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Photo Theft and Common Sense

Many people do not realize it is wrong to copy pictures from the Internet. With the number of 'new users' increasing daily, it is not uncommon for someone to 'borrow' an auction picture.

If you have been victimized by theft of an auction photo, we suggest you approach the issue in a practical, non-emotional manner. If the unauthorized use of your image will not affect the outcome of your own auction, investing time and effort to pursue the matter may not be worthwhile.

On the other hand, if you will sell an item which will be diminished by the presence of a copy of your photograph, the time to take action is well before the auction starts! here are a few suggestions:

  • Start with the understanding that nothing can protect your image once it becomes visible in an auction. All computers have a system function which captures the content of the display. Since a would-be thief can use this feature to 'take a picture' of your picture, you can do nothing to prevent the actual theft. What you can do is assert your ownership of the images in an obvious way so discourage casual theft and theft by those unaware of propriety.

  • Label or watermark your images as private property!
    NEW! Write your name on your photos

  • Assert your copyright restriction plainly within the auction.

  • Add a script, such as the one offered here, which will remind would-be copycats of your ownership.
Get the scripts
Six common methods of image theft.

YES = Will prevent image copy in most browsers.
NO = Will not prevent copying.

Method used to copy image ¹ NRC Script ² Copy-not Script ³Overlay (HTML) **Combination Scheme
Right Click and Save YES YES YES YES
Drag Image to Address Bar NO YES YES YES
Drag Image to Another Window or Desktop NO YES YES YES
Direct access to image URL NO NO NO YES
Copy Image from Cache NO NO NO YES
Screen Capture NO NO NO NO

¹ NRC (no right click) Scripts to disable the context menu are the most widely used form of image protection. Even though popular, these types of scripts are both ineffective and troublesome. If you have been caught up in the mistaken belief that this type of protection is effective, simply drag the 'protected' image on the right to your desk top or the browser's address bar to demonstrate otherwise.
PROS: Common and available.
CONS: Doesn't stop casual theft!
²Copy-Not Script The copy-not script (available free from this site) is designed especially for eBay sellers. The script is as compact as possible and requires no modification to be used in multiple auctions. This script will not interfere with other links and is passive if placed in a listing without images.

To illustrate, try to copy the image using right-click or drag 'n drop. Notice the script protects only the desired image and does not prevent other navigation on this page.

The 'Better Mouse Trap' script
PROS: Free and it Works!
CONS: Defeated by some browsers
³Image Overlay Method using HTML elements to protect is another effective and gentle way of frustrating would-be thieves. These methods rely on setting the background property of a table or division element to display the protected image while the top, accessible image is a simple transparent gif. When a viewer right clicks or drags the image to another location, only the transparent image is obtained.
The Great Cover Up script
PROS: Courteous but effective!.
CONS: Interferes with click to enlarge.

Get the scripts