When Our Picture Was Used Without Our Permission

I wanted to blog about our Canada vacation as soon as I had transferred the pictures from my camera (which I've already done), but then something happened last week and I knew I had to share it here so that you guys are also aware that this can happen to anyone. So, here goes…

Last Tuesday, I was browsing through the feeds on Facebook when I happened to come across a post from a Filipino community. Normally, I would have just proceeded to the next item on the feed, but what made me click on that particular post was the image because it was the exact same photograph of one of our pre-nup pictures taken in 2007!

Ok, I admit I was flattered at first. Even though it was just a silhouette and our faces couldn’t be seen clearly, nakakataba ng puso to know that your picture was used by a community or page that has hundreds of thousands of followers.

But the strong reactions I felt were shock, anger, and annoyance because I never received any message from Pinoy OFW requesting permission to use the picture. I even asked our friend who took the photo, as well as our official wedding photographer, but both denied receiving any requests from anyone to use it.

And to make it worse, the article where the picture was used was about a couple who were jailed! Augh!

We immediately commented on the post and article asking for their image source, but none of the site administrators replied.
Screenshot from the site's Facebook page

Screenshot from their website
I also took out our guestbook, took a picture of the page where the image was used, and shared it on our wall to compare and let the public know.
Finally, we sent a message directly to the Pinoy OFW’s e-mail. And they replied with this:
They apologized, yes, and they removed the post and picture, but they still didn’t mention how or where they got the image from, so we asked again…and they replied very professionally (notice the sarcasm!) with this:
So that’s how they work?! They just go through Google for pictures that they can use for posts and articles without citing the source or asking permission from the owner?! Wow ha! Ang galing! (insert sarcastic slow clap).

I honestly don't know where they may have gotten the picture.  I checked Google, but the image never showed.  All I can remember is we might have uploaded it on our wedsite and/or Multiply account...but then those pages no longer exist.  Even our wedding photographer's old website where he published the photo isn't online anymore.

Several friends insisted that we file a case against the site or report it to the police. After all, what they did was obviously wrong. It was an invasion of privacy, and it placed us in a false light that was highly offensive and embarrassing because of the article it was used in. We definitely had the upper hand.

But then the site seemed to be working from Hong Kong. We live in the UAE, and the person who owns the photo is in Canada. Obviously, the location differences would be an obstacle, and each country’s laws were different.

And so, we just let it pass...with a prayer that this will never happen to us or anyone else again.

We sincerely hope the administrators of Pinoy OFW will have learned their lesson and ensure they follow the proper ethics before they hit the “Publish” button on their website in the future.  They were lucky with us; they might not be lucky if they do the same thing next time.

Now I’m seriously considering watermarking all images I share on this blog. It will definitely take me longer to publish posts, but at least I’ll know they’re secure.

What do you think?  Should we have gone ahead and sued the site?  What else should we have done? Shall I watermark all my future images or just a select few?  Please share your thoughts. I'd really appreciate them.

Comments

  1. I say you watermark the photos you intend to post online. Those pics are yours, even in digital form. If you did not give permission for its usage, then it is stealing. Did you report the incidence to facebook?

    BTW, I like your blog, and I read your pieces whenever I can. I've seen you and your hubby a year or so ago in Carrefour Madina Mall. I would have said hi, except that my kiddos were pulling me to another aisle, lol!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the advice. We were planning to report it to Facebook, but they had already removed the post.
      Thank you! It means so much to know that. I sure hope we get to meet some time in the near future ☺

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  2. It happened to me too, I was scrolling my IG feeds and I saw a familiar photo so I checked my blog post and both photos are the same. I have watermarked but it was cropped. I left a comment sa IG ng clinic pero dinedma lang ako. If they want to use the photo, they should ask permission or at least mention the image source.

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    Replies
    1. It's annoying and infuriating, isn't it? I guess we just have to watermark our pictures on places they can't crop but won't affect the look of the image. At least it'll minimize the possibility of unauthorized usage of the photo.

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  3. This is such a terrible experience. It would've been okay if they used the photo for a positive blog post or article, but they had to put it on the one where a couple was jailed.

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    1. Exactly! Using it for a negative article just made it worse!

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  4. It's definitely not right to just take other people's pictures on Google and use it. Permission must be sought and the source must be given credit. Unless, the picture is considered a creative common or public domain property.
    I also don't know exactly what to do except to let the site owner know the issue.

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    1. True. We asked our journalism expert friends and they told us the same thing: to inform the site owner. Well, at least the site removed our picture.

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  5. You can definitely still go after them if you want. They need to be taught a lesson. I hope they don't do it to anyone else anymore.

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    1. Thanks, Vera. But we all decided to just leave it at that instead. However, if it happens again (by them or any other site), that's when we'll take necessary action.

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  6. Hi Pam, I think what they did was horrible. They could really get in big trouble if they were based in the UAE where laws strictly prohibit the use of photos and even tagging on FB without permission. They're extremely lucky for the geographical difference.

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    1. Hi Arni! Yeah, they were really lucky. Hopefully they learned their lesson.

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  7. In the first place, if it's from Google as they mentioned, they should have credited it to Google. Halatang gumawa ng article for the sake na may magawa lang. Gosh! Kakapissed off!

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    1. I agree. Unfortunately they simply didn't know the rules and etiquette of journalism.

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  8. That is really annoying. For me, just like you I will be flattered at first but with that kind of snippet, the photo that is used to be for a happy memory became negative.

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    1. Exactly! Now whenever I see that photo, I always remember the article it was used in.

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  9. What?! NOOOOOO! What they did is definitely wrong! I would have let it pass if it was a good and positive article but it's not. May pa-Google pa silang nalalaman ah. You should have asked what keyword they used and the link.

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    Replies
    1. Hmm...you're right. I should have asked them for the link. Unfortunately it's probably too late now. Next time na lang siguro ☺

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