Thursday, 20 November 2014

IS FACEBOOK STEALING YOUR BABIES?

I got a call from the Diary desk of a'Fleet Street rag, 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 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 said. 'The photo is mine, it was taken at a private party, in someone's home, not at a public event. With my own camera. 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 the caller. 'An agency fetched us this photo. We have every right to publish it.'
'I say you don't.' I stood firm. Y
ou 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 got to expect them to get lifted and sold. Everything that appears on Facebook belongs to Facebook.. and they are not going to 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. Until now.
A brief trawl through the pages of your friends, acquaintances, and those you're not sure about, and you'll find your own photos all over the place. We don't mind our pals having a share. It's one of the reasons we use Facebook. 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's pushing it.

I rarely post photos of my three children, adorable though they are. I have often winced at the plethora of precious, juicy newborns who make their first public outings on Facebook; the chubby-pawed toddlers on swings, the grandmas and grandpas proudly promenading their beauties. It's melting stuff. But out there, beyond the apparently harmless realm of friends connecting, 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, put your favourites into polished frames. Display them on a mantelpiece, a sideboard, a bedside table. Don't share them on Facebook, Instagram, or on other social media. They are yours, but they are anyone's for the taking. 

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