Print Your Friends Facebook Photos

- - copyright

Photographer Rob Greer let me know about this potentially troublesome feature Walmart, Target and other online printing outfits are adding where you can print your friends facebook photos. I assume this will not be allowed if there is enough objection to it, so let them know what you think. I found this video describing a way to block the feature:


There Are 63 Comments On This Article.

  1. Watermarking is for hacks.

    If you upload serious photography to Facebook, you should only be uploading small, websized files that are unsuitable to print (all photogs should be aware of this, as the copyright controversy surrounding Facebook isn’t exactly a secret).

    You want to print a 300x200px Facebook version of one of my pictures at Walmart? Go ahead.

    • @Erik, seems like you could use some more schooling – hack = a person, as an artist or writer, who exploits, for money, his or her creative ability or training in the production of dull, unimaginative, and trite work; one who produces banal and mediocre work in the hope of gaining commercial success in the arts: As a painter, he was little more than a hack.

      Has nothing to do with watermarking!

      Reason number 123,321 why you shouldn’t worry about some guy calling you names on the Internet. They typically don’t even know what insult they are hurling :)

      • @Scott Bourne, Yeah, that was kinda the point. The guys that watermark the hell out of their stuff, are usually the guys making “trite and banal” stuff.

        • @Erik, Really? So Vince Vercace, Art Wolfe, Vincent Laforet, David Hume Kennerly? These guys shoot “trite and banal stuff?

          Sorry you have an elitest attitude. There’s nothing wrong with watermarking. I recommend it. Feel free to call me trite and banal. My clients love my work and they pay for it because watermarks, like locks, keep honest people honest.

          • @Scott Bourne, I have no interesnt in the work of Mr. Versace, Laforet et al.

            Back to the point: A watermark is the sign of a hack for me, and with the possible exception of the Magnum website, I haven’t seen any photographers I rate use extensive watermarking.

            To each his own, but I strongly recommend using lowres, unwatermarked versions online, instead of slapping a graphic on your work that detracts from the impact of the photography.

            • @Erik, Why am I thinking you have no clue about any of these photographers, including Bourne.

            • @Erik, Tell me please why we should care about your strong recommendation. Who are you? What is your authority? As Tod rightly points out you don’t seem to have much of a clue about serious photography.

              • @Scott Bourne, Why do you care so much what I think?

                I still believe that watermarking is a poor choice when you’re presenting your work online. The more efficient the watermarking is, the more it detracts from the image.

                I believe restricting the resolution of the artwork is a better, but not perfect, solution.

                I haven’t tried to pass myself off as some be-all-end-all authority, and I fail to see what watermarking has to do with “serious” photography. I have my opinion, you have your opinion, and everyone else gets to make up their own mind.

                I hope they choose to not watermark.

                • @Erik, Actually I don’t care at all what you think. I asked you to tell me why I should and it’s obvious that there’s no need. People who leave their keys in their car are begging for the car to get stolen and people who don’t watermark their images are begging for infringers to infringe. Moving on now.

  2. Wouldn’t it be easier for Facebook to add a security feature to allow you to deny all printing from your account rather than having to hunt down every app that exploits this feature and opt out of it? I know this isn’t the Facebook complaint dept., but just sayin’….

  3. This is wrong on so many levels… Yes, you can watermark, you can make the image really small, and you can hunt down every app that allows others to print your images. But there will always be people who will print lousy, pixellated, watermarked, screen-captured images because they don’t care or they want to save a few dollars. But the stores allowing this to happen are just making it easier and easier for people to do so. I know I’m sending a note to PPA to see if they can’t get this to stop.

    • I was wondering the same thing. What happened to not being able to print pictures you are not the owner of? Seems like a simple copyright issue to me. I don’t get it!

      • @Erin,

        Let’s not forget this is only an issue for people who need to manage the rights to their images (i.e., photographers).

        I’m sure there are a lot of Facebook users who find this feature very useful. A friend/relative in Oregon posts pictures of their new baby, I can make prints and pick them up at a Wal-Mart in Massachusetts in a couple of hours. That’s very easy and convenient.

        The issue here is this appears to be yet another example where Facebook is making managing privacy settings deliberately difficult. If you could, with one click in your privacy settings, turn this feature off it wouldn’t be a big issue. But nooooo. You have to go find every app that offers this feature and individually opt out. Then you have to be forever vigilant for any new apps that might offer this feature.

