How to Prevent Image Theft and Hotlinking in Wordpress?
How to Prevent Image Theft and Hotlinking in WordPress?

How to Prevent Image Theft and Hotlinking in WordPress?

When you copy or crop someone else’s image and use it on your website, without the permission of owner then this is referred to as Image Theft. If you are using the image on your client’s websites too then also it would fall in the category of Image Theft.

The same might happen with your website as well. Online Thieves can copy the pictures from your site and can use them for their commercial or personal purposes.

We know that it is very easy to steal any picture from any website. Just by simply taking any screenshot or right-clicking the image and saving on desktop will suffice to fall our image in the hands of online-thieves.

Well, you might have it at the back of your mind that no one would actually steal your images but it is more realistic to expect that it might get stolen.

If you want to protect your content then you must check out Top WordPress Content Protection Plugins.

How do I find stolen photos?

Before delving into the protection of images, let’s analyze different ways of finding stolen images. It is essential to know that not all infringers steal intentionally. While stealing images may seem reasonable to some people, we often see bloggers or image creators who have no idea of what they have done wrong.

In addition, many sites recruit third-party publishers and writers to write for them. Those writers write on those sites and the webmaster approves and publishes the articles as soon as they are written by the writers.

Often, the webmaster does not review the images but trusts his authors that they might have obtained them from a trusted source or the authors might be having the license to use those images.

Let us see that how we can find stolen photos:

1. Google Image Search

One of the easiest and most known ways to find the stolen images is by using Google Image Search. You can type anything and can see the images that Google shows to you. If your picture is found there then it means that picture is already used by someone. You can click on the image. It will redirect you to the website which is using that image.

Another one of the advanced image search technique is that you can upload your own image in Google image search and can check if that image is being used by someone or not.

Just click on the camera icon, as shown in below picture.

How to Find Stolen Images
How to Find Stolen Images

Google will ask you to paste any image url or to upload any existing image from your website. You can use any option and can find the stolen image references.

Prevent Image Theft in Google
Prevent Image Theft in Google

You can also enter your image name (with extension) in the search bar and can click to search its copies in google’s index. Many times the thieves’ just steal the images and they do not even care to change the name and extension of the stolen image. Such pictures can be easily found in Google Image Search.

2. Using Reverse Image Search

You can make use of any reverse image search engine such as TinEye. Similar to that of Google Image Search, you need to enter here the url of your photo or need to upload the one for which you want to find the stolen copies on web.

TinEye also provides browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari.

3. Using Ahrefs

Another way of finding the copied pictures is by using some tool such as Ahrefs.

How to Prevent Image Theft in WordPress?

There is really no way to prevent someone from stealing the images you use in your articles published in your wordpress blog, whosoever is really interested in stealing the images will do so. This does not mean that we cannot do anything to prevent our images from copy-paste. We can use some tactics to make things atleast difficult.

Here are 3 of the most common ways to protect your images in wordPress and some useful WordPress Image Protection Plugins:

I. Use a Watermark on your images in WordPress

Adding watermarks to images is necessary to prevent the theft of your photos and the likelihood of thieves attributing their authorship to themselves. This is especially true for artists, photographers, illustrators and designers.

If the image with a watermark is still stolen, it will become free advertising for you, because the watermark contains the name or logo of your site.

How to put a Watermark on Pictures in WordPress?
This is very easy to do with plugins. If you need this feature all the time, the plugin will make it easier for you to work with images. We have compiled free and paid WordPress Watermark Plugins.

Free WordPress Image Protection Plugins

(a) Image Watermark
This plugin will allow you to automatically apply watermarks to all the images in your wordpress blog. It watermarks the images which are already uploaded in your media library. It also bulk watermarks all the previously uploaded images on your site.

Plugin features also include:

• GD LIbrary and ImageMagic support.

• Ability to select the location for the watermark.

• The ability to download a custom watermark.

• Preview mode.

• The ability to select the type of posts with images to which watermarks will be applied.

• Setting the transparency of the watermark.

• Image quality setting.

• The possibility of using a reflected sign.

• Selection of one of 3 watermark sizes: original, custom or specified.

• Drag and drop image copy protection.

(b) Easy Watermark
This plugin will add watermarks automatically to images as soon as you upload them in your posts. You can also add the watermark manually to all the images at single go. If you want to watermark only some selected pictures then also you can do that.

You can add a watermark in the form of an picture, text or a combination of text and picture. The plugin uses 3 formats for watermarks in the form of images: JPG, PNG and GIF.

In the plugin, you can configure:

• Transparency of the mark.

• Fonts when creating a text watermark.

• Colour and size.

• Text rotation angle.

