Facebook has announced an expansion of its Rights Manager tool, which will now automatically detect image copyright violations for claimed content across both Facebook and Instagram.
As explained by Facebook:
"We're introducing Rights Manager for Images, a new version of Rights Manager that uses image-matching technology to help creators and publishers protect and manage their image content at scale. Page admins can submit an application for content they’ve created and want to protect, and Rights Manager will then find matching content on Facebook and Instagram."
Rights Manager works by cross-referencing your uploaded visual content against other user uploads across Facebook's platforms, and alerting content owners to potential violations.
To implement Rights Manager protection, users need to fill out a form, asserting their rights to the content, then upload the video or image asset that they want protected.
Once approved, Facebook then applies its matching system to the base content in order to detect any potential re-use.
The new process provides more capacity on this front, covering more types of content, which will help rights holders better protect their IP across Facebook's platforms. Facebook also implemented a similar process for music video sharing earlier this year.
Image copyright online can be complex, particularly in relation to social media sharing.
Earlier this year, a US court initially ruled against photographer Stephanie Sinclair, who had sought to sue Mashable over an embed of one of her images, which had been posted to Instagram, within a Mashable story.
The court had ruled that because Instagram is a public platform, Mashable had the right to re-use the post. The initial ruling has since been revised, and the case is still ongoing. But of course, had Mashable used Sinclair's image in isolation, not the Instagram embed, that would be a violation of copyright.
The case highlights just one of the challenges of the new media world, for which some areas of law are still catching up. And while this new update wouldn't solve a case like this, it still provides more ways for rights holders to essentially control the use of their content online, which could be a big help for many digital creators.