BF Design Studio

Don’t steal my images!

So you’ve built a totally kickass, rock hard website. You poured hours and hours of work into it.  You went out and hired a professional photographer to take some cool pics of your stuff.  Life is good, the website starts to get traffic and WHAMMO!  A picture thief sees your site and suddenly, your images get pinched.  Not only do they get pinched, but even worse they get hot linked!

So what is the problem exactly?  Well on the internet any images that you put on your website are actually downloaded to the user’s browser cache before they can even see them.  So, downloading images from websites is inherent in how websites work. This means you really can’t stop someone from pinching or downloading your images. What is even worse, is when you pay money out of your own pocket for your website and the bandwidth required to run it and someone else makes a webpage and hotlinks your image from your website to theirs.  So then your website becomes a file server for someone else’s site!

I will explain techniques to fight both of these issues.

FIRST TIP: Don’t stress too much over this, the world is full of little problems and this one is no biggie! In fact, it’s possible to turn those stolen images into an advantage for your website.

Let me show you how:

Problem 1:  THE HOT LINKER

Someone has embedded your images on their site.  This is an easy problem to fix, but you need to know how to create and edit a .htaccess file.

# Show Ad image on remote linking
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteRule \.(png|gif|jpe?g)$ http://www.yoursite.com/images/your_ad_here.jpg [NC,L]

Now instead of seeing pretty flowers people will see an Ad for your website!

–>

Unexpected Bonus:  Make sure the banner you use is an ad for your site and you can get some nice traffic flowing from it. Actually, the harder the picture thief tries to benefit from your work, the more traffic will potentially flow back to you!

Problem 2: DOWNLOADING AND STEALING

So someone downloaded your images and now they are using them without your permission. What you really need to do is watermark  them!  If you only have one or two files there are a lot of free websites out there that will watermark for you but if you want to do it for yourself take a look at this solution.  First you need to add some code to your .htaccess file
# Hide and Watermark your images
#
# This says take your http://yoursite.com/products/this-shirt-is-blue-m-123454.jpg and
# watermark it with images/watermark.gif and the actual image inventory/123454.jpg
#
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^wimages/(.*)$ watermark.php?file=images/$1 [L]

This code says take your images and use a watermark script to mark them up.


Image
 +
Watermark
 = watermark.php?file=images/arrangement.jpg

or


Image
 +
Watermark
 = /wimages/arrangement.jpg

Nice Bonus: If you make sure that your transparent watermark image includes your domain name, every image on your site is reinforcing your brand in the user’s mind and repetition is awesome in marketing!

So there you go,  two very good ways of making sure your photo content stays with you!

Look forward to your comments.