Facebook SDE blogs about copyright theft in 2012, gets flamed in 2014
Back in 2012, Jesse Chen - now an engineer at Facebook, but then a fresh graduate of UC Berkeley - wrote a blog post. In that post he explained how to get rid of the 'ugly copyright overlay' that is typically used in image proofs posted online or sent out by professional photographers after events. The watermarked proof serves as a preview of the image, which you can then purchase if you like it.
Annoyed at the 'ugly watermark all over our beautiful bodies' Chen and a friend published instructions on how to circumvent the copyright notice. Essentially a short guide to image theft, the post was apparently a hit among Chen's Facebook friends but went unnoticed by the Internet at large. Two years later though it has come back to haunt Chen, after being unearthed by the fstoppers website. Their re-post, earlier today, created a storm of righteous anger from photographers.
Perhaps most controversially, after listing the various steps required to strip proofs of copyright overlays, Chen signed off his 2012 post with 'we hope that this tutorial helps you by freeing your graduation pictures so that you can take back what's yours to begin with'.
Chen's blog has not been updated since April 2013, and following the fstoppers expose, his offending watermark removal post has been taken offline. Chen hasn't quite gotten around to entirely expunging it though, and a summary still features in his 'Year 2012 in review' blog post, written in January 2013. Here, Chen describes the now-deleted article as 'a fun tutorial [...] on how to nab [graduation] pictures, and to use Photoshop to remove the watermark.'
We've all done stupid things when we were young, and if we're being honest, we've probably also all written something on the Internet that we later came to regret. But copyright infringement is a problem that professional photographers take very seriously - and rightly so.
Does Chen deserve criticism for something he wrote aged barely 21? Let us know in the comments.
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