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4 Ways to Prevent Image Theft in WordPress

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4 Ways to Prevent Image Theft in WordPress

Image theft is a common problem that photographers deal with on a regular basis. Recently one of our readers asked if there was a way to prevent image theft in WordPress. In this article, we will share 4 ways to prevent image theft in WordPress powered websites.

Prevent Image Theft

About Image Theft and Copyright

Copyright laws are universal and applicable around the world. The original creator automatically becomes the copyright owner of their creative work. Even if they don’t mention it on their website, one should still assume that the content they are viewing is protected by copyright.

This includes images, text, videos, or any other form of content that you see on the web.

The problem is that images and text can be easily copied. Many people think that no one would notice if they stole an image and used it on their own website.

It is not only illegal but also unethical to steal other people’s work. There are many places where you can easily find royalty free and public domain images.

While it is flattering to see other people use your work in their own projects, sometimes it can be very frustrating to see a blatant disregard for your rights.

There is no way to completely stop people from stealing your images, but there are plenty of ways to discourage and prevent image theft on a WordPress website.

Here are the 4 most common ways to protect your images in WordPress.

1. Disable Right Click

Stealing images from your website is easy because a user can simply right click and select ‘save image as’ to download them. You can disable right click on your website and make it more difficult for an average user to steal your image.

Here are two plugins that you can use to disable right click on images in WordPress.

Envira Gallery

Envira Gallery is the best WordPress gallery plugin in the market. Apart from helping you create beautiful image galleries, Envira comes with tons of other features as well. One of these features is image protection.

Simply go to Envira Gallery » Settings and click on the Addons tab. Scroll down to locate Protection Addon, and then install and activate it.

Image theft protection addon in Envira Gallery plugin for WordPress

Now create a new image gallery with Envira Gallery. If this is your first time, then take a look at how to easily create responsive image galleries in WordPress with Envira Gallery.

When creating your gallery, click on the Misc tab and scroll down to the bottom. You will find the option to enable image protection. Check this option and save your gallery.

Enabling image protection for a gallery with Envira Gallery

You can now add this image gallery anywhere on your WordPress site. It will automatically disable right click on images.

WP Content Copy Protection

This simple plugin is free and will disable right click on your WordPress site. The downside of using this plugin is that it disables right clicking on the whole page.

If you are using a slider or lightbox plugin, then sometimes this plugin will not work properly.

2. Use Watermark on Your WordPress Images

Watermarks seem to be working great for many stock photography websites. The obvious down side is that your photographs or images might not look the best.

However, you can add watermark tastefully. The goal is to keep the aesthetic appeal of your images while still discouraging people from stealing them.

Method 1: Using Envira Gallery

Again, we can’t stress enough that Envira is photographer’s best friend. It also comes with a Watermarking addon. You will need at least a silver license of Envira Gallery to use this addon.

Simply install and activate Envira Gallery plugin. Upon activation, you need to visit Envira Gallery » Settings and click on the addons tab. Locate Watermarking addon, and then install and activate it.

Now when creating a gallery or editing an existing gallery, you will notice the new watermarking tab in gallery settings.

Watermarking addon in Envira Gallery plugin for WordPress

Method 2: Using Easy Watermark Plugin

The other option is to use the Easy Watermark plugin. Simply install and activate the Easy Watermark plugin. Upon activation, go to Settings » Easy Watermark page to configure the plugin settings.

Settings page for Easy Watermark plugin

For detailed instructions take a look at our guide on how to automatically add watermark to images in WordPress.

3. Disable Hotlinking of Images in WordPress

Another common way to steal images from websites is by loading them from the original source. The image will load from your servers and will be displayed on third party websites without your permission.

This also increases your server load and bandwidth usage.

Here is how you can disable hotlinking of images from your WordPress site.

Simply add this code to the .htaccess file in your WordPress site’s root directory.

#disable hotlinking of images with forbidden or custom image option
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] 

Don’t forget to replace with your own domain name.

This code blocks hotlinking while still allowing images to be viewed in search results and on your website.

