Tip of the Week: Right Click, Save As...


This week’s tip comes from an answer we have written to many a concerned client here at CoDA. The question is always the same:
When I was exploring [website], I noticed that I can download the images onto my computer. Is there a way to lock the information so people could access it, but not necessarily download it?
… in one form or another: how do I post images on the internet with the 100% absolute assurance that they will not be stolen or used in inappropriate ways?

(but don’t let that scare you)

Just as a musician cannot stop a player from covering their song, just as a museum cannot stop a visitor from taking a snapshot, you cannot stop users from downloading an image. If they can see it, they can steal it. Still, that does not keep the musician from playing, nor the museum from exhibiting, and it should not stop you from sharing your stories on the internet. Just make sure that before you post, you ask the Who and the How? With whom am I sharing this post? How should they access it and how could they share or reuse it?
Here are some tips on what you can do to share your images responsibly, and promote others to practice responsibility too:

  1. Embed Metadata. By embedding rich metadata, including creator and copyright information into your photo, your photo is less likely to lose its context. I would rather allow a user to “right click, save image as…” my file with embedded metadata, than force the dirty thief to take a screenshot of my copyrighted image. Check out Why Metadata Matters and learn about embedding metadata from our Lightroom Tutorials in the CoDA Archive
  2. Use Creative Commons or Traditional Knowledge Licensing. These web licenses are written to address the specific problems surrounding distribution and replication on the internet. Informing your photograph viewers of best practices regarding how they can share or reproduce your image is the best protection against harmful reproduction. After all, these are legal licenses. You have the law on your side. (Creative Commons 4.0 is worldwide; Local Contexts licenses are still in development by Traditional Knowledge Lawyer Jane Anderson of NYU and Kim Christen Withey, but their labels can be used to inform audiences) I’m not saying that legal action can repair the sacred or spiritual damage that could come from a leaked image (see tip 4). In case another is using the image for profit and you find out about it, licenses can really save you from fiscal or reputational damages.
  3. Know your Terms of Service. Sometimes when we upload an image to a web service, we are losing all legal rights over our images. Read your terms of service to make sure your photos don’t fall into corporate or public domain when they are uploaded. On the other evil side of this double-tailed coin, the web service you are uploading to could be stripping the metadata from your files. If you want your copyright, creation information, and other precious metadata to be preserved, consider avoiding websites that strip your metadata from images. EmbeddedMetadata.org has tested the most popular image-sharing and social media sites to see if they can pass the embedded metadata test.
  4. Use Mukurtu CMS cultural protocols -or another password protected CMS- to share with the communities that matter most. Mukurtu CMS is an indigenous archiving tool built to meet the needs of indigenous and traditional communities worldwide. Their cultural protocols allow for fined-tuned permissions and access to information and media assets. It preserves embedded metadata, archives original formats with representations (coming in March 2015), and allows sharing of content within groups and subgroups of your site, or publicly. Just because we love Mukurtu does not mean it the right software for every site. Consider other content management systems which may suit your needs, but always practice responsible sharing and be knowledgeable of “how” your “who” accesses your treasured assets.

Administering your own website?

Here are some more resources for preventing image misconduct: