IP & Copyright

Facebook Copyright Myth Debunked

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In today’s world of multiple social media platforms and just too much to do, you may not remember the June 2012 and November 2012 Facebook copyright panics. In case you missed them, here’s how they went: Status updates surfaced from users who unnecessarily “formally declared” their posted material as off limits to Facebook. The hype threw photographers and artists on the social media platform into a frenzy, and those not employed by their intellectual property still worried about the protections over their personal pictures and videos.

This week, another wave of frantic Facebook users fell for the same hoax and hurried to their computers to copy and paste declarations against potential infringement. Among the most recent status updates was the following:

Due to the fact that Facebook has chosen to involve software that will allow the theft of my personal information, I do declare the following: on this day, November 29, 2014, in response to the new Facebook guidelines and under articles L.111, 112 and 113 of the code of intellectual property, We declare that our rights are attached to all our personal data, drawings, paintings, photos, texts, etc. published on our profile.

For commercial use of the foregoing my written consent is required at all times.

The problem lies in the fact that this simply doesn’t work. It’s useless. It’s a waste of time (and finger dexterity). According to Facebook’s Terms of Service, the minute you upload content to the site you grant the company “license to use and display” that content. But it’s irreversible, despite a status update.

The recent flare up in concern stems from Facebook’s plan to largely update its privacy controls over the coming weeks. The plan, scheduled to take effect January 1, 2015, is titled “Privacy Basics” and attempts to make clearer who can see what on your profile. To explain, Facebook is sending this email out to all of its users:

We wanted to let you know we’re updating our terms and policies on January 1, 2015 and introducing Privacy Basics. You can check out the details below or on Facebook.

Over the past year, we’ve introduced new features and controls to help you get more out of Facebook, and listened to people who have asked us to better explain how we get and use information.

Now, with Privacy Basics, you’ll get tips and a how-to guide for taking charge of your experience on Facebook. We’re also updating our terms, data policy and cookies policy to reflect new features we’ve been working on and to make them easy to understand. And we’re continuing to improve ads based on the apps and sites you use off Facebook and expanding your control over the ads you see.

We hope these updates improve your experience. Protecting people’s information and providing meaningful privacy controls are at the core of everything we do, and we believe today’s announcement is an important step.


Erin Egan Global Chief Privacy Officer

So, to debunk the current myth…

Here’s the Facebook IP Breakdown

“For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).

This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

Here’s the Translation

You essentially license to Facebook any photo or video that you upload the minute you upload it. Facebook can use it and owe you nothing. In fact, you agreed to that the minute you set up your account, according to the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. You still own the copyright but it’s not exclusive. Facebook doesn’t need your written consent to use the content.

The only way to avoid this is to delete whatever you uploaded, assuming nobody shared it. When you upload something with no privacy settings (visible to the Public via Facebook settings), everyone–even people without a Facebook account–can access it, use it, and link it back to you.

My apologies if that’s not what you wanted to hear, but a stern letter to Facebook via your status update will do nothing. It’s like those chain letters that threaten you to repost or die in three days—a garbage byproduct of the Internet. Lesson of the day: Be careful what you post or don’t maintain a Facebook Account.





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