If you produce any visual content for your WordPress website, you probably worry about people pinching it to use as their own. But there is a simple way to reduce the likelihood of that happening – by using a WordPress watermark plugin.
What is a Watermark?
Have you ever held a banknote up to the light and noticed a translucent image, pattern, or inscription embedded into the paper on which it is printed? Similarly, good-quality writing paper often has the brand logo faintly embedded in it. Those are watermarks, a name that comes from how they are created in the paper-making process.
Watermarks are security features that have been used for centuries to assure quality and authenticity and thereby prevent counterfeits.
However, as the counterfeiters have become more technologically advanced, so have the watermarks used to deter them. They have gone from physical logos and text embedded into paper to semi-transparent overlays that sit on top of digital images.
Here’s an example of a modern-day watermark:
Why Do We Need Watermarks?
Sadly, many people are blissfully unaware of copyright laws, helping themselves to images from other websites to use as their own. Worse still are those fully aware of the laws but still steal the pictures anyway.
Unfortunately, copyright is a highly complex subject. In fact, I won’t even attempt to explain it here. However, generally speaking, unless you are 100% sure an image can be used without express permission, don’t even consider copying it.
Statistics show the staggering scale of the problem. According to the Copytrack Global Infringement Report 2019, around two and a half billion images are stolen daily. More alarmingly is the the lost revenue from license violations of those images, which is estimated to amount to around €532.5 billion each day.
Note that while digital watermarks can go some way towards preventing people from using content without permission, they cannot prevent theft altogether. However, they will make life difficult for the thief, who will need to do a lot of editing to remove the watermark. However, most people are not that determined and will find some other poor blighter with unprotected images to steal from.
Who Uses Watermarks?
The most common users of digital watermarks are photographers, artists, and galleries who display or sell images on their websites. Unfortunately, because they usually have original pieces of work that nobody else has, image thieves often target them. However, electronic watermarks can benefit other types of websites also.
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For example, I run a couple of eCommerce merchandise stores and create designs from scratch. Unfortunately, with the popularity of print-on-demand, it seems everyone is opening online t-shirt stores, and many store owners happily pinch ideas from others. Therefore, watermarking images in my store is a no-brainer.
I also know a very talented wigmaker. He posts excellent images of his finished pieces on his blog and social media. But, of course, within days, those same images invariably appear on the Instagram feeds of commercial wig manufacturers. Those unscrupulous manufacturers are not just stealing his pictures, but they also mislead their customers into thinking they are getting the same quality product.
Recommended Watermark Plugins for WordPress
I’m now going to show you some plugins that you can add to your WordPress site to protect your images with watermarks. There are free, freemium, and premium options, so you should find something to fit your budget.
Image Watermark is a free WordPress plugin for adding watermarks to images, either manually or automatically. The plugin allows you to freely choose the watermarks’ location, size, and opacity. Furthermore, the watermarks can scale with the image size, and it is possible to restrict them for specific post types.
Image Watermark is a great option if you need to watermark your images but don’t wish to invest in a premium plugin. What’s more, despite being completely free, it has an excellent feature set.
- Bulk actions for watermarking images already in your WordPress media library
- Removable watermarks
- Configurable watermark offset, opacity, and position
- Three watermark sizes (original, custom, or scaled)
- Configurable image quality (lower quality is a further theft deterrent)
- Disable right mouse click on images to prevent copying to clipboard
- Image protection can be disabled for logged-in users
- Watermarks can be disabled for specific post types
- Image Watermark is free, with no premium upgrades available. It is available for download either directly from the developer’s website or the WordPress plugin directory.
WP Photo Album Plus
Staying with free plugins for the moment, we have WP Photo Album Plus. As the name implies, the main purpose of this one is to add photo albums to your WordPress site. However, it also includes versatile tools for adding image watermarks.
An extensive backend includes numerous settings for albums and image configurations. The watermark submenu allows you to upload your own watermark images, adjust things like size, location, colors, fonts (if you are using a text rather than an image watermark), and much more.
Furthermore, the plugin’s photo album features are plentiful, allowing you to create unlimited albums and sub-albums containing any type of media file.
WP Photo Album Plus is an excellent option if you need to manage tons of images and other media files.
- Various configurations for things such as watermark size, color, opacity, foreground and background colors, etc.
- Add watermarks to thumbnails
- Facility to upload your own watermark image or use a text-based one
- Extensive photo album features included unlimited albums and sub-albums, bulk imports, comment moderation, searches, integrated Google Maps, etc.
- Various image and album restriction configurations
- Subscriber email notifications for new albums, new images, etc.
- WP Photo Album Plus is a completely free WordPress image watermark plugin, with no premium upgrades available.
Product Watermark for WooCommerce
Unfortunately, WooCommerce stores are often targets of image thieves also, and so are logical candidates for watermark plugins.
Product Watermark for WooCommerce is one such WordPress plugin that helps you prevent others stealing images from your WooCommerce store. Adding the watermarks is easy, and they can be either a company logo, copyright symbol, company logo, or text.
