Just as you’re careful with getting permission for images or not getting just any image on the internet, so too should you be careful with your own images. There exist certain laws surrounding image usage online and now following them can lead to legal issues. That’s why you yourself should also go the extra mile to prevent image theft in your WordPress website.
Because even though the laws have been laid out or you made it clear on your website that people need to ask for permission before “borrowing” your images, some bloggers simply don’t respect that boundary. Suffice to say, there’s no shortage of people on the internet who will take your images without asking or having any regard for the laws.
Pursuing them can be tedious too especially if they’re in another relatively inaccessible locale. So to save yourself the trouble, you’ll want to prevent image theft from your website with these extra steps.
1. Register your images for copyright
First thing’s first, you should know that certain images are only protected by copyright laws from Google or DMCA. It will cost a bit of money but it’s worth it especially if someone has already stolen some of your original images. Otherwise, you can skip this process if you’re confident that no one will steal the image or if no one has done that yet.
In any case, all it takes is a quick trip to the US copyright laws’ registration portal. Just visit the linked site and go through the fairly simple process of registering your image and you can finally rest assured that you can prevent image theft for those. You can even submit unpublished works especially if they’re precious. It’s a great resource for photography blogs or photographers in general.
2. Add a notice and statement
One of the simples things you can do to prevent image theft is to add a candid copyright policy or statement for your website. It can be a small yet effective copyright notice or that ©, your name or your website’s name, or the date the image was created. For full effect, including all three of those information is a reliable security blanket.
3. Add metadata
If the statement or notice doesn’t work, it’s time to get more strict with your images. To prevent image theft, many big news sites add or modify the metadata for their images so that it comes with its own embedded copyright data when someone else downloads it. It’s basically an in-your-face warning for any offender if they still decide to roll the dice with your images.
There are many ways to do this from setting up the EXIF (exchangeable image file format) metadata in your camera or at least knowing whether it’s on or not is usually it, adding it in post-production with tools such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, doing it manually on the PC or Mac, or using WordPress own image gallery or a special plugin for the protection.
Now, if your images are a lot more precious to be protected only by notice or metadata, a more drastic measure would be to put watermarks on them. It’s by far the most desperate measure in this list and can ruin a photo since you’re essentially putting your signature on it visibly on the surface but there’s no other more effective way to prevent image theft than this method.
Make sure to make an unpublished copy of the image as well– one with no watermark just in case. As for adding the watermark, there’s plenty of software that can do that for you. If you want something easy and less expensive than Adobe, WordPress has its own third-party plugin that will do the watermarking for you.
5. Protect your media folder
Sometimes thefts will not happen in the front-end but in the back-end of your WordPress blog. There are hackers that can infiltrate your own media gallery in WordPress and this is an area often overlooked by many security plugins, meaning they can then download and steal some images and claim it as their own.
Luckily, your images can have their own anti-hack protection. Certain gallery or media plugins from WordPress like the Envira Photo Gallery has their own password-protection feature for your media gallery. Sometimes even internal users are blocked from accessing your gallery with plugins like these, meaning no one can smuggle out your images.
6. Disable right-clicking on your website
Another simple trick to prevent image theft on your website would be to completely disable front-end right-clicking. Because in order to download and do other things to your images, people will have to right-click on their PCs or Macs in order to access the browser commands.
There is a no-right click plugin for WordPress that can deny your audience from right-clicking and using your images. You’ll find that many sites use this method too, however, it’s not always foolproof as they can still screenshot your image.
7. Disable Hotlinking
Hotlinking is the act of linking to another website’s original photo instead of outright stealing the photo to upload on their website. Despite appearing less serious as an image theft offense, it’s still illegal and immoral. You see, hotlinking places the load on your website’s servers since the other sites merely linked them; you’re basically paying money to host the image for someone else.
It’s an offense that’s treated seriously by all website owners and you should too. Thankfully, there are many methods to prevent hotlinking to your images, check them out.
If, by any chance that someone still stole your images (you can check by using Google image search), then know that you can file a DMCA takedown to let others know that you mean business and that freelancer respect should be earned.