PetaPixel

Facebook Shuttering Massive Pages for Violating Photo Copyrights

Facebook takes the copyright infringement of photographs seriously. So seriously that it doesn’t think twice about instantly — and permanently — nuking offending pages, regardless of how popular those pages are. Case in point: two months ago, popular trend hunting blog The Cool Hunter had its popular page abruptly deleted; the page boasted over 788,000 fans, contained five years’ worth of content, and was a huge source of traffic for the company’s website. Facebook has since stated that the removal was due to “multiple instances of copyright infringement.

Last week, The Cool Hunter founder Bill Tikos published a post that gives his account of what happened, and acknowledged that his page contained unattributed photos:

[One of the reasons] that could have caused the closure of our FB page is that we sometimes use images even when we do not know who has taken the picture.

With FB, Tumblr, Pinterest and all the other image-sharing opportunities today, millions of people and organizations share images – theirs and someone else’s – freely every day. We WANT to give credit always, but in many cases we cannot find that information. On our “About Us” page and on our (now extinct) FB page we specifically state that if we have posted an image that belongs to you, we want to know, so that we can give you the appropriate credit.

[...] we cannot believe that they think that everyone who clicks “share” on FB has checked that they personally have the right to post that image! That is a ridiculous idea. If people did that, FB would not be the business it is. It would be a tiny little official online group of insiders who share each others’ images and copy. Facebook is founded on FREE SHARING. They make their money based on that sharing.

The key point is that absolutely every one of us has posted images AND COPY whose author we do not know and whose authors’ permission we do not have. Facebook is built on this sharing. As are pretty much all other social media platforms. So, why do they attack a few and not all, if they are the police?

The Next Web has learned from Facebook that this deletion is permanent, and points out that Facebook’s Community Standards are clear on this issue of respecting photo copyrights:

Before sharing content on Facebook, please be sure you have the right to do so. We ask that you respect copyrights, trademarks, and other legal rights.

Tikos has a point: Facebook is teeming with people sharing photos in a way that violates the service’s terms of use. However, it’s generally the big fish that make enough of a splash to get targeted and taken down. If you’re a copyright-violating big fish, you’d better watch your back…


 
  • Samcornwell

    That’s all good and well until they make a mistake.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.maniago Jonathan Maniago

    *ehem*

    EXIF metadata, please.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.maniago Jonathan Maniago

    *ehem*

    EXIF metadata, please.

  • http://twitter.com/Vasterasbilder Västerås Bilder

    Since the title mentions “pages”, what other “massive pages” have been shut down by FB?

  • http://www.facebook.com/aydensgrace Ayden Gotzmer

    FB and many other photo sharing sites strip the EXIF metadata from the photo when they are uploaded.

  • Knur

    Facebook = Terror

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.maniago Jonathan Maniago

    I know. How hard would it be to actually retain the EXIF in database and/or the uploaded images themselves? Given the typical resolutions of uploaded snapshots these days, would a little more data be that much trouble?

    That would at least make -some- of those images traceable for those willing to give credit and for those protecting their copyright.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BigDaveP David Portass

    Yeah, Facebook is great for getting interest in my photos and more business but I loathe Facebook for compressing the images to a bad quality but more importantly stripping all the exif data off, that is why every photo I upload to my business page and my personal page have my watermark on it with my details.

  • Niel

    I wonder if FB is working on something similar, or just want people to use instagram

  • Matt

    Really? How do you come up with that? Maybe you think everything on the web is free?
    To me this is FB actually doing something right for a change, and it appears that they even give multiple warnings.

  • Alex Micu

    Actually, Facebook deletes all the exif info except the “copyright field” If you upload a photo on Facebook, which has a “copyright” field, will be posted as a description of that photo automatically

  • derekdj

    Cool Hunting is a great promotional site for products and brands which makes them a target for Facebook. Since FB doesn’t receive any referral dollars from Cool Hunting’s page it creates a bad precedent for their advertising business. I bet they would’ve turned a blind eye if Cool Hunting was paying FB ad revenue or referral fees from their page.

