Back in 2011, I wrote about not disabling right-click. That page still gets a reasonable amount of traffic and it's time for a brief revisit.
The Only Way to Protect Data Is Not To Have It Online
Let's start with the lesson everyone needs to learn. There remains but one and only one way to protect your data online. There is only one sure-fire way to make sure your photos aren't stolen, your videos aren't leaked, and your content isn't ripped off.
Don't put anything online that you're not alright with having taken from you.
This sucks. I know. This is pretty horrid life advice, but the fact is that as soon as you put something up on the Internet, and people like it, they will take it. Worst, they'll claim it as their own. I really hate that one.
You Can Still Protect Content
This isn't all bad news. You can still have content that is protected from re-use, it not actual theft, but you have to be intelligent about it. You have to think about what you're protecting and why. Protecting all the images that viewers see on your site is a lost cause. There are just too many ways to download them.
Instead, it's a matter of cutting your losses, protecting only what must be protected, and then intelligently guarding what's left. And here are my simple rules for content protection:
- Watermark images you don't want reused
- Server protect folders that store downloadable data (i.e. .htaccess )
- Hide the URLs for downloadable data
That's it. Three rules.
But What About…
What? You want me to talk about how Instagram protects images from right-clicks and, thus, downloads? You want me to point out that even Wix tells you how to protect right-click? You think I should tell people how Getty images uses code to watermark and right-click protect?
It doesn't matter. As Wix so rightly points out, anyone who knows how to view source code could get the images anyway. And trust me, people who want your images will work hard and learn that. They'll quickly figure out how to get around it. You can get around Getty images, but they do the most important thing of all.
They know you're going to take their low-resolution images. They're okay with that loss kind of – I don't recommend it as they'd sued people over re-use. But they will absolutely take you down if you 'steal' their high resolution images, because the only way to do that is to make an account with them and purchase. They out and out hide the images from anyone who didn't buy them. They're locked behind a user-account.
The lesson you can take away is this: The only winning move? Is not to play.