Monday, August 1, 2005

Should you try to protect your images?


By David Gewirtz

A few weeks ago, we ran a number of letters-to-the-editor that were interesting, but didn't justify a full article. This week, we've got an interesting letter from reader David Jonah that brings up some thoughtful issues about whether it's a good idea to protect your images online.

David Jonah's question

I welcome your e-zine into my inbox each week. I scan it and read some of the articles and generally appreciate the work you do to save me moments of time staying current.

I thought of you today, Sunday, after having just gone through this week's Connected, when a client of mine running a small Web site for selling art for charity purposes called in a panic having discovered by accident that the 60 or so copies of paintings we have in an online store for them can be right clicked, then Copy function and pasted into Word. Once in Word, they can be resized to any size and rendered for printing -- without paying for the original artwork.

I did not have a ready answer. So I followed your e-zine back to the site, and checked your private page samples figuring that you would have figured this out and indeed you have. Rather than have some techie mine the code on your page, I am prepared to ask for your assistance in directing me to either the solution you employed or some form of payment to allow me to quickly put my artist client's fears to rest as they prepare to market more aggressively online.

I particularly liked and applauded the alt tag that comes up with the suggested referral link and price you have set for the image. I would most like to know how this is accomplished and I am willing to entertain some form of cost to be able to act on this quickly and effectively.

I enjoy all the ZATZ newsletters and magazines and hope that 2005 is a great year for your organization. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.

Our thoughts on this

David, you may be partially confusing us with another site or talking about one of the many sites we link to. Here at Connected Photographer, we don't sell any of our images nor do we right-click restrict them.

Here are some things you may want to be aware of, though:

  • It is exceptionally easy to bypass any right-click or Save As restrictions. We don't recommend trying to implement such a restriction.
  • Resizing a lower-resolution image up will create a very low-quality image. Yes, people could grab those lower-quality images, but they're really not gaining much value by having a muddy, low-quality image that they've resized up.
  • One of the best ways to restrict images is to do just that -- only show a lower-quality image. You can then sell higher quality images either directly off your Web site, or via download.