Copy Protection for Images and the Internet

ArtistScope develops software that protects the integrity of images displayed on the web and in other electronic media.

ArtistScope offers workable solutions to creators of images who are concerned that images they post to the web can be stolen, copied or corrupted illegally. By using an ArtistScope tool, content creators can ensure the integrity of their images is not compromised and that their intellectual property rights are maintained.

The software currently available under the ArtistScope umbrella include tools that will restrict a visitor's ability to copy and print images, documents, video and web page content. In addition to these tools DRM can be applied to provide access to authorized users only.

Why is copy protection necessary?

With the growing importance of e-commerce transactions and the ongoing need to ensure the artistic integrity of images and other media, it is essential that they can be protected from illegal copying and printing.

As the nature of the web means most websites are open to search spiders and 'grab' type applications, most website content is available to most users. This availability means images on the web are exposed in quite specific ways, such as those listed below.

Image Piracy

Many artists have found images they have carefully and laboriously on other websites either as direct copies or in collage material. Some creators have found their images incorporated into corporate logos with only minimal alteration. Some have found their artworks advertised online for sale as prints. Others have had their work entered into art contests by complete strangers without their knowledge.

Any such action taken without the consent of the artist is obviously illegal. And without specific protection, the entire body of work by an artist can be downloaded to disk as fast as the user's Internet service will allow. In most cases this is as fast as the user can double-click on all the images.

Bandwidth Theft

Bandwidth theft is the term that describes the illegal linking to graphic images on another site.

Whenever that link is accessed, the creator of the image and web site, not the user downloading the image, is paying for the bandwidth used for viewing the image. As Internet Service Providers (ISPs) charge for or limit access according to bandwidth, such illegal linking can add substantially to maintenance costs of the creator's web site.

Unfortunately however, most people who display graphics on their site are probably unaware that this is occurring. Without protection, attempting to police or prevent bandwidth theft is time consuming and a very inexact science.


All content on a web page can be captured and downloaded to a viewer's computer by simply pressing the PrintScreen button on the keyboard.

By doing this, a snapshot of the whole screen is captured at the user's monitor resolution, usually 72 to 96 dots per inch (dpi). When captured at such resolution, most images show little deterioration and can be re-used on the Internet or as clip art by scaling down for use on brochures and leaflets. This is, again, another obviously illegal use of online images.

Screen Capture

Capture programs, although useful as design tools for legitimate intentions, can also be used to capture on-screen images for incorporation into other designs without the authorization or knowledge of the creator and owner of the artwork.

The processes used in screen capture vary according to what the target and end use may be, but without dedicated protection, original images are vulnerable to such theft.

Unauthorized Linking

The very nature of the language of web pages means most content on the web can be linked to from another web site. Such unauthorized linking occurs when a user links to your image from their web page without your consent.

The result of such action is that the unauthorized user is giving the appearance that the legal owner of the image consents to this link and is endorsing the activities of that site.

Spider and Grab Utilities

Even though the links to your files and images are stored within folders that are only linked to or referenced from the main pages and indexes, these items can be downloaded from your website without an unauthorized user ever visiting or calling these indexes or main pages.

By using a freely available spider program, an inventory of content on a remote website can be made and saved on another computer. On an unprotected website this means that the user can gain list every item on your website, save them to disk and use them without even visiting your website.

'Grab' programs are also available that will locate and download all the files in a folder to which it is directed. This means that everything from your Applets and Java class files to your original images can be downloaded and utilized on the illegal user's website.

Inappropriate Features of Web Browsers

Changes in modern web browsers is of concern to those interested in protecting their images from copy or theft. As web browsers have become more sophisticated, so too have the options for saving and downloading media from web pages.

Right-clicking on the mouse on an image in most web browsers window not only prompts the user to save the image to their computer, but also saves the whole page and every image and component on the page, including the background tiles, to a folder created by the browser.

Breach of Copyright

Copyright notices are easy to ignore.

Images that are uploaded to the web with a copyright notice attached can still be copied or manipulated by an unauthorized user without the consent of the owner of the image. Even when an image owner notices a copyright breach, the difficulty of working in international jurisdictions means few image owners could police every breach of copyright.

The only way a copyright owner can limit their exposure to such breaches is to attach specific tools and applications to their images.

Who Needs Protection?

Anyone who creates content that is then displayed or distributed on the web can use an ArtistScope solution to protect their intellectual property rights from being compromised.

Industry professionals, photographers and artists, commercial enterprises and educational institutions are a few examples of people who can use ArtistScope's solutions to prevent their online images and media from illegal copying, printing and manipulation.

What Kind of Protection Does ArtistScope Offer?

ArtistScope introduced copy protection to the Internet in 1998 (this page page was created in 1998 and it has been used as a reference by everyone in the copy protection industry) and in 1999 released CopySafe which today remains unique in that PrintScreen and screen capture is prevented at system level by controlling the clipboard, whereas other solutions try to detect known capture software and shut it down. Such solutions are easily exploited by simply renaming the capture software (.exe) file. Lesser solutions designed for amusement devices like mobile phones cannot action at system level and are not worthwhile.

Copy protected files can be viewed on the desktop using a CopySafe reader/player, or they can be displayed online from your web page. Free plugins are available for the most popular CMS such as DNN, Drupal, Joomla, Moodle and WordPress to upload and add protected PDF and video from their online page editors.

ArtistScope revolutionized DRM by introducing call-to-home server validation instead of tokens, ensuring that DRM rights could not be exploited and give authors total control over security policy changes with immediate effect, even on protected files already saved to the user's computer.

ArtistScope DRM distinguishes each user using an algorithm based on hard drive serial number and manufacturer, ensuring that rights permissions can be locked to individual computers and not exploited. Each CopySafe software license includes a free and unlimited account on our DRM server (for life) to manage subscribers, groups file permissions and access rights.

In late 2015, all of the popular web browsers dropped support for NPAPI browser plugins that action at system level. Instead they now only support NPAPI plugins based on HTML and JavaScript that cannot interact at system level, making them useless for any real copy protection. That would have put an end to copy protection for web pages and media if it wasn't for ArtistScope's new web browser known as the ArtisBrowser.

ArtisBrowser was designed from the bottom up with copy protection in mind, and unlike other web browsers that expose and exploit web content in their bid to be popular, the ArtisBrowser detects copy protected content such as ASPS and CopySafe and switches to "protected mode" in which nothing can be copied or exploited, providing the most secure web browser for the protection of web media and data. When SSL is used data cannot be extracted from browser cache or memory and it is even safe from packet sniffers.

ArtistScope Copy Protection Software

Depending on the level of security required, different products are available in the ArtistScope software suite. While some users may need extensive image security that involves several pieces of software ensuring image protection is as high as possible, others may need simpler controlling mechanisms.