Key Features of the Free Version
- Quickly add watermarks to WooCommerce product images
- Customizable watermark position
- Configurable opacity
- Custom CSS for front end pages
Key Features of the Premium Version
- The ability to add different watermarks to different image types
- Configurable watermark size
- Choice of 5 watermarks
- Text watermarks with adjustable font color, size, and opacity
- The core Product Watermark for WooCommerce is free. However, the premium version costs $34 for a single site, rising to $109 for ten domains. Furthermore, the premium version has a 30-day moneyback guarantee.
Easy Watermark is a popular free plugin that makes child’s play of adding watermarks to images.
You can manually or automatically add logo or text-based watermarks, while the bulk actions feature allows you to add them to all existing images in your media library, too. Plenty of freedom is given to the placement of the marks and how they look, while watermarking activities can be role-restricted.
- Image (JPG, PNG, or GIF) or text-based watermarks
- Configurable transparency and opacity (depending on the type of watermark image used)
- Nine watermark positions and configurable size
- Text watermark supports ten popular fonts with configurable color, size, and rotation
- Ability to dynamically add the name of the user uploading the image and the date to the text watermark
- You can add watermarks to all image sizes integral to WordPress, including those from themes or plugins
- Image backups
- Easy Watermark is entirely free, with no premium upgrade available.
With the final plugin of this list, I am throwing caution to the wind a little as Ultimate Watermark is a relatively new plugin. Because it has only been around for about a year, it does not yet enjoy the large followings of its more mature competitors.
However, the reason for Ultimate Watermark’s inclusion in this list is it has an interesting feature set. Furthermore, it is also (currently) free, making it worthy of a second glance.
The plugin will automatically watermark new images as you upload them to your media library, while existing ones can be processed as a bulk action. The watermark image can be scaled and positioned as required, and the opacity is also adjustable.
Furthermore, it is possible to enable or disable right-clicking to prevent users from copying images to their clipboards.
- Single image watermark with dynamic position and settings
- Bulk actions for adding and removing watermarks
- Full image backups
- Image protection features including right click disable
- Ability to select the post type and different image sizes for watermarking
- Support for GD & ImageMagic Library
- Baseline and progressive image formats
- Ultimate Watermark is free with no premium upgrade available.
WooCommerce Product Image Watermark Plugin
WooCommerce Product Image Watermark plugin is another plugin to help prevent others from stealing your eCommerce product images via image or text watermarks.
What’s cool about this plugin is you can create rules to restrict the addition of watermarks only to specific products or entire categories. Furthermore, you can automatically add watermarks to various image types (product images and pop-ups, catalog thumbnails, etc.)
- Various configurations for things such as font, size, color, and opacity
- Nine watermark positions to choose fro
- Single or repeat watermarks
- Add watermarks to specific products or categories
- Possibility to have separate watermarks for product thumbnails and the corresponding pop-up images
- Your shop and catalog can have either the same or different watermarks
- Ability to apply watermarks to simple and variable products
- WooCommerce Product Image Watermark is a premium-only plugin costing $39 from Code Canyon. That price includes future updates and six months of support, the latter being extendible to one year for an additional $12.75.
WaterMark PDF for WooCommerce
Confusingly, this plugin is called WaterMark PDF for WooCommerce in the WordPress plugin directory, but the premium version is named WaterWoo on the developer’s website.
Either way, this plugin is different from the others listed so far as it allows you to watermark something else people often copy without permission – PDF documents that you sell (or give away) in your WooCommerce store.
To discourage unauthorized copying, a watermark is added to all pages of the PDFs once the sale is completed. Additionally, a wide range of customizations is possible: font, color, size, location, etc. Moreover, it is possible to add customer data such as name and email to the watermark. Pretty neat, right?
The only downside of WaterMark PDF for WooCommerce is it utilizes open source TCPDI and TCPDF libraries to customize the documents. Unfortunately, these can suffer glitches, mainly if the PDF is poorly formatted or contains glitches, or your host server has restrictions on the size of files it can process.
Key Features of the Free Version
- You can specify which PDFs are to receive watermarks
- Wide range of watermark placement possibilities to suit different paper sizes
- Configurable font, color, and size
- Once sold, watermarks are added automatically to all pages of the PDF
- Ability to dynamically add customer data (first and last name, email address, date of the order payment, and telephone number)
Key Features of the Premium Version
- Ability to start the watermark from a selected page and to watermark every page, or only odd or even pages
- Add individual watermarks and set passwords per product or product variation
- An additional rotatable watermark location, allowing for up to two watermarks locations per page
- Right-to-left (RTL) watermarking for alphabets such as Arabic
- Optional password protection/permissions for PDFs
- Additional text formatting options, including semi-opaque watermarks
- Ability to dynamically add customer data fields
- Test or manually add watermarks from the admin panel
- The core WaterMark PDF for WooCommerce plugin is free. Furthermore, the premium version costs $80 for a single site, $120 for two to five domains, and $200 for up to twenty.
Have You Used a WordPress Watermark Plugin?
If you have been the victim of image theft or plagiarism from your website, you’ll appreciate how infuriating it is.
Unfortunately, there appears to be a common misconception nowadays that because something is digital, it must be free. Sadly, people who think like that fail to realize that it takes as much time and effort to create digital content and media as the physical equivalents until it happens to them.
If you are not currently protecting your photos and other content with watermarks, I hope this article has inspired you to consider doing so. However, if you are already using a WordPress watermark plugin, I’d love to hear which one, along with your experiences with it so far.