(c) Add Watermarks
The plugin adds watermarks to already uploaded images and also to the new ones that you will upload. Watermarks are added via PHP coding. This means that your images are not actually modified.

If you upload images from your cPanel then you might not be able to see watermarks on them. When you deactivate and uninstall the plug-in, all watermarks will be removed automatically.

Please note that this plugin requires PHP version of atleast 7.0. So, you need to first check with your web hosting company if it supports PHP7 or not. That is one of the reasons that you should host your blog on a good web hosting company such as Bluehost or A2Hosting.

Paid WordPress Plugins for Image Protection

(a) Fast Watermark Plugin for WordPress

With this plugin, you can add an unlimited number of watermarks to any number of images on your hosting using the “Custom images” option. This feature allows you to set up rules for tracking and processing images on your web hosting server.

The functions of this fast watermark plugin includes:

• Creating watermarks in the form of text or images.

• Setting different positions, size, rotation angle and transparency.

• Filters.

• Preview mode.

• The option “Batch Watermarking” – adds watermarks to images located in a specific directory.

• Caching system.

• Plugin optimized for high load.

(b) Pro Bulk Watermark Plugin for WordPress
With this plugin, you can add 2 types of watermarks – in the form of text or in the form of any photo.

For Photo Watermarks: You can select the image quality, size, alignment and transparency of the watermark.

For Text Watermarks: You can define text, size, colour and transparency of the text.

It is also possible to exclude images or entire folders from the process of adding watermarks. You can also add some margins to the watermarks.

(c) QR Watermark for WordPress
This QR Watermark is a unique type of plugin that adds a QR code and a linkback to your website for all your images. So, if some website copies your image then your image will show a barcode and a linkback to your site.

If someone reads your QR barcode then he can come to your website. That is, the plugin not only just prevents your images but at the same time, it also advertises your website.

So, this plugin is not only preventing image-theft but infact, also providing you free traffic.

II. Disable hotlinking to images in WordPress

Hotlinking is one of the common causes of resource leak for most websites; not to mention the fact that in technical terms, this is known as content-theft. Many hotlinkers simply do not understand what the main problem is.

The concept of hotlinking is very simple. You search for an image on the web and then use the link to that image on your website. This image is displayed on your site, but in fact, it is transmitted from the original location.

There are several WordPress plugins dedicated to hotlinking but many of them are not well supported or have negative user experiences. So we are mentioning only one plugin for Hotlink Prevention.

(a) Hotlink Protection
Instead of tattooing, or in addition to tattooing, you can try adding protection against hotlinking of your images.

Hotlink Protection prevents other sites from being able to insert your images directly into their articles and pages by using the URL of your image. Some sites directly link to images on your website and thus, they increase the usage and bandwidth of your server.

It’s a simple plugin that will prevent other sites from using your images insidiously, preventing your work from being easily reused elsewhere.

(b) Custom Code
Another way of preventing hotlinking is using custom code. Go to your cpanel and add below code in the .htaccess file.

#disable hotlinking of images
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)? [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)? [NC]
RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L] 

In the above code, please do not forget to replace with your own domain.

III. Disable the Right-mouse button on the Images

On some of the websites, you must have seen the prohibition of right mouse click. It is one of the image protection methods. Therefore, if you notice that your images are often getting stolen and you really think that this function should be on your site as well then you should implement it but with proper standards so that your users do not feel discomfort while surfing your website.

For disabling the right click of mouse, there are few plugins that can help you achieve that:

(a) WP Copy Content Protection
This is one of the best wordpress content and image protection plugins. Along with images, it protects your content too from being stolen by anyone. Also, the coding done is very much optimized and there is no extra javascript or jquery file that gets loaded.

Below are some of the features of this plugin:

• It disables the right click and thus, content-thief will not be able to download your images on his desktop.

• It helps in disabling Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+X, Ctrl+P and Ctrl+S etc. keyboard commands.

• It disables the mouse events too.

(b) RCD – Right Click Disabler:
You need to simply install this plugin and after activation, it will start working immediately. Now it will be difficult for attackers to view the page source. This plugin disables the right click and image selection.

By this time, you would have come to know that the theft of images on the internet is a real problem and is very complicated to counter because a motivated and experienced thief will, in any case, be able to recover your photos to use.

It must, therefore, be accepted that from the moment you decide to broadcast your work on the internet, you multiply the risks of it to be stolen. And the more we publish articles on our website, the more vulnerable our site becomes. But this is the game.

We cannot hope ourselves and our websites to be famous unless and until we do not expose ourselves to these kind of dishonest practices.

Let me know how you prevent image theft and what wordpress image protection plugins you use for your website?

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