Surf photographers fight back against Facebook image theft

FacebookA group of professional surf photographers have launched a Facebook page to highlight how people are stealing their images and using them to funnel web traffic to their commercial websites.

The Facebook page, called Don’t Steal Our Work, has garnered more than 11,500 likes in the week since it launched and aims to shine a light on the issues around copyright theft of photographs on the social media platform.

“One of my peers had huge issue with a whole bunch of websites ripping off his photos and using them,” said Nate Smith head senior photographer at Tracks Magazine, who is one of the organisers of the Facebook page.

“He had huge legal issues because Facebook don’t allow a share request button and so people can just take copyright material and then it just goes on and on and on.”

Smith, who says he has also had images taken and used, says a group of photographers contributing to surfing magazine Tracks Magazine decided to come together to highlight the issue and in particular how people are generating traffic from using other’s copyrighted Facebook image.

“Many people will then fail to acknowledge or link back to the person who created the image,” said Smith.

“What we are finding is this is a huge problem, and you actually have people are running multiple Facebook pages where they have ripped off other people’s surfing photographs in order build attention to their pages and then direct traffic back to their own website.”

According to Smith some of the Facebook pages that are siphoning traffic to particular websites have as many as 350,000 likes.  “They are generating online advertising revenue based on stolen images,” he said.

The Facebook page ‘Don’t steal our images’ aims to combat the problem by highlighting examples where people are taking copyrighted images of surfing and using them to drive traffic to their online site. In the last few days the organisers have posted the details of a number of website who have allegedly taken images without permission

Surf“The Facebook page we have created is designed to generate attention around how good photographer will invest $40,000 plus in equipment and then spend all our time creating the images that people share, all we want is credit where credit is due, ” said Smith.

“We also have a lot of trouble dealing with Facebook, we would like them to be accountable for what is happening.They are a big business and you can talk to them if you’re bullied or harassed but  if you’re image and copyright is stolen there is nothing you can do.”

The campaign is also being supported by Smith’s employer Tracks which has highlighted the campaign.

“A lot of the guys who are having their images stolen work for us,” said Ben Augden, deputy editor of Tracks Magazine. “We thought we’d step in and help out by writing about the campaign and giving it some publicity.”

Nic Christensen 


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