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How to Prevent Website Images from Being Copied?

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Ever since the internet was opened to the public, image theft has been an epidemic. It’s very easy to copy and download images from different websites on the internet and use them as your own. Sharing images have never been easier.

Many people simply find their favorite image on Google Images, Flickr, Pinterest, etc. and use it for their own purposes.

Imagine you are a photographer and making a living through selling digital images. Obviously, you don’t want anyone to use any of the images you’ve taken for free.

As an artist, you can make the process of stealing an image very difficult. Especially if you are using WordPress as your main CMS. In this article, we would like to discuss how to prevent website images from being copied in WordPress.

The All-in-one Solution: the Content Protector Pack

The ultimate solution for WordPress images being copied is using the Content Protector Pack. Otherwise, you need to install several plugins for each functionality.

Image Protection: The save option for images will be disabled and even if people find a way to copy the image URL, they won’t be able to use it on any website. This feature disables the image right-click, drag and drop and hides the URL.

Watermark Your Images: Perhaps adding a watermark to your images is the easiest function of this plugin. Simply, upload the watermark you want to be added on your image, position it and the rest will be taken care of automatically by the Protector Pack plugin.

View Source Protection: Protector Pack restricts access to the source code. As you probably know, some users are able to find the image URL from the source code of your website. Thus, this plugin prevents people from accessing the source code.

Print Protection: The Content Protector Pack plugin also disables the print option on your WordPress website. Users won’t be able to print any of your pages and use it against you, even if they do manage to print, it will be a blank page.

iFrame Protection: iFrame lets people to essentially open a window within their site to your site and show the image through an iframe tag. This plugin can also disable this function on your website and redirects people who try to use iFrame to your website.

How to Prevent Website Images from being Copied?

If you want a free solution, you can go through the steps below. We’ve introduced plugins that can help you in each aspect and explained how to set them up.

1. Disable Right-Click on WordPress Images

The simplest way to download images is by right-clicking on them and selecting “save image as…”.

The easiest way to prevent website images from being copied on WordPress is by using the WP Content Copy Protection plugin. Currently, this plugin has over 100,000 active installations and it’s considered one of the best plugins to disable right-clicking on WordPress images.

The WP Content Copy Protection plugin protects your website by implementing JavaScript and CSS techniques on your website. Not only it restricts right-click, but it disables hotkeys that can be used for copying and downloading your image. For example, Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+X, Ctrl+S and Ctrl+V.

Configuring this plugin is super easy. Once you have downloaded the plugin, from Settings click on WP Content Copy Protection. By default, free features are enabled and everything is taken care of as soon as you activate WP Content Copy Protection.

In the first tab (Main Settings), you can enable or disable protection for posts, homepage and static pages. The plugin implements its limitations via JavaScript code. In addition, you can customize a message that gets displayed whenever someone tries to right-click on the page or print a web page.

The premium version of this plugin comes with a lot more features that can satisfy your needs. For example, text selection, responsive admin panel, smart protection for mobile phones, watermarking images, etc.

2. Add Watermark to WordPress Images

A great way to prevent website images from being copied is to add watermark to them. This method is used on many popular websites. For example, Shutterstock, iStock, etc. Watermark is a text or logo that’s intentionally added to an image to prevent the image from being copied and used.

As mentioned above, companies that sell digital images tend to apply a watermark to a low-quality the image and as soon as customers make a purchase, they unlock the high-quality image that contains no watermark for the user to download.

One of the best plugins to add watermark to images in WordPress is Easy Watermark. This plugin can be downloaded either from the official WordPress website or the Dashboard itself. Once the plugin is installed and activated, navigate to it by going into Tools > Easy Watermark.

First, you need to add a new watermark. You have two options, either you can create a text watermark or go straight for an image. In the text tab, you can define a text-based watermark to add to your images. Besides, the plugin allows you to fully customize this text.

For example, you can change the font, color, size, angle, opacity, and even alignment. The image watermark looks exactly like the text watermark, but instead of the text, you can add your logo as the watermark and place it wherever you want.

Easy Watermark lets you upload JPG, PNG or even GIF as the watermark image. In addition, as soon as you have defined a template for the plugin, you have the option to bulk watermark images in your media library or even restore the images back to their original state.

Easy Watermark can automatically add watermark to WordPress images whenever you upload a new file.

3. Hide Image URLs

As you probably know it’s very simple to upload images to WordPress and create image galleries. By default, whenever you upload an image to WordPress, it generates a URL for it. This could lead to potential security leaks or someone may copy the URL and force download your images without asking for permission.

There are multiple ways to hide image URLs in WordPress and of course, the easiest method is by installing a plugin.

