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4 Ways to Prevent Image Theft in WordPress

Are you looking for a way to prevent image theft in WordPress?

Image theft is a common problem that photographers deal with on a regular basis. It’s very easy for anyone to copy images and text on the internet. That’s why it’s important to protect your original work.

In this article, we will share 4 ways to prevent image theft in WordPress websites.

Simple ways to prevent image theft in WordPress

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 WordPress website, one should still assume that the content they are viewing is protected by copyright. This includes images, text, videos, logos, 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 and how you can check if your image is stolen:

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-clicking 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 » Addons from your WordPress admin panel. Next, navigate to the ‘Protection’ addon and then install and activate it.

Install the protection addon

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 Image Protection Settings. You will find the option to Enable Image Protection. Go ahead and check this option and save your gallery.

Enable image protection option

There is also an option to enable a popup alert that will appear when a user attempts to copy the image.

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

Disable Right Click For WP

Disable Right Click For WP is a free WordPress plugin that allows you to disable right-click on your WordPress site.

The plugin works out of the box, and it will disable right-clicking on your entire website. There are no additional settings to configure or change.

However, there is an option to show a message when a user tries to right-click an image. Simply go to Settings » Disable Right Click For WP from your WordPress dashboard and enable the ‘Show messages on Disable Events’ option.

Disable right click in WP

Don’t forget to click the ‘Save Settings’ button when you’re done.

2. Use Watermark on Your WordPress Images

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

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

Envira Gallery comes with a Watermarking addon. You will need at least a Plus license of Envira Gallery to use this addon.

Simply install and activate the Envira Gallery plugin. For more details, please see our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit Envira Gallery » Addons from your WordPress dashboard and then navigate to the Watermarking addon. Next, go ahead and install and activate the addon.

Watermarking addon

When creating a gallery or editing an existing gallery, you will notice the new ‘Watermarking’ tab in gallery settings.

You can click the checkbox for the ‘Enabled Watermarking’ option and more options will appear. Next, upload a watermark for your images, select its position, margin, and choose whether to apply the watermark to existing images.

Watermarking settings

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 the 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\.)?wpbeginner.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?google.com [NC]
RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L]

Don’t forget to replace wpbeginner.com 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.

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>© 2009-2016 WPbeginner.com</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("
SELECT
YEAR(min(post_date_gmt)) AS firstdate,
YEAR(max(post_date_gmt)) AS lastdate
FROM
$wpdb->posts
WHERE
post_status = 'publish'
");
$output = '';
if($copyright_dates) {
$copyright = "© " . $copyright_dates[0]->firstdate;
if($copyright_dates[0]->firstdate != $copyright_dates[0]->lastdate) {
$copyright .= '-' . $copyright_dates[0]->lastdate;
}
$output = $copyright;
}
return $output;
}
 
add_shortcode('copyright','wpb_copyright');
add_filter('widget_text', 'do_shortcode');

If you need help adding code, then follow our step-by-step guide on how to easily add custom code in WordPress.

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 a copyright notice. You can also use this code in your theme’s footer.

<?php echo wpb_copyright(); ?>
Copyright notice in theme footer

Now, if you’re not sure whether your pictures are stolen, then here’s how you can find out.

How to Check if a Photo is Stolen

The easiest way to see if a picture is stolen is by using Google Images. There are many other premium tools that you can use, but Google is free to use and quickly shows if someone else is using your images.

To start, simply visit the Google Images website and then click the camera icon.

Google images search

After that, Google will give you 2 options to search for an image.

You can upload your image or paste the image URL into Google Images.

Upload or paste image URL

Google will now show details about the image, possible related searches, and some visually similar images.

However, if you scroll down, you’ll see the ‘Pages that include matching images’ section. This is where you can see any website that might be using your photo without your consent.

Pages that include matching images

Once you’ve figured out who has stolen your images, you can reach out to them and request them to give you proper mention of your work. You can also contact Google directly and submit a takedown 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 and beginner’s guide to image SEO – optimize images for search engines.

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Reader Interactions

35 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Stopping the “right click” only stops people that don’t know what they are doing, anyone scraping images will be still able to pull images.
    to test this open your browser, press ‘F12’ then load any site, in the Network tab you will see all the images and content that your browser has downloaded to display the page, you can just save anything you like from there.

    • You are correct and we do state in the article that there is no way to completely stop people from stealing your images, but these are options for those trying to add some level of prevention.

      Admin

  2. Hi, if someone were to put it in the browser, is there a way to keep the wp-content/uploads URL from displaying a listing of all your photos, mp3’s, ect?

    Thanks!

  3. Somehow, even after following everything and editing the .htaccess file, the images can still be hotlinked :s don’t know why

  4. I love WP Beginner a lot! can’t say how many times it helps me, thanky you team for your fantastic and funtastic job for us.

  5. Thanks a lot .Even the code supplied on inmotion hosting was wrong.They redirected me to this page.Thanks a lot wpbeginner

  6. Hi I would like to how to actibate the same in the mobile version of the site. I am able to disble rightclick on the pc site view but am able to download it on mobile

  7. Many big companies (like Apple or even you WPBeginner) don’t use image hotlink protection.
    Is this method bad for SEO?

    Also you allowed in your .htaccess code only google.com but Google have websites with many extensions, how can I include them all?

  8. Hello.
    i wont my images crawl by search engine. but not hotlink by other website.
    if i disable hotlinking using htaccces. then does search engine will crawl my images or not?

  9. Overall, good article.
    You can still go to restricted images by using the direct URL:

    example.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/ImageName.jpg

    Any thoughts how it can be restricted?

  10. 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?

  11. Hi and thanks for a great article!

    I have a question about the rewrite rule:

    !^http(s)?://(www\.)?wpbeginner.com [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?

    Thanks!

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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”

  15. 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.
    Thanks!

  16. 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”).

  17. 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.

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