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Imagine this scenario: you’ve spent hours researching, planning and writing an article to go on your website. You’ve even sourced an image or two to accompany your text. You proudly publish the new content, hoping your visitors will find it interesting.

Whilst browsing the web at a later date, you happen to see a copy of your article on someone else’s website. Having put in the hard work to produce the content yourself, it clearly isn’t right that this other website is using and benefitting from it without your permission.

Sadly, this is a situation that can happen in the online world. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help prevent it.

The Copyright Symbol (©)

Many instances of copyright theft occur simply because the culprit is unaware that the content is protected. These situations can help to be prevented by placing the copyright symbol in a clear, noticeable location that will remind viewers that they cannot use the content without the owner’s permission.

The power of JavaScript

A user’s ability to copy content from a website can be thwarted using JavaScript. For example, right-clicks can be ignored, and copy and pastes prevented from working. This technique is only effective against non-technical users; being a client-side script, JavaScript can easily be disabled/bypassed by those with technical expertise. Even if it is not the most effective strategy, JavaScript can at least help to prevent some thieves.

Watermark Images

Perhaps one of the most valuable techniques at preventing image theft is watermarking – i.e. placing a partially transparent logo or symbol over the image, enough to tarnish its appearance and effectiveness without blocking its content. Anyone that tries to take and use a copy of the image won’t be able to get rid of the watermark – and will instead have to contact the owner to obtain permission and a non-watermarked version.

A variation on this technique is to place an ‘invisible’ image over the top of an image (using the ‘Z-index’ CSS property) – should someone try to right-click on the main image in order to copy it, they’ll actually be clicking on the invisible image. Again, those with technical skills will be able to bypass this, but it will help against the average user.

Creative Commons License

Obtaining a ‘Creative Commons’ license is a great way to legally protect content. There are six different licenses available, each with different rules on how the general public can use the licensed content (for example, whether it can be used for commercial means). Obtaining the correct license will protect the owner’s content in the way that they want.

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