14 News Special Report: Protecting Your Image - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

14 News Special Report: Protecting Your Image

It seems everyone shares photos of their pets and family members on Facebook, but here's something you may not realize: those photos could be making their rounds on other websites without your consent.

Here's a number that might surprise you:  250 million photos are uploaded to Facebook each day.  That's 3,000 pictures a second.

And many of those photos, maybe even some of yours, could make an appearance on sites you don't know about, or even agree with.

Like most of us, Jay Breen posts snapshots of his life on Facebook.

"If I'm doing something interesting or fun, like traveling, traveling to other countries or you know, to an island," Jay told us.

But when a friend told him they'd seen those same photos on a scandalous dating website, Jay was stunned.

He logged on, and sure enough...

"Up comes pictures of myself, three pictures, that I posted on Facebook when I first signed up a while ago," Jay said. "This particular web site is something I didn't want to be associated with."

Jay's pictures had been hi-jacked. Attorney Doug Isenberg likens it to digital shoplifting.

"Anything that you or I can create, as long as it is an original work of authorship, is protected under us copyright law," Isenberg said. "It can include photographs, video, audio."

What can you do if you find out you're a victim? Jay wrote an email to the website's owner.

"And said this is becoming more serious, please remove it, in capital letters, before I get, you know, someone involved, an attorney involved," Jay recalled.

"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," said Isenberg. 

Chris Kirby, Owner of The Computer Group says an easy step to prevent photo stealing is adding a watermark.

He tells us there are even invisible watermarks that can track where your photo's been.

"If you run it through a program, you can actually see the watermark and see who the creator was," Kirby said.

Computer experts say it's also important to be aware of the location settings on your smart phone.

Kirby tells us he took a photo of his business, with location settings enabled, and ran it through a free software program.

"We were able, within ten seconds, to locate exactly where we were standing when we took that photo," Kirby said. 

Especially concerning, Kirby says, if you have kids.

"If I took the picture back here, you can actually see where inside the house you were," noted Kirby.

To disable location, just check your smart phone's privacy settings.

On some phones, you can even control those settings for each individual app.

Those we talked with have a simple warning for you, next time you post a picture online.

"Think before you do it, because you never know where the pictures will end up," said Breen.

As far as the location information stored in pictures, computer experts say Facebook removes that information when you upload a photo.

But experts tell us there are other websites that still do store those details.

To create an invisible watermark for your photos, click here.

To create a photo fingerprint, click here.

To track your photos online, click here.

For free software to obtain location and file information from photos, click here.

For additional resources for digital watermarking and tracking, click the following:

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