Photographer Corey Ann was outraged to find many of her photos circulating online, but with other people claiming credit. She wrote an angry blog post about it on her Photo Stealers website, and soon her Photo Stealers Facebook page—with 13,000 followers—was reported and blocked. However, that’s just the beginning of the story; when Ann reached out to Facebook about the issue, she received a response from an alleged Facebook sales representative that stunned her.
“Once something is posted or uploaded onto Facebook it becomes Facebook’s property,” the alleged rep wrote to her. “So if the original photographer uploaded the photo first onto Facebook and then others have taken it from there and uploaded it to their pages or profiles, this is legal and within policy, there’s nothing I can do about it unfortunately even if they are taking credit for the photos.”
Some skepticism has been raised about the truth of the rep’s comments; though it’s likely she does work for the social media giant, some of the points she made aren’t exactly true (Facebook licenses content on its site, but it does not “own” it).
Photography blog The Phoblographer pointed out several easy ways that this Facebook photo theft can be avoided altogether. Photographers should upload small images that are harder to use if taken. They should also watermark their imagery, or simply be more selective about what they upload.