Stealing an image is harder to do with Exif, a new smart watermark

exif makes image theft hard 28321474  photo editor working on computer and used graphics tablet
Scyther5 / 123RF
Stealing an image online is often as simple as a copy/paste or taking a screenshot, but a new service is aiming to curb image theft while giving credit where credit is due. Exif (named after EXIF file data) is a program currently in beta testing that adds an “invisible” watermark while embedding the photographer’s information and keeping track of views, making image theft not impossible, but certainly a whole lot harder.

An image uploaded to Exif is translated into HTML code. Embedding that code into a compatible website places that image, which looks something like this.

If you click on the little ‘I’ or info icon in the upper left corner, you will see all the information crediting the original photographer, which in the link above is Chris Hillary, including how to follow him on Instagram. Try to right-click and you will get the same credit information, with no options to download. Try to take a screenshot and you will get a big black box over the center of the photograph with the link to the photographer’s Exif profile. Drag and drop the photo, and again, a watermark.

Along with making image theft much harder, Exif also tracks how many people view the image and from where. When the image is embedded onto multiple websites, you can see which sites gained the most views and which sites chose to correctly share your photo with an embed and full credit.

While the platform does not have the same compatibility with social media at this point, users can share a link to the image, which will share the image with the link and the watermark. Clicking on the photo will take users to the Exif page where they can see the watermark-free image. Exif currently has direct integrations with Squarespace, WordPress, Tumblr and iFrame, with additional platforms expected to launch as the system grows.

The idea for the program came after photographer Jarred Bishop shared a photo on Flickr, only to find it uncredited on Tumblr, Buzzfeed, and Pinterest. Bishop then worked with Lizy Gershenzon and Travis Kochel of Scribble Tone to design the program.

While the invisible watermarks and image theft system could be a big help for photographers, payment is based on the number of views the photograph receives, so the more websites that embed the image, the more the user will have to pay. Photographers, however, can choose who has access to that HTML code embed. During beta testing, photographers can sign up with 1,000 free credits. After that, the service costs between 30 and 15 cents for every 1,000 views.


OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

For less than $600, you can buy either the OnePlus 6T or the Honor View 20, two extremely capable smartphones with plenty of exciting features. But which one has the best camera? We found out on a recent trip to France.

Instant Pot prices have dropped on these 5 models by up to $30

Whether you're an Instant Pot beginner or Instant Pot veteran these popular multi-cookers are worth the hype. There are so many Instant Pot models on sale right now, it might be hard to choose. We've rounded up all the deals here so you can…

Want to share your Xbox One games with a friend? Here's how to do it

Sharing games on modern consoles is possible, but it takes a few steps. Here's how to start sharing games on your Xbox One console, so friends and family can easily access your library.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s space observatory will map the sky with unprecedented detail

NASA is preparing to launch a cutting-edge space observatory to create the most detailed map ever produced of the sky. Doing so will involve surveying hundreds of millions of galaxies. Here's how it plans to do it.

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.

From DSLRs to mirrorless, these are the best cameras you can buy right now

From entry-level models to full-frame flagships, many cameras take great photos and video. The best digital cameras, however, push the industry forward with innovative sensors and improved usability, among other things. Here are our…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Photography news: Wacom’s slimmer pen, Leica’s cinema special edition

In this week's photography news, Wacom launches a new slimmer pen for pro users. Leica's upcoming M10-P is designed for cinema, inside and out, with built-in cinema modes in the updated software.

Be careful who you bokeh, jokes Apple’s latest iPhone ad

With iPhone sales under pressure, you'd think there wouldn't be much to laugh about at Apple HQ. But the company has seen fit to inject some humor into its latest handset ad, which highlights the camera's Depth Control feature.

What’s the difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic?

Lightroom CC has evolved into a capable photo editor, but is it enough to supplant Lightroom Classic? We took each program for a test drive to compare the two versions and see which is faster, more powerful, and better organized.

Luminar’s libraries gain speed, drop need for you to manually import images

Luminar 3 just got a performance boost. Skylum Luminar 3.0.2 has improved speed over December's update, which added the long-promised libraries feature giving editors a Lightroom alternative.

When you're ready to shoot seriously, these are the best DSLRs you can buy

For many photographers the DSLR is the go-to camera. With large selection of lenses, great low-light performance, and battery endurance, these DSLRs deliver terrific image quality for stills and videos.

Mirrorless cameras were built to be compact, so why have they gotten so heavy?

Mirrorless cameras launched as portable alternatives to bulky and complex DSLRs -- so why are they getting bigger and heavier? Cameras are trending towards heavier models, but that change comes with more advanced features.

The best place to print photos online in 2019

Have you been looking around for the best place to print out your favorite photos online or in store? Don't fret, we've pored through dozens of options and narrowed it down to the seven best.