Industry News

Facebook: Rights Manager Helps Photographers Protect Their Images

September 29, 2020

By Jacqueline Tobin

© Facebook

Facebook’s newly launched Rights Manager for Images, available in Facebook Creator Studio, will enable photographers to protect the images they upload to Facebook and Instagram from copyright infringement, and to control their use across the social media platforms. Rights Manager will also let creators know when an image is embedded on an external website. 

Facebook launched its original Rights Manager tool in 2016 to protect against stolen videos. According to the social media platform’s recent announcement, “This new version of Rights Manager uses image matching technology to help creators and publishers protect and manage their image content at scale. To access Rights Manager, Page admins can submit an application for content they’ve created and want to protect.” 

[Read: Do You Give Up Exclusive Licensing Rights When You Post on Instagram?]

Once the application is accepted, Facebook Rights Manager for Images will put its image matching algorithms to use, finding and flagging each time someone posts your photo. The rights holder can then choose whether to monitor the content, block its use through a takedown request or attribute credit to themselves via an ownership link. According to Facebook’s outline of rules and usage, creators can “also choose whether or not they want their ownership to apply worldwide or only in certain geographic locations.” 

The topic of photo usage and copyright concerning images that have been posted on both Facebook and Instagram has been more prevalent and controversial than ever. Two recent cases of note: McGucken v. Newsweek and Sinclair v. Mashable.

After Newsweek asked to feature photographer Elliot McGucken’s image and he declined, the publication to run it anyway as an embed. McGucken sued Newsweek for copyright infringement this past summer.

A similar dispute arose between entertainment and news platform Mashable and photographer Stephanie Sinclair, who refused Mashable’s request to use her images only for Mashable to publish them anyway via Instagram’s embed feature. The court initially ruled in favor of Mashable. That ruling led Newsweek to assume its embed of the McGucken image was legally permissible. Following the McGucken v. Newsweek case, however, Instagram clarified that its embed feature does not include a license, stating that if someone wants to use a photo, they need to ensure they have the proper license to do so. As a result, the Mashable vs. Sinclair case was reopened a few months ago.

One caveat to note is that this new Facebook feature is designed more for those who maintain a large catalog of images or who post new content on a regular basis. Facebook advises individuals who only occasionally encounter issues around misuse of their images to use the platform’s IP reporting form

Access to the new Rights Manager for Images will be opened up initially to those who apply here. The Rights Manager team will “review your application and get back to you as soon as possible,” Facebook says.