5 Ways to Prevent Image Theft in WordPress

For as long as the explosive development of the Internet, images created by individuals become a new business trend, providing a significant source of income. Along with that, online image theft has been spreading and has raised a burning issue. As a consequence, it’s not a big deal for thieves to download and copy images on your WordPress website without permission.

Fortunately, there are several WordPress image protection solutions you can implement and make sure that your images are marked as belonging to you.

Hence, in this article, we will share 5 effective ways on how to protect media files on your WordPress website from theft.

What is image copyright?

Before we begin, it’s essential to understand basically about copyright. When someone creates an image, they automatically own the exclusive right in that work. This is called copyright. With this right, the owner of that image is able to make a decision on how to use and publish it.

Apart from image copyright, there are also other forms of intellectual content that are eligible for copyright protection, for example:

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  • Audiovisual works, such as online TV shows, movies, and videos
  • Musical works, such as sound recordings and musical compositions
  • Literary works, such as lectures, articles, and books
  • Intuitive works, such as paintings, posters, and advertisements
  • Dramatic works such as plays

Why is it important to prevent image theft in WordPress?

As a content creator yourself, you have to struggle a lot with this aching issue on a regular basis. Whether accidental or intentional, there is nothing worse than seeing all of your content simply copied and uploaded to another platform.

Obviously, you’ll want to ensure that people aren’t getting your effort for free. That’s why it is necessary to protect images on your WordPress website from online thieves.

5 most common ways to protect your WordPress images

Here are 5 prevention methods we’re going to cover. These methods simply make it a little harder for them to steal your images.

#1 Preventing direct access to media files

Direct access is the ability to obtain data from a storage device by going directly to its location on the device instead of having to sequentially look for the data at one location after another.

Prevent Direct Access Gold plugin is a great tool for securing media files on your site. This plugin gives you the power to prevent uninvited guests from accessing and copying your media files without permission.

Users will see a 404 not found message when attempting to open your protected files. Besides images, you can have unlimited other file types secure, from PDFs to audios and videos.

On top of that, the plugin also blocks search engines from indexing and displaying your images on search results. In other words, users won’t be able to find your images via Google search even though they have direct URLs.

#2 Disabling right-click on images or site-wide.

Occasionally, a user can easily download your WordPress image by right-clicking on it and selecting the “Save Image” option.


It is the easiest way that most online thieves do. Thus, disabling the function of right-clicking is essential. Since users are able to view your images only, you can definitely prevent them from copying your original work.

In order to disable this capability, you can either use source code or install a free plugin available on WordPress.org. The former method requires you to get familiar with coding and programming. The latter, meanwhile, allows you to disable the right-click effortlessly.

Most of the Right-Click plugins use Javascript and CSS to disable the contextual menu when you right-click on an image and at the same time turn off the following keys  CTRL+A, CTRL+C, CTRL+X, CTRL+S, or CTRL+V. Without these functions, visitors are not allowed to download any piece of your content from your WordPress website.

#3 Adding watermarks to your images

Watermark is a distinctive identifier such as text, logo, pattern inserted into images to prove that this work belongs to you. When someone copies your image to use for his or her website, people know where the image comes from.

Watermark works best on photography websites. it would be a disaster if someone steals your photos, puts them on their site, and sells to customers. The watermark makes it harder for people to reuse your works of art.

You can easily add the watermark by using the plugin Watermark WordPress Files. It automatically adds a watermark to your files as they are uploaded to the WordPress media library. You can decide to display text or images on your photos as well as their sizes and colors.

#4 Adding copyright notices

In most website’s footers, there is always a notice proving the copyright over the content along with the year. This is also known as a way to prevent image theft in WordPress.

If you want to create a copyright notice, firstly you’ll need to prepare three elements:

  • The copyright symbol
  • The creator’s name
  • The year that the original work was made.

Then you can install the Footer Putter plugin to add the copyright statement to the footer area of your WordPress website.

Apart from using the plugin, the copyright notice also can be added by using a simple code. Let we show you an example of the code:

Copyright ©
< ?php $the_year = date ("Y"); echo $the_year; ? >
< ?php bloginfo ('url'); ? >
All Right Reserved

#5 Disabling hotlinking of images

Image hotlinking refers to the act of copying the images along with the URL of your website to insert it into another website. It causes big problems by occupying your bandwidth intentionally.

Whenever someone accesses another website, there is a hotlink to your resource. It will use your web bandwidth instead of that person’s web bandwidth. The more people accessing the content, the sooner you’ll run out of bandwidth. This action is extremely unethical because it’s costing you money to host that image for another website.

Prevent Direct Access Gold plugin turns out to be a great solution to prevent image hotlinking. As mentioned, it primarily protects media files from direct access. The plugin assists you in disabling people from reusing your images with URLs on their sites.

Simply enable the option in the plugin’s General Settings page. There are a lot more you can do with the plugins to protect your files and folders such as disabling directory listing or blocking access to sensitive files.


Protecting your properties

You’ve invested your effort, time, and money to create images on your site. These images are intellectual properties created by yourself and you have the responsibility to protect them. Don’t let all that hard work down the drain. Hence, put security fences in place to discourage people from stealing your images in WordPress and clearly establish your rights, then you wouldn’t need to worry about anything.

There is no 100% protection method. You can apply multiple methods at the same time to bring image protection to a higher level. While preventing direct access to images, you should also add a watermark to tell people that these images belong to you.

Do you have any other tips or tricks for protecting photos? Don’t hesitate to share with us in the comments!