Facebook's New Copyright Protection Tool Seems Useless for Photographers

Facebook's New Copyright Protection Tool Seems Useless for Photographers

Facebook has announced that it will be introducing new measures to fight copyright breaches, but photographers fed up with seeing their work free-booted on Instagram should not get excited: the system is limited, can easily be evaded, and seems to have been designed with large brands in mind.

Facebook is updating its Rights Manager tool, making it easier to identify when images have been used without permission. The system is currently only available to those who submit an application who will then be asked to upload a CSV file containing metadata for the images that they wish to have protected.

Facebook’s announcement explains that the Rights Manager will use “image-matching technology to help creators and publishers protect and manage their image content at scale,” suggesting that the tool is not designed with individual photographers in mind, but is geared towards brands running campaigns who need to maintain close control over their assets. Creators have to specify where their copyright applies and which territories should be omitted.

As detailed by The Verge, the system relies on matching both the image and the metadata. If metadata is critical to the Rights Tool’s detection mechanism, it is easily evaded, as stripping information from image files is a simple process. Metadata is an archaic and flawed system for protecting images, and it's unclear why Facebook has chosen to use it for its new system.

Given its near-infinite resources, if Facebook were serious about tackling copyright, it could easily implement a system whereby image data is embedded into the image itself, as proven by services such as IMATAG. The process of posting images to the social networks could invisibly insert copyright information, and any reposting of that content would immediately flag it to the system. It’s not clear why Facebook is not pursuing such technology.

As it stands, detecting copyright infringements is dependent upon users identifying breaches, not Instagram or Facebook. It’s likely that hundreds of thousands of images are posted without the owner’s permission every day, undermining the networks’ own terms and conditions, and creating vast amounts of advertising revenue.

Is Facebook serious about tackling copyright infringements? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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25 Comments

Tom Reichner's picture

If we upload an image to Facebook or Instagram, OF COURSE we should expect it to be used by others. Most of the public - most of the world - considers anything posted to social media to be "fair game" when it comes to reposting.

As creators, we need to be realistic about what is going to happen with our images when we post them publicly. Look at what IS going to happen, instead of getting hung up on the ideals of what SHOULD happen.

If you're not okay with a lot of strangers using your image and reposting it, then don't put it on social media. That seems painfully obvious, yet some folks keep trying to fight a battle that they have no chance of ever winning.

Teresa Oldenbourg's picture

Not to mention how many rip off others creative ideas without even a mention of inspiration.

Karim Hosein's picture

Ideas, concepts, and processes, are not protected under copyright laws.

Teresa Oldenbourg's picture

Thats not my point. Im obviously aware of that. Im saying its silly for them to be upset if they are in the practice of also ripping off others. Just because its not legally protected, doesnt mean its ok. There is a difference in inspiration and copy cat. So, if you are a copy cat dont bitch when people skip the copy part and just take.

Karim Hosein's picture

Right, but no SM site needs to stop/discourage people from doing perfectly legal things.

This is a conversation about what they should put effort into stopping, and protecting the actual rights of photographers, and their subjects.

Karim Hosein's picture

This is a problem which is also easily addressed, (although not prevented), on the part of Facebook an other SM outlets.

If I attempt to upload an image to certain sites today, before the process is complete, I get various pop-ups, of forms and reminders, with things to the effect of, “Do you own the copyright [link to definition] of the image you are uploading? Does this image contain an identifiable person, product, building, artwork, logo, or trademark/service mark? Do you have copies of any and all license to use [link to definition] and/or model releases [link to definition] required? Do you accept any and all criminal, civil and financial liabilities which may result from you uploading this image? Do you agree to our TOS available here [link provided]?”

If Fb et al did this, [EDIT] and I mean, **Every Single Time** an image is uploaded/shared, [/EDIT] fewer people would upload/share other peoples images. Most of it now is done by people who do not know better, not by people who are being nefarious. A little education goes a long way.

This also means that we will spend less time pursuing cases of (innocent) people who cannot afford to pay, and more time pursuing nefarious actors, who acted with impunity/malice, (which is now easier to prove, since the entire thing was explained to them in some form or another, that they cannot claim ignorance), often for monetary gain, which means that they can pay, and it will hurt them in such a way that they may reconsider in the future.

Additionally, Fb and other SM sites have a nasty habit of deleting metadata anyway,… and re-compressing the image,… and changing the image type,… and re-sizing the image. Not what photographers and graphic artists want, anyway.

sam dasso's picture

And number of pictures posted on FB will go down by factor of 100 because nobody sane will go trough all these disclosures to post a picture. If you are so called creative, then just don't post on free public sites. Spend money to post on something like Smugmug.

Karim Hosein's picture

«…number of pictures posted on FB will go down by factor of 100….»
You say that as if it were a bad thing. That IS the Point!!!

