PetaPixel

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

gradsteal

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.

gradsteal1

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.

gradsteal2

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.


 
  • BuckCash

    It’s called “sarcasm”, and he’s making a point to those who thinks there IS a difference.

  • Paul-Simon

    That sure would suck, but doing business through digital distribution you sort of have to expect some loss through piracy, unless they come up with a more clever solution.

    I don’t have to worry about that because my way of doing business doesn’t work this way.

    So I guess my word of advice is to come up with better, less vulnerable solutions. If something can be exploited, it often will be exploited.

  • Jason Yuen

    I agree with that. But don’t assume I’m justifying breaking the law just because I said watermarks are ineffective.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    Ahh, i missed (and I think a lot of others did too) that this was sarcasm – missed the /sarcasm tag ;)

  • Paul-Simon

    The answer is often yes, depending on how you define “okay”.

    Okay with the law? Nah.

    Okay with the species who define the law? See, piracy is actually very socially accepted all over the world, so I’d say it’s “generally” a yes, but it of course varies by context.

  • BuckCash

    That’s like saying, “there’s not much anyone can do to stop the behavior of ANY criminal activity, so let’s just throw our hands in the air and accept it, because it’s not going to stop – Oh well…”

    Immoral behavior and the law apparently don’t mean much at all to you, since it’s not affecting you directly, I guess.

    Oh wait… You say you’re a photographer? Show me your stuff, so that I can copy it and use it however I please, since you don’t care because there’s “not much anyone can do to stop the behaviour” anyway.

    Tell us all, oh seer of photographic business vision, how YOU have adapted YOUR photography business so that piracy doesn’t affect you.

  • Paul-Simon

    There’s also those that may want it but can’t afford it.
    Though admittedly it might not fit in very well in this case.

  • BuckCash

    You didn’t “just” say that watermarks are ineffective though.

    You went on to compare theft of intellectual property in the form of photographs (what THIS article and THIS discussion ARE ABOUT) to theft of TV advertising by changing the channel when the ads come on, and tried to make the case that they are essentially the same thing, AND that it doesn’t apparently matter that there’s are ACTUAL LAWS that protect one and not the other.

  • Paul-Simon

    I have stayed around long enough in this digital age to realize that piracy is very hard to stop unless you straight up change your business strategy so that it’s impossible.
    If it can be exploited it often will be.

    I’m sure you’d find my photographs if you really cared, but I’m not keen on showing off in this context.

    I am clearly the seer of photographic business, as I’m a small time photographer, a student, even. Nah, I’m no expert.
    I sometimes earn tiny bits of money doing work for local newspapers, or doing general advertisement work for companies.
    I even get paid for what I deliver there and then, what people do with my pictures afterwards I really don’t care much about.

    Maybe in the future I’ll be a grumpy guy being angry about piracy, but not today. I don’t see it necessary, I don’t plan to work in a way where I allow piracy to affect me.

  • BuckCash

    No, you actually DON’T have to expect some loss through piracy, as that implies that it’s okay, and it’s simply not.

    That said, EVERY time it’s discovered, it needs to be fully prosecuted until people like you get it through your heads that it’s NOT “to be expected” because it’s NOT okay. It’s THEFT, just like any other kind of THEFT, including the kinds of theft that would affect YOU PERSONALLY.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    I want a Mercedes, but can’t afford it. That doesn’t mean I have any right to steal one.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    It’s not socially acceptable all over the world. It occurs all over, which is a different matter. Everyone who does it knows they are doing something wrong, but hope that they won’t get caught. Don’t confuse lazyness and being cheap with acceptability. To do so is disingenuous.

  • Jason Yuen

    Again. Never said laws don’t matter. Let’s get it straight. I’m not talking about law. I was talking about theft in various forms. I said that people are more sensitive to some forms than others. Everyone likes to whack each other with the law argument and that’s not what I’m touching on.

  • Paul-Simon

    Now I’m not sure how old you are, but I’m fairly young. College young. Pirating music and movies and games is regular stuff, nobody bats an eyelid. It’s extremely common. Downloading a picture? Most people will not even think it over.

  • Paul-Simon

    But if you could magically out of thin air make a copy of it, wouldn’t that be tempting?
    If a magic genie gave you a wish, and you wished for a Mercedes, wouldn’t that be exactly the same as stealing one since you didn’t pay for your copy?

  • Jason Yuen

    Who says piracy is always wrong? I will come out and say that I pirate music. I pirate it off the pirate bay. I also work for a physical media distribution company (ie. music & video CD/DVD). I do it not because I steal. I do it to discover new music. However, the difference is that I go and buy the album if I like it. I don’t consider that theft. In fact, I would argue that that is an instance where piracy exposes artists to a larger fan base. Now don’t turn this around and say I’m all for pirates because I’m not. It’s how it’s used that people are touchy about and people who are uninformed will simply bracket all pirates as thieves. There are numerous reasons why people resort to piracy even if they are willing to pay.

