Facebook Photos Employee Posts Step-by-Step Instructions for Stealing Grad Photos


It takes about 13 steps (give or take a step) to steal a graduation proof off of the Grad Images website and remove the watermark in Photoshop, but it only takes one step to get everybody in the photo community to hate you: post those 13 steps online in a cheeky blog post about “freeing” your grad photos.

Which brings us to Jesse Chen, a software engineer, graduate of UC Berkley and member of the Facebook Photos team who saw nothing wrong with posting detailed photo theft instructions on his blog for his fellow graduates.


You can find the full blog post here, but outside of the step-by-step walkthrough — which includes instructions on how to bypass disabled right-click in Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer, complete with screenshots… he was thorough — the spirit of the ‘tutorial’ is summed up in the introduction:

Congrats new grad. Now that graduation is over, photo proofs have been sent to you online for you to view. The only problem is, you can’t seem to save those pictures! Right clicking on the website seems to be disabled and you really want to see and share the images without that ugly copyright overlay or the proof watermark right in the middle of the picture.

Don’t worry. In this article, my buddy Jonathan Tien and I partnered up to teach you how to grab the image off the website, and use Photoshop to remove the proof watermark from the image.


Of course, the responses in the comments were anything but positive right up until he disabled commenting on the post. Everything from “so intellectual copyright theft is what they’re teaching at UC Berkley these days,” to “ummm… you know this is illegal right,” to some much more strongly worded comments.

Negative reaction or no, the post is still live and some 1,000 people have “liked” the tutorial… we wonder how many of those went ahead and grabbed their photos from Grad Images illegally now that they have a step-by-step guide.

  • Korios

    Being given this information from a facebook employee is exactly the same as being given instructions on bomb making by a CIA or NSA agent. Both info may exist publicly but it is their source that matters and thus gives them some special significance.

  • BuckCash

    Blah, blah, blah… You’re a pirate who infringes copyrights by stealing media. That’s really all I need to know about you and your opinions and justifications surrounding media piracy to understand your agenda here.

    There’s a couple of facts for you.

  • Theo Lubbe

    So to summarise

    I do not agree with the other party’s opinion, but I will tell them that they are wrong and that I am right, and anything they say is just noise to me. I do not need to explain my stance, as my stance is right, therefore it goes without saying it needn’t be explained.

    Those ‘facts’ of yours have nothing to do with the opinions you keep pressing on this matter. They’re merely an observation of an individual’s assumed behaviour.

    I doubt you’ve never pirated anything at all in your life, so I’ll use a word you seem to be quite fond of: “hypocrite”. Of course, it’ll be easy for you to claim you’ve never pirated anything, so all I can do is assume you have in spite of whatever you may say to the contrary.

    Now, are you going to stop being a petty child and explain why you believe people should not, under any circumstances, ever obtain a copy of a given media article for which they do not pay up-front? More than your solitary “there are people who review x” reason?

    Or should I just carry on along my way as I suggested before, leaving with nothing more than your ego-infused opinion that all piracy of any sort is inherently wrong and evil – because that’s what you believe and thus it’s “the truth”?

  • BuckCash

    Ask a copyright attorney or try to sell it to a judge that copyright law is just an opinion and that media piracy is justifiable.

    Good luck with that, pirate.

  • Snow Shine

    Nah, it was at some local food store; employee caught the man and he also drank one can of soda and two slices of cheese. He did not look like he did anything wrong lol

  • Theo Lubbe

    The way gun ownership is a constitutional right in America, while in many other countries being in possession of a firearm is a criminal offense?
    Or killing an intruder in your home is considered ‘self defense’ in America, while in many other countries it’s considered homicide, murder, manslaughter or aggravated assault?
    Or jay-walking is a criminal offense in some countries while in others it’s perfectly acceptable?

    I’ll say it again; America does not make up the entire world. The entire world does not follow America’s laws. America’s laws do not all extend outside of the country’s own borders. Different countries have different ideas as to what is ethically/morally acceptable and what is not. These ideas are taken into account when deliberating for law-making, amendments to laws or even the abolition of laws. There are many countries where copyright law simply doesn’t exist, and others where the greatest impact copyright law has is that people violating the copyright of a company, organization or individual from another country may be extradited if necessary.

    I don’t know how you’re coming to the conclusion I’m saying copyright law is “just opinion” or that media piracy is inherently justified; you’re only seeing in what I have to say what you want to believe I’m saying.

  • BuckCash

    Your whole spiel is about trying to justify your own piracy.

    That’s all any of us needs to know about you as regards THIS subject and THIS discussion.

    For all any of us knows, you’re in Wisconsin, not some country that does not recognize copyrights as legitimate. And if it doesn’t apply to you because you
    ARE in some country that allows for it, then why do you care to spend so much time and effort trying to justify it?

  • Theo Lubbe

    Because there are people, like you, who are so grossly over-opinionated on the matter as to try and dictate to others what is moral/ethical and what is not. I’ll remind you that you came and directly challenged my opinion on this matter, I didn’t come and challenge yours directly; so is it then acceptable for you to take issue with others’ opinions or ideas, but not for them to take issue with yours?

    I live in South Africa. It’s very easy for anyone to look me up and confirm that I do, in fact, live in South Africa. South Africa has copyright laws, but also makes reasonable allowance for fair use of copyrighted material and will only enforce copyright on media which has been licensed for sale in this country.