Creatives who know the deal will keep on posting just as much as they do today, and non-creatives will post a thousand times less.

WIN-WIN!!!

«Spend money to post on something like Smugmug.»
Right! Because that is where most of your potential clients and networking contacts hang out.

sam dasso's picture

So you want a free advertisement from Facebook, but do not want FB to have traffic. Why don't you pay FB for advertisement and then complain that your payed ad was stolen.

Karim Hosein's picture

«…you want a free advertisement from Facebook….»
Why not? What is wrong with that?

«…do not want FB to have traffic.»
Of course Fb would have traffic? Why would it not? Most posts on Fb have nothing to do with images, and those by people who are not merely self-absorbed, will still have images.

What Fb would have less of, are posts such as a stolen image they deem funny, (instead, there will be a link to the actual artist's page), images of what I had for breakfast/lunch, and dinner, (which is fine, as that does not drive business, unless I am a restaurant, and we can get back to that), cats playing pianos, etc.

In other words, it would be more like a blend between Orkut, and MySpace, where people use it to reach out, share things in common, and show off their talents.

«Why don't you pay FB for advertisement….»
Who says that I do not?

«…and then complain that your payed ad was stolen.»
…Because the problem is not my paid ad being stolen. The problem is that my ad drives them to my page, (be it on Fb, SquareSpace, Blogger, WordPress, AWS, et al), then steal my images, and post them on Fb.

The issue is not what I do with my images. Keeping all of my images off of Fb does NOT stop people on Fb fom stealing them.

The problem is getting (or encouraging) people on Fb (and other SM sites), to stop posting any image, (or any protected IP), from any source, if they are not the owners. (They can still link them, if the want to, but the link goes back to the author/IP owner).

Ivan Lantsov's picture

that why i not on net with picture

Malcolm Wright's picture

Post anything you want to share under a creative commons license first. Then use the acknowledgement reference when posting it later to the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Tik-tok and so on.
That way you have proof of intellectual property rights, the masses can do their thing. Any commercial guys who want to use it would be well advised to look at the terms of whichever creative commons license you originally published the creation under.
If you don't want your work sharing completely out of control don't post it.. Alternatively carefully read the terms and conditions of the site you're thinking of posting content on and make your choice. If the terms and conditions are an unmanageable read don't use the site.

Karim Hosein's picture

None of that really helps the situation.
① It was not really about your own rights to your own images.
② Most well informed commercial guys would have done the right thing anyway.
③ The un-informed commercial guys will still violate your rights, all the more if they perceive, as many do, that CC means free! (…even though you and I know that that is not necessarily the case).
④ Creatives should not have the choice of, Ⓐ do not publish your work to advertise your services, or, Ⓑ advertise your services and lose rights to your work. One ought to be able to put one's work on the Internet and still keep rights to it.
⑤ The ToS is not the problem. The ToS which “protects” one's rights, do nothing to stop others from violating those rights. Fb clearly states in their policy that users are not allowed to violate other's IP rights. [ https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards/respecting_intellectual_prop... ]

David Love's picture

Duh, Facebook can't do anything on their own. Another company needs to build it right and then they will try and buy it and then steal it if they can't buy. They can't even fix the css problems on the site or country restrictions which allows 3rd world perverts to troll every models page. People wonder if if Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook? Again, duh.

Karim Hosein's picture

Most of the perverts I know live right here in America. Please edit that racist statement.

David Love's picture

Sure, as soon as they re-enable the country restrictions to keep perverts from other countries that don't understand a word of english but want to leave pornographic comments on model pages.

Karim Hosein's picture

You are such a racist!

David Love's picture

Good reply. Blanket anyone you don't agree with "racist." Obviously you don't know many models or what they go through or just don't care which makes you a "sexist."

Karim Hosein's picture

This has nothing to do with the sentiment towards people who mistreat models, (and even less to do with people to whom I disagree). This has everything to do with your racist comments.

Karim Hosein's picture

For those who may have difficulty understanding the issue, here is an acceptable statement.

“They can't even fix the css problems on the site or [sic, ‘nor’] country restrictions.”

What came after that is xenophobic. Again, an acceptable statement could be, “As soon as they create an algorithm to keep offensive comments from model pages,” whereas what was posted is xenophobic.

Also, there are several other English errors in the posts, so it seems that understanding English language is not limited to foreigners.

F Stoop's picture

Facebook itself as a platform has always been useless to photographers.

Andy Day's picture

I applied to use Facebook's new service. Facebook said no.

Vlad Moldovean's picture

same here, even the application form was bs, as i have pages for the different artistic avenues i took and the form asked me for a webpage after i checked 4 pages.... Also there are no public condition for who is eligible and who is not

Dan Marchant's picture

It is laughable that they are implementing this now..... after so many years of stripping meta data out of any image that was uploaded to their system.