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Protecting Images

Important Note: It is impossible to absolutely protect images on a Web page from copying. The right-click function can be disabled, but other methods can still be used to capture pictures without permission. Watermarks can be used to identify an image and make it difficult for a thief to use the image elsewhere, but a careful person with image editing software can often remove a watermark. We are recommending a combination of these two strategies to protect Web images. Just remember:

The only certain way to protect an image is to remove it from the Web.

Disabling Right-Click

Visitors to Web pages can normally copy images by right-clicking the picture. While we cannot completely protect an image from unauthorized copying, we can prevent copying by right-clicking.

A Javascript solution comes from Simply follow these simple steps to disable right-clicking anywhere on that page:

  1. Click the Show Code View (Show Code View button) button in Dreamweaver to see the HTML code for the page.
  2. Click the [View Code] button on this page to see the Javascript.
  3. Insert the Javascript in the <body> of the page to disable right-clicking.

This page uses the above script. Try right-clicking and see what happens!


Image with non-watermark text
Text before changing to a "watermark."

Watermarks are text or images superimposed across an image. Although they do nothing to prevent copying, they are difficult to remove and may therefore discourage unauthorized copies of your images. Even if a thief removes your watermark after stealing the image, there will probably be smudges or other traces of the work.

Regular text could be used, but it tends to intrude on the image, sometimes even blocking parts of the picture from view. A watermark, on the other hand, is somewhat transparent and allows the viewer to see the image. It is very easy to add a watermark to an image.

The following steps are for Fireworks 8, but they can easily be adapted for any version of Fireworks or Photoshop.

Text Opacity
  1. Open the image in Fireworks.
  2. Select the Text Tool (Text Tool), and write in your copyright statement.
  3. Look at the Layers Panel. Make sure that just the text layer is selected, and change the Opacity until the text is still visible, but it does not interfere with the viewing of the image. An Opacity of 15-25% often gives the best results.
  4. Use the Pointer Tool (Pointer Tool) to move the text to a prominent location on the image. Stay away from the edges, or a thief will be able to remove your watermark by cropping.
  5. With the text selected, adjust the text size, color, position, and opacity, until you are happy with the image.
  6. If you think the watermark would "fit" best at an angle, select the text and choose Modify > Transform > Free Transform. Move the cursor off the text, and you'll see it change to an arrow in a circle. Click and drag to rotate the text.
  7. Save the image as a PNG. This step is very important, because you may want to remove the watermark to use the image somewhere else, or to send it to a parent or other customer.
  8. Export the image as a GIF or JPG.

Marlo's photo with watermarks.Here's an example of a finished image. The image has a watermark across the subject's collar and chin, as well as a second watermark on the computer screen.

Hints for Using Watermarks

  1. Place the watermark where it is difficult to remove by cropping (not near the edges of the image).
  2. Rotate the watermark, if needed, to make it "fit" the image better.
  3. Adjusting the color and opacity of the text can help you achieve the effect you want.
  4. You can use more than one watermark on an image.
  5. Keep a PNG of the image, so that you can "turn off" the watermarks, in case you want to use the image for anything else!
  6. Watermarks can't absolutely prevent theft, but they can make it easier to show that the image was stolen from you, and they may deter theft by someone who doesn't have the skills to remove them.