Using Watermarks to Your Advantage

These days companies grab every opportunity possible to promote a widget.

Coffee-cup sleeves, garbage cans… soon we’ll probably see LCD screens at intersections while we wait for the light to turn green. (Could be interesting, actually…)

If you own or manage a website with proprietary images, and you are considering using Flash or some other means to prevent others from downloading or copying of your photos, consider not protecting them at all.

To understand this idea, you have to realize that:

  1. Images are never fully protected from download on the web, and
  2. Your site can benefit from increased traffic via watermarks.

Whether your site is designed in Macromedia/Adobe Flash or HTML, people can steal your images once they are displayed on their screen. With JPEGSs displayed, users can simply “Save as”. With Flash, a simple screenshot will do the trick, and suddenly the site visitor has your image on his own computer. So, if there’s no way to prevent that, you may as well go along with it, but do so to your advantage. How you do that is to watermark your images with your own website, instead of “copyright” or “CompanyName”.

Put simply, you should encourage people to take your images and share them – it’s good all around – because as long as your images are watermarked with your website’s URL (e.g.,, people will always know where to go back for more images. And, if they share the images with friends, people will always know where the image originated. It’s free and easy marketing.

Companies like Digimarc will do sophisticated watermarks via a Photoshop plug-in, or you can simply create a watermark with Photoshop using a text layer. Create the text layer with your domain, tweak it to your delight, then flatten the image and save it for the web. Let them steal away….

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To include code, just include it in [code] [/code] square brackets. Sweet.