Tuesday, 27 November 2012

POV: The Facebook © Kerfuffle

I'm not a lawyer, but in my previous career incarnation I had to peruse, study and negotiate many complex legal documents...so the recent kerfuffle with many photographers posting some legalese jargon on their Facebook pages prompted me to reread its Terms of Service.

But first, here's what the photographers in my network of friends posted on their walls. Simply stated, this means that everything on their pages is copyrighted and cannot be used by Facebook et al.
In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, writing - published and unpublished, personal/professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berne Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times! (Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook's direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute). Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates...
Well, while it may look impressive, it's utterly useless. 

First and foremost, creators always own their intellectual property and posting it on Facebook won't change that. What is at stake is that Facebook, according to its terms of service, is granted a license by users to use it and display it. If you use Facebook, that's what you agreed to upfront...but it doesn't mean your copyright is at risk.

Facebook is very specific about this:
You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition: 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.
However, if posting some legal mishmash on your Facebook gives you comfort, go ahead cut and paste it.

Facebook users must realize there are no free lunches. The social network is a business and seeks to generate profits for its shareholders. People who are serious about privacy issues, their name and brand ought to be careful and choosy about what they post on Facebook, while others go further and use their walls on their own terms; only sharing information they want to share for good and valid reasons.