Many website owners use Google Image Search to download images from my website to use on their own website. I want to return a thumbnail image when clicking "open image in new tab" from Google Image Search, so they can't steal the full size image. I have already disabled right click on the website, but now they are using Google Search.


1 Answer 1


To answer your question as written, you can prevent users from getting to your full-size image directly from Google Image Search by opting out of Google Image Search's inline linking.

From Google support:

Opt out of Google Images inline linking

If you choose, you can prevent the full-sized image from appearing in the Google Images search results page by opting out of inline linking in Google Images search results.

To opt out of inline linking:

  1. When your image is requested, examine the HTTP referrer header in the request.
  2. If the request is coming from a Google domain, reply with a 200 HTTP status code, or a 204 HTTP status code and no content.

Google will still crawl your page and see the image, but will display a thumbnail image generated at crawl time in search results. This opt-out is possible at any time, and doesn't require re-processing of a website's images. This behavior isn't considered image cloaking and won't result in manual actions.

However, it's important to note that while this will act as an additional deterrent, nothing can truly stop determined users from copying your images. Users with technical knowledge will always be able to circumvent image copy protection. They could use a browser extension to defeat your anti-right click code, use their browser's developer tooling to directly save the image out of the HTTP response, or simply take a screenshot of their computer screen and crop your image out of the screenshot.

If you own the copyright to the images you are trying to protect, then using DMCA takedown requests may be a more viable option than any technical countermeasure. They are easy to draft and send, and can legally force the hand of the offending users' hosting provider.

In any case, I would consider clearly marking the images on your site with their copyright information. Though not strictly required to establish copyright in the USA, it may be required to establish copyright in other countries, and doing so affirms your ownership of the images while implying that they cannot be reused without permission.

Though heavy-handed, it may also be an option to watermark the images.

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