How Can I Stop People Stealing My Photos?

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Using images without permission is theft.  Here's what you can do to make it harder for people to steal your eBay images, and what do to if you find they have been stolen.

Unfortunately there is no guaranteed way to stop image theft.  That's because you cannot stop a person from downloading your images - this is how the Web works.  When someone displays your auction page on their browser, all the html and every graphic has already been downloaded and stored on their computer.  When this person copies and pastes the image, they are simply copying it from one part of their computer to another.  In short, they already have the image, even if they don't realise it!

Some ways of discouraging image theft include:

  • no right click scripts (not recommended)
  • watermarking images
  • cloaking
  • reporting to eBay to get the copied listing removed

No Right Click

A common way of saving an image to the location of your choice is to right click on it, and chose "save as" from the pop-up menu.  Turning off right click makes it difficult to do that.  This can be done using javascript, and there are many different scripts freely available on the Web that you can insert into your listing to do the job.

Unfortunately there are problems with this.  No Right Click scripts don't work on all browsers, javascript can be switched off, and there are many other workarounds.  While it may deter a novice user, it will not stop the determined thief.

Another issue is that right click is used for more than just "save as".  Many Internet users chose right click for navigation - it allows you to open a link in a new window - and may be mildly or even very annoyed if your auction prevents them from browsing the way they like.  They will hit the back button on their browser faster than you can say "no right click"

A third eBay-specific reason not to use no right click is that it can cause site interference.  This is when the html in the listing description changes the appearance or function of parts of the page outside the description area.  A No Right Click Script that works outside the description area is guilty of site interference.  This is an offence on eBay, and can get your listing pulled.

If you are using the Sell Your Item form, or Turbo Lister, you will find that no right click scripts usually get deleted when you shift from html entry to preview mode - take this as a sign that you shouldn't be using it!

Some folk argue that the protection you get from No Right Click is better than nothing.  So if you must use it, then make sure you can confine the effect to your images.

Watermarking Images

A watermark is a ghostly image of a name or symbol added to an existing image which usually identifies the owner, and makes it clear when an image is being used without permission.  This is a good method because it protects the actual image, not just the way someone accesses it.

There are several ways of watermarking your images:

Using image software such as Photoshop LE (available on free download from the Web) to add your watermark.

eBay Picture Manager also has a facility to watermark your images with your user ID.

External software is also available.  Try searching for "watermark downloads" on the Web to find some.  Some programs are free, some are shareware and others are pay products.  Some will allows you to watermark a batch of images in one go making the process a lot faster than editing images one by one.

Image 'Cloaking'

A lesser-known trick that I recently heard of is to "cloak" images behind a transparent gif file. You need to have some knowledge of html to place the original image on the page as the background in a table or other html division, then put a transparent GIF image the same size over the top. When users right-click the image to save it, they will save the uppermost image, which is the transparent GIF, and end up with nothing.

There are several explanations of ways to do this on the Web, but I'm not allowed to link to them here.

And if they do get stolen...

Report it to eBay using the Web form.

You will need to be logged in.

Chose Selling and Fees, and click Continue.

On the next page select Photo isssues, and Someone is using your photo without your permission. from the drop down lists, and click Continue.

Click on the link to E-mail us.

Enter the item numbers of the copied listing and your original listing.

eBay will usually remove the offending listing within 24 hours or so.

eBay's policy on content and picture theft is quite clear, copying is not allowed and repeated violations of the policy will get the user suspended.

That's all folks!

If you have any comments or suggestions about my Guide, feel free to contact me via eBay.

If you like my Guide, then please rate it with a YES, so other people have a chance to see it too.

Happy eBaying!

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