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How to protect documents from plagiarism

Watermark files to keep sticky fingers at bay

Over the past 18 months or so we’ve been looking at ways to keep web-borne nasties and hackers at bay. And, in case any cyber-sneaks do get on to your PC, we’ve shown how to limit the amount of damage they can cause using methods such as sandboxing and by setting up limited user accounts. Finally, we’ve demonstrated how to minimise the number of details data miners and phishing sites can glean about you.

Now we look at how to protect the documents and media you value – not least because of the time and effort you’ve put into creating them. In much the same way that artists and musicians protect their work with copyright and performance restrictions, you can exercise control over how your documents are used and whether they can be distributed or edited.

Protect your photos using Watermark Factory

Add a watermark in Photoshop Elements

Watermark a PDF in Adobe Acrobat

You may not be unduly fussed about someone reproducing the notes you handed out to accompany a presentation, but you’d be fairly annoyed if they started sending out copies of an in-depth report you’d spent months researching. Knowledge is valuable and, if nothing else, you should expect credit as the author.

But listing yourself as the author does little to stop others from incorporating the content into their own work and passing it off as their own. And plagiarism isn’t confined to lazy students.

Most scenarios where you’ll be keen to protect your work will involve something fancier than a word-processed document, but it doesn’t hurt to get into the habit of adding authorial information to the Properties, or setting files as read-only and accessible only to those who have the necessary password.

PDFs partially solve the problem by presenting a readable document as an image with limited editing abilities. However, you still need to be able to apply some protection.

Multimedia files that you create should bear some form of acknowledgement of your craftsmanship. Professional artists deem it important enough to wrap their work in a layer of protective swaddling known as DRM (digital rights management). And so can you.

With Web 2.0 sites encouraging us to post our thoughts, scrawls and photos online, the following tips for proactively protecting your property will prove invaluable.

Protect your photos using Watermark Factory

1. Watermark Factory (watermarkfactory.com) enables you to create single or tiled watermarks, then apply them to a series of photos simultaneously. Download the program, install and run it. Browse to the folder containing the photos you wish to watermark by clicking ‘Add folder’.

Step 1

Step 1

2. Shift, click or Ctrl, click in the list of thumbnail images to select the pictures that you want to watermark. Click the Watermarks tab to see a list of any saved watermark files. If you’ve already created and saved a watermark, you can load and reuse it. If you’re starting from scratch, click ‘Add text’ or ‘Add image’.

Step 2

Step 2

See also:

Add a watermark in Photoshop Elements

Watermark a PDF in Adobe Acrobat

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