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software to protect photos on the web

Given the difficulty photographers face in protecting their photos from unauthorized use on the Internet I got the idea for a way to better control photos appearing on websites. I wrote some software that I think goes a long way in giving us control over our images on the web.

I won’t take everyone’s time by going into great detail here but the end result is that instead of giving out the .jpg file to the client, the client gets a snippet of html and javascript code that they paste into the web page in order to display the image. This code snippet loads a small flash program that checks the validity of the license profile created with the software and if everything checks out, the image is loaded. Since the image is contained in a Flash applet it can’t be ‘right-clicked’ and saved by website visitors and redistributed who knows where. Also the license profile can be activated and deactivated at will so if you have a client that doesn’t pay on time you can just deactivate the license profile and the image will stop displaying on their website.

I’m in the final stages of development so I’m here to ask if some of my fellow lightstalkers have some time to test the software before I release it into the wild. I hope this is a tool that people will find useful.

For a more detailed explanation of the software’s features please visit the website:

http://onibus.cafesilencio.net/

Any feedback would be most appreciated. If you want to participate in the beta testing just go to the website and click he link to create a new account.

Best Regards,
—seth

by Seth Bourget at 2008-03-18 15:22:38 UTC (ed. Mar 20 2008 ) Rio de Janeiro , Brazil | Bookmark | | Report spam→

images on the web will never be secure. even if you are able to use a flash applet and licencing system with your system everybody will still be able to make a screenshot, crop and use the image.

by [former member] | 18 Mar 2008 18:03 | Salzburg, Austria | | Report spam→
yup, i was gonna poit out the same thing – screenshot!

by Peter Klesken | 18 Mar 2008 20:03 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
You’re right martin, (and i miss your website)

You can also use a digital voice recorder to record music from web sites and save the recording as an mp3. But the quality will not be very good. While nothing is 100% secure on the Internet I think it makes sense to take steps to protect one’s assets. Most of the general public doesn’t know how to take a screenshot.

Putting up barries to unauthorized copying will reduce infringement.

There are levels of effort people are willing to go to in order to get the things they want. One of the reason the music industry failed with regard to mp3s is they didn’t make it easy for consumers to download and pay for digital music. Instead, it was far easier to get the mp3s from file sharing services.

Right now it’s very easy to get a photo from a web page, it’s just a right-click. But if you make the process of getting a hold of a picture inconvenient you reduce the number of people willing to go to the trouble.

There’s also the issue of intent if you were to get taken court for copyright infringement. If you had to take a screenshot and crop the image in order to use it on your website it would be hard to argue that the infringement was accidental and/or argue you didn’t know you were taking something that was protected by copyright. After all nobody is going to start by taking a screen shot, first they’re going to try and get the image the easy way.

It’s not impossible to break into a car, one can just break the window, but we still lock the doors.

—seth

by Seth Bourget | 18 Mar 2008 21:03 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | | Report spam→
I don’t think hitting the print screen button is so esoteric. Many people know how to do it, and more than likely anybody that’s needs to lift photos.

I personally would never use it. I think it will succeed more in driving traffic away from your site and resulting in lost customers than it will save you in lost revenue. Plus you kill the search engine optimization of your site by not allowing google to index your photos. Your wording is correct when you said it’s “putting up barriers”. Web surfers just aren’t patient enough to go through that kind of trouble to view photos.

I hope that doesn’t sound like an attack, I like what you’re trying to do, but I just don’t see it working.

by Tommy Huynh | 18 Mar 2008 22:03 (ed. Mar 19 2008) | San Antonio, United States | | Report spam→
Tommy, i don’t consider it an attack at all. Let me address the issues you brought up.

The print screen issue aside, because there’s nothing that I or anyone else as far as I know has found a way to prevent. If somebody is satisfied with the quality of a screen shot and they really want it they’ll get it, but they won’t get your original image. If johnny really wants the picture for his school report he’ll get a version of it with a screen shot. But I don’t think that’s the kind of thing photographers are really worried about. How many businesses will go to that extent to get a hold of a picture when it might be easier just to get a similar picture from somebody else? We all have our own opinion about that, who can say with any real accuracy.

The search engine optimization isn’t killed off. The flash applet is embedded with a link to your website and the text of the link contains key words you enter when setting up the license profile for that image. Google never “looks” at the websites it indexes, it reads the html code. So Google sees a link from your client’s website to yours and website visitors see your photo. So in effect, every time you use this system you have another link to your website from your client’s site.

In addition there’s no barriers in web surfers seeing the pictures on the web page just getting a hold of the original files. If you go the URL I posted before you’ll see a couple of images that are loaded with the system i created and I don’t think you’ll experience any barriers to you seeing the pictures in the browser.

When I said it’s “putting up barriers” those barriers are for people getting a hold of your .jpg not people seeing the pictures on a website.

Thank you for the feedback.