  • tp82669

    As a music and event photographer, I have experienced this myself and sent my fair share of Takedown Notices to infringers. True, many social sites engage in this kind of image sharing but that doesn’t negate the fact that photographers own their images and retain the right to decide to whom and where to share their photos. Legally, it is the responsibility of the individual sharing or using the image to go through the proper channels to gain the appropriate permissions for the images they are utilizing.
    It is not the up to the photographer to have to spend valuable time and resources to chase down their images and correct the infringer after the fact, although it seems like it is now becoming necessary in order to protect the value of their own intellectual property.What is even more disappointing is that in recent years with everyone in the world having access to cameras and the web as a publishing platform, the subject of copyright infringement and intellectual property is no longer a mysterious concept and people who should know better are still disregarding the law and continuing to use the images of other people without proper licensing and permissions.
    The bottom line is, if you didn’t take the picture, assume someone else owns the rights to it. Plain and simple. If you can’t locate the rights holder, there are plenty of sites that offer royalty-free and/or creative commons licensing that may allow you to use images for free and/or without attribution.
    The time I spend checking the web for unauthorized use of my images is significant and means that I have less time to go out and actually create new images, therefore reducing my income-generating activities. Which then requires me to spend more time invoicing the infringer for the use of my image. Which in turn raises my prices. (And yes, I will charge you for using my photo whether you asked permission or not.) And people wonder why professional photographers seem so expensive.

  • catlover

    So I should take down all those cute cat photos I have been sharing?

  • http://twitter.com/rdumitrescu Radu Dumitrescu

    Sharing someone’s photo is one thing, UPLOADING is another…

  • dallasphotog

    Let’s see your website. Share a link.

  • D Marie

    Personally, I have never uploaded a photo to Facebook that I did not have the right to upload. I resent the implication that it is OK since ‘everyone does it.’ If you see something that belongs to someone else and you want to show it to your friends, post the link. I’m glad Facebook has taken a stand.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.prue Peter Prue

    On all my images even the copyright info is deleted. If FB was serious about copyright infringement it would keep the data intact. The very act of stripping it out shows that they have no real interest in copyright protection at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.prue Peter Prue

    On all my images the copyright info is deleted. If FB was serious about copyright infringement it would keep the data intact. The very act of stripping it out shows that they have no real interest in copyright protection at all.

  • Mm45

    That is so well-put! I wish people would understand this concept. I often say under my breath, sure, you like my photo enough to steal it but not enough to pay for it! May I re-post your final paragraph? I could not have said it better myself!

  • http://www.facebook.com/paulawirth Paula Wirth

    Facebook actually will auto add copyright info to the photo description from the EXIF data, I see it all the time w/ my photos uploads. As for other data being stripped, I don’t know. The person sharing the photo can delete the (c) text from the description if they choose. As for not knowing the owners of photos, these days you can use Google Reverse Image Search or TinEye to seach images for the originals/credit info. I recently had a major company use my copyrighted photo for their Facebook ad, taken from Flickr, with All Rights Reserved and copyright info in the description and settings.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.kantor John Kantor

    That’s why we have the right to cheap handguns and assault rifles in this country. But I assume they were smart and had everything backed up with something like Social Safe.

  • tp82669

    Re-post away. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.kantor John Kantor

    There’s not a single page on FB that doesn’t do this – and it’s all Fair Use. You couldn’t ask for a better excuse for a class-action lawsuit. Now where’s a sleazy lawyer when you need one?

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.kantor John Kantor

    Fair Use gives anyone the right to post copyrighted material. Only the copyright holder can challenge that – and only in court. So Facebook has violated their own terms of service. They are going to get sued into oblivion.

  • Peter

    If copyright infringement is such an issue for Facebook, they should shut down their own website entirely. Let’s face it, they live off it, making big bucks of people looking at illegal copies of just anything.
    It’s not as if Facebook is never bending the rules in their own favour…

  • Peter Russell

    In many countries it is illegal to strip out the metadata from an image, or indeed to supply software that is capable of doing that. To expect people to take care of their copyright and then remove the majority of the ways of combating the problem is inexcusable! Thank God for Tin Eye.