        • @Tom, I agree that I’m sure many people find it very useful. But even once I shared this with friends, many of whom weren’t photographers, they were not very happy about this either. Sometimes they just don’t think before offering up your privacy so quickly.

          Also, my friend who is very web savvy posted this as a way to not have to chase all the companies and applications individually. Not exactly one click.. but a better alternative to turning them all off.

          In the … upper right-hand corner, click on “Account” > “Privacy Settings”. Scroll down to the bottom and click on “Applications and Websites”. Across from “Info accessible through your friends”, click “Edit Settings”. Deselect “My photos” and “Photos and videos I’m tagged in”. Click “Save Changes” and you’re done.

          • @Erin C,

            Thanks for the tip. Have you tried these settings? It looks like that might make your images invisible to all applications and Websites. That would work. I just wonder if there are any unintended side-effects to that choice?

            • @Tom,
              Yeah, we’ve been talking about that over on my page today. i decided not to turn that option off this way as I’m afraid it would block things like iPhone apps from viewing the pictures I tag my clients in, and I don’t want that. Honestly, there are so many ways they can print them. They honestly could just right click and save them themselves and print if they want to, so there’s only so much I can do. If I’m worried about that, then I shouldn’t put them on facebook at all. I’ve somewhat resolved to the thought that if they want to print a low res, watermarked version of their photos? Then they will.. and I guess they can waste their money. haha

  4. Watermark is able to protect your identity only when it obstructs major portion of the images. Even if you put a watermark somewhere in the corner those applications are able to crop it out, so you are just as good as without one.

  5. I have this thought. Most know about FB’s TOS and that anything you put on FB is basically unprotected. So why put images on FB or any other free service for clients to see. I don’t put anything on FB, twit Pic, etc, unless I willing to part with it. Just a thought.

  6. The sentiment being expressed here that you should just refrain from uploading your photos to Facebook is all well and good in theory, but it isn’t practical or realistic. Even if you aren’t putting your photos on Facebook, your clients and colleagues are. That’s half the reason they want photos in the first place these days–to share them on the internet.

    And even beyond that, I’ve been in the category of refusing to put my work on social networking sites for years, and you know what that got me? A whole lot of missed opportunities. I was getting passed up for work by photographers not nearly as good as me simply because they were more visible on a daily basis.

    In our current digital society, refusing to participate just isn’t a viable option. I think copyright issues like this lab fiasco should be becoming priority number one for ASMP, PPA, etc. because unfortunately we don’t live and work in an ideal, theoretical world.

    • @Stephanie Maulding, right, and it’s not just Facebook. Any photos on any Web site can by yoinked. Working photographers can’t afford to not have images on the Web, and there’s no way to completely protect your work.

      • @Jim Newberry, Exactly. It’s a classic rock-and-a-hard-place situation. Maybe we need to find a way to start putting serious pressure on these minilabs to actually check for copyright notices in metadata? As far as I know, they don’t currently. (At least, I’ve never had them say anything on the 2 or 3 occasions I’ve had cheapy prints done from images containing copyright notices.) Along the same lines, who is technically liable for the infringement in this case? The lab or the person ordering the prints? Or both?

  7. Why not let Walmart print a bunch of your copyrighted images, than dial up your favorite IP attorney and start raking in the dough?

    • @Greg,

      Sadly, according to the current stats, less than 5% of all commercial photographers register their images. FB, et al know this, as do the labs. Therefore they’re simply balancing ‘potential revenue vs. potential risk’. Looks like they’re not scared of the risk.

      All social media sites, and labs (and infringers) WILL continue to do as they want, until the photographic community writ large changes its business practices. And having been at this 20 years, and seeing the same issues still pervasive, albeit in slightly different forms . . . I don’t see IP Counsel lining up to represent photographers in significant numbers anytime in the near future.

      • @Robb Scharetg,
        It doesn’t matter if they are registered. They still belong to you therefore they are stealing from you.

        • @Lea,

          Actually . . . It DOES matter if they’re registered. A LOT!!!

          IF they ARE registered, and your images are printed (and assuming this happens) and utilized for advertising (it happens, all the time) you as the photographer have not only the law on your side, but there’s also a financial incentive for Counsel to take your case (damages); if they’re NOT registered . . . you’ll pay for Counsel out of your own pocket, and IF you win, your ‘damages award’ will most likely be fairly minimal. There’s ample case law examples to support this statement.

