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.
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’.
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’.
3. On the Text Watermark screen, click ‘Fit to Window’ to view the first image and ‘Sample – Tiled’ to select a preset tiled watermark ready for customisation. Type your text into the ‘Text settings’ pane, then select a font, size and colour. We selected a 72pt Trebuchet font in green and set the Opacity to 30 percent.
4. We’ve set the rotation to 315 degrees. By putting the mark at an angle we can use fewer lines of text – allowing the image to be seen easily – while making it hard to crop the watermark out. Select formatting options that suit your own tastes. You can add a shadow and background to the watermark, too.
5. Click the ‘+’ symbol in the Presets panel and give your watermark a name, thus creating a template for future use. Click ok, then hit ok again at the bottom of the Text Watermark screen. Back in the main Watermark Factory screen, click the Image Preview tab and then the Options button.
6. In the Options panel, you can resize, sharpen and rename the images, and change their alpha channels. If you want to maintain unmarked versions, be sure to save them under separate filenames. Close Options, select the file format for the watermarked images, then click Generate.
>> NEXT PAGE: ADD A WATERMARK IN PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS
Add a watermark in Photoshop Elements
1. The simplest way of adding a watermark to a photo requires nothing more than your usual image-editing application. Here we’re using Photoshop Elements 6.0, but the technique works with Paint Shop Pro and Photo-Paint too. Open an image and add an extra layer to it. Name this ‘Watermark’.
2. On the new layer, type the text you want to appear in the watermark. Make it a decent size so that it’s difficult for someone else to crop out. The text on our sample image is 72pt in size and, because the chosen font is quite thin, we’ve decided to add a coloured outline.
3. To make the watermark fill more of the image, add a shape to the overlay. You may want to make it semi-transparent – you need to strike a balance between securing the image and enabling the viewer to enjoy it. How valuable is the photo to you, and what would be the consequences if it were stolen?
4. Be sure to flatten the layers before you save the image; this will stop viewers simply removing the watermark layer. Saving the file as a Jpeg will do this automatically, but for other image types you’ll need to flatten manually. Finally, save the photo with a different name from the original.
>> NEXT PAGE: WATERMARK A PDF IN ADOBE ACROBAT
Watermark a PDF in Adobe Acrobat
1. Acrobat can add watermarks to any PDF, either on top of the text and images or underneath. These can be made visible only onscreen, only on printed copies of the document or on both. In Acrobat 8.0, load your file and click Document, Watermark, Add.
2. The watermark dialog box previews the current page on the righthand side and gives options for its design on the left. Start by typing in the text of the watermark in the Text panel, or browse to a file stored on your PC that contains this text or an image by clicking File.
3. Select a font colour for your watermark using the button below the Text panel. Pastel colours are always a good choice, allowing the document itself to remain readable. Slant the text using the buttons under Appearance; this will allow the mark to take up more of the page than if it were horizontal.
4. If the document contains text and graphics, your watermark may need to be placed above the page furniture. Set the opacity below 100 percent, however, or readability will suffer. Use the Opacity buttons and slider under Appearance to achieve the right balance between security and readability.