  • David Addams

    No. Ad blocking software is not theft.

    It’s me preventing someone else from using my property to make money.

    Blocking someone from my property (my computer) is not a crime. Taking property that belongs to someone else (the photograph) is.

    Personally, I’m tired of people playing this “moral equivalency game” in an attempt to justify criminal behavior.

  • NickGHK

    So you’re subscribing to the “if it’s on the Internet, it’s free” viewpoint …

    I notice from other posts that (1) you’re a small-time photographer, (2) you don’t take steps to avoid your work being pirated – it’s not part of your business model , (3) when you take photos for money, you just hand them over, end of story. I have to say, on the evidence you’ve presented, that you’re not a professional. You’re a part-timer at best. No criticism of that; it’s your choice. But there are hundreds of thousands of full-time professional photographers around the world for whom their IP in their works is their main business asset – one they’ve built over years of hard work, self-employed and so going without annual leave, sick leave, medical benefits, and all the other perks of employment.

    I like to eat dinner each day, and I like to feed my kids. If you use one of my photos without paying me, you’re stealing my ability to do that.

    There’s no doubt that paradigms regarding photography are changing. But the law, until it is changed, still stands. If you want to decide that that law is not as you like it, then get elected to public office, and work to change the law as you see fit, if you can. Otherwise, stfu.

  • BuckCash

    Oh, yeah, right, because “Paul Simon” is such a unique name, how could I miss it, right? C’mon, give us a website, so we can go take your photos and use them however we want. You already said that you don’t care. Some other Paul Simon might care if we do it to him though.

    Prove that you don’t care and that the law doesn’t matter to you and that if it were up to you, anything that gets displayed on my screens should be free to do whatever we want with.

  • NickGHK

    Magic genie? Seriously?

  • BuckCash

    So, you’re saying that you only “pirate” music you’ve never heard before. Then, if you like it, you buy it and delete the pirated one, and if you don’t like it you just delete the pirated one.

    Even if that’s true…

    How does that IN ANY WAY compare to what we’re ACTUALLY talking about here, which is copying a photo, removing the watermark and then printing and / or redistributing it, now without the watermark, physically or over electronic media such as email or social network or websites, to others, such as family and friends?

    ‘Splain it to me.

  • http://www.blakebritton.com Blake Britton

    and now the post has been removed from the blog.

  • NickGHK

    Not surprised.

  • BuckCash

    In some neighborhoods, breaking into houses and stealing anything that isn’t nailed down is “regular stuff, nobody bats an eyelid. It’s extremely common.”

    Does that make it okay?

  • http://www.blakebritton.com Blake Britton

    I’m sure that if you spent your time and hard earned money trying to make a living that you wouldn’t want someone ripping you off and grabbing it for free now would you Paul-Simon?

  • Paul-Simon

    Does piracy affect you badly?
    It’s pretty severe within the industries of music, movies, software and video games.
    If it doesn’t affect you noticeably, well I suppose you don’t have much to worry about. Why care about what I say.

    I suppose I speak on behalf of the generation of people who don’t really care about piracy because it’s become such a commonplace thing, and it’s a thing that is very hard to protect against if your method of distribution is digital.

    It doesn’t mean I believe people should pirate other peoples content, it means you should expect your business to be exploited unless you have effective countermeasures or loyal potential customers.

    Just to clarify:
    I buy music, movies, videogames and software.
    I’ve never had the need of buying a photograph though (I produce my own).

  • BuckCash

    You say, “It doesn’t mean I believe people should pirate other peoples content”, but you’ve made it clear that you think it’s just fine to do that. From your point of view, it’s commonplace, nobody bats an eye. That being the case, it’s clear that you do it as well because you really have made it clear that you, and your generation according to you, think it’s really no big deal at all. So why wouldn’t you pirate anything you can? Music, movies, games, photos – it’s all fair game for you.

    It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure this one out: Your responses throughout this thread are in defense of your own acts of piracy, which you’re trying to justify.

  • NickGHK

    As far as I can see, the generation you so blithely speak on behalf of (Did you ask them? All of them?) “don’t really care about piracy” because they’re not actually producing anything of value – yet. Once you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’re not getting paid fair recompense for the use of something you’ve created, come back and tell me how you feel then.

  • NickGHK

    And that’s why people who *have* thought it through – who try to make a living from creating stuff – put watermarks on their photos.

  • BuckCash

    But the rest of us ARE talking about the LAW – COPYRIGHT LAW. And we’re also talking about how VIOLATING that LAW and teaching other how to VIOLATE that LAW affects people that LAW is designed to protect – people who depend on that LAW to protect the way they earn MONEY.