          Lesson? REGISTER your work. ALL of it. Really.

          • @Robb Scharetg,
            I realize that. What I am saying is that the photos belong to the person who took them unless the copyright is sold. Therefore, if anyone steals them you can take them to court. It does not matter if they are registered or not. You can still take them to court.

            • @Lea,

              Without being pedantic- my concern/point is that IF your images are NOT registered, and ARE copied/printed off of FB, or any other social media site, and are then used in a commercial manner (most likely online/web use, given the usual resolution) and you choose to ‘take them to court’ the potential damage award you MAY be granted by a judge WILL be nominal, at best, UNLESS you’re images ARE registered.

              So sure, you can ‘take them to court’, however it will be out of your own pocket. IF they are registered and infringed the vast majority of IP Counsel will take the case on (sometimes on contingency) because they know that if the Court finds against the infringer the damage award includes litigation costs for the infringed party. That’s all I’m saying. You can take anyone to Court, but at $350.00 an hour (15 hour minimum) you’ll have to think long and hard if it’s worth it. Without registration paperwork that is.

  8. This comes down to people being responsible in managing their content. I don’t believe the argument should be about photos, it should be about personal privacy issues. You can choose the information you want everyone to see so be responsible. Also educating the public should be a priority. They believe everything is free if they can see it on facebook and even facebook will use your pictures without your permission as stated in their policies, therefore if you teach your clients your concerns about posting on the internet they may think twice.

    Regular people should be concerned about this as well, it should be a wake up call. Think of all the pictures on Facebook. Now think of all the pictures of you or others where their character maybe in question. Think of those pictures you don’t want printed. Before these pictures were safe in someones home confined in a photo album, but now are available to all to access (in some cases)

    So you need to protect yourself and be mindful of what you want people to see and what is available. Education can help combat this, and maybe think twice about the party you were photographed at doing, well what ever it is you do. (8 time gold medal winner as an example)

  9. That’s why my clients pay for the print rights of their photos, so they can print them whereever they want for wherever they want! Then I don’t have to stress out over this stuff…

  10. I have just loaded up the site links as mentioned above and there is no Block application button. How did you all manage to do it please?

  11. Showing clients your preview photos over web isn’t exactly “professional” level. Purchase a server webspace/host and make a secure gallery, or have a sit-down with them in person at your place and view images on screen. I’ve seen great setups where the photographer had a large flatscreen on his walls, where they would go through the pictures. He would show them the size differences in prints in real-size, and then upsell to his clients.

    FB is garbage quality anyways. Has anyone tried to print those before? Did the results come out just like expected? (pixelated, desaturated, garbage).

  12. Quick question, I can block, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Shutterfly etc. on my personal page. But if we are uploading the photos to our fan page, and tagging from there… does it work there? How to we protect the photos on our fan pages?

  13. I THINK I found the answer to my question above. I just had my husband test this by logging into walmart photo before blocking the application himself.

    My name no longer shows up under his friends list (when viewing through the walmart photo page) as well as, we couldn’t find our fan page listed (I don’t think fan pages are shown on this application)

    Another concern we had was, what about when we tag people in the images. It’s now listed in an “album” on their page names “Photos of (person’s name)” along with any other photos they’ve been tagged in.

    From what we could see on my husband’s page, that folder of photos he’s been tagged in, is not shown on the walmart photo page either. :-)

    • @Jen Stewart,

      You are correct, tagged photos & general fan pages do not show up as albums, and therefore are not listed with the Facebook Connect option I demonstrated in the video.

      – A.J.

  14. this was just a linc from a friend… i have only had fb since may of this year, i am a senior citizen and have thought many times about just such a problem in posting photo’s from past on my site. thank~you for sharing! and i will continue to be responsible as you so indicated, by also sharing this information and blocking misuse of photo’s, again thank~you.

  15. Not sure if anyone’s aware, but from the comments so far, the level of technical ability expressed doesn’t seem to reveal the issue here to most people.

    If you have the photo on facebook, and it’s viewable to others, then it’s accessible to be printed. End of story. They’re one and the same thing. Some applications make it easier, and the skills of some people make it easier or harder, but what can be viewed can be printed.

    It’s not a case of finely balancing options within facebook itself to ONLY allow photo viewing, but not printing (via blocking of apps etc); trying to do that is like trying to strike a balance between making an omelette, and not breaking eggs – you can’t do the former without the latter, by definition.

