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Way to protect images on website so they can't be captured

Posted on 2014-03-26
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Last Modified: 2014-03-26
Want to display thumb-nail sized images of pages from my book on my website.  Is there a technology or software that would prevent images from being copied or screen captured?  In other words, to allow visitors to my site to view the images and not "Save As" or Screen Capture them.  My pages contain .jpeg, .pdf, and .png images.

An example of what I'm trying to achieve can be found at:

http://www.e-yearbook.com/
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Question by:clock1
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13 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:Gary
ID: 39956491
If its in the browser then there is nothing you can do to stop someone saving the image - they are already on the computer.
You could add a watermark to the images making them unreadable enough to make it worthless to save but still give enough information to let the user know what it is.
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Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39956557
I don't know of any way to stop Save Page As in all browsers on all platforms. And you can't stop screen capture, which can be done in many ways, such as the PrtScn key and the Snipping Tool. Last, but not least, today's digital cameras take a decent photo of the screen. Regards, Joe
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Accepted Solution

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Giovanni Heward earned 500 total points
ID: 39956588
While the aforementioned is completely true, there are some mitigation strategies you could deploy.

Step 1: Disable caching of images via meta tags/disable IE image toolbar [head section]

        <meta http-equiv="imagetoolbar" content="no">
        <meta http-equiv="cache-control" content="no-cache">
        <meta http-equiv="pragma" content="no-cache">
        <meta http-equiv="expires" content="Mon, 22 Jul 2002 11:12:01 GMT">
        <meta name="robots" content="none">
        <meta name="googlebot" content="noarchive">

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Step 2: Create a style that loads protected image as background [head section]

    <style>
    img {
    border:none;
    }
     
    #imgCheck {
    width:539px;
    height:1645px;
    background-image:url("/images/checks.gif"); background-repeat:no-repeat;
    border:2px outset #D8D8D8;
    background-color:#999999;
    }
    </style>

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Step 3: Use the follow script to disable the right-click context menu [body section]

        <script language=JavaScript>
        <!--
            var message="";
            function clickIE() {if (document.all) {(message);return false;}}
            function clickNS(e) {if
            (document.layers||(document.getElementById&&!document.all)) {
            if (e.which==2||e.which==3) {(message);return false;}}}
            if (document.layers)
            {document.captureEvents(Event.MOUSEDOWN);document.onmousedown=clickNS;}
            else{document.onmouseup=clickNS;document.oncontextmenu=clickIE;}
            document.oncontextmenu=new Function("return false")
        // -->
        </script>

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Step 4: Use the following image tag to match the CSS code... this will display the clear pixel over the entire "protected" image.  If someone right-clicks and saves the image, they will only save the 1x1 clear pixel and not the source image.

<img src="/images/clearpixel.gif" alt="Proof" width="539" height="1645" id="imgCheck" galleryimg="no">

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For extra measure all code above could be encoded to protect the actual image name/method from many end-users out there.

At the end of the day, all these methods are security through obscurity, and do not block anyone familiar with the techniques described by other experts (screen capture, etc.) and other bypass methods.
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Expert Comment

by:Gary
ID: 39956602
And all that does is cause a 30 second inconvenience to get around them
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LVL 52

Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 39956616
If I can see it, I can capture it.

Your question is not new.  If you have copyright material, you have to be able to defend it legally.   If you don't want it seen or potentially copied, then don't put it on the internet.
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:Giovanni Heward
ID: 39956627
And all that does is cause a 30 second inconvenience to get around them

I beg to differ, a simple Ctrl+PrtScn or Alt+PrtScn would capture the images in < 3 seconds. :-)

Hence...

At the end of the day, all these methods... do not block anyone familiar with the techniques described by other experts (screen capture, etc.) and other bypass methods.
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39956639
> If you don't want it seen or potentially copied, then don't put it on the internet.

Well-said and spot-on!
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LVL 58

Expert Comment

by:Gary
ID: 39956651
Firefox, Firebug - and your right click is worthless, your no cache is worthless, your clear image overlay is worthless, your background image is worthless. Don't need to do a screen capture, I can get the real image in seconds.
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Author Closing Comment

by:clock1
ID: 39956657
Giovanni -

Your points for going beyond stating the obvious.

If someone wants in bad enough, they'll find some way. Refuse to make it easy for them.
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39956670
The question was:
Is there a technology or software that would prevent images from being copied or screen captured?
Obvious or not, the answer is NO. Regards, Joe
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:Giovanni Heward
ID: 39956685
@clock1; at the end of the day the only real protection available is copyright law and your ability to enforce it.  Anyone could purchase your book, capture each page, and redistribute your work unlawfully.  Sure, there is DRM technologies which really amount to a deterrent control.  They are not preventative.

Thanks for the points!
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LVL 52

Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 39956708
>at the end of the day the only real protection available is copyright law and your ability to enforce it.

Thank you for restating http:#a39956616
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