Can’t find the .htaccess file? Refer to our tutorial on how to find the .htaccess file in WordPress.

4. Add Copyright Notices on Your WordPress Site

Adding a copyright notice to your website can also discourage people from stealing images. You can simply add a copyright notice to your theme’s footer file in plain text or HTML like this:

<p>&copy; 2009-2016</p>

The downside of this is that you will have to edit this code each year. A better approach is to add a dynamic copyright notice in WordPress. Simply add this code to your theme’s functions.php file or a site-specific plugin.

function wpb_copyright() {
global $wpdb;
$copyright_dates = $wpdb->get_results("
YEAR(min(post_date_gmt)) AS firstdate,
YEAR(max(post_date_gmt)) AS lastdate
post_status = 'publish'
$output = '';
if($copyright_dates) {
$copyright = "&copy; " . $copyright_dates[0]->firstdate;
if($copyright_dates[0]->firstdate != $copyright_dates[0]->lastdate) {
$copyright .= '-' . $copyright_dates[0]->lastdate;
$output = $copyright;
return $output;

add_filter('widget_text', 'do_shortcode');

This code finds the date of the first post you published on your blog and the last date you published anything. After that it outputs a dynamic copyright notice.

You will need to add the shortcode [copyright] to any post, page or text widget on your site to display copyright notice. You can also use this code in your theme’s footer.

<?php echo wpb_copyright(); ?>

Copyright notice

We hope this article helped you protect your images and prevent image theft in WordPress. You may also want to see our guide on how to fix most common image issues in WordPress.

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Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  1. Bobby says:

    If I am not mistaken, someone can just just save any given page and there you go …. all images from that respective page will be downloaded into a folder from the browser function.

    Any thoughts?

  2. Juliette says:

    Hi and thanks for a great article!

    I have a question about the rewrite rule:

    !^http(s)?://(www\.)? [NC]

    For the line above, can I point to one base path if I am currently working in MAMP/localhost and plan on switching to a live server later?


  3. Carol Henrichs says:

    Still looking for a way to prevent access to the uploads area. When turning of lightbox in Envira, clicking on the image takes you directly to the image file and there is no protection.

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      It seems like Envira support team replied to your ticket there. Let us know if you need more help.

  4. Stef says:

    Thanks for the article. I’ve installed the “no right click” which is fine when people are on laptops/desktops, but it doesn’t seem to stop people from holding down on a photo on their smartphone and “saving image”….

    Any thoughts? Or tips?

  5. Catherine says:

    Thanks for the tips.
    Is there a way to select the copyright author? Some pic are from me, others from stock. I use to give the credit at the end of the post, but don’t like it because it’s a kind of stop from reading related articles, or commenting.
    I would love to have a tool who will sett the copyright into the pic. Not like a watermark, but as a text addition.
    Is there something like that available?

    PS: which plugin is that “Add your comment + notify me of… also subscribe without commenting”

  6. Pete says:

    I am correct in assuming the same methods apply to video as well? I have a lot of video on my site and it is branded, but I would be more concerned about the ‘theft’ of my bandwidth slowing my site down.
    I’m happy to have my content shared actually, but I don’t want that to result in a slow site when video is so demanding to start with.

  7. Rennie Joy says:

    Great tips for someone just starting out. Thank you!

  8. Olli says:

    You forgot something: dontate your pictures to the public by using a CC licence.
    It won’t hurt anyone and you don’t have to worry about something called “theft” (some my say “copying”).

  9. Susan Smith says:

    Would this prevent scrapers as well?

  10. FraNK UMEADI says:

    I have always being a victim of No 3 (Image hot linking). Recently a lot of tech bloggers started copying my posts at with the images being loaded from my server. This has caused slow loading and increased my used bandwith.

    Thanks so much for this guide! I will be implementing no 3 immediately.

  11. iostar says:

    What if on the website i have activated Jetpack Photon? Can image stealing be forbidden?

  12. Kate_H says:

    Great article.

    Being a keen amature photographer I am always concerned with showing my photos online but this article has given me a couple of ideas and I will definately check out


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