Do you Watermark Images or Block?

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Staff member
On a couple of sites I run there's an ongoing battle about images
Basically 3rd party sites link to them and embed them etc
Which is more than a little annoying, as they're using my bandwidth and making money from them ..

In some cases I've blocked hotlinking, but I'm also playing with watermarks

What do you use?

And why do you use it / do it?
In my view watermarking is the only answer, as those desperate enough can always do a sneaky screen shot and two minutes later they have your image lock stock and barrel. Whereas with a watermark it requires a fair amount of time in Pshop, which quite frankly usually is enough of a deterrant to see them move on to the next cuprit. Theres not absolute way of course, but Watermarks cause most hassle for would-be "lifters". HTH :)
depends on the amount of images...

If you're using php you could write a script to redraw the original image

insert the image on your page with:

<img src="path/to/my-image-script.php">
then in your image script...

if ($_SERVER['http_host'] != '' ){
you could force a different image to be shown i.e. - a blank image or some sort of tongue in cheek graphic like a pile of doggy doo...

So when you use the script, you get the proper image, hotlinkers get the doggy doo.

Just a quick idea, as I haven't thought about any consequences for image seo etc...


New Member
Think the approach of sending out a false image is probably the most damaging and annoying to hotlinkers, particularly where watermarks would have little effect (e.g. people don't really care about people knowing an image isn't theres).

I think the old idea of using a block on right clicks is poor usability, and puts me off sites - as well as not really stopping PrtScn jobs...

Just my two cents - the alternative image system seems like a good bet.
If they Irish companies linking, invoice them and threaten court. Don't know about other countries though.

Otherwise you could do a switcheroo on the image to something saying something to embarrass or shame them. Ie. from something relatively tame like 'Hotlinking not allowed' to '****ing bastard owners of this site are stealing ************* *******s' or change the image to something NSFW. Some bloke had his artwork being hotlinked without permission into thousands of FaceBook skins so he changed the image to goatse(NSFW) which certainly caused a stir.
I block hotlinks, which might be the best way to prevent image stealing.

But, there's no full-proof method to prevent it, as the person can always save your image and re-upload it...
If you use mod_rewrite or something to show another image to hotlinkers will this not also affect google search results if it tries to index the images on your site or any other search engines?


Staff member
Any site will have access to an image
You're only concerned about ones that are going to hotlink, such as Google Images