  • Jeffrey Friedl

    He talks about “credit”, as if that somehow magically grants yourself copyright. I’m not surprised by such ignorance from some random Facebook user, but am surprised that Michael Zhang seems to have bought it at face value.

  • http://twitter.com/kkartPhoto jdebordphoto.com

    sadly true, however at least G+ doesn’t

  • Al

    “The key point is that absolutely every one of us has posted images AND
    COPY whose author we do not know and whose authors’ permission we do not
    have.”
    This is where he lost me. Don’t speak for me, I don’t, and never have.

    As an amateur photog I refuse to post anything that I’m not attributing and the fact you use that line to justify your actions is terribly unoriginal and weak. Did they seriously try the “well, everyone else is doing it!” argument?

    Not saying anyone should get away with it, but them nuking you is perfectly legit. Do it right and you wouldn’t have a problem now would you? Such a shining example of the laziness of elements in our society. Pfft. No sympathy. I would have had some had you not tried that argument.

  • derekdj

    Yes, but the referral mechanism is the same, both link out which deprives FB of ad revenue. I have a feeling the motivation behind shuttering the page was more economics and precedence than “copyright”. Their own Share and Cache mechanism is responsible for more copyright infringement than anything else.

  • M Brew

    If you post your picture on facebook then you need to realize that it is no longer private. If they dont want their stuff shared then DONT POST TO FACEBOOK!! or facebook needs to remove the “share” button!!

  • self

    Facebook is the greatest breaker of copyright laws ans they deal with personal data. I have a copyright on my personal data.
    I deleted my facebook account because of too many incidents taken place with facebook.

  • self

    yes, I totally agree with You.More than terror.

  • mary

    So what is the correct way to post photos on a FB page?

  • thierry

    from wikipedia “Since the Exif tag contains information about the photo, it can pose a privacy issue. For example, a photo taken with a GPS-enabled camera can reveal the exact location and time it was taken, and the unique ID number of the device – this is all done by default – often without the user’s knowledge. By removing the Exif tag with software such as ExifTool before publishing, the photographer can avoid possible problems. “

  • thierry

    from wikipedia “Since the Exif tag contains information about the photo, it can pose a privacy issue. For example, a photo taken with a GPS-enabled camera can reveal the exact location and time it was taken, and the unique ID number of the device – this is all done by default – often without the user’s knowledge. By removing the Exif tag with software such as ExifTool before publishing, the photographer can avoid possible problems. “

  • Michael7395

    It would be a lot easier to find out who actually ownes the pictures if Facebook didn’t delete all the EXIF data from the pictures.

  • http://stormbringer005.blogspot.com Stormbringer005

    What a joke! I filed a complaint with FB because my picture was used without permission. The guilty party fought it, saying it was “Fair Use” (making up his own version of the law as he went along, clearly disunderstanding the concept for his own gain). FB told me that I have to file a “cease and desist” order in federal court. Meanwhile, people post screen shots of other groups in various groups and Pages, in clear violation of FB rules, and those are allowed to stand. How can they haul off and shut down entire Pages without the owners of the copyrighted photos doing the complaining? Watch out, Pinterest!

  • http://stormbringer005.blogspot.com Stormbringer005

    FB steals your photos, claims they have the right to use them as they see fit.

  • Eric E

    I think the whole thing on copyrights on pictures is largely exaggerated. When someone would use a professional picture and make money with it without asking the owner of the photo or picture, I could understand. If however, someone takes a great picture that get shared viral, you should see it as a compliment and free publicity. I can’t understand those ‘professional’ photographers that make an issue out of this because as long as no else is commercializing their picture there is nothing wrong. Isn’t the objective of taking a picture that people actually can see it? Or are we going to an era in which you have to pay per view when you watch by coincidence a picture that you didn’t take yourself???

  • Me

    NO, it’s the same thing