Recently we had a photo stolen from our Facebook site and posted on another site. Needless to say, I was livid. It was pure luck I even saw the photo. I asked this person to give us credit for the photo and they could post it on their site. They deleted my comment. I asked them to take the photo down. They deleted my comment and proceeded to post some not very nice comments. I reported it to Facebook. Within the hour the photo was removed. Facebook contacted me and said they could not find the photo. I assume this person didn't think it was worth the trouble and removed it. There are some mean people in this world.
I did some research into what I could do to protect my photos in the future and I'm going to tell you how to do that. First off, there is no sure-fire way to protect your photos from theft unless you are a computer genius but there are some ways to make it more difficult.
1. Put a watermark on all of your photos.
2. Disable the right click button on your website so the photo cannot be copied.
3. Copyright it.
According to the US Copyright Office:
"Copyright protects original authorship fixed in tangible form (17 USC sec. 102(a)). For works transmitted online, the copyrightable authorship may consist of text, artwork, music, audiovisual material (including any sounds), sound recordings, etc. Copyright does not protect ideas, procedures, systems, or methods of operation (17 USC sec. 102(b)).
Under U.S. law, copyright protection subsists from the time the work is fixed in any tangible medium of expression from which it can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Copyright registration is not mandatory, but it has important benefits."
Once you have anything down on paper text/photos/audio/video or the internet it is your property. It's helpful to apply for a copyright but not mandatory.
WATERMARKS. A watermark is a logo or text put on photos to identify your ownership. This is easily done with various programs such as Microsoft Paint (I like to call it Pain because this program is not user friendly. It will make you want to pull your hair out.) I used Microsoft Paint on the photo below to the left. Then I used a free program called Visual Watermark on the photo below to the right. It can't get any easier than this.
The downside to watermarks is the photo can still be copied and the watermark cropped out but this is one extra step to stealing your photo and that might deter the crook.
COPYRIGHT IT. You can file an application for a copyright of your work with the US Copyright Office. The downside to this is you might have hundreds of photos and need to file for every one and this could be costly. Way too much work for me.
If you have a logo on the other hand, it might be a good idea to apply for a trademark which is different than a copyright. A trademark is a design that identifies you. See US Patent and Trademark Office for more info. There is a whole list of different trademarks and they recommend hiring an attorney to navigate them. Sounds like this one is going to cost you.
I don't think there is a way to protect your photo on Facebook operating your page as a group other than a watermark. Anyone in the world can see your photo. If someone steals your photo on Facebook you can report it. Click on the stolen photo at the thief's website and hit Report This Photo. A box will pop up. Click on "is this is your intellectual property" at the bottom. This will take you to Facebook copyright policy page. Look for IP infringement form. Fill that out and submit to Facebook. You will need the link to the photo. Facebook got back with me within 24 hours.
In the end you should take the theft of your beloved photo as a compliment. They liked your picture so much, they wanted it for themselves.