    I think what’s needed is for facebook to allow us to set the quality of pictures shown to people, or to allow us to turn on watermarking with control over size/position etc, and to allow us to whitelist who gets to see which photos and at what quality/size.

    The control must be right at the beginning with facebook themselves (or even with us as photographers) on how images are shown, not showing them to everyone and then hoping for other restrictions that are ineffective by definition.

  16. Thanks so much for this post.

    Of course it is wrong for mini-labs to knowingly print images that do not belong to the people printing them. It is not a gray area, it is black and white and it is wrong.

    Not only do I feel this way professionally, but as a mother, I feel even more enraged by this.

    I may want to share pictures with people online, but that doesn’t mean I want other people (even “friends,” because let’s face it, the term “friends” is used very loosely on facebook – I have “friends” who are people I went to school with but know very little about now…don’t you?) to print them!

    This is just one more reason why I am considering deleting all personal and family material from facebook and using it strictly for business: for promoting and sharing my photography.

    And, if everybody else out there starts to feel this way too, then facebook will eventually become a cesspool of business people marketing to each other and then the fad will truly be over…

    Thanks again.


  17. This is ridiculous, many other services do this, not just facebook.. When you agreed to use facebook you “OPTED IN” for this legally.. If you want to maintain copyright don’t post it to facebook or let your friends take the picture simple as that.. Which is the real answer here..

    Just as legally if someone tags you on facebook to “OPT OUT” you have to untag yourself in the image.. When you upload you certify you have the rights to the image and you are avoiding copyright..

    Don’t you ever read the licensing for using these services ? I believe myself it’s completely fair.. Simply ask, otherwise it’s fair game just like any other public picture is on the media..

    If you want real change make congress change privacy “Opt In” and “Opt Out” rules… SERIOUSLY..

  18. Thank you for sharing my video to your readers. There’s been a lot of conversation over the past week, and really the steps I outlined are just another deterrent for people who would use your images.

    Facebook changes their policies & application services often enough, that it’s in the best interest of any professional posting online to review their security settings on a regular basis.

  19. Facebook resizes images, god knows how WalMart think they can get a decent print from a 72/96 ppi image at the size they are.

    (oh yeah, WalMart don’t do decent prints FULLSTOP!)

    I opened up an image from Facebook in PS and resized it to a decent print resolution (360ppi) and it had a print size of about 1.1″ x 1.5″ !!!

    The fact of the matter is, if you care for the copyright of your images, don’t put them on Facebook. I believe they have the rights to use your images for whatever purpose they want, including giving them to a third party. I even think, although I’m not currently versed on this matter, that if your image is copyright embeded, they still have the right to use it under the Facebook user agreement.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  20. This was a great post, thank you for (unlike Facebook) making this information readily available!

    As a full-time professional photographer, I made the choice a while ago, not to publish most of my images on Facebook. Not in my personal page, not on my business page.

    The problem with that is, so many people use Facebook as a shopping site now as well, if you’re a photographer whose business page has no images, you’re potentially losing out on a considerable amount of client interest.

    So the simple solution of ‘just don’t post photos at all’ isn’t really an answer. It’s unfortunate, but Facebook is currently such a behemoth, if you’re not posting interesting, visual and relevant content on your business page, you will lose out on work.

    After much frustrated thought on the matter, I too concluded that the only workable solution was to only upload low-res, watermarked images. I’m sorry to say that it did indeed make a difference for the better in regard to the number of inquiries I receive.

    However, I choose to hope that one day sooner than later, online privacy policies will be forced by law to change. And when that happens, all social networking sites and all related applications will be subject to those same laws.

    It’s good to have a dream to distract you from being trapped between that rock and that hard place!

  21. When I joined FB, I read their terms carefully and rarely push photos up to their site. I do reference my site.

    With regards to Target, Walmart and other large print resources, it is my understanding most will NOT print a photo that has imbedded copyright metadata without release. One can imbed such information before uploading to FB, but unfortunately with the ability to modify such metadata, I can only offer these words.


  22. I just saw something about this again today and went to check on it… I am curious as to whether this works on both on personal profiles AND on company pages, or if this ONLY works on personal profiles. I tried to print something from my page using a test account I have, and it didn’t seem to be able to access anything, but it was also right after I followed the instructions here :-) so…any info is appreciated!