My daughter has just discovered that a picture of her is currently being used to advertise a local bar in Dunedin, the Ra Bar - she is the one in graduation regalia drinking a glass of bubbly. There is no acknowledgment of the photographer, where the photo came from or who my daughter is.
Now, there are a few twists and turns to this story.
Firstly, we have plastered this photo all over the Internet. It can be found on several Facebook accounts and I also have it in Flickr. If this photo had been used by a bar anywhere other than our home town, we would not be any the wiser. Having said that, the news that her photo was being used reached my daughter all the way in Melbourne, so the Internet makes the world a small place.
Second, this photo was taken by a professional photographer - the agreement we had was that the photo was to be used to advertise St Clair Resort which is another restaurant and hotel in Dunedin. In return, we had a copy of the photo for our own uses. I do not know where the Ra Bar got the photo, but I know it did not come from the photographer. The photo was taken at Pier 24, so the Ra Bar is running a risk of using a photo that was taken in one restaurant to advertise another - at the very least people may recognise and question the inconsistencies.
My understanding is that unless you state a clear copyright stance (I always use Creative Commons Attribution), then the image or material you put on the Internet is by default 'all rights reserved' which means people have to ask your permission to use your material. However, you do need to check the Facebook terms and conditions because as soon as you put an image on FB, it is theirs to use for their advertising purposes.
The moral of the story is to always check that you have permission to use material and images that you find on the Internet and always attribute them correctly. I do not mind you using any of my stuff but I expect that you always attribute it back to me. The other thing to think about is...if you do not want to run the risk of someone "stealing" your stuff, do not put it on the Internet in the first place.
Have you ever had images and material you posted on the Internet end up in unlikely places that you knew nothing about?