9 Replies Latest reply: Jan 15, 2013 12:21 PM by d60Dave
d60Dave Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)



I regularly shoot equestrian events, show jumping etc and I'm sick of seeing so many of my pictures (and those of other photographers) screen grabbed and used on Facebook and other sites.


I use a bold watermark with my name and the year diagonally across the middle ie "(c) Dave Gaskell 2013" but people don't care. It's just so easy to take a screen shot and upload it to Facebook that so many people don't give the morals of doing so a second thought.


I challenged one Facebook thief after spotting almost fifty of my pictures from 2012 on her page without a single purchase (ever) and she said "Well it's free advertising for you." To which I replied "The only thing it advertises and encourages is other people to do the same!"


For 2013 I'm going to add the text "Duplication of this image is theft" to the watermark. Afterall who wants to see pictures with the word "theft" on their Facebook page?


I'm also experimenting with a moving obscurer such that part of the picture is always covered as demonstrated here, www.davegaskellpictures.com/.. ./

This way people can see all parts of the picture but only ever three quarters at any one time and that's all they'll get if they take a screen shot. Ok, so they could take two screen shots and merge them but it puts a time consuming obstacle in their way.


In the examples in the above link I've created them by producing a gif animation file of four frames and it took some time. My website provider has agreed to letting me upload an animation gif of just the black rectangle moving round and this will be overlayed onto my event pictures. I've run the idea past a few of my regular trusted customers and they mostly think it's a good idea and are happy to see it used, after all they're the ones who are effectively paying for those that get pinched.


Wouldn't it be neat if Aperture allowed us to export our pictures protected in this way with a moving obscurer.


Any thoughts?






Dave Gaskell.

  • 1. Re: Picture Protection - Moving Obscurer
    léonie Level 9 Level 9 (51,685 points)

    Wouldn't it be neat if Aperture allowed us to export our pictures protected in this way with a moving obscurer.

    Dave, It does protect your images, but it does not present them to their best advantage, does it?


    It is a shame, that this should be necessary.


    Did you report the theft at Facebook? They should be able to remove the stolen pictures.





  • 2. Re: Picture Protection - Moving Obscurer
    d60Dave Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    - Thanks for your reply.


    It gives the viewer a taster from which they can see if the horse is stood correctly with it's legs straight, ears forward etc and whets their appetite for the complete picture.


    Putting them on without any kind of masking is just too easy for them to pinch and is a give away.

  • 3. Re: Picture Protection - Moving Obscurer
    Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (123,775 points)



    No disrespect, but that moving obscurer was very irritating. If I was considering a purchase I'd have gone away cross. It's like those 'piracy is theft' FBI notices that you only see on legal DVDs. Makes me feel, 'Why are you telling me? I'm one of those who paid for the darn thing.'


    I'm with Léonie, I think you should just report the stolen images to Facebook.


    And as for the "well I'm just advertising your business" remark, ask her if stealing her car is valid advertising for Ford, Honda or whoever...

  • 4. Re: Picture Protection - Moving Obscurer
    Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (11,920 points)

    I'm afraid that horse left the stable a while ago.  Watermarked pictures are now understood -- not without reason -- to be "give-aways".  You, in essence, already understand this.  Hence your attempt to alter what you are giving away.


    I'm with Terence (but, hey, n=2 is not much to go on): your response is unlikely to help you meet your goal, unless your goal is to alienate people.  Perhaps there is some other way to make the pictures you give away help you meet your goal.  Release them in a smaller resolution?  Pixelate part of the area-of-interest?  Track their use on-line and issue a standard, legal, "Please purchase or else remove" letter?  It might also help to put some text on your site stating your reasons for doing so, educating your public about the cost -- to you, a photographer -- of misuse of your work.


    This is a widespread problem.  A glance at successful photographer's sites will show you some different ways of addressing it.  Here is a site that seems pretty sophisticated.  I had thought he had a notice about Digimark as well, but I don't see it today.



