Every year I get emails with questions on how someone should protect their precious images when they upload them to the internet. Every year I disappoint fellow photographers when I let them know there is no way they can protect their images from being downloaded… All they can do is ensure that the image that gets downloaded is too small for anyone to do anything with it. Today I’m going to pick on Instagram and show you just how unprotected your images are on one of the most popular social networks for photographers out there.
I’m sharing this information with you because so many photographers out there choose to bury their head in the sand when it comes to protecting their hard work. Also, I didn’t realize how freaking easy it was until I tried it on one of my own photographs. The only peace I get is knowing my images are copyrighted and I have a great attorney on retainer.
The first thing someone who wants to download your image does is to visit said image in their web browser (I’m using Mozilla for this example). Once there they simply right-click the image and select View Page Source (below).
Great, now that they clicked “view page source” you’d think they would have to spend hours searching for the proper path to illegally download your hard work. Nope! Too seconds and a half of a page scrolled down later…
I’m no computer programming wiz… I only know what I need to in order to keep this site looking pretty. So anyone with a desire to own your image can figure this stuff out in mere minutes. There are only a few steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Never upload full size images (I typically stick to 600×600 pixels).
- Always use a watermark (the page source doesn’t typically have your name in it).
- Simply don’t upload your image to the internet if you are worried about it getting stolen.
Copyrighting your work does not ensure someone won’t steal your work, but it certainly pays better than if you don’t (assuming you catch someone stealing your work). The best thing to do is assume someone is going to steal your work and protect it by never sharing the full size file.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.