So you have found your photo on someone else's profile, group, or someone posted it saying it was theirs. Maybe they did not outright claim it was theirs but they posted their watermark on the photo. What can you do about that?
Before you proceed any further it is important to make sure that the other person or website cannot claim something called "Fair Use". In certain instances, a website may use your photo under the "Fair Use" clause. To understand more about "Fair Use", see here. For a simple checklist to follow to see if fair use applies to your photo, see here. Please note that in all instances of fair use, they may not alter your original work (including adding their own watermark) and they must provide credit to the original artist. 99 percent of issues where you found your photo on someone else's website do NOT fall under "Fair Use".
First thing you need to do is use the easy access "Report" feature like shown in the screen shot below. This is just the first step, and you have likely already done so. Honestly, this will likely produce little to no results on it's own. Do it anyway.
DO NOT LEAVE A COMMENT ON THE WALL OR MESSAGE THEM. They know exactly what they did. If you leave them a message on their wall or send them an email, then they will destroy all evidence of what they did. So calm down and resist the temptation to give them a good tongue lashing.
- Capture a screen shot showing the image on the offending person's facebook page.
- Capture the main URL to the page you found the infringing photo on.
- Click on the image to open it full screen, and make a copy of the direct URL found in the address bar.
- Follow back to the person's profile page and capture the direct URL to that page.
- Document their name.
- Click on the "About" section on their profile and take a screen capture of the next page if possible. Some have filled out location, phone numbers, etc. Capture this data if present.
Facebook has hired a company that goes by the name "The OutCast Agency" to handle press and public relations. Think of them as an entity that cares very much about Facebook's image on the internet and with the public. If you were to email the Facebook press department, these guys will reply. So what you may want to do, is notify them that someone is breaking Facebook's own terms of service, International Copyright Law, International Intellectual Property Rights, and something called the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). You can do so by contacting them directly at the following numbers.
- San Francisco office: 415-392-8282, 415-392-8281
- New York office: 646-737-9921
Follow the below link and fill out a DMCA take down notice hidden in the background of Facebook's website. I say hidden because it took some considerable digging to find it. This is a far bit different than what was indicated in step one. Fill it out completely leaving nothing out. This notification has significant teeth when used properly. HOWEVER - You must use it correctly. If the offending Facebook person or group is a news agency of some sort, it may be possible for them to claim something called "Fair Use". If you are not sure what "Fair Use" is, please see the link at the top of the page for a full description.
Now you will do the same thing but do it manually. You will complete an official DMCA Take Down Notice, and direct mail it to Facebook. The sample letter is indicated in the navbar at the top of the page. Fill it out completely and leave nothing out. If you do, then you have not filed an official notice and they are not required to act according to the law. So be complete and thorough.
Send Certified Mail to:
Attn: Facebook Designated Agent
1601 Willow Road
Menlo Park, California 94025
Take a digital version of that letter (word doc, etc.) and turn it into a PDF. Save it for your records.
Next, do a direct copy and paste of the letter into an email and send it to the following email address. Do not send the PDF as an attachement. In fact, do not send attachments of any kind: firstname.lastname@example.org
Print a copy of that PDF document and now fax it to 650-560-6293
Their direct number is 650-543-4800, but nobody will answer and help you out. You can only get through the call tree if you know someone's extension number. If we learn of one here, you can bet that we will publish it.
You have now done everything you can, but the things you have done carry considerable teeth. If you have done what we told you above, you have gathered all the proof you need, and have filed an official DMCA with Facebook using all four methods that are available. Using their hidden form, by fax, by direct email to the appropriate department, and by certified letter.
We suggest waiting 2 weeks to see if anything happens. We are betting that something will. After all, you have notified them using every means possible, and have followed the directives outlined in the DMCA. If they fail to comply after 30 days, you can now take this to the next step.
Now it is time to notify the FBI. The FBI has a copyright/piracy task force set up for pursuing these matters. It used to be only for things like movies and music, but that has now been extended to include things like photographs and works of art.
The following link will take you to the specific page at the FBI where you can file a complaint. It is called the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). You will need all of the information that you gathered so far, as well as a complete outline of what you have done to notify Facebook up to this point.
This is not quite ready, but it is something I am actively trying to get put in place. I am seeking attorneys who are also photographers, to assist with sending a certified cease and desist letter on behalf of the photographer.
You will never be given the voluntary attorney's phone number and contact information. You will fill out an online form and include all of the details you have done up to this point. They will charge you a nominal fee to cover the costs of certification - I am thinking about $20 or less - and send a form letter with the pertinent information included.
It should never make it to this step, but if it does, then an actual lawsuit is going to have to be filed, and for that you need an attorney. At the top of this page, click "Legal" for a list of attorneys that we are currently recommending.