    Nobody give’s a rat’s tail about how people change the channel and “rob” advertisers. If anybody, including the advertising industry, actually cared about such a thing, no doubt they could pay off some legislator to introduce a bill in Congress to pass a LAW protecting them.

    I repeat: Your point is MOOT in THIS discussion.

  • Steve

    See what you started Vinnie :)

  • NickGHK

    Is it just me, or do all the “what’s wrong with it?” and “who cares?” exponents in these comments sound seriously entitled? Ah, the sweet naiveté of youth …

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    Not if by having that genie create one, it denied the creator of that car the profit for their work. Because then everyone would be making ‘instant’ Mercedes, and there would be no future ones, or innovation because we’ve driven the car maker out of business.

  • Paul-Simon

    It’s a thing that is morally wrong but has ended up being pretty common. I’m not trying to justify it.
    People will confidently think “well, nobody gets caught anyways”, and then download a movie. And then 20 movies later they don’t even think about it.
    This is because of digital distribution being extremely easy to exploit but hard to track, so many people just don’t see the reason behind actually paying for it.

    You can try to fight it, and many companies do, but it’s rarely very effective for long as there’s always a way around whatever security you put on digital content.

    However, services like Netflix, Spotify and Steam are good examples of ways to fight the behaviour by making it more convenient to legally aquire the content.

    I’m not exactly sure where this argument is heading right now though.

  • Paul-Simon

    But you can see how many people would not even consider that part? I believe it’s much the same with piracy.

  • Paul-Simon

    It’s an analogy to explain a concept. The simpler the better.

  • Paul-Simon

    Difference would be that the owners would lose their things, while a copied digital file does not disappear. (and usually the owners don’t even notice)

    While I understand what you mean, I don’t feel the scenarios are comparable.

  • Steve

    He’s probably a poser. He sure doesn’t sound like a professional photographer to me. He’s probably some enthusiast at best who doesn’t make a dime on his “work” anyway. Everyone thinks they are a photog these days.

  • BuckCash

    You’re just embarrassing yourself now with this spiel. You’ve been justifying piracy the whole time on this thread, and you still are.

    You say it’s morally wrong now, but you claim that everyone in your generation does it, so it’s obvious that you do too. You don’t care if it’s legal or not, as long as you don’t get caught.

    Yeah, your moral compass is busted. You might want to have that looked at.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    Sure it’s regular stuff in college – we do lots of stuff in college that’s extremely selfish and without regards to others. I’m sure I did, but I paid my own way through college, as a working photographer – I always valued other people’s hard work, whether it was creative work, or the person that gave up their day to serve food in the commons.

    People and their work have value, and for you to disregard that value isn’t just illegal, its incredibly selfish.

    Just because ‘everyone else’ you are around does it doesn’t make it right. If you drink and drive every day and get away with it does it make it right?

  • Paul-Simon

    Of course not, but if I were to start a (successful) business that relied on digital distribution I would not be surprised to hear about piracy of the content. Frustrating, I know, but attempting to fight it is often ineffective.

  • BuckCash

    Of course you don’t think they’re comparable, because it doesn’t affect you personally, and you yourself pirate stuff so you’re trying to justify it.

    If someone takes something from my house, but I don’t notice it missing, was it still stolen from me? Did I still lose something of monetary value? Is the person who took it still a thief?

  • Steve

    Well young man, just wait until you get caught stealing IP or CI. Remember you can’t claim ignorance of the law after the fact. It’s a civil offense and you’ll pay for it if you get caught.

  • prometheus1010

    People who have never worked for a living.

  • NickGHK

    Er, yeah, OK. I’m guessing that Bob and I can handle concepts themselves …

    How about: theft is theft. You can try to justify piracy as being commonplace all you like, but I think if you were to find yourself in front of a judge (0.01% percent is not zero, remember – there’s always a chance it’ll be you), he would laugh your rationale out of court and hand you a request for a large amount of money.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    And I think that’s the crux (and issue) of your argument – which I understand, but a lot of people consider a lot of things, however that doesn’t make it okay to act on those impulses. That’s what ethics, maturity (and sometimes the law) is all about.

  • Paul-Simon

    Many of them are uploaded to Flickr in full resolution with no watermarks. But I don’t feel like showing off my mess of a Flickr account. If you find it though, have fun with it.

  • Paul-Simon

    I’m a photo student and an enthusiast, I earn a tiny bit of money now and then and hope to earn more on it in the future. I’m by no means professional in the field.
    I sure am a photographer though, and I’m sure you’d agree if we’d met outside the circumstaces of this forum argument.

  • Paul-Simon

    When that day comes I will be sure to notify you.

  • BuckCash

    Show it anyway. Maybe we’ll find something there that we like and, more importantly, that we can exploit? What have you got to lose, since you don’t care anyway?

    Stop being such a pansy about it and just provide the link.