Thursday, 20 November 2014


I got a call from the Diary desk of one of 'Fleet Street's' raggier rags, informing me that a well-known photo agency had sold them an image in which I feature. They identified a household name in the line-up, asked me for a left-to-right, requested dirt, scandal and filth on said celebrity - a generously priapic type - and offered a laughable fee for my contribution.
'You can't use that photo,' I said.
'Of course we can,' came the response, 'we've bloody well paid for it!'
'Well, UN-pay for it,' I responded. 'The photo is mine, it was taken at a private party, in someone's home, not at a public event. With my own camera, by the way. That makes it my copyright.' This wasn't the time to point out the 'grey area' in this particular scenario: as in, it may be argued that copyright of a photo technically resides with the individual who physically snapped it - i.e., not me, but the person to whom I'd handed the camera, so that I could be in the pic. Even though it was taken on my little Leica. But, you get why I parked it.
'You're not hearing me,' barked our buddy. 'An agency fetched us this photo. We have every right to publish it.'
'I say you don't.' I stood firm, oh boy
, you should have heard me. I explained that the only possible place that  photo could have come from - and therefore, had been stolen from - was my Facebook page.
'Well there you have it!' yelped Diary-Hack, triumphant. 'You post these pictures on Facebook, you've gotta expect them to get lifted and sold. Everything that appears on Facebook, BELONGS TO Facebook.. and they are not gonna take the time to argue the toss here. You can't even get through to them on the 'phone!'

I left the chap with a warning. Should he proceed to print, I would retaliate. It's no hollow threat, I've got plenty on these guys, but have chosen to behave like a lady. Until now.
A brief trawl through the pages of your friends, your acquaintances, and especially the ones you're not sure about either way, and you'll find your own photos all over the place. We don't mind our pals having a bit of a share. It's one of the reasons we use Facebook - of FaceBoast, or Boastbook, just a few of its other names. But when unscrupulous folk trade them on, for personal gain - I've even had some of my own photos offered back to me, with the expectation of payment - that has got to be pushing it.

I rarely post photos of my three children, adorable and accomplished like everyone else's though they are. All our children are. I tend only to do so when they've been or are about to be involved in some musical event. I won't be doing so again. I have often winced at the plethora of precious, juicy little newborns who make their first public outings on Facebook; the chubby-pawed toddlers on swings, the grandmas and grandpas proudly promenading their beautiful charges. It's all melting stuff. But out there, beyond the apparently harmless realm of friends connecting and networking and celebrating life through simple pleasures, lies a seething underworld - of paedophiles, stealing and storing your images, for unholy and unthinkable practice and gain. Please, fold your favourites into some polished frames. Display them on a mantelpiece, a sideboard, a bedside table. Don't share them on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media. They are yours, but they are anyone's for the taking. They really, absolutely, shouldn't be, I agree with you. It's the way it is.

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