Perhaps, the most complete WordPress plugin that could improve the security of your website is WP Hide & Security Enhancer. In another article, we have briefly explained how to hide the theme name in WordPress by using this plugin.

prevent website images from being copied

The WP Hide & Security Enhancer has over 50,000 active installations and not only it can hide your image URLs, but it is capable of hiding your WordPress core files like theme name, WP content, plugins, uploads, etc.

prevent website images from being copied

You can download this plugin directly from the official WordPress website. Once you have installed and activated the plugin, it will appear on the sidebar. Simply click on it to start configuring the plugin.

prevent website images from being copied

To prevent website images from being copied, simply click on the Uploads tab and type in anything in “New Uploads Path”. Keep in mind, this won’t replace the default image URL that WordPress generates. It only replaces the “Uploads” in the source code.

DMCA stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and it provides safe harbors from copyright infringement for online services. To get qualified for DMCA your website should allow users to post or share content on their servers and have to register an agent to receive notifications of claimed copyright infringement.

To add DMCA to WordPress and prevent website images from being copied, you could download and install the DMCA Protection Badge developed by the DMCA. This plugin is very easy to use, simply register, add a badge, block right clicks, and track your content.

prevent website images from being copied
prevent website images from being copied

After installing and activating the plugin, from Settings go to DMCA Badge and register an account. From the Badges tab, you can choose a DMCA badge that suits your website the best. Besides, in the settings tab, you have the option to choose whether you want to display badge as widgets or before & after posts.

The plugin is also available in the pro version, which allows you to prevent website images from being copied.

5. Disable Hotlinking

As you can probably tell, image hotlinking is a process when somebody uses your image URLs and embeds them on their website. So not only they use your image, they are using your website’s resources to show it.

So, what are the downsides of image hotlinking?

Well, first and foremost, it can negatively impact your website’s performance. Whenever someone visits a hot-linked image on a different website, it still loads it off of your server. That means they will be using your server’s bandwidth, without even visiting your website.

Also most of the time the image is not even credited. It’s illegal to reproduce your content without giving any credit and yet it is very hard to force people to take it down.

How can you tell if someone is image hotlinking?

In most cases, it is very hard to detect image hotlinking until you realize the performance of your website/server has been dramatically dropped. The best way to prevent website images from being copied and hot-linked in WordPress is by using a CDN such as a Cloudflare, that comes with the hotlink protection feature.

The easiest way to find out if someone’s hotlinking your images or not is by using Google Images. You can then enter a command that tells Google to look for your website’s images on other websites.

prevent website images from being copied

Simply replace “yourwebsite.com” in the code with your actual website’s URL.

inurl:yourwebsite.com – site:yourwebsite.com

This command looks for every image from your website and it can remove each entry that contains your website’s URL.

To prevent website images from being hot-linked, first, you need to download an FTP client like FileZilla. But before making any changes to WordPress core files, we recommend you to backup your WordPress website.

Once you have everything ready, find and open the .htaccess file. This is a hidden file that can be found in the public_html (root directory) of your website. Download it to your desktop and open it with any text editor and add the following code to it:

/* Prevent image hotlinking in WordPress */
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www.)?yourwebsite.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www.)?google.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www.)?facebook.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www.)?twitter.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www.)?other-websites-go-here.com [NC]
RewriteRule .(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ - [F]

This code can be customized and you can add additional lines of whitelisted websites. The last line of the code indicates the image formats you are preventing from getting hotlinked.

This is everything you need to do, to disable image hotlinking in WordPress.

6. Edit EXIF data

Every photo taken comes with its information integrated into the image file. This is known as EXIF data. This data tells you the camera settings and other useful information that you may find helpful when using or editing the image.

prevent website images from being copied

Exchangeable Image File Format or EXIF for short isn’t in every camera. However, usually, this data are:

Shutter speed, max aperture, ISO, white balance, metering mode, focal length, etc.

prevent website images from being copied

There are many websites you can use to edit the EXIF data of an image. However, the most user-friendly website that you can use and edit the EXIF data is Xifer. This website supports drag-and-drop. Simply drag the images you want to edit and drop them into the grayish box at the center of the screen.

Then simply click on eXif.me to edit the EXIF data of the chosen picture.

How to Take Actions Against the Infringer?

You can use the Google Image method mentioned above to find out if any of your images have been copied or not. If they are, you need to take immediate action and send them a notice and mention that they are illegally using the images of your website and they should take it down to avoid legal repercussions.

However, avoid using a lot of legal jargon or threaten the accuser. Always be polite as the person may not even know that the image is copyrighted. If they refuse to answer and decline your request, you can process to contact their hosting provider or consider using a takedown service that will handle everything for you.

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