    A part of what’s deemed as ‘fair use’ here is that one does not intend to retain a permanent copy of whatever one accesses for the sake of ‘continued enjoyment’, that one does not deliberately re-distribute the content whether for profit or not and that the intended purpose of having in one’s possession a temporary copy of any given media is that it’s for review. This does not imply specifically ‘posted’ reviews such as video reviews, blogs or the like; it covers ‘personal’ review as well.

    Now, see, because the world does not revolve around America, things work differently in many parts of the world. The problem in this discussion of ours is that you appear to believe everything does revolve around America and that America über alles.

    It doesn’t, and it’s not.

  • BuckCash

    Except that South Africa has signed on to both the Berne Convention and the TRIPS agreement, making your newest excuse for trying to justify your piracy, the one about how the world doesn’t revolve around America, moot, since the United States, like South Africa, IS a member of the Berne Convention and the TRIPS agreement.

    Now then, what’s the chapter and section of the current version of the South Africa Copyright Act of 1978 for “fair use”. I couldn’t find it, but you obviously know it by heart.

  • Bolkey

    Leaving value out on the stereet and expecting everybody to respect that… well, it’s just not how this world works.

  • timtoksi

    And then watch them completely ignore you.

  • timtoksi

    But in your analogy, he didn’t eat that apple. He made a copy of it on his 3D printer and ate that one.

  • timtoksi

    But he’s not taking it. He’s simply making a copy of it.

  • timtoksi

    Doubt it. Facebook loves taking people’s content and using it for themselves. If anything, he’ll get promoted for being innovative.

  • timtoksi

    I also wish everyone who disagrees with me should be fired from their job!

  • timtoksi

    Yes! Let’s resort to violence!

  • timtoksi

    Credit is just to say he took it. He probably won’t care if you used it.

  • timtoksi

    Actually he would teach you to make a copy of the the Coke recipe.

  • timtoksi

    Seriously hilarious first world problems.

  • timtoksi

    And I’m sure you’ve never went over the speed limit, jaywalked, downloaded music, and lived 100% by the law.

  • timtoksi

    He wrote it 2 years ago, fresh out of college. Cut the kid some slack. He’s already removed the post.

    And make sure you never go above the speed limit, jaywalk, download music and movies, and anything else like that.

  • timtoksi

    Oh please, he’s a programmer from a good college. These guys are in high demand. Stop being jealous.

  • timtoksi

    So you’ve never drove above the speed limit, jaywalked, or shared music?

  • Adam Sternberg

    There is a big difference between crossing the street outside of a crosswalk which carries about a $100 fine and teaching people how to commit copyright theft which can carry damages of $150,000 per infringement. It’s a pretty stupid argument you are making.


    timtoksi, ahhhh… so you are one of those “Pick and Choose the laws you want to abide by.” kinda guys. Theft of somebody’s property is okay to you apparently. I suspect you do not understand the BUSINESS of photography at all, if you do not understand the value of the work produced by photographers. If photography is your hobby, then you may not feel compelled to care about the lost income to theft of your images.

    Professionals… SERIOUS PROFESSIONALS consider their work a commodity that has value each and every time it is used and it should be used with the owner/photographer’s permission/compensation and if not, use should be restricted.

    I suspect you’re not going to understand that concept, regardless of how many times PROFESSIONAL photographers post it.


    Most of us were raised to understand that principle. Apparently there are some who were not. JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN, DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD! ETHICS! MORALS! Are they virtues that do not exist in 2014?

    A photographer’s work IS NOT YOURS TO TAKE, just because you see no harm in it… like Jay Walking or Speeding. EACH have penalties if you get caught, regardless of whether YOU or I imagine the laws don’t matter. SPEEDING has a penalty, get caught… YOU PAY! Copyright Infringement has a penalty, get caught… YOU PAY! Or SHOULD!

    We are discussing THE TOPIC, not necessarily the SPECIFIC CASE OR THE KID HIMSELF. It does not matter if he did this two years ago or last night… You really don’t understand this concept of PRINCIPLES do you?

    You are suggesting one should do whatever they can get away with, after all… what’s the big deal, speeding? Jaywalking? Stealing movies? Stealing the product of someone else’s work? NO BIG DEAL to you!


    I think you have an open and shut case!

    Feel free to use your comment to me as evidence in your lawsuit.

  • Wei Chung Lim


  • BuckCash

    Since when can a 3D printer make an edible apple?

    And, by the way, the sign on the front of the store says right on it, “no copying of the merchandise allowed – violators will be prosecuted under copyright law”.

  • Pete

    When I write an article about breaking the law and taking money away from working photographers please get back to me.

  • Richard Ford

    You are as big an f-wit as he is to some. Good work. How righteous you are. How’s that glass house going mate?

  • Richard Ford

    Douche. Seriously. Your piousness is vomit invoking. Do you have a closet full of pitch forks? Spend more time on working out how to create value and make a business out of it and you and other photos would be far better off than the energy being wasted with this vengeful act of character assassination.

  • henrymaxm

    Well said.

  • moonshin

    i really dont care what you think i am….

  • Andres Trujillo

    what’s wrong with violence?

  • Richard Ford

    Oh – but you care what the world and his employer think of this guy and what he did a few years ago? You sir are pond scum, the worst kind of pathetic drop kick. You should be ashamed of yourself. Hypocrite.

  • Peter

    I get its stealing, but when Grad Images is charging $170 for 4 pictures…who’s the real thief?? Y’all are just mad you went to college for photography and need to rip off students with loans and debt just to pay back yours (bc your job obviously won’t suffice).

  • SaintsMeachum

    You don’t even need “fancy” right-click bypass craps. All you need is to look at media on page info.