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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

PhotoTips Members Take Down 30 Websites

OK maybe they really were not websites, actually, but they were 30 individual Facebook pages and profiles. Why were they taken down? Because Phototips fans got engaged and worked to do so. Why did they do that?

Well let me tell you...

Back on Jan. 7th I wrote an article about a person going by the name of Alessandro Pinna on Facebook, infringing the copyright of literally hundreds of photographers. He had 30 Facebook pages and 30 aliases. What he would do, is scour the internet looking for your cool pictures. Once he found one that he liked, we would download it or screen capture it off of the page. If you had a watermark on it, he would remove it using Photoshop. He would then place his own watermark on it, and load it onto one of his 30 facebook pages.

Let me stop right there and explain something. In case you were not aware, as soon as he altered the original image's appearance by attempting to remove the watermark, he violated international copyright and intellectual property rights that over 100 countries signed a treaty on called the WIPO. In the case of the US, Canada, and the entire EU, he also violated the DMCA act of 1996. While the DMCA is a US act, it has been adopted by Canada and the entire EU.

So just the act of trying to manipulate and artist's original piece of art or image, puts him in violation. When he put his own watermark on it, he violated it even further. When he uploaded it to Facebook, it was yet another violation. It was also a violation of Facebook's TOS.

Over the course of about 6 months, he violated the rights of hundreds of photographers. When any of those photographers took a first step and asked him to remove their image, he would ban them from his page and delete any remarks that they left on his page.

Facebook was little help either as they seemed to ignore every complaint lodged against him. I can only assume that it was due to the crazy amount of traffic these pages were getting.

But if his action was in violation of International law, and against Facebook's own Terms of Service, why on earth were they not compelled to act? Well the short answer is that they should have. But because the people reporting on the infringing actions never really filed a legal Take Down notice, but instead merely clicked the report button located above the image (shown for example below) they did not have to respond if they did not want to. So they didn't.

As I reported on this extreme violation of copyright and Facebook's seemingly uncaring attitude, I had a choice to make. I could report it, or I could do something about it.

The first thing I did was create a website to explain the correct way to report all instances of copyright violation no matter what website they are found on. That can be found here. www.PictureDefense.com. I suggest you bookmark it. It has step by step processes to follow no matter where on the internet you find the violation. Facebook or otherwise. It has already successfully helped photographers get their photos removed off of 3 websites. Not bad for only being up for a week.

The second thing I did was assemble a team of volunteers. Every day for the last week they have been going over all 30 of those Facebook pages that this Alessandro Pinna owned. They tracked photos back to the original copyright owner, and sent them an email. That email contained screen captures and URLs of their work being infringed. Plus we saved all of that evidence for our own records. They were then provided a step by step plan of action and directed to the new Picture Defense website.

Today, I was happily informed by one of those volunteers that all 30 of those sites are completely down and every infringing photo - numbering in the thousands - have been removed.

This team of volunteers did an amazing job. They have protected the rights of hundreds of photographers. While you will never know their names, they are heros in my book. You should thank them every day for looking after and protecting the rights of people they did not know.

Well done team! Not only have you done an amazing job, you sent a clear message to the internet. Mess with one of us, and you mess with us all.

1 comments:

Chris Corthouts said...

Thanks for the great job you did by stopping this criminal

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