  • 5. Re: Picture Protection - Moving Obscurer
    d60Dave Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Thank you Terence,


    Yes I see what you mean although the majority of people that view pictures from these events are aware of images being stolen for use on facebook and therefore know who the message is directed at.


    I originally had the idea of the rectangle moving so fast as  to be imperceptible (unless a screen shot was taken) but that doesn't seem possible.


    It's getting to the stage where I've nothing to lose by trying this. Taking a screen shot has become the norm rather than the exception. I can only see the situation getting worse as more and more users become internet savvy. I stumble across more stolen images on facebook than I actually sell. I keep my prices low and offer complimentary web resolution jpegs with orders of £15 and over to encourage purchases but this doesn't seem to help.


    I tried reporting an image on facebook a few weeks a go and it seemed such drawn out process with little hope of anything actually being done that I gave up.


    Something needs to be done to curb this behaviour and make it more difficult than a mouse click or two so they have to make a concious effort to do it.


    I'll run it at the next event and see what happens.






  • 6. Re: Picture Protection - Moving Obscurer
    d60Dave Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Thank you Kirby,


    Some fantastic pictures there on Chris Dodd's site but very little in the way of protection apart from right click disabled but a screen shot can still be taken (cmd + shift + 4).


    I've had a more positive response from regular customers I've asked. They perhaps feel slightly annoyed that other people are getting their pictures for free when they pay for them.


    If it's your horse and you get a feeling for what the image is like like from the obscured online version then making a purchase is the price you pay for not seeing the annoying rectangle. As you said by already displaying the picture in its entirety you're holding nothing back so why should they spend any money, what extra are they going to get?





  • 7. Re: Picture Protection - Moving Obscurer
    d60Dave Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Just received this feedback from one of my equestrian customers that I showed it to.




    I think this is a brilliant idea and it would certainly not put me off purchasing any pics. The first version is the best as you can clearly view the pic in its actual light and form.


    Maybe once an order has been placed and paid for you could send previews to the purchaser so they can see the pic properly, then if they decide its not right they have the chance to change it for another pic?.


    It must be the most frustrating thing about your profession and I wouldn't dream of doing it myself but I know others who do.


    Regards Kt"

  • 8. Re: Picture Protection - Moving Obscurer
    Frank Caggiano Level 7 Level 7 (23,820 points)

    Unfortunately any scheme like this is easily defeated, this only took two screen shots and a few mins in GIMP. The seem isn;t perfect but I wasn;t trying all that hard.


    Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 14.01.17 .png


    It would be more affective if the shape was irregular and changing and moving at varying speeds.


    If you can get this technology for free it might be worth it but if you are paying for it it's not in my opinion.


    Message was edited by: Frank Caggiano

  • 9. Re: Picture Protection - Moving Obscurer
    d60Dave Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Thanks for your reply Frank.


    Yes that could be the next step, an irregular shape moving to random positions although it might be more awkward on the eye when viewing the picture. For now I've kept it simple.


    As I think I said earlier I realise there are ways round this method but it's no longer as straight forward as a quick screen shot. It's like locking your bike up in a public place, sure there are ways round that like a pair of bolt cutters but it stops the opportunist walking away with it and perhaps makes them question if what they're doing is right before proceeding.


    If there were ten pictures you wanted from an event and you had to spend several minutes working on each to produce a copy then it could take the best part of an hour to do the lot. (especially if you want to get them right without the seems showing) which when you've got horses to feed and muck out is time you don't really have.


    Also, is Gimp or similar tool available for an iPhone or iPad? This is where I've seen a lot of the screenshots taken from. On such a platform I should imagine it's not that easy to do the necessary editing work to merge several screen shots as it is on a laptop or desktop machine. And whilst most of us on forums like this are familiar with the likes of Gimp and Photoshop I doubt many of my equestrian friends are, they have other priorities.


    All the while you're going to end up with a picture that in the near future will also have the text "Duplication of this image is theft" in the watermark. So are you really going to put time into editing a picture that when you display it on Facebook or wherever has the word "theft" written on it. Some inevitably will and will see it as a challenge to do just that but to do it for event after event I think will become a tiresome chore.