Actually the title of this blog post should be:
How to get Facebook to remove a copyrighted image, in 10 not so easy steps, that are neither intuitive, nor user friendly and will take you some time to figure out
Say you’ve found a photo on Facebook that’s yours, but someone else is using with out your permission. That just happened to me a few weeks ago. Bitton Events, a local event company, had stolen a copyrighted image of an event, that I produced in 2013, without my permission. My requests to the company to please not use an image that displays work they had nothing to do with fell on deaf ears. I even wrote a review on their Facebook page, figuring this would maybe light a fire under their butt. However all that accomplished is that Bitton Events had Facebook remove my review (no wonder they have only 5 star reviews on Facebook, they have all others removed.) The event company that had actually light and provided sound for my event had even called Bitton Events and requested Bitton to stop using their work and deceiving people fraudulently in passing off someone elses work as their own.
How to get Facebook to remove an image of yours from where it does not belong
What do you do? Ok. Let’s back up just a bit – legally any photographer (amateur or professional) owns the copyright to any image he or she creates the second you click the shutter. You can register it with the US government’s copyright office, but that registration does not give you the copyright, it just records it in the Library of Congress. This registration does let you sue for damages, if it is made within 6 months of first publication, however this post is not about how and why you should register your images, but is to say that the copyright is yours, as soon as you create the image. Period.
Back to finding your image being used illegally on Facebook – oh btw this does not apply to any image you upload to Facebook, that Facebook wants to use. They can actually sell your image without any compensation to you, under the new Terms and Conditions.
Pretty nifty, huh? But that’s another story for another time, however it is the reason I watermark all my images on social media.
If you want to read a privacy lawyers opinion on how the new Facebook terms and conditions will affect all of us starting January 1st of next year read Michael Grothaus (@michaelgrothaus) interview on vice.com.
10 Steps to get Facebook to remove a copyrighted image
Here are the 10 not so easy steps, that are neither intuitive, nor user friendly and will take you some time to figure out that you need to take to report a federal copyright violation to Facebook:
- Click on the photo on Facebook and select ‘Report Photo’.
This option is either in options underneath the image right next to [nextpage title=”next”]
tag photo, share, like, ect. or it just says report photo.
- Select “I think it shouldn’t be on Facebook.”
That’s still pretty obvious. According to Facebook’s own Community Standards, they say: “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.” and “We take the safety of our members seriously and work to prevent attempts to compromise their privacy or security, including those that use fraud or deception. Additionally, we ask that you respect our members by not contacting them for commercial purposes without their consent.“However Facebook uses the honor system to have you decide, if you have the rights to use an image or not. It would be very easy for them to read the metadata, that your camera writes into every image it takes, where you can define the copyright holder, copyright status, contact information, ect.
Then it would be a simple check of the copyright status in the image and who is posting it. But Facebook (and most of the other social media companies) don’t just ignore this information in the image, they actually remove it from the image. Thanks Facebook. Anyway report photo will get you to a series of pop up windows on Facebook – here’s the first one:
- Select “Something else” (This is one of the least intuitive steps).
OK can you figure out which of these steps will guide you to an intellectual property or copyright violation? Someone stealing my work annoys me, insults me and it’s a photo of mine I do not want on this Facebook page. I didn’t even click on “something else” the first time around and just figured I was in the wrong place to report someone stealing my work.You really need to get there by process of elimination and “something else” at least to me, sounds like something less bad than the other options and not the one that is actually breaking a federal law.
This gets you to the next pop up …
- Select “I think it’s an unauthorized use of my intellectual property.
No. I don’t think this is an unauthorized use of my intellectual property, I am positive that some Schmuck has stolen my work and is fraudulently trying to deceive others into believing they could have produced this work.
Hit continue to get to one more pop-up
- What you can do.
That’s nice. To get here, you had to find a couple of buried links, some of which make no sense whatsoever and you have to be pretty determined to continue. Facebook is not making this easy. But now you get Facebook’s suggestions on what you could do either you contact the person or page that’s using your image or can learn more about reporting intellectual property on Facebook. In a recent case I did contact Bitton Events an event company that blatantly stole a copyrighted image of an event that I had produced. You can read about how that unfolded Bitton Events posts stolen work online.
- The “learn more” link takes you to a help page on Facebook that talks about Intellectual property.
Another long help page. It’s as Facebook is trying to dissuade you from reporting this violation. So you read through this, thinking that the next click will bring you to a place you can actually let someone know that you’ve been robbed!
- No! It just takes you to another help page on Facebook that talks about copyright:
Seriously? I have to go through another page on copyright? Really? OK. There’s a bunch of links on this page (one of which – the one you think you’ll need) doesn’t work. Finally, as Facebook puts it, you may want to fill out this form. Well yes that’s what I’ve been trying to do since I clicked on report this image half an hour ago! Let’s see what happens.
- Finally that get’s you to a place where you can start reporting the violation
Well kind of – you need to select Copyright, Trademark or Other (I shudder to think where other is gonna take you), and then you have to select Continue with your copyright claim, a radio button which is not visible until you click on Copyright.
- Finally Facebook gives you the form gets you started
This is a two page long form – much of the data could be pulled in from your Facebook profile, like your name for instance, but again it’s designed to make you work to protect your copyright.
- Eureka! Once you’re finished, you get a confirmation page with all the details of your claim.
Facebook then follows up with an automated email that lists all the info you entered in your Copyright violation claim.
A few hours later the image is removed from the offending page.
Facebook did really well here. The Copyright violation was rectified quickly, where the only thing that remains on Bitton Events facebook page is the following:
UPDATE: Fellow PPA photographer Ned Levi (@) points out that you can skip directly to step 6 or click on the ‘help’ tab (it’s under the little arrow on the right side of the header) on any Facebook page and search for “report copyright violation”. So next time I’ll know where to start.
The back story
You can read the back story of what prompted me to figure out how to have Facebook remove a copyrighted image from a company’s page: Bitton Events posts stolen photograph online