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Stolen web images (Translator Please!!)

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Old 12-06-2002, 10:59 AM
Doug Nelson's Avatar
Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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Here's an excellent description for htaccess anti-theft usage:
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Old 12-06-2002, 11:04 AM
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Working backwards in the posts that just came in...

Clare, my webhost indicates that an .htaccess file with the code you list should go in the directory of files you wish to protect. I assume that if you put that code in .htaccess file in the root directory, then it would apply to all files. I don't think you need to put it in both the root directory and your image directory, but I could be wrong. (Thanks Doug for that link!)

Chiquitita, thanks for your perspective on disabling right-click. I swear I saw some Java code which just disabled the Save As in the context menu rather than completely disabling the whole thing, but I might have been dreaming. I'll have to go look again. It does seem that whatever is implemented, there is going to be a trade off between ease of navigation and protection of images. It'll be a challenge to find the balance.

David, I appreciate the additional info on embedding images in Flash. I realize you could still find the SWF file without hiding the source, but if the "protect from import" is set when the file is saved - and if .htaccess is implemented correctly to prevent hotlinking, does it still matter if someone knows where the file is located? People can still do a screen shot with any of the ideas we've talked about. Hmmm... (answering my own question here...) I guess if someone wanted to put the image up on their site, they could simply take the SWF file and post it wherever. So that's not really that secure, huh?

This is whole topic is really complex!! (Either that or I'm a little dense.)

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Old 12-06-2002, 11:18 AM
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Thanks Doug for the link - I'll look at that one now

I think this has got quite alot of us You are not alone!!
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Old 12-06-2002, 02:09 PM
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I would just like to say that I agree with chiquitita - I use right-click -> open in new window almost all the time (very rarely open in same window at all any more) and when I come across a site that is right-click disabled I tend to say words that my mother would be shocked to hear me use.

If I wanted to steal their @&*! images I could do an Alt-Print screen. All it does is put me in a very bad mood and generally mean I don't bother any more with that site.

I hate disabled right-click EVEN MORE than I hate advertising popups (and believe me, I hate advertising popups a LOT).

I shall put Mr. Rant away now (as my husband says to me when I get carried away on a personal bugbear)...
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Old 12-06-2002, 02:56 PM
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Exactly! The thing that is most annoying is that when people enable that code they write stuff in it that says things like "Stop thief!" or some copyright stuff and all I am trying to do is open a new window. It's adding insult to injury. I am like you and usually don't bother with the site anymore and leave.

Jani -

It is very very very frustrating from the user's perspective when people add all kinds of confusing code to their pages which disables basic functions. I think you are right about there being a code which disables "save as" That is pointless though because there is still "copy" and like Leah pointed out "print screen"

The thing is if someone takes your images, there is not much they can do with them as web images except put them on their website... most of those websites have very few visitors because the people involved in these practices usually just do this on personal websites. Most professionals know better. Therefore, just tell them your lawyer will be in touch unless they take the images down immediately (if they have copied them). If they haven't copied them, just change the link to reflect a stolen image message or do the legal action thing. Most people will not fight you on it.

If they are original artwork, it is not hard to prove - who has the .psd file? case solved.
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Old 12-06-2002, 04:14 PM
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Yes, I know how frustrating it is when people put up roadblocks to basic functions because I run into that myself! And I'm not sure I like the idea of embedding images in Flash, because I know that Flash turns some people off (esp. those with slow connections- they don't even wait to see what's there.)

I realize that both print screen and files in Temporary Internet Files are big loopholes in any scheme. I'm curious to see whether a digital watermark (ike Digimark) survives a print screen. I'll try testing and report back.

On my hike today, I was trying to come up with a scheme such that I could have a page of thumbnails with R-click and view source enabled, but clicking on a thumnail would open a new window with R-click and menu buttons disabled. The new window would only contain the image. (I'm ignoring printscreen and cached files for this through process, just so you know I'm aware of that.) If the new window is just the image, then what basic functionality would I be hindering in terms of browsing from the user's perspective?

Then I started poking holes in my idea and decided that if the source was viewable on the thumbnail page, then the name of the html file would also be visible and easy to get with a "save target as" R-click. Which would in turn give the pathname of the image file.

OK, so what if I had .htaccess in place for my image directory. They couldn't hotlink to the image, but they still could type in the URL of that image directly and download it, right? Or do I understand .htaccess wrong?

As you can see, that was pretty much a useless discussion with myself.

Seems like perhaps digital watermarks are the best bet - then at least I can get reports as to where the image takes off to. In that case, perhaps the easier I make it to copy the file, the easier it will be to track it?

My brain is hurting...

