Resolution limitation and/or durable watermarking for design preview images
Does Merch by Amazon allow designers to do either, or both, of the following? 1. Set a maximum limit on the resolution (size) of their designs' preview images made available to shoppers (and to everyone else on the web). 2. Add substantially-sized, very-difficult-to-remove watermarks to their designs' preview images. I've been wanting to start a Print-On-Demand business for YEARS now, but the major, reputable players that have acceptable pricing ALL insist on forcing me to allow preview images of my original copyrighted designs that are excessively high-resolution enough for thieves to steal them, upscale them and illegally re-sell my designs themselves. Some services add a useless CSS-overlaid separate watermark image that's trivial to bypass because it's not actually PART OF the design preview image. I don't want to do free design work for an army of Internet thieves who simply don't care about breaking copyright laws! Laws aren't enough; the above two technical measures are vitally necessary! Can someone please tell me if they are possible on Merch by Amazon or will be soon? I HAVE seen shirts for sale on Amazon where the design IS resolution-limited, but I'm not sure if they're Merch by Amazon items, or FBA items, or some other kind of item. Thanks!
As an example, Merch by Amazon's front page shows a few example shirts with testimonials, and this is one of those shirts, so I'm pretty sure it's a Merch by Amazon item:
http://www.amazon.com/DragonVale-Prism-Dragon-T-Shirt-black/dp/B00Y1AIYAS/ If you mouseover the shirt, a larger zoomed version appears on the right. If you then do "Page Info" in your browser and check the "Media" tab (or equivalent feature in your browser), and you find that zoomed image, its URL is this:
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/91pdW3DGKeL._UL1500_.jpg This image's resolution is right about at the upper size limit of "give the customer a good idea of what he's buying", and just below the beginning of the "easy to upscale and steal" size range. However, notice the "1500" in the URL. Manually change it to 5000, and you get this image:
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/91pdW3DGKeL._UL5000_.jpg THIS version is far higher-resolution than needed for a customer to get a good idea of what he's buying, and is high enough to be upscaled and illegally re-used by thieves. The 1500 version I can live with. The 5000 I cannot. Can anyone from Amazon tell us if we'll be able to limit these resolutions or not? Merch by Amazon will be a non-usable platform for MANY designers if we cannot limit these excessive resolutions. .
I checked using my browser, and the first thing I discovered was that there were no images in the 1500 range. All of mine were at 500. Yours say UL1500, mine say SL500. Are we looking at two different things?
> I checked using my browser, and the first thing I > discovered was that there were no images in the 1500 > range. All of mine were at 500. Yours say UL1500, > mine say SL500. > > Are we looking at two different things? Interesting. I don't know, but Amazon may be doing "sniffing" and serving up different images based on the device (smartphone, tablet, PC), pointing method (touch, mouse pointer or both) and browser (Firefox, Chrome, IE, Opera, etc.) For reference, I'm running Firefox 41.0.2 on Windows on a 1920x1080 display with the Firefox window taking up about 2/3rd of that. Maybe people on smartphones, tablets, lower-resolution PCs or using small browser windows get served a smaller image, at least initially. Here are the exact steps I did: 1. Pull up
http://www.amazon.com/DragonVale-Prism-Dragon-T-Shirt-black/dp/B00Y1AIYAS/ 2. Move mouse pointer over the product image on the left. This shows a large zoomed version on the right. 3. "Tools" dropdown menu --> "Page Info" --> "Media" section 4. Examine the list of the page's images, and there's the UL1500 one. I don't want to get into deep analysis of Amazon's platform, though. The point here is that if *I* can pull up needlessly, stealably high-res imagery of designs (by manually changing the URL to "5000"), so can a LOT of other people, and I need to know if we designers will be allowed to prevent this, or not. That'll tell me if I'm going to be able to use Merch by Amazon, or if I need to keep looking. Also, I noticed Amazon DOES have shirts for which you CANNOT pull high-res imagery, but I'm not sure if they're Merch by Amazon items, or FBA or some other sort of items. Here's an example shirt:
http://www.amazon.com/Impact-Mens-Darkness-Boomstick-T-Shirt/dp/B004GGU9K0/ I found no way to get high-res imagery of that design. There's no mouseover zoom, and the initial item image, which for me is this:
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/517f%2BN5jzBL._UX425_.jpg ...can't be modified to pull higher-res versions either. If you manually change the "425" to something higher, it just upscales the low-res image, producing no actual image quality increase. Try changing the "425" to "5000", then view the image at full-size (1:1). The image is blurry and completely useless for commercial re-use, yet on the product's page it's quite sufficient for customers to know what they're getting. This is the ideal situation! I want this capability for my original copyrighted designs, too, although I'd allow a bit more resolution than they do, but not much more. Anybody from Amazon want to answer us? Will we have the option of using resolution limitation and/or watermarkng to protect our intellectual property from easy theft and re-use by design thieves? Thanks. .
