About image theft

As we all know too well, no matter how we try to protect our images from theft, all someone has to do is right-click to veiw the source and the door is open. I get it. That said, I have this question:

I just tried to move the entire image folder of one of my websites onto my desktop and try as I might, I could not do so. This reality then begs the question: If the folder is secure why are its contents not?

Is someone could shed some light on this I would be most appreciative.


How were you trying to do that? And in what sense didn’t it work? Do you mean that you were trying to serve your website images from your local computer?


Thanks for your post.

How were you trying to do that?
I tried to click and drag the folder. That worked for the images, but not their folder.

Sorry for the confusion. My question is that if the image folder of one of my websites is seemingly secure from being dragged onto my desktop, why are the images within the same foider vulnerable to the same drag-and-drop method?

How are you accessing the folder to even be able to try to drag it in the first place?

All web visitors see is the individual images in the page (or out of the page if they enter the image address into their address bar.

You can have the folder set up so that they can’t view all the images at once from a folder view (by either setting it to be forbidden or by redirecting to a web page if they try. You can set up the individual images so they can only be accessed by your web site and can’t be remote loaded into pages on other sites. You can’t prevent the images being displayed in a page on your site from being down;loaded by your visitors as their browser downloads the images before it can display the page so by the time they see the images they already have a copy.

Presumably you’re talking about doing this with an FTP client? Sometimes folders can have permission issues. For example, I’ve had trouble deleting folders on the server. A simple action via the command line can fix that, so perhaps it’s something similar?

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Thank you for your post.

To access the images on my - or any site for that matter, is to Control-click (for a Mac) on the webpage. This brings up a pane with the 'Show Page Source ’ selection as follows:

Selecting ‘Show Page Source’ bring up the following partial webpage view:

And from this page view the images are all exposed and can readily be dragged-and-dropped to the desktop. However, the image folder cannot be moved at all.

Thanks again for your post.


I am not using a FTP client. I am just Control-clicking on the page as described above.



Sorry, I should have linked you to the website I am testing with. Here it is:



Ah, I see. That’s not something I’m used to. I don’t even think dragging images like that works in my browser (Chrome). Anyhow, I’m glad browsers don’t allow that kind of thing! It would only encourage more grabbing of others’ content. :slight_smile:


Thanks for your comments. I use Safari most of the time.

If you think this subject is inappropriate you are free to kill it. I have no problem with this at all. The last thing I want to do is promote image theft from a websites.


No, not at all. I just wasn’t sure what you were referring to initially. It’s important to talk about these things. :slight_smile:

I think the difference is because of what the browser can download. That is, it can download image files, but it can not download a folder.

If you drag a JavaScript or CSS file does it work? (i.e. another “asset”)


I tried dragging all the folders and they are all bolted in place. Too bad there is not a way to do the same to their contents. That could possibly stop all image theft that uses this method. I you try to drag images from my website you should not be able to do so. However, going in the backdoor, so to speak, voids all of the surface protection.

Thanks for your comments.

Not really. By the time the person sees the page their browser has already downloaded all the files it uses. Even if the browser didn’t allow access you could still go into the computer cache and copy all the files for the page from there. Even easier is to just select the save option from the browser file menu to save copies of all the files that make up the page from the cache to where ever you specify.

The files get downloaded to be displayed as part of the page - the folders don’t get downloaded.


Thanks for your comments.

It is probably best to just realize that image theft is something we truly cannot prevent no matter what we do. This is apparently an unfortunate fact of web technology as it exists today. Hopefully, the future will provide us new tools which will safeguard all of our web assets.

Thanks to all who contributed to this thread.

The other aspect of this is that if you created the image then you own the copyright on it and can take legal action against anyone who steals a copy.

You can also apply watermarks to images to make it easier to identify that they belong to you - there are both visual watermarks and digital ones that can be applied.

Also by compressing the image file as far as possible you not only make the image faster to load but you make it impractical for the thief to use anywhere other than on the web as the resolution will be too low for other use.

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I know of an artist who makes $2,000 a month from people who have been illegally using her works! Her agent writes and threatens legal action and usually they pay up.


Thanks for your post.

I perked up when your mentioned digital watermarking. I think I had heard of that in the past but simply forgot about it. Visual watermarking is fine, but it’s ugly. Several years ago when I had an on-line greeting card business, some woman tore me a new one over my digital watermarking. Because of her I removed all of them just to please her.

I have just bookmarked the DIGIMARC website and will be anxious to learn more. I’m probably dreaming when I hope that digital watermarking will ping me when someone grabs one of my images. Wouldn’t that be great?

As we all know it is probably next to impossible to detemine who has ripped off one of your images. What we really need is a way to embed a GPS snippet in our on-line media. Dreaming again, I know.

And yes, I have recently been downsizing my images as well.

Thanks again.


Thanks for your post.

I would love to have this lady’s website link. While I do not have an agent I would still like to learn more. Who needs to win the lotto when you have a good agent?

That said, she was probably fortunate to learn who had ripped her off. Unless my head is in the sand, how could anyone ever find out that their work had been stolen?

Thanks again.

Heads up everyone!

Found these two digital watermarking schemes that may hold some promise.