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How can we protect an image on our web site from being copied?

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closed as off topic by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, studiohack Nov 15 '11 at 4:27

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There is always Print Screen. – William Jackson Nov 15 '11 at 3:59
Does the fact that it is impossible make this a bad question? I think not... – H.B. Nov 15 '11 at 4:05
If a browser can load your website it can be copied. So no, you cannot. – Moab Nov 15 '11 at 4:24
Remove it from the web site. Otherwise, you have to let people copy it. It's not like there is any way that they can view the original. The purpose of a web server is to make copies of information and give them to people. – David Schwartz Nov 15 '11 at 4:49
Please note that the moment they visit your website, the image is already on their computer. The only thing that can be done is to embed the image in a Flash file to make it slightly harder to obtain, but then there's always still PrintScreen... – Tom Wijsman Nov 15 '11 at 9:29

There is no effective way to prevent someone from downloading a picture presented on a website. There are some methods to prevent the casual user from saving an image, such as disabling right-click or using a transparent overlay with CSS. But all methods are archaic and futile.

For example, here are some of the many ways I can save an image from the web:

  • PrintScreen
  • Firefox's 'PageInfo' feature
  • Temporary Internet Files
  • An Adobe Flash decompiler
  • Web developer tools, such as viewing the source
  • Disabling Javascript
  • 'Save page as' in a browser
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You cannot.

Everything that is being received can be captured in one way or another.

Capturing can occur at various levels leading to either lossless or lossy results, for example on a computer when dealing with data you could capture the bits that you receive from the server, from those bits you can reconstruct the image perfectly if you know its structure.

At a higher level you can for example try to capture the whole image file that you receive which requires no reconstruction but may not always be possible. On yet another level you can capture the representation of the image by capturing the screen, this usually leads to some loss of quality.

Another thing that comes to mind is simply remembering the picture and reproducing it in whatever medium.

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Neither can you stop the user from pulling out a camera and hitting the shutter button. . . – surfasb Nov 15 '11 at 10:58
@surfasb: I actually noted that in a comment before (which was deleted by an admin due to this post's history) – H.B. Nov 15 '11 at 15:57

You can make it difficult for novice users to copy images from your site using tools that disable right click, embedding images as backgrounds instead of inline, preventing direct access to images via server-side rules, etc. -- but ultimately there is no way to fully prevent someone from copying an image if they really want it.

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