Saturday, October 04, 2008

A Note About Watermarks

By Leigh

Thank you to everyone who responded to my question in this post about the watermark on my photo. Personally, I don't like them. I find them annoyingly distracting, so it was interesting to me that some of you never really noticed it.

I had an interesting chat with Dorothy about that photo, and she showed me how easy it is to obliterate a watermark from a photo. Mine was fairly small, but with some skill and a clone tool, even a large one could be removed. As she said in the comments, "(The) best way to protect pictures is keep them off the internet." However, that would defeat the purpose of a fiber and textile blog!

If I had my own website I might be concerned about another type of photo theft called "hotlinking" or "inline linking." This is when someone steals a photo by linking directly to it's original location from their website. The image shows up on their site, but it uses the bandwidth of the original website (bandwidth theft), which is paid for by the owner of the photo! You can read more about this here. Any sort of watermark would be helpful in this case, as the photo is never tampered with by the thief.

My personal experience however has been having entire posts (including photos) taken by a scraping website (post about my experience here.) Posts and photos from dozens of other blogs had been stolen and reposted there too, some with copyright notices and watermarks still intact. Unfortunately scraping is very common. It is also somewhat indiscriminate, as it is based on keywords rather than actual content.

Because scrapers essentially just copy and paste entire posts and articles, these are rarely edited to disguise the actual author. For that reason I've taken measures to not only let readers know that my posts are copyrighted, but to always include links back to myself so they know where the posts came from. For this same reason I plan to leave a small, unobtrusive watermark on my pix. If the post is scraped, then the watermarks will be another clue back to me. If someone really wants to steal individual photos they will crop out, or clone over the watermark regardless of its size or prominence.

There are no real answers to this type of problem. I want to take measures, but one thing I don't want to do is to have so many security checks as to take the joy out of blogging!

So there you have it. I appreciate everyone's honest feedback. You all are the best!

Posted 4 Oct. 2008 at

Related Posts:
Stolen Content
Update on Stolen Content (& a little more info)


Dorothy said...

There's a good point - hadn't thought of the watermark acting as a lead back to your blog.

I might look at my own blog again in the light of your use of links, something to think about anyway.

Woolly Bits said...

Leigh, I agree with you on the point that putting too many safety measures on destroys the fun of blogging. I know it's frustrating when theft takes place, but before I start to work on my things for ages to make them more secure - I'd rather stop blogging altogether!

Anonymous said...

Leigh, I've had more than my share of content theft, either from scrapers, hotlinking, and just plain old taking. I've got all of my photos watermarked, and will always do so.
Recently, when I contacted someone hotlinking to one of my photoblogs, he stated the same thing about not posting things on the internet. I took his point, and removed all those sites. It's sad, but a true statement to lack of conscience for those content thieves out there.
Oh, and having a link back to your own site in the content DOES work. :)

Leigh said...

When I first discovered that I had stolen content, I tried to contact others whose content was also on the splog. The main deterrent was not having a clue as to who they were or how to find them. That was what prompted me to link back to myself in several different ways. There was one person whom I was able to contact, but only because he had put his name and copyright on all his photos. By googling his name, I found his website and contact info.

Dave, I think photo blogs and websites suffer the most. I figure that most of my photos are context relevant, which makes them less desirable to steal. Still, every little bit helps.