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Old 12-06-2002, 05:08 PM
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A number of professional photographer websites that I visit do not disable right click ability to copy or save, don't embed Digimark watermarks or even their copyright in the image itself (it is visible in the caption below the copied image, and there might be a "hidden" key that would lead them to the image if it were posted on someone's website -- I have no idea about that). Their posted images are no larger than 3x5 or 4x6 at 72 dpi, and I think they consider that the best protection against stealing of the earning power of their images. They make money by selling large prints. I imagine that they have taken some steps against having another website link to theirs, simply to reduce bandwidth issues with their host.

This thread is a good reminder to people about what can happen when we post images (or text) on the internet -- it can be taken and used by someone else for purposes that please or displease us. It seems to me that is THE answer to the puzzle. If you think of posting something -- consider the consequences before posting, and if you do post something -- know that it may be taken by someone. You can make it less usable (smaller, lower resolution...), but if you're trying to impress someone with your images, you probably want to make them look good at a viewable (but smaller) size. Then hope that everyone who copies it, contacts you to BUY a large, high resolution copy.
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Old 12-06-2002, 06:12 PM
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CJ & Chuck,

I have been slowly coming around to that realization. (Apologies to anyone who posted the same thoughts at the beginning of the thread - I had to go through my own process on this one. )

The truth of the matter is, I would be flattered if anyone found my images good enough to "steal". And (depending on the intended use) I wouldn't even mind having my images posted on someone else's site if they gave me credit for them. But, I would definitely be upset if someone tried to take credit for my work. That's why I'm thinking a digital watermark might be the answer for me. I could track where the images go that way. (OK, so I'm a bit of a control freak.) Digital watermarks do seem to have their limitations. For example, if you run a filter on the image, the watermark pretty much disappears. But, I did discover that it survives a print screen. The Digimark reader doesn't recognize it with the whole screen in the image, but if you crop down to just the picture, it does. And you can crop quite a ways down before the reader doesn't recognize it any more.

I will implement .htaccess (or something) to prevent hotlinking and stealing my bandwidth though. From some of the sites I've been reading since this discussion began, it appears that trend is growing. And as far as I can tell, it doesn't hamper browsing capabilities.

Well, that's my thoughts for the afternoon. I reserve the right to change my mind, of course.


Last edited by jeaniesa; 12-07-2002 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 12-06-2002, 06:27 PM
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This has become a very valuable thread! I'm saving this info carefully since I'm going to be working on my own website as soon as I can get a good host. I share a viewpoint close to Jeanie's, I'm not too horribly worried about my material being used elsewhere (unless it's using my bandwidth) so I'll just be taking advantage of the .htaccess file and using the Digimark for a small copyright watermark in the corner (thanks for the info about digimark Jeanie, I didn't know how well that worked)

- David
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Old 12-06-2002, 09:06 PM
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Haven't mastered the quotation trick with this board, but I can copy/paste, and Jeaniesa writes,

I wouldn't even mind having my images posted on someone else's site if they gave me credit for them. But, I would definitely be upset if someone tried to take credit for my work. That's why I'm thinking a digital watermark might be the answer for me. I could track where the images go that way.

Glad to hear some sense coming from what I know are sensible people.
Does anyone like going into a museum and viewing the artwork under glass and from 20 yards away?

Keep reading...

Here's a trick I use for those who want to put a watermark on their images. I've been doing this for years and add it to images that I think might be ripped off, images that I put time into and care about. I've done it here at RP. Find a spot in the centre of the picture that has some confusion in it... like hair or fabric. Ramp up the brightness in an adjustment layer, then add a text layer above all and add your name or nic, and date, in tiny text. Lower the opacity of the text so you can barely see it. Discard the adjustment layer. Flatten.
If someone stole your work and you wanted to make an issue of this, all you have to do, provided they didn't blur the file or do something else to disfigure it, is to message the person instructing them to increase the brightness, perhaps lower the contrast, point them in the direction of your secret hiding spot, and voila, there's your private little stamp.

Somewhere on someone's site I read...

I am a freelance artist providing fine art and gothic photography. I gained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Photography in the Arts in 1997 from the University of West of England, Bristol.

Now, I don't know who this person is, the owner of the site, a friend, who knows for sure (right?), but I thought it would be exciting to attend this school and earn this degree, so I wrote the school for information, asking if I could earn a B.A. in photography at their school.

And they wrote me back,

"Thank you for your email. Unfortunately we do not run a BA
in photography."

Oh well, I guess that degree is back ordered and I'll have to look elsewhere.
And there's still more, thanks to freedom on the internet, but I say have your fun. Enjoy, but try not to pollute.

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