How to Prevent Your Website from Image Theft

product photos
 a product photo

In this digital era, nowadays everyone can copy and download images, videos, software from the Internet to their computers. And it is easy to duplicate or replicate the files from one version to many clones. Users can simply copy and paste to achieve the task.

People can steal your images from your website and social media accounts very easily. Some will use them for personal purposes, but unfortunately, many others will use the photos for commercial purposes. Many online stores are complaining that their product images were stolen and used by other shops. You have invested your time and money in the photos and now they are being used by others without your permission.

How people steal images from the web

  1. It is very easy for people to download or save images from the web to their computers and drives. They can simply right-click on the image they want, and they can choose “Save images as…” and the image will be downloaded to their computers. 
  2. Some people will use the web browser to download all the web page. And in the downloaded folders, there will be your photos. They can choose “Save page as…” to do so. 
  3. Many stock photos are now shared on illegal websites and hosting. Users can go there and download them. 
image theft
image theft

How you will be affected if someone steals the assets

  1. First, you will be very angry about that. You invested time and money to take the pictures and bring them to the world. 
  2. If you are selling your products online, your competitors and other online stores will use them for their websites. Customers will be confused because of the same product photos in many stores. Your brand and business will be affected a lot. 
  3. If they are scamming people to get the money, customers will lose their trust and no longer believe in the stores that have the same product photos. 

How to prevent your website from image theft

  1. Disable right-click option on your website. The Right-click option is the simplest way to download and save images from computers and drives. So if you disable this feature, users will find it hard to save your photos. Many CMS platforms are providing their users with many useful tools to disable the option. If you are using WordPress, Shopify, or BigCommerce, many plugins help you do that. You can search in the WordPress plugin store and find some good ones. If you are running custom made websites, you can hire developers to help you do that. 
  2. Adding a copyright notice and the usage permission related to your images. Add an announcement about the permission of your photos will be a good thing to notify your users. If you specify the rights and the limitations of your image usage, they will not dare to steal your images and use them for their purposes.
  3. Watermark your photos. This is a useful way to protect your photos. When they see your watermark and brands, if they save and download, they cannot use them for their websites. Moreover, watermarks are good ways to promote your website and products. There is much software that helps you watermark your photos. Several applications help you add watermark to each photo separately. Other applications help you watermark batches of photos at the same time. 
  4. Never share high-resolution quality images. It is a useful way to protect your photos. Users can only download your compressed versions of your images. And of course, the qualities are not good enough as the original versions. When you own your originals, you still have the right to control what you have.
  5. Add a DMCA notification to your website. This is another way to show your visitors that your website, content, and photos are protected by DMCA. This will discourage thieves from trying to steal your images. 
  6. If you are a photographer and planning to submit your photos to photography websites, you should read carefully the instructions, licenses and what they would do with your images. Do the websites allow users to download your photos for free or low-resolution photos?

In general, it is easier and easier for people to download and save images from the Internet nowadays. But to ensure that your photos will be protected and not be downloaded illegally, you should combine all the above-mentioned ways we suggested in the article.

Should I Watermark My Etsy Photos?

If you are wondering whether you should watermark your Etsy photos or not, you have come to the right place. 

In this digital era, content theft is not a new thing. A lot of commercial software and ebooks are offered for free on illegal websites. Many Etsy sellers often complain about product image theft. They said that other sellers stole their image listings and the descriptions to use for their shops. 

Here are some examples:

ThePepperBug wrote about their experiences about product photo theft in 2017. 

Etsy seller Pepper_Bug
Etsy seller Pepper_Bug

This is the original thread.

https://community.etsy.com/t5/Managing-Your-Shop/Sellers-who-steal-your-images-Grrrrr/td-p/14330479

Another thread started by SticksnStonesWrkshp in 2018

Etsy Seller felt bad about image theft
Etsy Seller felt bad about image theft

https://community.etsy.com/t5/Creative-Process/Someone-is-stealing-my-images-and-descriptions/td-p/18145524

TheFortuneCat expressed her bad feelings when someone stole and used her images for months. 

https://community.etsy.com/t5/Creative-Process/Stolen-photographs-Suggestions/td-p/8288930

FortuneCat expressed her bad feelings when someone stole her product images.
FortuneCat expressed her bad feelings when someone stole her product images.

As you can see, many sellers are bold enough to steal your product images and use them for their stores. DestinationLtd expressed her bad experiences when she can’t prevent other shops from using her images without permission. Some shops will use your images for their shops. Other shops will use them to scam customers. They receive orders and the money from buyers but they don’t send items to them. They don’t do business at all and only want to steal money from the customers

Unfortunately, the situation happens very often. 

How can you be affected when someone uses your images?

  1. Because some shops will use your images and the bad result is that buyers cannot know who is the real creators and owners of your product images. They will doubt and suspect the product and your business. This also confuses buyers when they search for your products and they can buy from your competitors, not you. 
  2. As a result, your sales and your business will be affected. People will avoid buying from you and they will not use your products and recommend your business to other people. Your business will decline.

What to do when someone stole your product images

  1. You should contact the shops that stole your images first and told them to remove the photos. Many shops that stole your images will not respond and do what they ask them. But this is what you have to do. You have to protect your assets and business and that is your rights.
  2. You need to contact Etsy’s support and report this situation. Etsy provides you with many supporting channels. 

     3. You can also visit the Etsy community to report the situation. Here is the link: https://community.etsy.com/ Many sellers will help you and share their experiences with you. Another thing is that you can visit the community and read threads about the situation. You can improve your knowledge and know what to do when you are in the same situation.

    4. You can file a DMCA for the things they did with your store and business. 

Etsy may deactivate the links of the shops that stole your images. But many people can still open other shops and use your images again. If you have read some threads on the Etsy community, you can see that that situation is possible. 

Should you watermark your photos on Etsy?

Many Etsy sellers recommend that you should watermark your photos to protect your efforts and business. If you are in the same situation, it is better to protect yourself and your business first. Preventing your images from theft is better than finding solutions to deal with someone who stole your assets. So in general, you should watermark your photos. 

When you watermark your photos and add text or logo to your assets, other shops will hesitate to steal your images because they cannot use them for their stores. 

You can use your logo as a watermark and buyers will know exactly that those images are yours. Watermark is also considered a marketing tool. The more people see your images, the more they will know your brand. 

If you are worried about the quality of the images or SEO when you watermark your photos, it is not necessary. Many watermark software will help you add watermark to your photos easily and quickly without losing quality. The software will also provide you with tools to help you change and make the watermark look good with your photos. You can change the colors, the position, the opacity of the watermarks. And you can do many other things with your watermark.

What about SEO? Do you think that when you watermark photos, Google and other search engines will not index your images and your stores? The answer is no. You don’t need to worry about that. Forget SEO tricks and only focus on your products and services. When you serve your visitors well, Google will serve you well. 

What does it mean? It means that you create high-quality products and images, Google still indexes your stores and images. Why? The reason is that Google only cares about the quality and value of your business. Google doesn’t care about what SEO tricks you use or you watermark your photos. 

The more advanced web technologies are, the more sophisticated the Google search engine is. The machine learning algorithms behind Google will know that your images and products are good or not. The algorithms will know that your business is worth to be featured or not. 

So you don’t need to worry about SEO rankings when it comes to watermarking your product photos. What you need to care about are your business and your products.