Even more interesting: My specs match yours exactly except that I like to use Firefox full screen. Regardless, if you found a large image, others can, too, and it's a situation filled with potential for all the thieves out there. I design for Zazzle, and the people there are driven crazy by the fact that Zazzle makes it a total no-brainer for the thieves to grab our artwork, which is constantly found here on Amazon being used by third-party vendors. My stuff shows up here also, and the only mitigating aspect is that those vendors are creating sub-par products. We can count on it: If it's out there, someone will steal it.
> Even more interesting: My specs match yours exactly > except that I like to use Firefox full screen. Ah, most interesting. Their sniff code might interpret "browser window size equals device's screen size" to mean you're probably on a smartphone or tablet (an erroneous assumption in this case, but usually not). Just a guess, but likely correct! > Regardless, if you found a large image, others can, > too, and it's a situation filled with potential for > all the thieves out there. Right. So Merch for Amazon should let us configure things so that a large image CANNOT be found (see the "Army of Darkness" example shirt above). > I design for Zazzle, and > the people there are driven crazy by the fact that > Zazzle makes it a total no-brainer for the thieves to > grab our artwork, which is constantly found here on > Amazon being used by third-party vendors. Spreadshirt does this too. I've been complaining till I'm blue in the face at them for over 3 years to STOP making 800x800 and 1200x1200 non-watermarked images of all designs available to anyone using a simple modified URL, but they simply won't stop it! As a result, I've been waiting to launch my POD business, and will wait AS LONG AS IT TAKES until SOME vendor decides to respect my intellectual property. I'm hoping Merch by Amazon might end up being that vendor. It seems INSANE to me that nobody provides such BASIC protections, but it's true! Nobody does yet! Hear that, Amazon? You can steal away THOUSANDS of designers from Zazzle, Spreadshirt, etc. just by allowing resolution limitation and/or durable watermarking! Ka-ching! > My stuff shows up here also, and the only mitigating aspect is > that those vendors are creating sub-par products. Yup, but you know how people are. If it's a few bucks less than yours, they'll usually buy it anyway. Also it can be hard to tell it's sub-par from web previews, rather only when it's in-hand, and it's too late then. Plus, sub-par or not, they're violating your copyrights and stealing business and money from you, and STRONG protection against this is SO EASY to implement! Someone just has to ACTUALLY DO it! > We can count on it: If it's out there, someone will steal it. Right, which is why Merch for Amazon should make sure it's NOT out there. Force a thief to spend TREMENDOUS amounts of time and highly-skilled labor to recreate a design completely from scratch based on only a low-res preview, and suddenly the thefts will drop to NEAR-ZERO. .
If you've been sitting on your POD venture for years, you've already missed out on way more than you would have lost to a few art thieves. Anyway, any artist worth his salt could replicate your work regardless of its display size. Don't get me wrong, I hear you and can empathize, but sitting on your work worrying about thieves the rest of your life isn't going to get you anywhere. I suggest you get over it, publish your work, make some money and take the wife on a vacation. Cheers.
> If you've been sitting on your POD venture for years, > you've already missed out on way more than you would > have lost to a few art thieves. You're probably correct. Call me stubborn, I guess, but I insist on at least basic intellectual property protection measures. I'd rather do, and have been doing, other things to earn money while waiting for some vendor to begin offering those protections. > Anyway, any artist worth his salt could replicate > your work regardless of its display size. I hear this kind of comment constantly, but it misses the point. The point isn't perfect and total protection. As I said above, the point of resolution limits is to force a complete, from-scratch, manual re-do for every design because you only have a low-res version, which is TREMENDOUSLY more difficult, time-consuming and skill-requiring than is simply doing a few mouse clicks to perform a 5-seconds-long upscale operation for each design because you have higher-res versions. This will enormously reduce the incidence of design theft. High-security deadbolts don't provide perfect and total protection for your exterior doors either, but that does NOT mean you should simply leave your exterior doors wide open. It's not about perfect protection, rather it's all about requiring large levels of difficulty, skill and time expenditure as very effective deterrents to the vast majority of thieves. > Don't get me wrong, I hear you and can empathize, but > sitting on your work worrying about thieves the rest > of your life isn't going to get you anywhere. Perhaps requesting it here, on this newly-created Amazon service, CAN get me somewhere, if they'll actually implement it! > I suggest you get over it, publish your work, make some > money and take the wife on a vacation. Cheers. I appreciate your point of view, and I admit there's logic to it, and I may eventually give in and do it. But for now, I'm pushing for basic, common-sense protections like these. Thanks! .
Hey Bourbon, Hopefully I didn't come off too harsh. Like I said, I see right where you're coming from. As long as you've got other fires burning, I suppose waiting for a better deadbolt isn't too bad of an idea. Merch is brand new so the odds of your voice being heard on this matter is probably pretty good. Take care!