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Facebook Engineer Teaches Grads How to Steal Photos in Step By Step Guide

By Hanssie on May 28th 2014

Congratulations Graduate! Now that your hard work is over, it’s time to celebrate, but just one more thing: You know those pesky watermarks or logos across your graduation photos? Isn’t it just frustrating that you can’t right click and save that photo of you because someone wants you to pay for it?

Well, guess what? In 13 steps, you too, can steal the image “free your grad photo” thanks to Jesse Chen and Jonathan Tien who show you how to bypass the disabled right click block (in multiple browsers) and remove that “ugly copyright overlay” in Photoshop.


In a post on his personal blog dating back to 2012 Jesse, a UC Berkeley grad – now a Facebook software engineer, offers a step by step guide complete with screenshots to go:

from a picture that was covered in an ugly copyright overlay and a disgusting yellow proof watermark to a beautiful and majestic picture that is clean and polished. No need to ‘print screen’ or take a picture of the monitor to share with your family…” He goes on to “hope that this tutorial helps you by freeing your graduation pictures so that you can take back what’s yours to begin with.

Oh good, because a $10 grad photo for someone who just completed a 4 year education for somewhere around $120,000 is asking just a little too much, especially for something that was “yours” to begin with. Apparently, they do not teach about copyright laws at UC Berkeley and those little copyright notices from the photographer are just suggestions. Attention Jesse, just FYI to round out your education, taking a photographer’s images without permission is called theft.


Step 1: Jesse uses his own grad photo as an example:



I spare you the other illegal steps and bring you straight to the “Photoshop Magic.”


A few clicks here and a few clicks there, and voila….

jesse-chen-screenshot-4The post was up until this morning, when I am sure Jesse discovered the onslaught of hate filled comments from the photography community who caught wind of this yesterday and finally realized the stupidity of his “tutorial.” But as it had been up for 2 years and had over 1,000 likes by this point, I wonder how many grads have already illegally used Jesse and Jonathan’s step by step guide.

[Via Missy MWAC]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Justin

    Actually, downloading an image from a website that doesn’t allow downloads is illegal. It’d be like you locking the keys to your ferrari in a lockbox, and I come along and break into the box and take your keys. Same idea – disabling context menus is a security feature, much like a lockbox or safe to keep your property protected from every tom, dick, or harry that comes along. As for browser cache ‘downloading’ the image…well, aside from the fact that cache eventually gets deleted/overwritten, most people aren’t smart enough to find where the browser cache is, let along to try pulling an image from it.

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  2. Aankhen

    ‘I spare you the other illegal steps and bring you straight to the “Photoshop Magic.”’

    Downloading an image is illegal now? Better jail everyone who uses a graphical browser.

    Yes, using images without a licence (whether it’s free or paid) is illegal and unethical. What you are also suggesting is that bypassing the ridiculous anti–context menu JavaScript to download a copy of the image to a folder of your choice in addition to the browser’s cache is illegal, which is flat out wrong.

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    • BazPix

      Deliberately setting out to remove a watermark from a copyrighted image is the illegal part, and the tutorial had detailed, very effective instructions on how to do so. Teaching others how to circumvent copyright holder’s attempts to protect their works is hardly ethical, and it’s certainly not something a blog for photographers should be doing. That’s why Hanssie spared people the detailed steps, unlike FStoppers when they first posted it yesterday. (It took a few hours before the detailed steps were finally blurred out there, even though the original tutorial had already been removed from the blog).

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    • Aankhen

      1. I didn’t say the article should have reproduced the steps. There was no reason for it to.
      2. The only step between identifying the photo and removing the watermark is downloading the photo.
      3. The line I quoted directly implies that this action is illegal, which is, as I said, flat out wrong.
      4. We don’t disagree on any of the points you’ve raised. :-)

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  3. The Photogrpaher

    SLR…..And why are you guys giving this guy free advert for his deeds with this post???!!!!

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    • Steve

      Because SLR is responsible and is doing the right thing by the photog community in highlighting the general public’s ignorance on the subject of CI and IP. SLR left off the most critical parts where other sources quoted Chen’s post verbatim. This is a good thing because young kids like Chen and his buddy need to understand the legal consequences of their actions. And like I said on Chen’s blog yesterday: It looks like UC Berkeley is teaching one “entrepreneur” how to rip off the hard work of another entrepreneur.

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  4. Ed

    Even though it has been taken down, there are multiple archives of it out there (due to it being 2 years old). The 2 year old comments were pretty harsh as well. I’m surprised this hasn’t made the rounds sooner.

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