I intend to put my painting for sale on Kijiji or eBay. What can I do to
protect them from being downloaded and copied?
In this excerpt from
Answercast #54, I look at several ways to protect visual media online.
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The short answer is very little.
One of the things that computers are very, very good at is copying things.
When you put something up for sale on any site, you’re essentially (especially
when it’s a visual idea like an image or a photograph)… you’re basically
having to present a photograph that people can look at to understand what it is
they want to purchase.
Lesser quality image
What you can play with is making sure that the photograph that is shown is
of lesser quality than the one people would buy or that it has a watermark.
In other words, you put some kind of a logo or a name or something across it
that identifies you as the owner.
If you ever go to iStockPhoto, and take a look at some of the thumbnail
images, that are available for purchase at iStockPhoto.com, you’ll see that
they actually have a watermark across the entire image that identifies it as
being an iStockPhoto image. When you purchase the product, when you purchase
that stock photo, that watermark is, of course, not there.
Include your logo
I do something similar with the images that I use on Ask Leo!.
If you ever take a look at many of the screen captures that I include on my
website, I have in a corner an overlay that is the Ask Leo! logo with my URL.
If an image is stolen or copied from my site, at a minimum, it’s more likely to
act as an advertisement than anything else.
Another approach is to overlay a strict copyright message. On many of my
personal photographs that I upload to places like Flickr and so forth I have,
not a watermark, but an actual overlay that says, “Copyright such and such,
whatever year, Leo Notenboom.”
So those are the kinds of things you can do.
Copy prevention is unlikely
You cannot prevent things from being copied.
If you put something on a website, if you present or provide a picture that
can be displayed in the browser, it can be copied. There’s just simply no way
So the best you can do is to work with that system and to only
display and only provide images that basically work in your favor:
Lower quality, smaller sizes, lower resolution – that encourage people to
want the larger version that they would pay for;
Or put on something like a watermark – that people could remove once they
purchase your product.