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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…