—seth

by Seth Bourget | 19 Mar 2008 02:03 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | | Report spam→
Hey Seth, how about if your applet broke up the images and displayed different sections at a high “scan” rate. That way it looks normal to the eye just like watching a CRT monitor or TV but if someone hits the PrtC button, they only get a broken up image?

By SEO, I mean allowing Google to cache and index the photos as thumbnail which it can’t do with your applet. I find ~ 30-40% of traffic to my site comes from searches in Google Images.

I can’t get any images to load on that site, I just see the spinning dial.

Cheers,
t

by Tommy Huynh | 19 Mar 2008 08:03 | San Antonio, United States | | Report spam→
Why not just make the image smaller? Personally for research I think any image is fair game but if you’re going to steal other people’s work and pass it off as your own then there is a problem. I would try to balance the 2.

Look at this for insight: http://flickr.com/photos/rebba/2243426607/

It deals first hand with the issue you’ve brought up.

by Jonathan JK Morris | 19 Mar 2008 10:03 | Swansea, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Tommy, the images show for me can you tell me if you see a white or yellow spinning dial? Or more specifically does the dial change from white to yellow? And what browser are you using. Thanks for your time.

by Seth Bourget | 19 Mar 2008 15:03 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | | Report spam→
Jonathan, you point out a very good case. A screen shot of this photographer’s image from flickr wouldn’t have the resolution or image quality needed to submit to a stock site but with flickr it’s very easy to get a hold of the original .jpg file. This is exactly the kind of thing my software addresses.

With my software you can’t get a hold of the original file. So the original image can’t be taken off or your own website and/or blog and if you license an image to a client the original image can’t be obtained by visitors to your client’s website either.

Tommy points out that he gets a lot of traffic to his site via the thumbnails being indexed by google. If this system works for him he should stick with it but if he wanted to exercise control over the images he licenses to others he could do so with the system i’ve developed.

My goal from the beginning was to create a tool that was flexible and powerful so that photographers could take some control over their images that they don’t currently have. I wouldn’t suggest it’s a one size fits all solution for every situation.

by Seth Bourget | 20 Mar 2008 02:03 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | | Report spam→
I see the white spinning dial, no yellow on IE6.

by Tommy Huynh | 20 Mar 2008 19:03 | San Antonio, United States | | Report spam→
thanks for the info tommy, i’m going to try and reproduce it in my testing environment.

by Seth Bourget | 20 Mar 2008 20:03 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | | Report spam→
Better Than Free

by Stupid Photographer | 20 Mar 2008 20:03 | Holy Smokes, Holy See | | Report spam→
Seth, I, too, get a lot of traffic through Google Images. It used to be more than 60 or 70 %. Lately the proportion has shifted toward Google Web. None of my images are in flash galleries. It appears that people who steal do so by accessing your image through Google Images.

Rather than protecting the images, I would be more interested in easily catching a thief without spending a lot of time manually clicking through Google Images to look for your images at somebody else`s website.

Robert Goodyn has a system of catching some through Google`s index of your name in the file info. However, I have found people can empty the file info (IPTC) and the stolen version of my image had an empty file info.

by Tomoko Yamamoto | 20 Mar 2008 22:03 | Baltimore, MD, United States | | Report spam→
Tommy, looks like IE6 wasn’t playing nice with one of my security features but It should be fixed now. Thanks for providing the info and calling my attention to this.

Tomoko, I’ve seen a couple of services that have computers who will scour the Internet looking for your pictures and then notify you when they find something. I don’t know how effective they are. It seems like a daunting task looking for lots of needles in the giant Internet haystack.

My initial concept with this software was for cases when photographers license their pictures to others for web use. Although it can also be used on one’s own website too. The software gives the photographer control over the image on their client’s website. You can indicate the image will only display to a certain date for example. Or the image can only display a specific number of times according to what ever agreement you come up with your client. So if for example you licensed an image to a company for use on their website for 6 months. My software will enforce that 6 month deadline and prevent the image from being displayed after that time.

Personally i’d rather prevent somebody from getting a hold of my .jpg rather than trying to catch up to the people who have gotten a hold of it. That seems like a never ending chase.

by Seth Bourget | 20 Mar 2008 23:03 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | | Report spam→

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Participants

Seth Bourget, Seth Bourget
Rio De Janeiro , Brazil
Peter Klesken, freestyle coffee drinker Peter Klesken
freestyle coffee drinker
Paris , France ( CDG )
Tommy Huynh, Travel & Corporate Photog Tommy Huynh
Travel & Corporate Photog
Houston , United States
Jonathan JK Morris, Photojournalist Jonathan JK Morris
Photojournalist
Swansea , United Kingdom
Stupid Photographer, Dazed, shocked, stupefied Stupid Photographer
Dazed, shocked, stupefied
(Stupid Photographers Agency)
Holy Smokes , Holy See
Tomoko Yamamoto, Multimedia Artist Tomoko Yamamoto
Multimedia Artist
Vienna , Austria ( VIE )


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