fragmented
image, they could technically save the different parts of the
image and reassemble them on their own computer, all without
the permission of the original content creator. Unless the
image is of high resolution, the visitor can easily perform a
screen capture and get the whole image at screen resolution.
Using a transparent layer
Use of a clear gif in a layer over the top of an image was
first developed by ArtistScope years ago. Back then, most users
were still using browsers that did not support layers and the
method, although cited by many of the copy cats in this
industry, is easily circumvented.
No right click scripts may be a deterrent to newbies on the Internet, but they are merely just that—tools for amateurs. If anyone really wants your image (even an amateur), they will get it with little difficulty. In fact, you can download the original one, which works in many browsers.
Using CGI image and page delivery
By utilizing such systems, images can be protected from direct linking and may also offer some bandwidth protection. Unfortunately, the images are not safe once the page has been downloaded to the visitor's browser, since the visitor can easily manipulate the image file at will. The CGI method is effective where access to the start page can be restricted. Please see Link Protect for more information
Using applets to protect images
There have been many simple image applets that are offered as "image
protection". Without using encryption and domain lock, the
protection is only superficial. ArtistScope's strategy offers
the most effective protection available where the images are
encrypted and domain locked, making them un-viewable away from
the owner’s website. It offers protection against mouse click
saving, the use of grab type software, and bandwidth theft
through unauthorized and direct linking. It is safe from all
avenues of copying, except screen capture. See Secure Image for
Preventing screen capture and Printscreen
alone as these languages do not have the necessary permissions
to communicate at system level, which is where the "capture" is
performed. To prevent screen capture, system level commands
need to be wrapped into a plugin, which when installed to the
visitor's browser with their consent, is able to trap the
messages used for the capture.
ArtistScope's CopySafe incorporates plugin interaction with
Java encryption and Domain Lock to provide a completely
portable solution that will run from any web page and from any
type of web server. CopySafe, having evolved from years of user
feedback, offers the most portable and easy to use Copy
Protection system for the web. CopySafe can be customized for
incorporation into any online project and will batch process
thousands of images at a time.
CopySafe is the only solution available for effective copy
protection on websites.
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