Facebook Shuts Down Business Fan Page For Repeated Copyright Infringement

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The Cool Hunter is an influential website that’s been aggregating/curating on the web for a very long time. It’s one of the precursors to Pinterest where the author goes out and collects things found online and reposts them for their audience. And, Cool Hunting is an actual job in marketing where people go out and spot trends that businesses can use. So, for any businesses selling “cool” products, landing on a website like this is something you want to happen. This of course runs counter to copyright laws, because the website reposts images without permission and even sells advertising next to the found images. They rely on their influence over brands and their ability to simply remove images if contacted about a violation to avoid getting in trouble over this. That’s what makes Facebook’s decision to permanently disable their fan page and its 788,000 fans so interesting. Cnet is reporting that Facebook closed the account due to “repeat copyright infringement” (story here). Any business that is not posting images they own on Facebook should be very worried about this development. It makes me wonder if Facebook is showing Pinterest that the proper way to curate is to upload something you own the rights to then enable the sharing.

There Are 26 Comments On This Article.

  1. This is going to be a problem again and again. I wonder if the answer is some intrinsic way of preserving the photographer’s contact details in the image, call it ‘secure metadata’ (smetadata), this way the action of contacting a photographer would be easier for the Pintrested Coolhunter (and less forgivable if they don’t) and also there would be a potential to create a search engine to trawl the internet for a specific photographers images.

    Just a thought.

  2. How can Facebook reconcile this policy shift with the upcoming release of their “Want” button? Seems like the potential for hypocrisy is high.

    • Really? Well…I was wondering if that might happen but, since it’s a business with a huge following, it might be hard to “hide” so, even with a new page, don’t you think that FB will have that one taken down too, and so and and so on since they (FB) have stated that the ban is permanent? Thoughts?

  3. MacCruiskeen

    “Any business that is not posting images they own on Facebook should be very worried about this development”

    I assume you mean “posting images they don’t own”.

  4. What about FB’s own problematic photo practices? Metadata is not the problem. Webmasters stripping metadata is the problem. However making IPTC data indelible would be pretty awesome.

  5. Looks like the wilde west era of the internet is coming to its end.

    If you are the Dalton Brothers of copyright (or the Marx brothers, laughing at it), you’ll have to count on new marshals to play the High Noon melody.

  6. If the creative community is going to survive it needs to tighten the screws on Copyright Violation. We need to expand our own networks in ways that are meaningful to our work practice & ‘job’ networks.

    I for one am absolutely sick to my stomach of seeing talentless kids stealing pictures that their friends ‘love’ reposting/collating and calling it inspiration. Its a scrapbook gone commercial & in my day the ONLY one you could get to look at your scrapbook was your Mum/Mom or your Granny! Every site that commercial site allows for this sort thing to go on (and I can think of a few well organised bloggers networks) should be shut down; though ideally sued for copyright violation first.

    We will never get budgets back until people learn to value out creative work over the so-called ‘curators’ who are taking our livelihoods and the creative credit!

    • Sorry, Typos!

      Every site that commercial site allows for this sort thing to go on (and I can think of a few well organised bloggers networks) should be shut down; though ideally sued for copyright violation first.

      We will never get budgets back until people learn to value our creative work over the so-called ‘curators’ who are taking our livelihoods and the creative credit!

      • But problem is that these “non-commercial” uses include ads. Maybe the ad revenues don’t go to the person posting, but someone is getting those ad revenues, and those photos are driving people to the site.

        • Adriana,

          any site with advertising in side bars, banners whatever.. It is the owner of the page that is receiving the money. But its no longer just little Johnny and Jane with a fan page; sites like this http://fellt.com/ are a consortium of bloggers generating serious revenue. These site can now deliver an industry standard ‘media buy’ with a 1 000 000 + page views a month. Now some of the work is owned by the bloggers, but I would say without prejudice, I still see some of the work posted under so-called ‘inspiration’ posts that clearly is not owned by the site or the poster and yet they are hosting the images on their own servers and redistributing the images. I would think that would be a pretty simple breach of copyright situation really.

  7. I find it refreshing to see Facebook dealing with CH as it has, although the landscape has changed for all creatives, we need to protect our intellectual property rights, and this currant free for all should not be tolerated.

  8. I remember way back in the beginning days of EP, that were was a discussion amongst the board members of seeing if it was possible to create self-destructing jpegs with a time limit embedded into the file.

    I would love to see that option explored as a way to combat theft of images.

  9. I think the browser developers could do more to make EXIF/IPTC data available to everyone. Right now you have to save an image on your local drive, and then open it with another application in order to see the meta data. That is if the various online platforms (blog, FB, Pinterest, etc.) haven’t stripped them during file conversions.

    As an industry it’s upon us to lobby the technology companies to fix the tools. Fixing the browsers is really easy (a simple info function in the dropdown when you click on an image). If they wanted to the whole mile, they could even somehow display a copyright symbol in the menu if the Copyright metadata field contained information.

    Once it’s really easy to find the copyright information, it’s more blatantly obvious which platforms strip them, which then opens the door to put pressure on them to fix their tools. Again, technically very simple to do. Right now they just don’t have much incentive. And every time a story like this brings FB up, someone should ask their spokesperson about the fact that FB isn’t doing their job on that front.

    And then once all that is happening, we’ll quickly see how many of us actually do the leg work to put the right copyright meta data into their files. Right?

    The technical gaps that some of the folks here bitch about would take less than a man-day to fix. Peanuts. Getting the guts to speak up about it to the right people as a collective, not happening all that much. But we can write and comment on endless blog posts and bitch about it…

    • What does IPTC stand for? , is there a way to put this into the digital information now other than what is described above by Jan?

      • Judy – IPTC is the brother to EXIF (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPTC). EXIF data is the meta date embedded in each image by the camera that describes the technical information of the image (camera, lens, exposure data, etc.)

        IPTC data is added by your photo editing software (Photoshop, Lightroom, Bridge, etc) and is business metadata, such as copyright information, job id, keywords, release info, and many more. It originates from the news organizations that had to catalog images. But it is the universally accepted standard for meta data in image files.

        Thus IPTC is an easy way to store ownership, copyright information, and not only whether an image is copyrighted, but also contact info (website, phone # of the copyright holder), as well as usage info.

        It’s readily available, we just have to use it through the whole value chain.

  10. Actually, all we need is for software developers such as Adobe to allow the creator to password protect the Metadata in the images so that everyone and all software can continue to read it, but stripping it or changing it becomes IMPOSSIBLE without the password.

    Stupidly, you can password protect a PDF file but not an image – so come on Adobe, sort your act out and give us some protection.

  11. Michelle Lee

    I think the problem is that CH was not crediting the photos/work they were posting. They have one of my photos posted on their site and even when I contacted the editor about this, it was completely ignored. I’ve noticed that all the photos they post have links and credits removed. To claim that they couldn’t find the information for this is hard for me to believe when every single photo is missing credits and links.

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