BOSTON (CBS) – It’s happening: innocent photos posted on Facebook and then found on a scandalous dating website.
“Up comes pictures of myself… that I posted on Facebook when I first signed up a while ago,” says Jay Breen when he realized his photos had been hijacked. “This particular web site was something I didn’t want to be associated with.”
Experts warn that even the savviest internet users are seeing their photos and other personal media copied and shared without their consent. Some call it digital shoplifting. The stolen photos could turn up just about anywhere: political attack ads, online scams, even on billboards overseas.
But the law is on your side.
“Anything that you or I can create as long as it is an original work of authorship is protected under US copyright law. It can include photographs, video, and audio,” details attorney Doug Isenberg.
If your photo has been stolen, first try to contact the company directly.
“You could send a cease and desist letter, citing violations of US Copyright Act and certainly in an extreme case you can file a complaint in court for copyright infringement,” says Isenberg.
Placing a visible logo on your photos or videos could deter the digital thieves. And there are a growing number of companies that will tag and track your photos for you.
“We have a search service that’s actually crawling the internet. The customer can then log in and view a report of where all of their images have been located,” explains Ben Bounketh of Digimarc.
Jay’s threats to hire an attorney worked and he warns others to be more cautious about their online posts.
“Think before you do it because you never know where the pictures will end up.” Another precaution, check those privacy settings to make sure that only friends and family can see your photos.